1. Kendrick Lamar – “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”
Let’s face it – every track on good kid, m.a.a.d. city deserves praise. But we’ll give a special shout out “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst,” a confessional/rally cry that sheds more light on the Kendrick Lamar backstory while lamenting Compton’s dog-eat-dog mentality.
2. Big Boi Ft. Bosko – “Tremendous Damage”
Big Boi has been in the game long enough to feel like extended family. So when the braggadocios emcee comes off as hurting – a clear theme of Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors – we offer an ear. “Tremendous Damage” is one of the most personal songs of Mr. Patton’s career, sharing the emotional struggles that have come with the passing of his father. Hard to imagine that there are still layers of Big to peel away, even at 37. But here we are.
3. A$AP Rocky – “Angels”
His patented Bone Thungs-N-Syrup style over a beat that can only be described as whimsical? Anyone else and we’d be laughing, but A$AP has made a career of churning out great leftfield sounds, a category that “Angels” calls home.
4. Rihanna Ft. Future – “Love Song”
The 2012 “Fire & Desire” this is not, but chances are this will be belted out at the loudest possible decibels at any random New Year’s Eve party.
5. Frank Ocean – “Crack Rock”
The singer’s all-too-real breakdown of crackheads would be a much harder pill to swallow if it weren’t presented in such a got damn catchy manner. Whatever floats your boat, Mr. Ocean.
6. Fun. – “Some Nights”
Fun. brought sing-songy stadium rock all the way back in 2012. Don’t get pissy because you’ve heard from them too much; if a song can get stuck inside your head as frequently as “Some Nights” can, melodically speaking, they’re doing something right.
7. T.I. Ft. Meek Mill – “G Season”
Tip at his trapping best or closer to it than any of us could have hoped. Trouble Man was a late-season highlight, harkening back to a day when the King Of The South moniker wasn’t in dispute.
8. Freddie Gibbs – “BFK”
A warrant has been issued for Freddie Gibbs’s arrest for what he did to that fire M-80 beat.
9. Chief Keef – “3 Hunna”
10. Toro Y Moi – “Rose Quartz”
Toro Y Moi still hasn’t released a studio, CDQ version of “Rose Quartz,” but that’s totally cool. Chaz’s live rendition of the cut from Lollapalooza 2012 is so funky that we’ll subsist until it (hopefully) appears on Anything In Return in January.