T.I’s rap mannequin Iggy Azalea might have manufactured the biggest hit, but opinions differ greatly on which artist composed the finest track this summer.
In part one of this feature, the Passionweiss staff chose their favourites with suggestions including Migos, Bobby Shmurda and a Columbian rap star who’s name translates to “Mr Black President.” Part two continues the tradition with enough bangers to make you forget about your upcoming cold-induced virus and rapping MTV wallabies. – Jimmy Ness
By Brad Beatson
Travis Scott – “Drugs You Should Try It”
This song is the reason why Travis Scott is one of my favorite current artists. He’s produced three #1 albums in the past year, is known as Kanye’s “protege” and puts on one of the craziest shows since OFWGKTA. But when he’s channelling his idol, Kid Cudi, and making more straightforward “ballads,” he’s at his best.
“Drugs You Should Try It,” like “Hell of a Night” on Owl Pharaoh before it, is mostly modified croons over skimpy guitars and snaps. Co-produced with FKi, they opt for a less frenetic sound than the rest of Days Before Rodeo and it turns into album’s best song. It sounds like the first fall day that pops up before the end of summer. It makes me think about the times I bitched about the heat and stayed indoors and remember that I’m only going to want to be indoors when winter comes. It’s made me get out there and have some fun these past few weeks, like a good summer jam should.
Runner Up: Mac DeMarco – “Goodbye Weekend”
Mac DeMarco is so chill that he gives me anxiety. Look at him in this interview with Nardwuar for proof positive, or just listen toSalad Days. I put “Goodbye Weekend” on pretty much any time I was having doubts, or after any phone call with my Mom this summer. Mac’s the chillest and listening to him will make you more based, which is better for everyone. Do it up.
By Max Bell
Busdriver – “Upsweep”
Perfect Hair dropped in September, but I’ve played “Upsweep” incessantly since the album made the press rounds in July. It doesn’t lend itself to backyard barbeques or lysergic sojourns to dens of iniquity. Busdriver was born out of the Blowed – he’ll never make that song. Instead, “Upsweep” is chock-full of sobering and downright depressing sentiments delivered in rapid succession, the form mirroring the speed at which we hurtle towards the junk heap. In the moments when Busdriver croons the title over Mono/Poly’s beautiful and percussive suite, all poignant gut punches coalesce, creating an almost crystalline catharsis. No matter the season, this song proves that art remains the only treatment for American gloom. When I listen now, I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment I’ve nearly died in the upsweep.
Runner Up: Makonnen – “I Don’t Sell Molly No More”
“Club Going Up On a Tuesday” is an impeccable pop song in guise of atmospheric trap & b, one that made my previously maligned Tuesday night turn-ups de rigueur. Thus, while I concede that “I Don’t Sell Molly No More” isn’t the best Makonnen song, it is the better rap song. Packs are sold and moolah is made as Makonnen cruises PCH with lean by the pint, rapping deep in the pocket over Sonny Digital’s slinking Casio keys and ominous, sub-rattling thump. For those who’ve lost their MDMA plug, I sympathize. But remember that Makonnen turns strawberitas to champagne. He never needed to sell Molly in the first place.
By Tosten Burks
Vic Mensa – “Down On My Luck”
It’s hard to overstate the sleek, brittle understatedness of Vic Mensa’s wistful hip-house sonnet, “Down On My Luck.” The song, first written on tour as a treat for Disclosure fans, is a finely tuned throb, Vic’s sneaky smart slur twisting along with Stefan Ponce’s kick drum, disco soul atmospherics pulsing in and out like it’s late night at some Chicago warehouse in 1986. Released at the end of April a few weeks after Frankie Knuckles passed, the left turn into dance music (following through on the debatably cynical tease that was the “When the Fire Starts to Burn” freestyle) ultimately makes for a proper ode to the city’s deep-house roots during a summer that tragically demanded the memorializing of fallen Chicago gawds.
But I spent my last six months in Los Angeles. “Luck” threaded that particular droughted adventure more because I kinda felt like that exact Hollywood wanderer, aimless, hiding behind my eyes. A lot of lonely Tacos Delta on Sunset, like some midnight scene from an old romantic movie. Even as his hair and interviews have gotten brighter, Vic still flashes his sad boy side too. This summer it had both sides of the Atlantic getting down.
Runner Up: Leikeli47 – “Fuck the Summer Up”
Nikki’s gluteus may have physically carried the game for the past several months, but it was Leikeli47’s siren-ringing banger, an encore to January’s remarkably weird and often great LK-47 pt. II, that most destructively aced the princess gangster steez. Flows as reckless as anyone not currently holding Metro Boomin beats, gunshots and finger snaps, banging on the dishes, pissing on your lawn. Leave it to the girl sun tanning in Tims and a ski mask, who once rapped wearing a gas mask made out of Jordans, to make you dig the tired balaclava trope for a few more months.
Sicko Mobb – “Range Rover”
Passionweiss associate Adam Wray put me on to Sicko Mobb this summer, an assist that led directly to me commandeering soundsystems at various NYC house parties and switching out pre-configured playlists for the Chicago duo’s “Range Rover.” I never apologized for the move, nor should I have had to—the track is joy incarnate in sonic form, one of the few songs released this sunny season that was both strange enough and fun enough to grab newcomers’ attention and keep them dancing. It starts with the autotuned “skkrrt” that kicks off the track (bless you Schoolboy Q) and goes through the sugary, floating chorus, unintelligible on first listen and slowly revealing itself lyrically to be just as fun as you might have expected.
The song’s laptop production, liberal use of autotune, and disjointed bars mark it as an unmistakable product of 2014, but there’s some Do-or-Die style classicism in those melodies connecting primo Bop to its Chi-town antecedent. It’s not just the chorus that’s demands sing-along here, but weird odds and ends (“dreaded up like Tarzan, paparazzi out of gas”) and background ad-libs. Shockingly enough (to me), the cut isn’t slated to appear on the duo’s upcoming mixtape SSV2. But somehow, that makes the song even more worthwhile – a random, sloppy masterpiece that never really made it onto the radar, but was nonetheless beloved by small parties of converts wherever it was played.
Runner-Up: DJ Dodger Stadium – “Love Songs”
The only reason that this isn’t my “song of the summer” choice is that it’s my song of the year choice thus far. It goes in summer the same way it will in fall, winter and spring. Jerome LOL and Samo Sound Boy have partly inherited their buddy Shlohmo’s core mission: how do you make mostly instrumental electronic music that’s as warm, emotional and expressive as anything else? This is how.
Junglepussy – “Nah”
The best song of the summer is a Cam’ron song, except it isn’t. Junglepussy’s “Nah” is three minutes of distilled swagger. It’s a sweltering Brooklyn afternoon; it’s the cleanest mink; it’s truly great eel. The New York upstart borrows liberally from the Dipset capo, but does so while gliding from the trap to Trader Joe’s. Unabashedly sexual and unshakably confident, Junglepussy is magnetic in the way Gotham rappers are supposed to be. And since we’re here, let’s talk about sex: When the genders are flipped, we’re trained to look for the commentary, the Lily Allen school of subversion. So, sure, there are shirtless men feeding a rap star raw asparagus. But this is just Junglepussy’s life. You could never floss this hard.
Runner-up: Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
And the best Taylor Swift song of the summer is a C-Murder song. Whoever tweaked the horns from “Down 4 My Niggaz” enough to sneak them into “Shake It Off” is doing God’s work and should never question his or her purpose in life. Say what you will about the four bars of faux-rapping; “Shake It Off” has the biggest hook of the Obama administration. And I have beef with Earl Sweatshirt.