Standard disclaimer, many of these tunes make no sense if you're listening on MacBook speakers. You need a system with BASS-- headphones, or a car stereo or a home setup, doesn't matter just so long as it kicks. Otherwise you won't be able to hear some crucial frequencies. I recommend building a wall of subs and lying on top of it.
1. Snootie Wild (ft. K Camp) - "Made Me"
In 2014 the Dirty South still reigns supreme. This is exhibit A. The gorgeous instrumental was produced by "Big Fruit," who I guess drew the short straw on the day they handed out producer names. Nevertheless, it kicks as hard as anything from Mike Will Made It or Metro Boomin'. I love that moment at 0:40, when the bass kicks in amidst twinkling electronics-- sheer bliss. The music pairs perfectly with Snootie Wild's infectious drawl, which I dare you not to get stuck in your head. Snootie looks pretty fly in this vid, don't you think? Especially when he's rocking that crazy tanktop at the laundromat.
2. YG - "Bickin Back Bein Bool"
For a hot minute, everyone at the office was obsessed with this song. Like everything else on this list, it completely lacks any redeeming social value. But the beat by DJ Mustard is insanely catchy, and Y.G.'s swagger carries the whole thing. I like the way he folds his arms after sayin "better call the S.W.A.T.", and the Blood Walk he busts into while hanging in his friend's front yard. I tried to learn the dance by watching "how to blood walk" videos on YouTube, but to no avail. "Gang-affiliated walking" is probably some kind of HR violation.
If you're wondering what "bickin' back" means: Y.G. is affiliated with the Bloods (L.A. street gang.) The Bloods' mortal enemy is the Crips (another street gang.) Bloods express their hatred of Crips by crossing out the letter or sound 'c' and replacing it with 'b'. So "Compton" becomes "Bompton," "cigarette" becomes "bigarette", and "kickin' back being cool" becomes "bickin' back bein' bool."
This is all well and good, you might say, but then why doesn't he replace ALL the 'c' sounds in "kickin back bein cool"-- why is the song not called "bibbin bab bein bool?" Two reasons: 1) because "bibbin bab" sounds fucking ridiculous! come on even Y.G. has his limits. 2) the "c" sound is ok when generated by the letters "ck," because ck stands for Crip Killer. The More You Know
3. iLoveMakonnen (ft. Drake) - "Tuesday"
Makonnen is an ATL homebody who's definitely driving in his own lane. His shit blew up big time when Drake hopped on the remix of this track, blessing us with Drake-isms like "I think we gettin' too deep; shit I'm talkin' might be too true / Upstairs I got Xans in an Advil bottle, I don't take them shits / But you do / So I got 'em for you" Oh Drake, so romantic.
4. iLoveMakonnen - "Don't Sell Molly No More"
This is a weirder tune based on real life... Makonnen used to sell drugs, but the cops raided his ecstasy supplier, causing an MDMA drought. I like the warbly Metro Boomin filters and the washed out colors in the vid. Isn't it cool how weird rap is these days? Lil B, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane all paved the way, now Young Thug, Chief Keef and a bunch of others are going sublingual, making up their own languages, singing nursery rhymes, abusing AutoTune in countless ways... it's really fun to see the new generation of rap kids run with the ball.
5. Dhananjay The First - "Let You Love Me"
OMG where to begin. This guy is a young exchange student from Indonesia who's going to Grinelle College in Iowa. He listened to a ton of R&B and rap and issued these covers out of nowhere. They were pretty popular on Worldstar! Would not have predicted that. Anyway dude is kind of gross in his sex rhymes, but I find him funny and charismatic and the vids are just ridic. Those Air Jordans! Lighting his candle in his dorm room with a blowtorch. The gimp that hands him a pencil to smoke. "I know you see the doo-rag... sorry baby if it hurts." Maybe I'm just thirsting for the Great Indian-American Rapper to appear... it's not this guy but it's the closest thing yet.
6. Dhanajay The First - "Say My Name"
The first shot where he's counting stacks while getting his head shaved by a dude in a mask... SO CINEMA! SO SOMETHING! Leaving a rack for Ganesh... wearing two different patterns of camo simultaneously... two iPhones... this dude is really the dude. Vice: Dhananjay the First Is Here to Steal Your Girl with No Remorse
7. Chief Keef (fet. Justo and Tadoe) - "Gucci Gang"
You know why Chief Keef's first two videos (the most popular ones, 'I Don't Like' and 'Love Sosa') are shot in his grimy ass apartment? Because he was on house arrest when those songs broke!! Isn't that crazy? Love Sosa has 16 million views. I do respect how Chief Keef completely eschewed the traditional music video route, where you pony up a decent chunk of cash and hire a director and all that. Keef has his own people and his videos are all resolutely DIY. But they're captivating still. At least, I think so. It's just a bunch of dudes jumping around in a room but somehow I end up watching it enthralled. Not saying this is his best vid but I like the low pass filters, his crazy sweater and the random Mexican kid in his gang. I'd say token, but I don't think he's a token exactly. More like someone's cousin's cousin.
8. Chief Keef - "How It Go"
Chief Keef is the rapper I was most obsessed with in 2014. Noisey (Vice music) is obsessed with him too, and their coverage is pretty exhaustive so I won't try to rehash it all. But if you want to talk Chief Keef, get at me, I could talk all day. About his circumstances, his avant-garde musical tendencies, the scary level of real life violence he's experienced and embodied, whether he's autistic or dumb or smart or some category beyond... anyway for this specific video, all that could possibly be said is said, eloquently, in this Noisey article: Chief Keef Just Released a New Video, "How It Go," and It's Amazing in So Many Ways.
9. Girl Talk & Freeway (ft. Waka Flocka) - "Tolerated"
Don't you want to give Waka Flocka a big hug, even when he's eating a mutilated human arm? "I pull up on you like a workout / Better pull that work out"
10. DJ Snake, Lil Jon - "Turn Down for What"
Asian-American protagonist. *sniff* we've come so far