Friday in Brooklyn, I drained four shots of Jameson at 7 p.m., half a bottle of rosé at 8 p.m., then at 9:30 p.m., I gave a drunk TEDxxx Talk about pigeons. This was at one of those Williamsburg bars that everyone clowns for serving $12 beer drafts and vegan hot dogs. I was feeling bougie and nervous.
Luckily, my pregame playlist included the latest from Ghostface and DOOM, Wiz Khalifa and Ty Dolla $ign, and Tink. Got my hype like whoa and invincibly charismatic, as the audience answered my loopy, intoxicated presentation with agreement and applause. Saturday in East Harlem, this was my hangover playlist, too. BONUS: Below, a real-life screenshot from my PowerPoint.
Wiz Khalifa f/ Ty Dolla $ign "Refresh/Say No More"
Released: Jan. 6, 2015
Me and Complex Deputy Editor Ross Scarano were a couple days late to Wiz and Ty's latest collaboration, "Refresh/Say No More," in which Wiz Khalifa takes his sound back to based basics. With Ty Dolla $ign's signature, faded assistance, "Refresh/Say No More" is less aggressively pop than much of Wiz's recent catalog, and "Refresh" in particular is, as Complex news anchor Jinx just described to me, "that breakup music for when the bedroom is dark and you got your blinds closed." I think Jinx is going through something, and we all know Wiz is going through it, too. Please send words of encouragement in the comments; I'll be sure that Jinx, at least, reads them.
Brenmar f/ Dougie F "Award"
Released: Jan. 7, 2015
"Award" opens on the same piano note as Kanye's "Blood on the Leaves," but then Fool's Gold producer Brenmar takes us in a different, less cathartic, though certainly liberated direction. This is glorious, tightly crafted turn-up, and I pray for the night when "Award" makes its way into the DJ's setlist at a venue near me. The synth claps and the piano itself are heavier and more percussive than the bass, shattering the monotony of so much trap and dance music that streams through me on a weekly basis. N.B., I found this track by stalking Khal's Twitter feed, so you, too, should get on that.
Future Brown f/ Tink "Room 302"
Released: Jan. 8, 2015
Like my homestate patron Missy Elliott, Tink is a vicious rapper who moonlights as a singer and pop savant, her voice rendering all sorts of production—trap, R&B, electronica—immediately accessible, irresistible even. Her stardom is just a matter of time. For now, we enjoy minor gems like "Room 302," Tink's latest collaboration with underground dance producers Future Brown, who specialize in catchy trance grooves and spring-loaded sounds that, in this case, do Tink a new world of favors. "I'm trying to seduce you," Tink raps, and that's rather an understatement.
BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah f/ DOOM "Ray Gun"
Released: Jan. 9, 2015
There's an 86 percent chance that the rumored DOOMSTARKS project is eternal fiction, but at least we're soon finna get this BADBADNOTGOOD x Ghostface tape. "Gunshowers," which dropped in October, was the first single off Sour Soul; and now we hear "Ray Gun," the Ghost/Doom collaboration that sounds as much like a Richard Roundtree car chase as you'd expect. "All my might, white glass teeth that write/Ain't a bird or a plane; it's a ghost on the mic."
Meek Mill "Ice Cream" Freestyle
Released: Jan. 10, 2015
There oughta be a Meek Mill trading card. I'm serious. I'll ask the Complex art department whether they can make it happen. Anything to commemorate the man's unmatched fury and undervalued profile as a compassionate, working-class rapper who's more careful than most in his rapping about drugs and violence. After being released from prison in December, Meek's latest freestyle is a sort of protest record addressing vigilantes, cops, judges, and juries alike: "Gotta get killed on camera for us to come alive/Well shit, we dead already from all this homicide." Meek Mill is the proof that Street and Conscious needn't be subgenres at war with one another, and his dogged synthesis of the two is just another reason why Meek Mill is the best rapper out right now.