5. “Dum Surfer” – King Krule

My 2017 comprised of 70% indifference, 25% confusion, and 5% paranoia. In any other year, Archy Marshall’s jazzy instrumentals and sinister growl would’ve felt terrifying, but considering the demons we’ve brought to the light in the last twelve months, King Krule feels as comfortable as a shepherd’s pie.

others: “Biscuit Town,” “Czech One

4. “Passionfruit” – Drake (12)

Drake is a talented songperson. Because he’s also a shrewd business person, it’s hard to find his 2017 masterpiece “Passionfruit” on any site that allows sharing. You’ve probably already heard it anyway, so here’s a great Yaeji remix instead:

3. “Ponyboy” – SOPHIE

While I liked “It’s Okay To Cry,” British DJ SOPHIE’s coming-out track, it seemed tame in comparison to her bonkers bubblegum bass singles we’ve heard in the last few years. And then she overcorrected with her following single “Ponyboy,” and thank Liberace she did. “Ponyboy” makes me want to put on a dress and break shit.

2. “Mary” – Big Thief

Few sounds ring more American than a gospel-inspired piano progression. Brooklyn’s Big Thief doesn’t claim to be religious, but “Mary” sounds like it was penned from an organ in an abandoned rural sanctuary surrounded by tattered hymnals and rusted candelabras. It’s pure emotion: quiet and absolutely heavenly.

others: “Mythological Beauty,” “Haley

1. “XO Tour Llif3” – Lil Uzi Vert (2)

“XO Tour Llif3” may just be a giant misunderstanding. That ubiquitous “all my friends are dead” hook refers to Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jefferson, Grant, and Franklin, not the ghosts goth kids see in their wet dreams. Lil Uzi Vert did not invent or even popularize emo rap, lest you forget that Kid Cudi is still making music (though that’s probably advisable). And just to show that money trumps art, Uzi’s record company scrubbed his instant classic stoner clip (that still occasionally pops up due to high demand) in favor of a seemingly rushed and lifeless official music video. It hasn’t been a smooth run for Uzi’s first smash.

So why exactly is this my favorite song of the year? I’m not entirely sure. The obvious answer is that I can’t think of any other song quite as cathartic released this year. I love hearing singers put everything they have into their art, and when Uzi goes up an octave from the end of the first verse to the final chorus, it feels like he’s sharing the most important thing in the world. Say what you want about emo, but you can’t fault it for being sincere.

People will find fault in the messenger, however, and that’s perfectly fair. Though Uzi has crafted a niche, there’s a decent chance that we’ll remember him only for “XO Tour Llif3” and the worst verse on “Bad and Boujee.” But I won’t be surprised if ten years from now I’ll be driving down a dark highway on a lonely night listening to a classic hip-hop station; and when this song comes on, you better believe I’m going to sing my lungs out.



50. “Guau!” – Beck, Mexican Institute of Sound (Mp)

Beck’s brand of weird lost it’s luster right around the time “Wow” found itself in an ad campaign. But have no fear: Mexican Institute of Sound is here to inject some south-of-the-border strange. And Mr. Hansen, more often than not the palest guy in the panaderia, most likely gives his Angelino approval.

49. “Feed The Streets (Watch The Stove)” – Helper

Stouffers gets credit not only for the best April Fools prank of the year, but also an instant classic of corporate branding. Seriously, this EP entirely about preparing, serving, and eating Hamburger Helper is molten-lava microwave hot.

48. “All The Way Up” – Fat Joe, French Montana (2), Remy Ma

This song is “Lean Back.” There is nothing about this song that makes it any different from “Lean Back.” If I were to compare it to any song, with every song in history at my disposal, “Lean Back” would be the one I would consider and eventually settle upon. It’s the same damn song, man. Still good, though.

47. “On The Lips” – Frankie Cosmos (2) (m)

Indie rock’s poet laureate is back at it, this time trying to figure out where to kiss ‘ya. And it’s so adorable that it deserves one of those “aw shucks” answers.

46. “Come And See Me” – PARTYNEXTDOOR (2), Drake (9) (p)

Midway through “Come and See Me,” PND takes a step back and allows Drake to take over the crooning. Unless you’re listening closely, it’s hard to tell that any change has taken place at all, which begs the question: does PND do anything that Drake hasn’t already done? But as long as Drake has stepped away from the minimalist ballads, someone is going to have to Drake it up for him. This’ll do.



40. “Lite Spots” – Kaytranada (pm)

A bossa nova sample and friendly house make this the public radio song of the year.

39. “Black Beatles” – Rae Sremmurd (3), Gucci Mane

Songs settled upon as memes get bad reputations. “Harlem Shake” was a perfectly fine song ruined by an irritating trend. Same with “Know Yourself” and “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” though Quad City DJs may have a different opinion. Point is, you need a pretty good sense of humor to get through the trolling that comes with internet ubiquity, and the boys at Rae Sremmurd have it down.


38. “For Free” – DJ Khaled (3), Drake (10)

In the sense that Drake name-checks “that boy from Compton,” “For Free,” is most certainly a response to Kendrick Lamar’s jazzy “For Free?” interlude. But he also bites the beat and opening bars from “Blow the Whistle,” so maybe “For Free” is really Drizzy’s chart-topping tribute to Too $hort. Maybe it’s both. For Khaled, it’s just another anthem, but it’s an anthem nonetheless.



37. “You Was Right” – Lil Uzi Vert

Philadelphia’s Lil Uzi Vert imagines himself as a young Scott Pilgrim, which is an apt comparison since much like Scott, he isn’t a particularly impressive musician. But his charm and unique aesthetic were enough to get him a spot amongst XXL’s freshman class, and his 2016 mixtapes, though thoroughly mediocre, had a few bright spots, the Cudi-lite “You Was Right” being the best. And I find Uzi likeable because I, too, am a Scott Pilgrim fan.

36. “Get Dat Fetus, Kill Dat Fetus” – Sextina Aquafina

Nothing is original anymore. Everything has already been done.


20. “Why You Always Hatin’?” – YG (2), Drake (11), Kamaiyah

YG will be immortalized by “FDT,” the only anti-Trump anthem anyone will ever need. But his second act this year was just as stellar, a slow-riding track with the growl that rap has been missing for the last ten years. Drake adds Oakland to his list of hometowns Toronto, Memphis, Kingston, Houston, and Miami, while actual Oaklander Kamaiyah provides the rumbling hook for the G-funk track of the year. YG may be the only one doing G-funk right now, but he’s the only one we need.
19. “715 Creeks” – Bon Iver (2) (m)
No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative. It gets the yuppies going.


18. “Because I’m Me” – The Avalanches (P)
If you’re wondering how The Avalanches, an electronic group from Australia, was able to replicate sounds from early 70s urban New York City, the answer is simple: they stole them. But hey, that’s how rap was invented, so who can blame them?
17. “Destroyer” – Kevin Morby (m)
Kevin Morby imagining himself Bob Dylan is the only explanation I can come up with for his confident delivery of awkward lyrics. Because while he’s a subpar writer, Morby’s melancholy instrumentation raises his words to passable levels. And when that sax kicks in, oh my, it’s nice.
16. “Call Ticketron” – Run The Jewels (2)
THANKS RTJ for releasing an album CHRISTMAS EVE and RUINING my list. Truth is, the only victim was a Kendrick Lamar B-side, and he’s not hurting for meaningless exposure. Jaime and Mike, however, are going to need all the press they can get to get to Madison Square Garden. Let’s make it happen.


35. “100” – The Game, Drake (7)

“I would have so many friends if I didn’t have money, respect, and accomplishments”

The Game finding a soulful beat and the rapper of the moment to outshine himself on the way to chart success? Hmm. Seems familiar.

34. “…And Beyond” – Modern Baseball

“Just don’t walk away when I say ‘crush’”

It’s those butterflies, they never really go away. You can attribute them to a fear of rejection, the intimidation the object of your desire inspires, even original sin, if you’re superstitious enough. I don’t know the reason. Modern Baseball doesn’t either, but they’ve made a decent tune about it.

33. “Post to Be” – Omarion, Chris Brown, Jhene Aiko

“but he gotta eat the booty like groceries”

Take for example how Omarion, hitless for six years, comes back in a blaze of glory sounding as indistinct as possible. Or how Chris Brown refuses to switch up his tried-and-true formula of taking drugs + having sex with someone else’s woman. Or how that seminal booty-eating line is so ridiculous that Ms. Aiko refuses to mouth it in the video. This song is double stupid. But it’s still a flawless execution of 2015 top-40 magic, analingus notwithstanding.

32. “California” – Grimes (2)

“I didn’t think you’d end up treating me so bad” 

Take one part Simon and Garfunkel, drown it in ironic sunshine, cook it in an electric oven for forty years, and drizzle with Disney princess to make your iconic “I hate California” track.

31. “Leroy and Lanisha” – Kamasi Washington

Full disclosure: Jazz is as foreign to me as animal husbandry or Southeast Asian politics. But reading that Los Angeles saxophonist Kamasi Washington dedicated a song on his latest album to Vince Guaraldi’s timeless “Linus and Lucy” compelled me enough to toss on a beret and take a spin.





25. “Ryderz” – Hudson Mohawke

Chipmunk soul’s success had more to do with Kanye West being a very good producer than chipmunk soul being a viable sound. Very few other than Mr. West have made it work, though Hudson Mohawke of TNGHT fame adds his own trap flavoring to keep the sound fresh.

24. “Know Yourself” – Drake (8)

“you know how that should go”

Drake’s “Hotling Bling” video broke a cardinal rule of the Internet: don’t premeditate your memes. It didn’t matter, of course, as the James Turrell-inspired carnival of minimalist white-dude dancing dusted its way through every corner of the web this Fall. Its fame is well-deserved, too, not only because Drake is the Internet’s second pop megastar, but also because his own organically created memes speak for themselves. Oh, and he also made some music this year.

23. “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” – Jaime xx, Young Thug, Popcaan

“I let her write me my suggestions”

Jaime xx has synesthesia, right?

22. “I Remember” – Bully

“And I remember the way your sheets smelt”

Nashville’s Bully isn’t going to wow with its straightforward indie rock buzz, as comforting as it sounds for anyone familiar. If there’s any hope of success, it’s in Alicia Bognano’s voice, which effortlessly switches between wailing and Sheryl Crow, all while relating an all-too-familiar tale of misplaced affection.

21. “Flex (Ooh Ooh Ooh)” – Rich Homie Quan

(honestly nothing of consequence)

One of these days Rich Homie Quan is going to record a song with a mouthful of cottage cheese, and it’s going to sound wonderful.




The 6ix best Drakes of 2015

Drake was all over the place this year. He dropped a well-received mixtape poking at a well-publicized dispute between Birdman and labelmate Lil Wayne. He beefed with his labelmate’s boyfriend in the shortest and most one-sided feud in hip-hop history. He started not one but two of the most sensational internet trends of the year. Most importantly, however, he realized his potential by snatching the throne away from Kanye West in a year in which neither artist released an album. If 2015 was Drake’s peak, it was one of the most exciting peaks I’ve ever seen. Here are the 6 God’s six best moments of the year.

6. When he saved Fetty Wap from being a one-hit wonder

“My Way” is a lot better than “Trap Queen,” kinda like how Rae Sremmurd proved they were better than we thought when “No Type” blew “No Flex Zone” out of the water last year. But this had little to do with Fetty Wap’s yodeling and more to do with Drizzy’s anchoring verse in the middle of the song.

5. When his diss track got nominated for a Grammy

I love the visuals of “Back to Back.” Toronto hero Joe Carter in Game 6ix makes for the most topical album art of the century. Drake rapping over a hot beat to make sure that even if the punches don’t land, the people are still dancing. And then there’s the champagne he actually sent to Charlamagne. The song itself is pretty meh (I actually prefer his first punch “Charged Up“), but can you just imagine Meek Mill’s face glancing over the Grammy list and finding the song that wrecked his credibility?

4. When he inspired James Turrell’s quote of the year

You’ve already seen the “Hotline Bling” video, no need to revisit it. But do yourself a favor and look up visual artist James Turrell, noting the similarities between his aesthetics and the ones Drake stole from him. Now take a look at what Turrell said about it all. Maybe this was the ghostwriter Meek was talking about all along.

3. All those “Know Yourself” Vines 

People are really funny, man.

2. His touching ode to his mother 

I’m sure even Drake was surprised to discover that If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late sold more copies than any album he’s put out so far and charted eight songs at one point in 2015. It’s a really good mixtape, too, even if it is just a collection of B-side and low-effort one-offs. But on the forgotten back end is “You and The 6,” one of his many and still heartwarming tributes to his mother. It may end up as one of the most overlooked songs of his career.

1. When he leaked his unfinished collaboration with Beyoncé, and it was the best thing he’s done since “Marvin’s Room” 

Just listen to this. It’s incredible.

Apologies if it doesn’t stay up. You know how that should go.