During the first half of November 2019, I’ll be looking back on my top 50 songs of 2018. This is both in preparation for my 2019 list, and to perhaps help enlighten some others of some great songs they may have missed.
I’ll be doing this in 10 parts (with 5 songs each), with the first being Monday 4th, and another coming out each weekday for the following 2 weeks. So, with that said, read on, listen to some of the songs, and let me know what you think.
• Logic – 100 Miles and Running (ft Wale & John Lindahl)
Ok wow, what a song this is. ‘100 Miles and Running’, by Logic featuring Wale, is the stand out track from Logic’s ‘YSIV’ album released in September of 2018. The song has a run time of 5:54, and I can without a doubt get through the whole song every time and enjoy every second of it. In a day and age where the average song is about 2:50, logic does an extremely good job at keeping the listeners attention for the entire 6 minutes.
I could take any part of this song (the beat, the hook, the wale feature or any of the logic verses), and call it a standout moment, but considering every facet of this song is that good, there really is no standout part of the song. The song overall does a great job of keeping a consistent sound and vibe throughout, which really helps keep the listener interested.
The beat itself is amazing, and is composed of many different sounds throughout. From the start of the song there is a nice bass guitar riff which shows up through a majority of the track. As the verses progress, and also prominently during the hook there is the presence of a funky guitar riff reminiscent of a 90s/2000s Red Hot Chili Peppers song. During other parts of the song, particularly in Wale’s verse, we hear the addition of a church organ-sounding synth, another great addition which sounds great when mixed in with the multiple guitar sounds and the boom-bappy drums. The hook, delivered by John Lindahl (although it sounds like a sample), is a real throw back to an 80s/90s pop sound, and combined with the super fun beat and erratic flows used by both rappers, does a great job at bringing the whole song together, and making it seem like more of an actual song as opposed to a freestyle of sorts.
Logics rapping on this is probably his best of anything he has done in the past 5 years. I believe he has always shone when rapping over boom-bap style beats, and this is a perfect showing of that. Almost 4 minutes of the track is logic rapping, and during those 4 minutes he showcases a range of flows, including some impressively fast flows, some incredible rhymes schemes, some fantastic one liners and quotables, and keeps it super fun sounding the whole time. He rides the beat effortlessly, and also goes the duration of the song without saying anything corny, and if he does I’ve never noticed it amongst the 100 or so good bars. As you can imagine, being 4 minutes of rapping by someone that raps so fast, there are a lot of lines, and many of them worth quoting. I’m just going to touch on one of the many standouts;
“God damn it I’m back at it,
Never out of breath like an asthmatic, I’ve done had it,
For this shit I’m an addict, back in Maryland living in an attic,
Flowing erratic, bringin’ the static, bustin’ like and automatic”.
If this Wale feature was on almost any other song, it would be a renegade. This feature from Wale May be my favourite of his of all time. The feature is about 40 bars long, and spans 1:30 during the middle of the song, and does an absolutely stellar job at keeping the energy and vibe going between the 2 great logic verses. Wale changes up flows a number of times, and all the while keeping his high-energy delivery, and spitting some super solid lines. Once again, I won’t type out all my favourite parts from his feature, but one of the parts that always catches my attention is the start of his verse;
“Uh, smooth criminal, Mike Jack,
Throw a subliminal, put your woman in black dress,
They was in timberlands, I was reppin’ them Nike boots,
Remember them nights that mama couldn’t come right back”.
Not only is the delivery and flow of this part great, but the obscure rhyme scheme is one that I’ve always taken a liking to.
In summary, this is a must listen for anyone that even has an interest in music. I feel like although not everyone would like the entire song like I do, everyone would at least like parts of the song. The combination of all the elements make this song just sound extremely fun, and create this 6 minute vibe that is a breeze to get through. Logic has said that this track was meant for his future album ‘Ultra85’, and if that’s anything to go off then I really look forward to the direction he goes with that project
• Moneybagg Yo – Fall Down (ft. Kevin Gates & Rvssian)
‘Fall Down’, from Moneybaggs album ‘RESET’ is another standout track Moneybagg in 2018. It features Jamaican Producer ‘Rvssian’ on production, and Kevin Gates on both the hook and on the second verse. ‘Fall Down’ is yet another flawless song (perhaps with the exception of the slightly sexual start to the Kevin Gates verse), with a catchy hook, 2 great verses and an infectious beat.
The Rvssian produced beat follows a trend that seems to have had a resurgence in 2018, the use of Spanish sounding guitar as the highlight of the beat. The thing that makes this beat different from others is that there isn’t much repetition at all in the guitar, with it spanning multiple different chords and scales throughout the song. It almost sounds like they created the song first, then invited Carlos Santana in after to freestyle some guitar over the song. In particular, I love the softer sounding guitar in the second half of each verse. Apart from the guitar, the beat is pretty much just some subtle drums and some 808s which are present throughout the track.
Both Moneybagg and Kevin Gates have fantastic verses, both flowing over the guitar effortlessly, all whilst delivering some great lines and changing up their vocal delivery as through their verses. Although the Kevin Gates feature is spectacular both lyrically and delivery wise, the best bars in the song come from Moneybagg himself, and he actually spits one of the best bars of the year with;
“I just met a freak ho, out in Puerto Rico,
Hit her right back like we need a sequel,
Rubbin’ on her cat, now she call me Doctor Evil”.
Now surely that ‘rubbin on her cat/dr evil’ analogy has been used before, but this was the first I have heard it, and I’m honestly blown away by how good it is every time.
The hook is almost ballad-like, and is provided by Kevin Gates mainly, with Moneybagg providing some backing vocals. From the very beginning the hook is super catchy, fun, and easy to sing along too as well. The changes in the best compliment it well, and the backing vocals/ad libs by Moneybagg are a nice touch. For a hook, it’s super quotable, I could quite easily write the whole thing up as a highlight, but as it’s 12-13 long, I’ll stick to just quoting the start, which is in my opinion incredibly fun to sing along to alone or with the Boys. Like just imagine sitting back and belting out;
“Oooh, make it rain and fall down (fall down),
Hunnid bands on me,
Got me litty right now (right now)”
So, overall I see this as a near Perfect track, which possibly could have been in my top 10 for the year if it hadn’t come out so late in the year. It’s a good showing of the ridiculous chemistry between Moneybagg Yo and Kevin Gates, and if you enjoyed this song I’d highly recommend their 2019 collaboration ‘Head Strong’. With a catchy chorus, solid verses, and a great beat to compliment it all, this will be a song I come back to for years to come.
• Lil Wayne – Dedicate
I mentioned in an earlier write up that ‘Can’t Be Broken’ was one of the only songs from Tha Carter 5 that had bars and rapping on the same level as Wayne’s Dedication 6 tapes. This song, ‘Dedicate’, is the other one. A minimalistic beat, simple hook, and some absolutely ridiculous flows and bars come together to form what is easily one of the best tracks from Tha Carter 5.
The beat is quite simple, made up of some basic drums and a some sultry sounding piano. The beat on its own really makes you feel like your watching a Spanish romance film, something you would dance a tango to.
In terms of the subject matter, this is another track that is just Wayne flexing his status in the game, and acknowledging his influence through the use of bragadocious one liners and metaphors. The hook reinforces this, with a screwed vocal sample from the 2 chainz song ‘Dedication’, which itself is actually an ode to Wayne’s inspiration;
“You tatted your face and changed the culture (You changed),
You screamed ‘Suwhoop’ and them gangsters loved ya (Yeah Yeah),
You bought a Bugatti so you could flex (So you can flex),
Most of the bad bitches, ya hit”.
Lyrically Wayne is as strong as ever, and proves why he is still such a force to be reckoned with after so long in the game. Weezy changes up his flow every few lines, all while maintaining some ridiculous rhyme schemes, keeping his delivery confident, and sounding super comprehensible throughout. In terms of flows and rhymes this is easily one of the best songs of the year. As usual with Wayne, almost every single part of this song could be quoted as a highlight, so I’m just going to shine the spotlight on a couple of the best lines. From the first verse;
Who knew that I am the guru
With voodoo, that sold you the hi-hat,
With shooters that shoot through the iron-man,
And see through the con man,
And now he a dying man,
I turn the Goddamn into a gods plan,
Go over the diagram, and get to the job man,
Watch with a spy cam, sit back and watch
And don’t watch your watch hand”
“Gimme some time man,
I am the bomb man,
I’m gonna swim til I come out on dry land,
Not on a frying pan”
And from the second verse;
“I started this shit,
You just part of this shit,
I’m the heart of this shit,
And the heart doesn’t skip”
“You just counting the money,
I’m drowning in money, like
‘Where the fuck is the lifeguard in this bitch’”
And from the third verse;
“I started this shit, they borrowed this shit,
I thought of this shit, they thought it was it”
“The starters get benched,
The artists get sent,
Then targets get hit,
Billion dollar smile,
I sell myself short if I grin”
Overall, ‘Dedicate’ is yet another Wayne song that showcases how talented, and how hungry he still is despite being in the game for over 20 years. It’s a spectacular showing of rap ability in terms of flow, rhymes, and memorable one liners, all of which come together to make a song which is an extremely fun listen
• IDK – ONCE UPON A TIME (FREESTYLE) (ft. Denzel Curry)
Similarly to to ‘Yacht Club’ (which I wrote about here) by Lil Yachty and Juice Wrld, ‘ONCE UPON A TIME (FREESTYLE)’ is a song in which 2 rappers with great chemistry take turns rapping, in this case IDK and Denzel Curry. And in the same vain as ‘Yacht Club’, this ended up being one of the funnest songs of the year.
As set out in the title itself, this song is basically a freestyle, being completely devoid of a hook or any real structure. The beat is almost cypher like, composed of a distorted guitar and some boom-bappy drums, which for the most part are just looping, but at times drop out to bring the focus to the lyrics.
And on that note, the fun lyrics of this song, as well as the scattered song structure, are what really make this song stand out. Straight out the gate, Denzel comes in spitting;
“When it comes to wordplay I’m bringin’ it,
Everything I do is spine tingling,
Guaranteed to keep your mind lingering,
When it comes down to me and the world, I’m fingering”
And then shortly after raps;
“If the earth don’t wanna be saved, I disappoint her”, which in itself is such a solid one liner. He also incorporates a number of great references to cartoons and tv shows, such as rhyming togepi (from Pokémon) with professor Oglevee (from the parkers). These are all just in Denzels opening lines, and as the song progresses his additions to the track only get better, changing up flows and deliveries a number of times as well.
Despite the amazing feature from Denzel, it’s IDK himself who I think spits some of the most memorable lines. As Denzel throws over to IDK for the first time, IDK raps the bars;
“Disrespect Zel, and I might have to raise hell,
The only way you live is if you saved by the bell,
Cause I’m teaching n*ggas lessons while they find a way to fail,
That’s the reason why I think you n*ggas trippin like you fell, well”.
Not only are they some great bars with solid delivery, but they just further prove the chemistry the two artists have. A few bars later IDK raps some of the funniest bars of the year, switching up the ‘Who’s got the keys to my bimmer’ Cliche;
“The diamonds on my neck wet, flipper,
She wet, but her last man wasn’t a good swimmer,
Sim simma, who’s got the keys to my bimmer?
Then I check my pockets like oh, it’s me n*gga (skrrrt)”.
And finally, not only is IDK showcasing his solid chemistry with Denzel and his sense of humour, but he spits some bars that really prove how strong his wordplay can be;
“My times table never was good at the time I was nine,
At seventeen I was forced in a 9 to the 5,
So 9 times out of 10, I’m despising the eyes of the greedy ones,
All around me like some fucking flies, get away,
Bye bye, NSYNC, Lie Lie, instinct,
Y’all n*ggas some fossils trying to tell me how to live my life”
The rhymes, the delivery, and the bars themselves in this part are 10/10, and just ridiculously fun to listen to and rap along to.
This is honestly another song I could quote for hours, so many memorable phrases and one liners throughout. But overall, I really can’t flaw this track. It’s a combination of having 2 fantastic rappers with a great chemistry on a track together having fun, and the end result is just that, a fun listen that is a good show of rap skill on the side. ‘ONCE UPON A TIME (FREESTYLE) was my favourite track from the ‘IDK and friends’ EP that I feel flew under the radar last year, and if you enjoy that I would recommend checking out the EP, in particular the songs featuring Maxo Kream and Domo Genesis.
• Big Sean – Who’s Stopping Me
Just as a bit of a disclaimer, this list is technically from 7th December 2017-7th December 2018 as I like to compose these lists at the end of each year, as more of a ‘best of the last 12 months’ thing. In saying that, ‘What’s Stopping Me’ is a track from the Big Sean & Metro Boomin collab album ‘Double or Nothing’, released December of 2017. Despite liking many tracks from the project, this is the one I believe is the best from start to finish, with Big Sean spitting a number of different flows and a plethora of incredible quotables, all over one of my favourite Metro beats ever.
The beat is made up of a couple of key features, most notably the spanish sounding guitar, and the Spanish vocal sample. Together it creates a real nice vibe, almost like you’re sitting in fancy Spanish bar or restaurant. Either that or you’re watching a movie about South American drug smuggling. Big Sean actually describes it quite well at the start, stating “This shit sound like Narcos”, which is a tv show about the cocaine trade in Colombia.
As can be expected with Big Sean, this song is absolutely packed full of impressive punchlines and a range of differently flows, all delivered confidently for the duration of the song. The lyrics and rapping on this song is actually my favourite part of it, despite absolutely loving the beat. Some of my personal favourite showcases of bars and smart wordplay are as follows;
“All charged up I could glow in the dark,
Sent a text to your girl; ‘I think we growin apart,
Sleep with one eye open like I’m throwing a dart”
“I pin her on the wall like she go with the art”
“N*ggas ask me who I’m going with,
I told ‘em my heart,
The best beat thus far”
“And no more disrespecting me,
We grew up poor, I changed my whole family trajectory,
You couldn’t see the type of checks if you was Einstein on Jeopardy”
“See I’m the type to get a check and invest it,
Buy some land and protect it,
Live off the interest and give the family the rest,
And then start from square one on some first cigarette shit”
As you can probably tell by now, this is another song I could just about quote in full. The last thing I want to really shine the light on is the hook, which really sets the mood for the song and fits the beat perfectly, with Big Sean rapping nonchalantly;
“Big dog autobiography,
Made moves with the bros, no choreography,
She told me I’m the one,
I looked over and said ‘Obviously’”.
Not only does the hook sound nice and have some great bars, but it makes you feel on top of the world when you sing along to it.
Overall the chemistry between Big Sean and Metro Boomin on their album, and on this song in particular is insane, and really makes me wish he was featured on Metro’s solo album. A combination of my favourite metro beat, and some of my favourite Big Sean bars in years make this song not only a fun listen, but a super impressive song.
Have you heard any of the above songs? If so what are your thoughts?
And if not, I’d highly recommend checking out any or all of them, and letting me know what you think in the comments below. Would love to discuss them with you
– Shan –