Best Music, 2019

lists are a great way to expose people to how you experienced the year in music … here’s mine. you guys made long ass lists this year! I kept it to the 50 I usually do instead of running up 100s of songs, felt like being inundated w music just means I should be making harder choices

as for my feeling about the year in music, I think there’s been some amazing stuff lately. It feels like the critical mindset is exhausted, though (no disrespect to the guys who are fighting through it) and that discussion of music as *form* has all but dropped off in an effort to sort through the mass of content. what are artists doing creatively? I feel like I’m being told what ostensible audience they’re for (“…guys who wear black air forces” or whatever–marketing-speak) & less abt what they’re doing that makes them original … for whatever reason it feels like we’re not respecting them as artists, just treating them as audience avatars. w/ the notable exception of artists who are aggressively anti-commercial

disclaimer, i’m no longer working in journalism/criticism; some artists may share corp. parentage but I’m being typically stubborn about my tastes regardless. this is a personal list, & tells a story of my year in music. but it’s also not exclusively a mindgarden thing either; music is a social art form & that influences how we hear it

50. Trill Ryan – She Gon Go
49. Major Nine – What’s Love
48. CK – No Love
47. 42 Dugg – Dog Food
46. Rico Nasty – Fashion Week
45. NSG – OT Bop
44. Chief Keef – 2 Cell Phones
43. THF Crack – Find You
42. 30 Deep Grimeyy x NWM Cee Murdaa – NoCap
41. Cota – I Like the Way You Love Me
40. Daphni feat. Paradise – Sizzling Hot
39. Dopeboyra – Freebase
38. Unprocessed – Abandoned
37. Prince Glo and Jackboi Boomain – Glockies
36. Roisin Murphy – Incapable
35. Sky Ferreira – Downhill Lullaby
34. Saint Jhn – Call Me After You Hear This
33. Jidenna – Sufi Woman
32. Juice WRLD – Fast
31. Grind2Hard Osh’a feat. Baby Sola – Straight Drop
30. Trinidad Ghost – More Zessing “Zesser”
29. Skooly – Lil Boy Shit
28. Smoove L – New Apolos
27. T9ine – Mind of a Real
26. Baby Fifty – No Good
25. Traptize Ky – All Whites
24. Koffee – Rapture
23. Intence – Go Hard
22. Sam Smith and Normani – Dancing With a Stranger
21. 54 Baby Trey x Mari Boy Mula Mar – Noon
20. King Ace feat. Smiles – Fed Up
19. Tems – Try Me
18. Ambjaay – Uno
17. Darkoo feat. One Acen – Gangsta
16. Dalex – Pa Mi (remix)
15. Raphael Saadiq – Something Keeps Calling Me
14. Amaarae – Like It
13. Valee and ChaseTheMoney – Humbug
12. Teejayx6 – Swipe Lesson
11. Caroline Palochek – So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings
10. NoCap – Ghetto Angels
9. Tree – Hooters
8. Sada Baby – Dumbass
7. Erika de Casier – Intimate (Club Mix)
6. Duke Deuce – Yeh
5. Zero12Finest – Baby Are You Coming?
4. Rio Da Yung OG – Shit Talkin Pt 3
3. Roddy Ricch and DJ Mustard – Ballin
2. Fireboy DML – Jealous
1. Polo G – Bad Path

1. Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah Ancestral Recall
2. Burna Boy African Giant
3. Polo G Die A Legend
4. Underworld Drift
5. Big Thief UFOF
6. Rio Da Yung OG 2 Faced
7. Lady Donli Enjoy Your Life
8. Tree The Wild End
9. Lucki Freewave 3
10. Kool Keith Keith
11. Jacquees King of R&B
12. Jamila Woods Legacy! Legacy!
13. Moodymann Sinner
14. Octo Octa Resonant Body
15. Tree and Vic Spencer Nothing is Something
16. Chance the Rapper The Big Day
17. Chris Crack The Future Will Be Confusing
18. Duke Uingizaji Hewa
19. Ambjaay It Cost to Live Like This
20. billie eilish when we all fall asleep where do we go?

Songs from Before 2019:
10. Mills Brothers – Cab Driver
9. Tommy Guerrero – In My Head
8. Daso – Meine
7. 2Pac – Dope Fiend’s Diner (Shock G Remix)
6. Pineapples – Come On Closer
5. Mort Garson – Ode to an African Violet
4. Flans – No Controles
3. Madonna – Justify My Love (The Beast Within Remix)
2. Judie Tzuke – Shoot From the Heart
1. Vitas – Тело

Albums from before 2019:
Gigi Illuminated Audio
Leslie Winer Witch
Vitas Философия чуда

The 100 Best Chicago Rap Songs of the Decade, 2010-2019

Selected after much debate by Cam Jackson, Chimeka, David Drake, NayrCreates, & Chill. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Charne Graham, who was involved in an original draft of this list awhile back.

It can be frustrating to discuss the impact Chicago rap had in the 2010s. On the commercial side, its arrival was less about establishing a new center for the genre–as some had optimistically hoped–than it was a rupture in the old order: YouTube, social media and, especially, the rise of smartphones inverted the way previous generations of music fans interacted with art, as it went from a top-down, industry-driven system to a lawless, chaotic, crowdsourced one. The streaming economy geared up in the mid-10s just in time to miss Chicago’s big bang. When Chicago first arrived, the biggest rapper was Rick Ross, then in his 30s after years hustling up an industry chain of command. Adele was the album-sales-exception-that-proves-the-rule. Nicki Minaj’s biggest hits were orchestrated by Stargate. Spotify had 5 million users (it has 248 million now, with 113 million paid subscribers); Apple Music (60 million paid subscribers today) didn’t exist. YouTube, which dominates as the streaming service for teenagers, had 800 million users per month in 2012; as of February 2019, it had 2 billion.

Yet Chicago’s movement in the 2010s had an undeniable cultural impact that shifted the zeitgeist of the genre to the Midwest. This could be seen partially as an accident of timing–the Bay area were early adopters to YouTube as a distribution platform in the late 00’s, just before smartphones became omnipresent. Likewise, articles at the impact point argued it was the outsized influence of certain bloggers that triggered a brief wave of buzzy media interest in the city’s hip-hop scene. Some pointed to the news stories fixated on violent headlines, though they neglected to notice how the music had drawn attention to the violence rather than vice versa; Chicago’s gang culture existed for years prior without making stars out of anyone. But now, approaching a decade’s worth of stylistic aftereffects, these efforts at undercutting Chicago’s cultural import feel overdetermined.

Rather than marking a new reign of bloggers and before playlisters could reassert industry control over the cultural spigot, Chicago’s arrival marked the moment existing tastemakers were undermined by an audience that decided it could determine for itself which artists it was interested in. And those artists, making affordable videos with local teams, could generate attention and connect with audiences before a label was even involved, develop in front of an audience before having an investor, market-test songs and videos with low overhead, and create leverage for themselves in negotiations.

Not that this is a story of idealistic small business winning out over corporations in the long run — as in Moneyball, the Oakland A’s only have an advantage for a short time before the big money teams take advantage of the same strategies innovated at a ground level. And that’s exactly what the commercial industry did for much of the 2010s, as the innovations developed by artists in Chicago as a matter of course were transformed and adapted into strategies used by artists in the streaming era as a whole. It was the platforms driven by Chicago artists–DGainz-inspired YouTube channels like Zae and Laka and DJ Akademiks and Cole Bennett–that became the platforms for the industry as a whole post-streaming.

When Chicagoans point to the widespread adoption of their lingo across the country, the popularity of Lil Reese and Chief Keef’s flows, the rhythms of DJ L’s beats, the shift toward off-beat rap styles as a marker of authenticity, it’s not a claim of territoriality, to get off our yard; lingo and cultural ephemera are always re-adapted, which is how the music evolves, just as Chicago’s movement owes a debt to Atlanta, Memphis, Texas, and even New York. (Dipset was a much larger presence here than it was in the South). But these indicators do point to a way in which Chicago’s cultural impact was marginalized by an industry that wasn’t ready for it; of an organic scene and sound, and the many scenes and sounds that arose around it, in response to it, its impact wasn’t just one of many, but one of one. Cardi B didn’t say it was her favorite music, she said it was her era. Chicago transcended regional status to become a decade; the city’s music was *central* to the story of the hip-hop’s 2010s, influencing everyone from Blueface and Roddy Ricch and Post Malone and Playboi Carti and A Boogie to XXX and 21 Savage and Tekashi and Uzi Vert and Cardi B. Its spread was not regional, but national and international.

David Drake

100. Chief Keef – Bang
99. Zz – El Racka
98. Rooga – Blickathon
97. MIC – Same Shit, Different Day
96. Chief Keef – Text
95. Prince Glo and Jackboy – Glockies
94. King Samson – Turn Up
93. SBE – Killin Shit
92. Phor – Chi Town
91. G Herbo – Swervo
90. DLow – DLow Shuffle
89. Memo 600 – Exposing Me
88. Ebone Hoodrich – Why U Lyin
87. Leekeleek feat. Edai and SD – Neva Get Boring
86. Ty Money & Chimeka – Sibley 16
85. Chance the Rapper and Noname – Israel
84. Lil Durk – Home Body
83. Chief Keef – Everyday
82. Lil Bibby – You Ain’t Gang
81. Katie Got Bandz – I Need A Hitta
80. Johnny Maycash and SD – Where I’m From
79. Lil Zay Osama – Changed Up
78. Hurt Everybody – 2K47
77. Queen Key – My Way
76. Leather Courderoys – Irie Trill Vibes
75. Memo 600 – Steppers
74. El Hitta – Aww Yea
73. Lil Durk – Jackboy
72. Chief Keef – 3Hunna
71. Saba – Butter
70. G Herbo – Who Run It
69. Edai – Gucci
68. The Guys – Flee
67. Lil Durk feat. Jeremih – Like Me
66. Chief Keef feat. Young Jeezy – Understand Me
65. Lil Reese feat. Fredo Santana and Lil Durk – Wassup
64. Polo G feat. Lil Tjay – Pop Out
63. Boss Baka – Drugz R Us
62. Giftz feat. Tree – Nino
61. King Louie – To Live and Die in Chicago
60. G Herbo – At the Light
59. Tree – Probably Nu It
58. Ty Money feat. Bump J – Yes or No
57. Chance the Rapper – All Night
56. Lucki – More Than Ever
55. Young Pappy – Faneto Freestyle
54. Polo G – Finer Thingz
53. Lil Jojo – Have It All
52. Joey Purp feat. Chance the Rapper – Girls @
51. Chief Keef – Hate Being Sober
50. King Von – Crazy Story
49. Lil Mouse – Get Smoked
48. CalBoy – Envy Me
47. Lil Durk – I’m A Hitta
46. Chris Crack – Cuts
45. Vic Spencer – Legitimate Ignorance
44. LEP Bogus Boys – Going In For the Kill
43. Chief Keef – Macaroni Time
42. Lil Bibby feat. King Louie – How We Move
41. Supa Bwe feat. Chance the Rapper – Fool Wit It
40. CupcakKe – Deep Throat
39. Famous Dex – Drip From My Walk
38. Mick Jenkins – Jazz
37. LilJay and Billionaire Black – OSOARROGANT
36. FBG Duck – Slide
35. Dreezy and Mikey Dollaz – Break a Band
34. G Herbo – I’m Rollin
33. Chief Keef – Earned It
32. Lil Mister – No Lackin
31. Shady – Go In
30. L’A Capone feat. Rondonumbanine – Play for Keeps
29. Fredo Santana feat. Chief Keef and Lil Reese – My Lil N*****
28. Vic Mensa – Down On My Luck
27. King Louie – Kush Too Strong/Man Up Band Up Remix
26. Sicko Mobb – Fiesta
25. Chance the Rapper – No Problem
24. ZMoney feat. Valee – Two 16s
23. Chief Keef and Lil Durk – Decline
22. Young Pappy – Killa
21. ZMoney feat. Kevo – Want My Money
20. Valee – Shell
19. Lud Foe – Cuttin Up
18. Lil Reese – Us
17. Saba – Prom/King
16. Chief Keef feat. Lil Reese – Don’t Like
15. Noname – Diddy Bop
14. Famous Dex – Hoes Mad
13. Juice WRLD – Lucid Dreams
12. Stunta Taylor – Fefe On the Block
11. Lil Reese feat. Chief Keef – Traffic
10. Lil Durk – Bang Bros
9. Katie Got Bandz feat. King Louie – Pop Out
8. Lil Reese, Fredo Santana and Lil Durk – Beef
7. Spenzo – Wife Er
6. Chief Keef – Faneto
5. P. Rico – Hang Wit Me
4. Chance the Rapper – Paranoia
3. Lil Herb and Lil Bibby – Kill Shit
2. King Louie – BON
1. Chief Keef – Love Sosa

Chimeka FKA Chinchilla Meek AKA the original unicorn is a recording artist from Harvey who also owns and operates Don’t Do Coke LLC and the Camp Smokey Bear Festival, Chicago’s only all-hip-hop cultural festival.

Cam Jackson is a Chicago-based music exec born & raised on the South Side. He worked with King Louie in 2009, helping conceive early tapes like More Boss Shit, and has worked with DJs and producers DJ Oreo, DJ Victoriouz, and C-Sick. He and partner Elz the DJ recently co-founded Fair Taste Co., working with LilJuMadeDaBeat, the producer behind Megan Thee Stallion’s “Cash Shit” & “Big Ole Freak.”

NayrCreates is an independent Chicago A&R who has worked with a wide variety of Chicago artists.

Chill engineered the So Many Shrimp Radio podcast; prior to that, he interviewed many of the Chicago artists who went on to have an impact both locally and nationally for WBC Magazine and Dead End Hip Hop, including Lil Durk. He’s also worked at WGCI-FM and is a photographer.

David Drake made this blog a long ass time ago. He used to be a music journalist and critic but now he works behind the scenes, though not currently with anyone from Chicago.

Best Music, 2010-2019

Looking back at the decade I notice that the songs I tended to put at No. 1 have the least longevity. Kind of weird, right? It’s a curse, like getting Best New Artist at the Grammys. “Clarity,” “No Type,” that Dej Loaf + Jacquees song–as much as I loved them at the time, and as much as I like highlighting music, the closer to the top of the hierarchy the harder it is for me to put a point on the pyramid. That said, as I picked through old lists & ran through my personal memory banks, on the whole I was overall satisfied with the music I chose to represent my tastes year after year.

this list is, obviously, filtered through my subjective lens of the period, but that doesn’t mean I’ve made some attempt to focus on a specific “beat” ie Chicago rap or whatever … though my tastes can tend in that direction, this is more abt my personal journey through the decade. There’s an effort to remove redundant styles, and also in some cases for a song to stand in for an iceberg’s worth of music. 100 songs is really only 10 songs per year.

Albums list is more haphazard by design. I tried to solely include albums I felt strongly about, not that fit in with some pre-ordained history or story of the decade in music, of what ‘Mattered’. This doesn’t really reflect “the direction of music” during the decade as a result. Making good albums is kind of a strange art separate from making great music for a lot of the artists I listen to, pop, rap, dance, whatever. The order of the albums is is, after a point, kind of arbitrary and random. That said, i do think there are some unusually consistent, cohesive, well-crafted art products in the list as a result, stuff you aren’t likely to find elsewhere.

Recently I’ve been doing some consulting work “behind the scenes”; though I don’t work w/ any of the listed artists there could be some perceived conflict bc of shared corporate parentage but rest assured I’m being stubbornly myself in selection. Disclosing nonetheless.

Top 100 Songs of the 2010s:

100. Swedish House Mafia Vs. Tinie Tempah “Miami 2 Ibiza” (2010)
99. Tommy Lee Sparta “Vibes Inna Dis” (2013)
98. Young Humma feat. Flynt Flossy “Lemme Smang It” (2010)
97. The Fives “What You Do (Hottest By Far)” (2011)
96. Hot Toddy “Down To Love” (2010)
95. Jack J “Thirstin” (2015)
94. Pressa “TBH (To Be Honest)” (2016)
93. Deep Cotton feat. Jidenna “Let’s Get Caught” (2015)
92. RÜFÜS “Sundream (Classixx Remix)” (2014)
91. Travis Porter feat. Wale “My Team Winnin'” (2011)

90. Amel Larrieux “I Do Take” (2013)
89. Koran Streets feat. K.I. “Struggle” (2016)
88. T.L. Williams “Gettin Mo Money Than You” (2013)
87. Nicole Scherzinger “Heartbreaker” (2014)
86. Jimmy Wopo “Elm Street” (2016)
85. Nick Jonas “Jealous” (2014)
84. Speaker Knockerz “Money” (2013)
83. Babes Wodumo feat. Mampintsha “Wololo” (2016)
82. Chinx feat. Meet Sims “On Your Body” (2015)
81. Rudimental feat. MNEK and Sinead Harnett “Baby” (2013)

80. Katie Got Bandz “I Need A Hitta” (2011)
79. Sam Smith “Restart” (2014)
78. Patoranking feat. Wande Coal “My Woman My Everything” (2015)
77. Uhuru ft. DJ Buckz, Oskido, Professor and Uri-Da-Cunha “Y-tjukutja” (2013)
76. Dom Kennedy “My Type of Party” (2012)
75. Boldy James “Concrete Connie” (2011)
74. Christine and The Queens “iT” (2014)
73. Chris Crack “Love Is Still Awesome” (2016)
72. Mikael Seifu “Brass” (2015)
71. Trouble “Bussin” (2011)

70. Dua Lipa “New Rules” (2017)
69. Ty Money “Ready to Ride” (2012)
68. Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane “Black Beatles” (2016)
67. Mouse And Level “I Bet U Won’t” (2017)
66. 03 Greedo “Sweet Lady” (2016)
65. Years & Years “King” (2015)
64. CupcakKe “Deepthroat” (2016)
63. Maroon 5 feat. SZA “What Lovers Do” (2017)
62. J Hus “Did You See” (2017)
61. Kreayshawn “Gucci Gucci” (2011)

60. Alkaline “City” (2016)
59. Kanye West feat. Ty Dolla Sign “Real Friends” (2016)
58. A-Wax “Be Alone” (2014)
57. Bankroll Fresh “ESPN” (2015)
56. Fantasia “Collard Greens & Cornbread” (2010)
55. Messy Marv “Motorbike” (2010)
54. Kiss Daniel “Good Time” (2015)
53. Youngboy Never Broke Again “Drawing Symbols” (2018)
52. Sada Baby & Drego “Bloxk Party” (2018)
51. Justin Bieber “Sorry” (2015)

50. Sky Ferriera “You’re Not the One” (2013)
49. Wooh Da Kid feat. Waka Flocka Flame and Bo Deal “Body Bag” (2010)
48. XXXTentacion “SAD!” (2018)
47. Kelis “Jerk Ribs” (2014)
46. Chainsmokers & Coldplay “Something Just Like This” (2017)
45. Yves Tumor “Limerence” (2017)
44. DJ Khaled feat. Chris Brown, August Alsina, Future, and Jeremih “Hold You Down” (2015)
43. Lil Reese feat. Fredo Santana and Lil Durk “Beef” (2012)
42. Sevyn Streeter “Consistent” (2015)
41. Waka Flocka Flame feat. Kebo Gotti “Grove Street Party” (2010)

40. Tay K “Murder She Wrote” (2017)
39. Kacey Musgraves “Lonely Weekend” (2018)
38. Valee “Seen Her Before” (2017)
37. Future “Trap N*****” (2015)
36. Berner, The Jacka, and Carey Stacks “So Much Pain” (2015)
35. Jhene Aiko feat. Swae Lee “Sativa” (2017)
34. Gotye feat. Kimbra “Somebody That I Used To Know” (2011)
33. Lil Peep “Problems” (2017)
32. Vybz Kartel “Coloring Book” (2011)
31. Maleek Berry “Kontrol” (2016)

30. Peggy Gou “It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)” (2018)
29. The 1975 “A Change of Heart” (2016)
28. Chance the Rapper “Acid Rain” (2013)
27. Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ “Lean On” (2015)
26. Nipsey Hussle feat. K-Camp “Between Us” (2014)
25. Moodymann feat. Andres “Lyk U Use 2” (2014)
24. King Louie “Bars” (2012)
23. Meek Mill “Middle of the Summer” (2012)
22. Ty Dolla $ign “My Cabana” (2012)
21. Davido “Dami Duro” (2012)

20. Storm Queen “Look Right Through” (2011)
19. Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go “Cinema (Skrillex Remix)” (2011)
18. Sun El-Musician feat. Samthing Soweto “Akanamali” (2017)
17. Tiwa Savage “Eminado” (2013)
16. Rick Ross feat. Drake & Chrisette Michele “Aston Martin Music” (2010)
15. Kodak Black “No Flockin” (2014)
14. Todd Terje “Inspector Norse” (2012)
13. Kendrick Lamar “HiiiPOWER” (2011)
12. Young Thug “Hey I” (2015)
11. E-40 “Choices” (2015)

10. Diddy-Dirty Money feat. Swizz Beatz “Ass On The Floor” (2010)
9. Kevin Gates “Movie” (2014)
8. Kelly Rowland feat. Lil Wayne “Motivation” (2011)
7. Lil Boosie “Top to the Bottom” (2010)
6. Grimes “Realiti (Demo)” (2015)
5. Mozzy “Baldheaded” (2015)
4. Gucci Mane “What It’s Gonna Be” (2010)
3. WizKid “Show You the Money” (2014)
2. Chief Keef “Earned It” (2015)
1. Burna Boy “Soke” (2015)

1. Beyonce Beyonce
2. Rick Ross Rich Forever
3. Diddy-Dirty Money Last Train to Paris
4. Erykah Badu New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
5. Young Thug Barter VI
6. Distruction Boyz Gqom is the Future
7. Chief Keef Almighty So
8. Valee and ChaseTheMoney VTM
9. Ty Dolla $ign Beach House 3
10. Rich Gang Tha Tour Part 1
11. Rihanna Anti
12. Kevin Gates The Luca Brasi Story
13. Kiss Daniel New Era
14. E-40 Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift/Overtime Shift
15. Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly
16. Future 56 Nights
17. Polo G Die a Legend
18. Jay Critch, Rich the Kid and Famous Dex Rich Forever 3
19. Jazmine Sullivan Reality Show
20. Nipsey Hussle Mailbox Money
21. Tay-K SantanaWorld
22. Burna Boy African Giant
23. Chance the Rapper Acid Rap
24. The 1975 I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It
25. Mozzy Gangland Landscape
26. SZA CNTRL
27. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Ancestral Recall
28. Kehlani You Should Be Here
29. King Louie Tony
30. Mr Twin Sister Mr Twin Sister
31. Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, mAAd City
32. Doja Cat Amala
33. Boldy James Trappers Alley: Pros and Cons
34. Tree The Tree EP
35. CupcakKe Cum Cake
36. Trouble Edgewood
37. Hailu Mergia Lala Belu
38. Chief Keef Back From the Dead 2
39. Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour
40. 03 Greedo Purple Summer
41. Starlito Renaissance Gangster
42. Lil Durk I’m Still A Hitta
43. Theo Parrish American Intelligence
44. Vic Spencer and Chris Crack Who TF is Chris Spencer?!
45. Tink Winters Diary 4
46. Playboi Carti Die Lit
47. Robyn Honey
48. Grimes Visions
49. ZMoney Rich B4 Rap
50. Sun El Musician Africa to the World
51. A-Wax Pullin’ Strings
52. Alkaline New Level Unlocked
53. Ty Money Cinco de Money
54. KING We Are KING
55. Meek Mill Dreamchasers
56. Mr. Fingers Cerebral Hemispheres
57. NhT Boyz Power Triangle
58. Jacka What Happened To the World
59. Heavy K Respect the Drumboss
60. Famous Dex Dex the Robot
61. Lil Peep Hellboy
62. HD Fresh
63. Waka Flocka Flame Flockaveli
64. Moodymann Moodymann
65. Chris Crack Just Gimme a Minute
66. Tweet Charlene
67. Vic Spencer The Cost of Victory
68. Saba Care For Me
69. Drake Nothing Was the Same
70. Ariana Grande Yours Truly
71. Trippie Redd A Love Letter To You 3
72. Kevin Gates Islah
73. Smino BlkSwn
74. dumblonde dumblonde
75. Bicep Bicep
76. Ty Dolla $ign Beach House
77. Roy Kinsie Blackie
78. Nipsey Hussle Victory Lap
79. Deem Spencer We Think We Alone
80. Chief Keef Dedication
81. BeatKing Gangsta Stripper Music 2
82. Lil Durk Signed To the Streets
83. Koran Streets You.Know.I.Got.It (The Album)
84. Isaiah Rashad Cilvia Demo
85. PVRIS White Noise
86. Mozzy Bladadah
87. Lil Herb Welcome to Fazoland
88. ZMoney Chiraq Mogul
89. Lloyd Banks FNO
90. Fat Trel Georgetown
91. Future Streetz Callin
92. Mick Jenkins or more; the anxious
93. SpaceGhostPurrp Blackland Radio 66.6
94. Azealia Banks Broke With Expensive Taste
95. Lucki Freewave 3
96. Cyhi the Prynce No Dope on Sundays
97. Syclops Pink Eye
98. Lady Donli Wallflower
99. Jacquees Mood
100. Rico Nasty Nasty

music 2018


I’m sure we complained about how saturated we are with music every year going back decades. But what feels New is how contentious and volatile history can now seem, via the discursive transparency of social media.

The generalist critic has never felt more irrelevant, less in tune with what’s happening. Feels like former ‘generalist’ critics have retreated from even being aware of what’s happening, never mind incorporating that context for their readers. Instead, they celebrate the marginal and ideologically righteous (unless/until it turns out the artist isn’t all that righteous). I get the impulse, and often find myself reaching for work that’s obscure but interesting.

In another part of the critical internet, millions of YouTube views generated across the genre give any critic an imprimatur of tapping at the zeitgeist. This underlines a redundancy of critics-as-documentarians (*transcribes track titles with high YouTube counts for the record*) and suggests an increasing urgency for critics to carve out distinct political-aesthetic POVs. (And, for music journalists, the urgency to have a unique ‘beat.’) If your list is just a succession of popular rap songs (“x has more views than y”), what are you really contributing?

The critical base, then, feels polarized–playing it safe aesthetically by celebrating any type of regional rapper w buzz you think could end up w a mythic backstory, or playing it safe politically & completely ignoring the contradictory, complicated, problematic fandoms of rap’s audiences altogether. Music has always been for me (and I think for most people) a majorly social art form, and ignoring the context (or dismissing it as ‘buzz’ or ‘hype’) is a mistake; at the same time, being unable to stand up to the crowd & represent something true about your own experience (‘taste’ but also principles) is equally irresponsible. Interesting coverage exists, i think, inside this tension.

(The industry itself is even worse, of course; as rap takes up more & more of the streaming revenue, yet rarely has access to the pop charts…others have written about this more eloquently than I.)

For me, the most interesting music this year beneath the radar came from places like Memphis, Detroit, and Florida. Chicago had a strong year on the media-friendly side of things, although even then it seemed to come up short on year-end lists and the like, now that those sites seem more swamped by content than in previous years. (It’s a weird time when Saba gets Best New Music but doesn’t make Pitchfork’s best of the year, or made-for-TinyDesk act The Internet doesn’t make NPR’s.)

But I’m criticizing a game I’m no longer playing–outside of a stray Greedo interview & this Chief Keef piece, I haven’t published anything this year, my first major break from doing full time music writing since ~2011, and first break doing regular music writing since… 2005? idk. Career-wise, I’ve started doing consulting work behind the scenes, and as soon as you cross that bridge there are, obviously, conflicts with serious critical work. I’m sure most people who bothered clicking this link know I’m sincere (or stubborn) about my tastes, & not particularly interested in brainwashing people into liking something that’s Actually Bad, but in the event you stumble across the list & don’t know me already, I’m disclosing this to be transparent.

The last thing I’d want, though, is for someone to conflate my career choices with a disparagement of criticism as a medium. I certainly don’t think the art is any less useful or important than when I started doing it. (Can you even quit criticism? Once you start thinking that way it’s impossible to stop.) I love music criticism and always will and believe it’s more important than ever, that you need people who are incentivized to push at cross purposes with the profit motive & give you what’s real from an informed, thoughtful, POV that is wholly their own.

Best Albums 2018

Mr. Fingers Cerebral Hemispheres
Trouble Edgewood
Doja Cat Amala
Chief Keef Back from the Dead 3
The 1975 A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
Yves Tumor Safe in the Hands of Love
ZMoney Chiraq Mogul
Sun El Musician Africa to the World
Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour
Lil Durk STTS3
Hailu Mergia Lala Belu
Sheck Wes Mudboy
Syclops Pink Eye
Roy Kinsie Blackie
Chris Crack Being Woke Ain’t Fun
Saba Care for Me
Skee Mask Compro
Don Toliver Donny Womack
Rico Nasty Nasty
Trippie Redd A Love Letter To You 3

Some songs not from 2018

Adriano Schiavo “Goodbye”
Maurice Fulton presents Jacky Sangster “You Give Me Good Feeling”
Poppie from TW feat. Chunky “Bankrolls”
Jose Gonzalez “Far Away”
Chris Rae “Thinking of You”
Kashif “Bed You Down”
Karen Ramirez “Looking For Love”
Brian Harden “Is it All from my Baby”
Ivy “This is the Day”
AMR Dee Huncho “Not My Brother”

51 songs from 2018


50. Nesta “Melody”
49. Bandland Zz “By Myself”
48. King Von “Crazy Story”
47. PG Ra “Show My Ass”
46. CalBoy “Envy Me”
45. Big Boogie “Got Me Fucked Up”
44. Black tha Don & Asa2Times “Bizerk”
43. Swervoo “I Want a Dirtbike”
42. Solo the Dweeb “Bussin”
41. The Internet “Roll (Burbank Funk)”


40. Jax Jones & Years&Years “Play”
39. Trinidadian Deep “Dear Owen”
38. Lil Peep “Life is Beautiful” (2018 version)
37. Husalah “Nyeusi”
36. NBA YoungBoy “Drawing Symbols”
35. FBG Duck “Slide”
34. Kacey Musgraves “Lonely Weekend”
33. Khalid feat. Ty Dolla $ign and 6lack “OTW”
32. CupcakKe – Crayons
31. Doja Cat “Roll With Us”
30. Playboi Carti “Mileage”


29. Mick Jenkins “Understood”
28. Don Toliver “Around”
27. Xxxtentacion “Sad!”
26. Ozuna & Ele A El Dominio “Balenciaga”
25. Kane Brown “Weekend”
24. Tokyo Jetz “No Problem”
23. Travis Scott “Stop Trying to Be God”
22. The 1975 “Give Yourself a Try”
21. Blueface “Deadlocs”
20. Juice WRLD “Lean Wit Me”


19. Rico Nasty “Trust Issues”
18. Sango feat. Smino “Khlorine”
17. Rod Wave “Heart 4 Sale”
16. TisaKorean “Dip”
15. Chance the Rapper “I Might Need Security”
14. Prince Kaybee ft Busiswa & TNS “Banomoya”
13. Dominic Fike “King of Everything”
12. Chief Keef “Black Proud”
11. Valee “VLone”


10. El Hitta “Aww Yea”
9. Kanye West & Lil Pump ft. Adele Givens “I Love It”
8. Hailu Mergia “Yefikir Engurguro”
7. Peggy Gou “It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)”
6. Mozzy “In My Prayers” (original/YouTube beat)
5. Calvin Harris & Sam Smith “Promises”
4. Sun-EL Musician “Sonini”
3. Rich the Kid “Plug Walk”
2. Saint Jhn “I Heard You Got Too Litt Last Night”
1. Sada Baby & Drego “Bloxk Party”

So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 20 – Rio Mac & ChaseTheMoney

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Episode 20 celebrates the production team most known for propelling Valee into a GOOD Music deal through Def Jam: Rio Mac (Part 1, and interview with an exclusive, lengthy DJ mix) and Chase The Money (Part 2, interview only). Rio, has been producing for years and first broke onto the scene with King Louie’s “Too Cool” seven years ago, and has since developed a stark, spare style responsible for the sound of narrative-driven rappers like Ty Money as well. ChaseTheMoney, originally from St. Louis, has a style which gives a tight focus to a noisier, busier style.

Rio came through David’s living room for an interview with Charne and David, while Chill and David decamped to Chase’s downtown hideaway for a quick interview session….

Part 1: Rio Mac (interview + mix)

Part 2: ChaseTheMoney (interview)

So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 19 – D.Brooks Exclusive

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D. Brooks is a producer/beatmaker whose work with West Side rapper Dreezy on her first mixtape Schizo helped launch her career (she’s now signed to Interscope and has since done songs with Gucci Mane and Kodak Black); his work with Baton rouge rapper NBA YoungBoy last year on single “Untouchable” has more than 100 million streams on YouTube with zero radio play, an incredible level of popularity for an underground record. It was recently awarded a platinum certification.

D. Brooks’ strength is to convey an emotional resonance that feels that much more genuine, that much more heartfelt, than the work of the next producer. Lately, he’s been working with the talented Englewood rapper KD Young Cocky; the two collaborated on one of David’s favorite songs last year, “Slippin.” The two are working on an upcoming project called Squad Goals, and this mix features some unreleased, exclusive tracks from the duo.

Part 1 is a mix by David & Charne.

Part 1: David & Charne

Part 2: D.Brooks

So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 18 – Vic Lloyd

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Chicago hip-hop’s “Big Homie,” Vic Lloyd has been a rapper, DJ, mentor, streetwear designer (see his Sensei line) and store owner, and one of the city’s most important cultural figures. He’s worked with anyone who’s anyone in Chicago hip-hop at one time or another. Vic is a DJ with a fingerprint-unique identity, a sound driven by Chicago’s taste for classic soul reimagined for a contemporary context.

This episode was recorded December 17, 2017 at David’s place in Chicago, IL.

Part 1: David Drake and Charne Graham

Part 2: Vic Lloyd [On Audiomack cuz SoundCloud is tripping]

 

So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 17 – Tree

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Cabrini Green’s own MC Tree G is a critically-acclaimed rapper-producer whose sound broke to some international recognition in 2012, an example of the wide-ranging sound of Chicago’s diverse hip-hop scene. Though there were label deals in the works, things don’t always work out–first among them, the desires of an artist and the expectations of showbiz. In a rare interview, Tree talked with David and Charne about his career, and played an exclusive mix of the music that made him who he is. Recorded last spring, this was originally intended as episode 8 but is being released out of order because we feel like it.

Part 1: David and Charne’s Mix

 

Part 2: Tree Interview & DJ Mix

So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 16 – DJ King Marie

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Part 2 is an interview and mix by DJ King Marie. Catch DJ King Marie spinning coast to coast, but mostly in Chicago, where she has regularly destroys East Room with a trademark mix of hip hop and juke records. A Native Chicagoan, Christine Marie has also rocked residencies in New York and LA, and recently worked as tour DJ for Chuck Inglish of the Cool Kids.

Part 1 is a mix by David and Charne!

Recorded August 13, 2017.

Part 1: David Drake & Charne Graham mix

Part 2: DJ King Marie Interview & Mix

So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 15 – Gemini Jones

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So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 15 features the hardest working DJ in Chicago, the one & only DJ Gemini Jones. Gemini Jones is a widely respected DJ who Charne first discovered six years back, when she was spinning at the legendary Shrine nightclub. She’s known not just for being an adept pro DJ, but also for her eclectic sets which mix music new & old, and keeps things Chicago by incorporating juke music alongside hip-hop, house, dancehall, and R&B.

Part 2 features an interview with Gemini and a DJ mix.

Part 1 is a more-adventurous-than-usual mix by David Drake and Charne Graham.

Part 1 – David & Charne’s Mix

 

Part 2 – Gemini Jones’ Interview and Mix
[Download here; stream here. Soundcloud removed it because the industry is lame]