Few electric tunes burrowed as deeply into my head as Buku's lead single from this year's No Dramas EP. The rippling synths and persistent drums fit together like clockwork and quickly build to a rush of sound that's as slick as it is memorable.
Front to Back
Rich Chigga's gigantic year that no one expected all began here. It's one of 2016's best and most bizarre feel good stories, and a proper continuation of sonic trends instigated by “It G Ma” last year. And you especially can't deny the impact of a song when the "remix" (sorry Pouya, sorry Ghostface) is far less immediate and gripping as the original.
It's good to feel like a bad guy every once and a while. The soft flute melody and steady Metro-type drum pattern makes it that much easier to be that bad, and to flex that hard. Pray for Tyga, and cheers to the knife-faced freshman for his first platinum record.
X ft. Future
21 Savage & Metro Boomin
"Broccoli" is a success because it allows Boat and D.R.A.M. to be authentically themselves: silly, bombastic, outrageous, and burgeoning with positivity. The simple piano melody and healthy thumping bass reverb are a match made in radio-play heaven. "Broccoli" is undeniable, no matter how much of a ruckus Kodak Black makes about it.
Broccoli ft. Lil Yatchty
I feel a creeping sensation whenever I think about how the best track on The Life of Pablo has probably gone unheard by a massive amount of people. Released with little fanfare as another post-release edit, this is the closer Pablo deserved, rivaling company like “Last Call” and “Gone” (or even “Late” if you consider "Saint Pablo" a bonus track) It's the Old Kanye in full force, apologetic and God-fearing.
Ever since Das Racist broke up there's been a void waiting to be filled. This single from sleeper rap troop Injury Reserve shows that they're ready to take their place and even exceed beyond. This is the treat yourself anthem, and it feels good to spend with a hook as monstrous as this one: "O-O-Oh my God!”
All This Money
Abel has come a long way from pitch shifting Beach House melodies to getting vocoder work done by Daft Punk themselves. Either way, he's still capable of making a hit, underground or radio-friendly. This is also Daft Punk's first #1 single which is worthy of note just due to how outrageous that is.
Starboy ft. Daft Punk
As far as features go Vince Staples has had one amazing year. This GTA cut, by far the very best of the entire lot, is another dream pairing come to life, with the goons' rubber-burning swift kicks coasting along perfectly with Vince's flow. Fog horns, frog croaks, and all it's a track that stomps from first kick and never lets up.
Little Bit of This
ft. Vince Staples
THIS SONG BANGS BRUH, NON STOP
Bad & Boujee ft. Lil Uzi Vert
The magnitude of this song is difficult to overstate. For what it lacks in complexity or innovation, it compensates with sheer personality. Unapologetic, unreserved performances from the two titans in question. It's one of the easiest songs to sing along to to be released all year, and every time it comes on you know trouble is brewing, looming from inside the speakers and subwoofers.
THat Part ft. Kanye West
It is completely and utterly outrageous how catchy this song is. It is borderline maddening how easily the crystalline synths latch into my consciousness. It is even more preposterous that Pusha T and Future haven't done more work together. And it is a blessing that Baauer has orchestrated all these elements to coalesce into one truly perfect banger.
Kung Fu ft. Pusha T & Future
As much as I enjoyed Birds in the Trap, I believe this song to belong entirely to the Thugger-extraordinaire. The hook and ad-libs are exceptionally strong in their own right, but I am hard pressed to find a more enjoyable bout of singing than what I'm treated to listening to this song on repeat, again and again. "Never will I cheat on you! Never will I commit treason!”
pick up the phone ft. Quavo
Young Thug & Travis Scott
If any of the SoundCloud producer crowd had an all star year, it's been JOYRYDE. Of all the artists featured here, his madhouse roster of future house's absolute best repeat singles could easily populate this entire list. (See: “The Box,” “Fuel Tank,” “Hot Drum,” etc.) But "DAMN" sees JOYRYDE in top form and most definitely takes the cake. Every horn blast and drum kick is calculated, high octane, adrenaline-pumping madness, and Freddie Gibbs simply took the words right out of my mouth on first listen: damn (damn).
DAMN ft. Freddie Gibbs
While “Frankie Sinatra” isn't the "world-changing" record it was cracked up to be, “Subways” just might be that song. The accompanying music video (which as a bonus I'll note is my Music Video of the Year) is a perfect visual aid; it looks just about as sunny, colorful, and playful as “Subways” actually sounds, and is animated with enough meticulous detail and personality to encourage repetition. Infinitely. It is also worth noting that this song does in fact loop perfectly back into itself when left on repeat. I would know, I'm speaking from experience of course.
For a moment let's imagine the #MannequinChallenge didn't exist. This song would still be at the top of the charge. “Black Beatles” is the true measure of the power of the Rae Srremurd hit-making machine, and it's about as glorious as it gets: completely infectious, effortlessly cool, infinitely listenable. It's the type of hit that transcends any overuse it might suffer or any meme that attaches to its semblance. It's the single of the year (and has plenty of back up in tow: “By Chance,” “Look Alive,” etc.)