This December has came and went faster than maybe any in my entire life, and the year has similarly sped by. I’ve opted to not write a top songs list for 2017, because I don’t think I have enough of a record of what I’ve listened to and want to avoid bias towards songs I’ve posted on this blog. That being said, I think it was a really interesting year for hip-hop and a lot of newer artists really solidified themselves as legitimate forces to be reckoned with, such as SOBxRBE, OMB Peezy, and Kodak Black (not really new but put out a lot of his best music this year), to name just a few. From a local perspective, the Toronto scene reached a new peak in terms of sheer numbers of artists releasing quality music, despite no stars emerging from that group (yet).
For a few good lists, check out (and read the comments) of Noz and The Martorialist’s, in my eyes two essential hip hop writers. For a slightly different take, check out Pink Chardonnay, whose list included a number of tracks that made no appearances on any of the top 10s/50s/100s I’ve seen this year.
I’m not one to plug social media, but check out my twitter (link at the top of the page) if you’re interested in more frequent new music and opinions, as I often head there first if I don’t have the time to write something.
Anyways, enough rambling. Here are my top 10 tracks for December 2017:
WSTRN – Ben Ova’ | Single; 2017
London trio WSTRN return as a duo, following the incarceration of member Akelle for a recent home invasion. I caught this one in my YouTube recommendations, and I’ve been playing this song non stop all month. Haile’s patois laced hook is infectious and I really like the two narrative concept – simultaneously flirting with a gyal who say she half chinee’ while eyeing enemies in the club. I’m a big fan of the way the instrumental is mixed too, this may all be pseudo music theory but here we go: Haile and Louis Rei have really different voices – high vs deep – but they both sit nicely on top of the beat, they have a lot of room to breathe.
Willie Joe et al – Cruisin’ | From YouTube; 2017
From the title, Cruisin’ by Willie Joe sounds like a weak country song, but this is neither weak nor country. The Drip Squad boys from Vallejo (I think) recruit James Online and SOB x RBE’s Lul G for this Bay Area interpolation of Earth Wind and Fire’s Let’s Groove. JamesOnline’s hook is the standout on this track, despite his endearingly awkward appearances in the music video.
Krept and Konan ft J Hus – Get a Stack | From “7 Days” (Mixtape) 2017
I don’t really listen to Krept and Konan that much (I like them they’re just not a go to), but I love J Hus (Common Sense is one of my top albums this year), so I came across this track when the video was released earlier this month. To be honest, nothing on here is a standout, but I enjoy the hook and get really fired up whenever I hear “Husalah Baby” during Krept’s verse. The only thing I’m left wondering regarding this song is the end of Konan’s verse, does he actually say “left with a brown ting, looking all Chris”?
Pimptobi – Boss Up | From YouTube; 2017
Not really much to say about this one, just a slick bay area joint. I like the Backwoods hoodie, I think those would be pretty cool if they were stitched rather than screen-printed
NorthSide Benji – Confessions | From YouTube; 2017
Northside Benji is one of my favourite rappers coming out of the Toronto scene (though he is from Brampton). Apparently, Benji will be making an appearance on Charlie Sloth’s Fire in the Booth, which is a big look for an artist who really hasn’t got much media attention. This song at hand is fantastic, Bemji has a real knack for taking self reflective themes and producing extremely catchy music.
Z-Money ft. Valee – Two 16’s | From YouTube; 2017
Alleged GOOD Music signee Valee hops on fellow Chicago native Z-Money’s new track “Two-16’s”, and it’s something else. These guys are both offbeat to say the least, and I love it. Z-Money starts off with a spacey post-Lil B verse, and Valee follows it up with a dizzying, pause free 16 bars. I assume he punched in to record this verse, but the end product is pretty sweet. Valee is one of my favourite bubbling rappers, so keep an eye on what he does over the course of 2018.
Jayy Brown ft LB – Its Okay | From YouTube; 2017
Here’s a catchy track from some young Toronto artists. LB has got a lot of attention locally lately, so do a YouTube search and see what catches your eye, I think he has a ton of talent and charisma.
FMB DZ – Reality | From “The Gift” (Mixtape) 2017
I had a really hard time picking a song to profile from DZ’s new tape “The Gift”, but I found myself playing “Reality” a lot. The beat was a slight departure from traditionally fast paced Detroit instrumentals and I thought DZ just flowed extremely well. Check out this whole tape, DZ has been getting a ton of blog exposure lately and its well deserved, and this project is an excellent example of why.
Pressa – Authentic | From “Press A Brick” (Mixtape) 2017
I was disappointed overall by the new Pressa tape, however there are flashes of brilliance throughout. “Authentic” itself isn’t the most amazing song, a lot of it deals with pretty contrived themes – buying expensive things, gang activities – but lyrics like “Remember, they say we members, they raided us in June and December” hit really hard and show a bit of vulnerability that in my opinion would produce some really strong music if explored further.
Casper TNG – In My Blunt | From YouTube; 2017
I posted about this song earlier in the month, so check that out for my opinions