35-31

35. “Freedun” – MIA (3), Zayn (mp)

“The People’s Republic of Swaggastan” is pretty lame. I guess “I rape that button just to play that song” is funny for YouTube commenters from 2010. Other than those moments, however, “Freedun” is much better than critics gave it credit for, fitting into MIA’s catalogue with South Asian bounce and a soaring melody. And even though MIA and Zayn are international megastars, it still bears mentioning how important it is to have two artists of Pakistani and Tamil descent on a hit record. Or any record, really.

34. “Dollar Days” – David Bowie (Mp)

There was a whole mess of stuff on Blackstar that shocked me. But the most surprising track on Bowie’s final album was his most straightforward: a wistful memory laden with clues of his approaching death. A sax solo in the middle was is as weird as it gets on “Dollar Days,” a song that finds Ziggy “dying to”…what exactly? Certainly not just dying. That would be too easy.

 

 

33. “No Matter Where We Go” – Whitney (Pm)

I haven’t stepped in an Urban Outfitters for years and can still guess that this was their song of the summer.

32. “Never Win” – The Underachievers (2)

Diss tracks are at a twenty-year low, but considering Troy Ave’s tumultuous year, The Underachivers deserved to be listened to a bit more.

31. “Dat $tick” – Rich Chigga

Memes got a fascist elected the leader of the free world, so nowadays it’s pretty hard to tell when jokes stop becoming jokes. “Dat $tick” is obviously a joke; you can’t wear a tucked-in polo with a fanny pack without getting some laughs. But you also can’t get label attention and a Ghostface Killah collaboration without being dead serious. So sure, it can be both: Rich Chigga is a good comedian, and also a good rapper. 2016 was weird, man.

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