Was this the best song in 2010?

Z-Ro – These Days

I entirely slept on this when it dropped, but Beanz n Kornbread killed it and Z-Ro dug it up, shot it, and buried it again. I’m not the world’s biggest Z-Ro fanatic — I’m pretty sure you have to be from Texas to get the full effect — but he’s an unquestionably dominant voice. This isn’t, I think, the kind of track that most artists should attempt. Although lyrically-lyrical types will disparage emotive rapping in Pac mold, I think it’s actually much rarer, and therefore more powerful, when you find an artist who can pull it off. Most artists just don’t have voices like Z-Ro’s; they get around it by locating their talents in other aspects of rapping; writing, developing a unique flow, or, uh, adlibs, for example. An artist who reaches for this sort of thing often is Big K.R.I.T. While it feels like he’s just reaching his potential as a producer right now, I had started writing him off because he was relying on listener sympathy too often, going to the ~deep thoughts~ well a few too many times, and that’s a really tough thing to carry with any consistency.

Ludacris – What You Smoking On feat. Wiz Khalifa

Ludacris – What You Smoking On feat. Wiz Khalifa Prod. by Big K.R.I.T.

Luda’s new tape was pretty disappointing on the whole, although it’s refreshing to hear his voice again. But what can you say about it really; he basically bought every single feature a major label mixtape can possibly have in 2011 (Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, Rick Ross, Waka — I’m falling asleep reading this tracklist). He could trade albums with Pusha T no one would know, aside from the more ATL-focused production lineup; he does flip through some different flows, which is less interesting than it sounds. It also features him dissing Big Sean for dissing him for supposedly stealing a punchline style no one really liked in the first place. No hits, though; I think that era of Luda might be over, which is kind of sad.

That said, the above track shows the extent to which K.R.I.T. has stepped it up as a beatmaker. He has a really unpredictable & diverse bag of tricks within a seemingly narrow template, and is clearly one of the more reliable producers in the game right now. If I were a rapper with the budget I’d be buying up K.R.I.T. beats like nobody’s business.