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The 2016 Intermission: 100 Songs We’ve Enjoyed So Far

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Another set of calendar flips, another set of impressive songs collected and shared. The Intermission is always one of the best times of the year because it’s when everyone digs deep into their playlists to share what tunes have earned the most play on a daily basis. The 100 songs that went from liked to loved in a matter of weeks and months.

Those songs are what make up The Intermission, our late, mid-year round-up of the cuts that earned our play and praise. As usual, the range is always pretty expansive and includes the bigger names who’ve become constants over the years along with the newcomers who’ll hopefully continue to make the kind of Music that keeps them here for years to come. Right now, rap is enjoying a youth movement led by a crop of artists who are shaping the sound into something more melodic than its ever been. Vibes play a more important role than pure lyricism as they connect with listeners on an emotional level. Still, there remain those artists who take a more sapient approach that places a premium on bars and leave an impression that lasts long after the music stops.

All in all, it’s about good music, the kind that entertains, educates and elevates the art and lives of those listening. The music and culture are growing and evolving into a body so large that even the most aspiring-thinking leaders couldn’t have imagined decades ago.

1. Pusha T feat. Jay-Z – “Drug Dealers Anonymous” [Listen]

Leave it to Pusha to put Jay Z in the mood to grow his hair out and ditch the loafers in exchange for a pair of Timbs. The G.O.O.D. Music president’s first single from King Push continued his streak since last year of providing dope boy tales with social commentary weaved in. It’s not just that he and Hov are former hustlers. They’re addressing the social conditions which led to them both becoming key figures in the game, decade after decade. (Marcus Benjamin)

2. Denzel Curry – “Knotty Head” [Listen]

At some point, Denzel Curry actually released a version of “Knotty Head” with Rick Ross. Considering how fiery and emotional Curry gets on this injection of audible adrenaline, the Ross verse may as well have never happened. Keep in mind, Ross is a rap superstar with a well-regarded lyrical prowess and Curry is an undercard from FLA. Denzel is that impressive. (Beware)

3. Drake – “4PM in Calabasas” [Listen]

Views left many Drake fans disappointed, but the latest installment in his AM/PM series changed all that. He sounds rejuvenated over a Frank Dukes and Vinylz-produced heatrock, throwing jabs in the direction of Diddy and Joe Budden. Drake poked a hornet’s nest, though, as the latter rapper responded with the scathing “Making a Murderer (Part One).” The simmering beef could make for one hot summer. (Eddie Fu)

4. Young Thug – “King Troup” [Listen]

Young Thug is at his best when he’s mixing his impeccable melodies, with his colorful lyrics and the finest production Atlanta has to offer. All of those elements came together perfectly on “King Troup,” and Thug delivered his finest song yet. An ode to his slain friend, Thugger somehow manages to be socially conscious, belt out lines about taking care of his kids and brag about his high fashion briefs all in the course of an incredible four minutes. Peak Thug indeed. (Bansky Gonzalez)

6. Future feat. 2 Chainz and Drake – “100it Racks” [Listen]

Purple Reign and EVOL were lukewarm efforts by Super Future, but Project ET shows that perhaps he needed a little less Metro and a little more Esco. The sh*t talking free-for-all “100it Racks” stood as one of the highlights. Drake gets in some nice lines (“I hit threes off balance/I switch hands like Allen”) and Future sets the tone, but the track belongs to 2 Chainz: “Put codeine on a salad/Guess I’m on a codeine diet/Put another hundred in the rifle/Everybody better be quiet.” (Eddie Fu)

7. ElZhi – “Friendzone” [Listen]

With fans drooling for more solo material, ElZhi finally made good on his promise this past spring, delivering his well-received Lead Poison album. Amidst the various styles lining the deep contents of the project, “Friendzone” managed to shine as one of the brightest moments, due to the personable execution of a such a strong and relatable concept. (Beware)

8. Kendrick Lamar – “Untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016” [Listen]

It’s gotta gall other rappers that music which once littered Kendrick Lamar’s cutting room floor is better than anything they released this year. On untitled unmastered’s seventh track, K.Dot blends his now-perfected technique of car speaker-ready message music, with a final warning shot to would be competitors (“You niggas fear me like y’all fear God/You sound frantic, I hear panic in your voice/Just know the mechanics of making your choice and writin’ your bars”). (Greg Whitt)

9. Shake feat. Vado – “New New” [Listen]

It doesn’t take long after the pianos hit for even a deaf man to recognize the storm brewing around Shake. With Vado riding shotgun and an apartment full of entourages, the two spit reinforced concrete through the speakers to represent for the East Coast. With a calculated trickle of material into the market and a tight relationship with YesJulz, this Jersey spitter has us expecting big things in the second half of 2016. (Aspektz)

10. King Vory – “Overdose” [Listen]

“Hol me down, hol me down, hol me downnnnnnnn.” (Beware)

11. Kanye West feat. Sampha – “Saint Pablo” [Listen]

Kanye’s boisterous antics can overshadow what lies underneath — his version of the truth. On “Saint Pablo,” he pulled a familiar sound from big brother Hov and used to share a sobering version of his thoughts and insecurities. He may not exactly be “this generation’s closest thing to Einstein” but he’s still our ‘Ye and we won’t ever have another like him. (John Gotty)

12. Anderson .Paak – “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” [Listen]

Since Malibu is one of the year’s best, most-complete albums, picking a favorite off Anderson .Paak’s pride and joy is a difficult task. If you ask me today, it’s “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance,” but that could easily change with the next listen. Paak just has this vibe which makes you groove. It’s radio friendly with a mean flow. Anderson is in reaching distance of the crown. (Erich Donaldson)

13. TWENTY88 – “On The Way” [Listen]

Big Sean and Jhene Aiko surprised everyone this year by not only dropping a joint project with TWENTY88, but with the album being one of the year’s best offerings as well. “On The Way,” is the highlight of the nine-song EP, showing off the duo’s chemistry, and giving both a chance to shine in their respective lanes. (Bansky Gonzalez)

14. Gucci Mane feat. Tupac – “On Me” [Listen]

Just like All Eyez on Me, Everybody Looking is Gucci Mane’s fresh out of jail album. He’s well aware of the parallels, as he alludes to feeling like “2Pac when he made All Eyez On Me” while sounding invigorated over a vintage Death Row era beat. Songs which reuse a 2Pac verse don’t always work, but “On Me” shows Guwop and Makaveli are a natural fit. (Eddie Fu)

15. YG – “Who Shot Me” [Listen]

Being shot is traumatic, clearly, and somehow on Still Brazy’s “Who Shot Me,” YG uses that trauma to deliver the most vivid, audio display of paranoia this side of Tupac Shakur. For four minutes he opens up, retracing his steps, running down all the possibilities and copes with his own mortality over the course of two succinct verses and a simple, even redundant but somehow impactful hook. (Bansky Gonzalez)

16. Nick Jonas feat. Ty Dolla $ign – “Bacon” [Listen]

Who knew Nick Jonas was one to contend with the Biebs?! Although “Bacon” sounds like it will be uber gimmicky, that is remotely not the case. To further add some flair, cool points, and street cred, the youngest Jo Bro grabs Ty Dolla $ign. This might not leave you wanting “Bacon,” but instead more collabs between Ty Dolla $ign and Nick Jonas, a “bacon and maple bar” combination, if you will. (Julie J)

17. Gucci Mane – “All My Children” [Listen]

Flurries of text messages, tweets and retweets, our guy Gucci Mane was free! “All My Children” is like Gucci read all of our nerdy rap posts proclaiming him to be the best A&R, and to have spawned an entire generation of rappers in both style and delivery. “All My Children” contains the ATLien’s charismatic wit and humor, and never missing a moment, is of the same name as his upcoming tour. (Julie J)

18. Future feat. Rae Sremmurd – “Party Pack” [Listen]

Xanies, Molly, and Lean — that’s a party pack. It’s a simple concept, but the combination of Future’s chorus with Southside and DJ Esco’s piano and 808s goes hand in hand with Swae Lee’s effortless swag and Slim Jimmy’s urgent delivery. Follow Nayvadius and Rae Sremmurd’s instructions for a turned up summer. (Eddie Fu)

19. Yo Gotti feat. Nicki Minaj – “Down in the DM (Remix)” [Listen]

Yo Gotti and Nicki Minaj have a storied history of creating incredibly catchy and infectious jams together, so it’s only right for Nicki to lend some vocals to the Memphis rapper’s “Down In The DM.” While Yo Gotti seems to confuse the various social media options and their respective ways to get yourself into trouble, Nicki proves that she’s the queen of social media and the raps. Lord knows we can only imagine what she sees in her DM’s. (Julie J)

20. Gucci Mane – “Back on Road” [Listen]

Go away to prison and bounce back like he never left. That’s what Guwop did as he hit the ground runnin’ with every intention to take back his rightful spot as the Trap God. “Back on Road” sports a slumpin’ bassline and Gucci runnin’ down his resume to remind people who helped usher in the sound that currently dominates the airwaves. (John Gotty)

21. Bonkaz – “Run Out the Endz” [Listen]

Some people just get “it.” Instead of making records that sound like radio playlists, they make records that resonate with people’s emotions. Bonkaz might be from the other side of the world but his records seem to strike that critical balance between relatable, accessible and hard as f**k. The amount of spins this record got relative to the rest of the tape isn’t fair given how good of a project it was but it speaks to how amazing this joint was. From the club to the gym, this cut gets people rocking. Let’s hope Bonkz and the crew have a few more videos in them from Mixtape of the Year after they finish this Euro tour, because as the next up from UK, all eyes are pointed their way. (Aspektz)

22. Lil Uzi Vert – “Money Longer” [Listen]

Lil Uzi Vert made a name for himself like no other this year and “Money Longer” was part of the reason why. The song’s earned mad radio play but, even before that, the melodic nature of the track made it an instant winner. (John Gotty)

23. Curren$y – “Grand Piano” [Listen]

Since Curren$y clearly believes in flooding the market, it’s easy to become numb to the output but then he does something like “Grand Piano” which demands instant attention. An infectious loop over dirty drums enables Spitta to do what he does. He’s dropped a slew of joints this year but this might be the one that captures him at his best. (Marcus Benjamin)

24. Fat Joe and Remy Ma – “All the Way Up” [Listen]

It’s no “Lean Back,” but Terror Squad’s latest summer anthem shows that Fat Joe and Remy Ma still have it. The hypnotic Cool and Dre-produced beat launches the perfect jump-off for the duo’s braggadocio rhymes, with Joe effortlessly flossing during his verse and Remy announcing that she’s back in the game and ready to make up for lost time. “All the Way Up” is so hot that it even inspired Jay Z to jump on the remix for his first full verse in years. (Eddie Fu)

25. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne – “Bentley Truck” [Listen]

It’s a formula that sounds almost too easy: a prime Metro Boomin, a resurgent 2 Chainz, and a motivated Lil’ Wayne who is both challenged and in a comfort zone among friends. In the end, that creates “Bentley Truck,” a brooding exchange between the two ColleGrove MCs that highlight their finest qualities over one of Metro Boomin’s best beats of the year. (Bansky Gonzalez)

26. DJ Quik and Problem – “A New Nite / Rosecrans Grove” [Listen]

When DJ Quik and Problem dropped their surprise Rosecrans EP earlier this year, the entire West Coast rejoiced. Among the various highlights, “A New Nite” stood out immediately, as the breezy track finds the Quiksta literally sampling himself, by putting a new spin on his 1991 breakout single “Tonite.” (Beware)

27. ScHoolboy Q feat. SZA – “Neva Change” [Listen]

“Neva Change” illustrates life in South Central, LA with harsh strokes. Bleak prospects, broken family structures and oppressive law enforcement create an air of hopelessness over a layered soul clap. There’s solace in gang life since it provides a support system. Yet, that sense of scampering on life’s hamster wheel, on top fighting to live, smothers you. “Neva Change” works well since it compels listeners to understand life on the other side with smooth guitars and SZA’s stirring voice. (Sam Cadet)

28. Royce Da 5’9” – “Tabernacle” [Listen]

After a few group efforts and lengthy solo hiatus, Nickel Nine returned better than ever on his latest album, Layers, delivering maybe his most complete, personal project to date. To understand the depth of this coming of age LP, look no further than “Tabernacle,” a jaw-dropping track that finds the Detroit MC telling a true story about the unlikely day he had his first born child, lost his grandmother in a freak car crash, and met his partner Marshall Mathers. Before you listen, put on something nice, because you’re definitely going to church. (Beware)

29. Radiohead – “Burn the Witch” [Listen]

With 2016 turning into one of George Saunders’ more twisted surrealistic short stories, it’s comforting (discomforting?) that music’s headiest skeptics returned to the scene. Radiohead’s eighth LP kicks off with the pulsing “Burn the Witch,” which builds and builds into a cathartic release that feels more like a scream than an orchestral blow-out. It’s what we deserve in this year of years. (Ryan Joseph)

30. Chance The Rapper feat. Young Thugs and Lil Yachty – “Mixtape” [Listen]

Amidst all the spiritual and touching vibes found throughout Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book, “Mixtape” clearly had the sharpest bite. The heavy-hitting traditional banger found the Windy City kid doing his best Thugger impression and still managed to sound unique. (Beware)

31. Meyhem Lauren feat. Big Body Bes – “Badmon Ting” [Listen]

Come to hear Big Body Bes threaten to pull up on a Puerto Rican horse. Stay to hear Meyhem’s luxury raps. (Greg Whitt)

32. Montana of 300 – “Angel with an Uzi” [Listen]

Remember that guy from Chicago who dropped an album that was critically lauded? The one that had a heavy focus on faith? Yeah, I mean Montana of 300, not that other guy. “Angel with an Uzi” is a lyrical exercise that should put people on notice of how diverse and strong the Windy City’s talent pool is. (John Gotty)

33. Kanye West – “30 Hours” [Listen]

While there are a handful of truly great standouts from The Life of Pablo, the majority of them carry at least one feature. The one that doesn’t is “30 Hours,” a masterfully produced train of thought projecting echoes of lost love from Yeezy’s past. Call me crazy, but this one would hold up against the best offerings from any of his albums. (Beware)

34. Young Thug – “With Them” [Listen]

The opening track to Thugger’s Slime Season 3 is great, but it achieved immortality when it became one of the best memes of the year. (Ryan Joseph)

35. Meek Mill feat. Omelly – “War Pain” [Listen]

“What if?” is a dangerous game to play. It keeps you stuck in the past, and unable to focus on new goals and opportunities. Still, you can’t help but wonder how different things might be today if Meek dropped the snarling “War Pain” in response to Drake instead of “Wanna Know?” The perception of both artists would likely be completely different now, but we’ll never know. Even if it came later than his fans might have hoped, “War Pain” proved that Meek still has the hunger of that fuzzy braided kid on Berks St. (Greg Whitt)

36. Kanye West feat. Chris Brown – “Waves” [Listen]

According to Kanye, the release of The Life of Pablo was held up because Chance The Rapper insisted on including “Waves.” Well, the wait was worth it. The shimmery beat goes hand in hand with the sentimental chorus featuring Chris Brown’s passionate vocals and the truncated second verse finds Kanye at his most introspective. (Eddie Fu)

37. Chavis Chandler – “Electricity” [Listen]

Even though every song on Chavis Chandler’s short and sweet SANG2ME project was potent, the one that stood out most was “Electricity.” The ethereal offering carries production from W$ Khari that brings the absolute best out of the enigmatic Detroit rapper, who croons his heart out and proves his talent truly has no bounds. (Beware)

38. Shake feat. Phi – “Through the Speakers” [Listen]

Shake’s got that uncanny “it” that shines through best on tracks like “Through the Speakers.” The Jersey native’s smooth, relaxed flow proves hypnotic when mixed with the buoyant production. (John Gotty)

39. Flatbush Zombies – “Trade-Off” [Listen]

Considering Flatbush Zombies released such such a solid debut album with 3001: A Laced Odyssey, there were numerous tracks that could’ve made our Intermission. But, since “Trade-Off” covers multiple soundscapes and covers tons of ground in merely four minutes, this one is the best example of just how clever the Brooklyn crew can be. (Beware)

40. Curren$y – “500 Pounds of Gas” [Listen]

Covert Coup duo Curren$y and Alchemist reconnected in 2016 for The Carrollton Heist. “500 Pounds Of Gas” is one of the excellent project’s standouts, with Spitta wheeling around ALC’s frantic instrumental like a Formula 1 driver. (Greg Whitt)

41. Nipsey Hussle feat. Kirko Bangz – “Down Like a Great” [Listen]

The Houston to Crenshaw connection seemed a bit off on paper but if the resulting records are an indication of what Nipsey has lying around as throwaway material with The Marathon on the way, he will go “Down As a Great” for our generation. The harmonized hook mixed with Nip’s perennially dope bars had us wondering what an entire project from these two might sound like. As we hold our breath for what seems like another calendar to pass with Hussle’s full length project inching closer to Jay Electronica myth, joints like this give us hope for what is to come. (Aspektz)

42. DJ Khaled feat. Drake – “For Free” [Listen]

If you step out the house and so happen to enter an establishment that serves drinks and employs a DJ, there’s a 10000% chance you’re going to hear some Drake music. As Tins pointed out, there’s no escaping the “Work” / “Controlla” / “One Dance” trifecta of Caribbean-infused doom. But right on the heels of Drake’s Holy Trinity of make the club explode records is his far too catchy and far too enjoyable “For Free,” in which he realizes that he probably should be charging the women he’s pleasing. Bonus points for a dash of some Bay Area lyrics. Drake and Khaled are turning the threesome of summer smashes from the 6 God into a foursome one “Another One” at a time. (Bansky Gonzalez)

43. Skizzy Mars feat. JoJo – “Recognize” [Listen]

Skizzy Mars’ distinctive voice blends perfectly with JoJo’s — the young female singer, not the former member of Jodeci — on this breezy love song from his debut studio album, Alone Together. The Harlem rapper talks a good game and the former teenage pop star lets him know she’s a “real one.” Sounds like a good match to me. (Eddie Fu)

44. Drake – “Weston Road Flows” [Listen]

A lot of digital ink has been spilled about Views, and a lot of it belonged to us. No matter how divisive the project may be, however, “Weston Road Flows” is all kinds of dope. Over a smooth Mary J. Blige sample with drums that feel like a smack on the pavement, Drake reminisces on what got him to this point. Whether it’s riding around with his boys, recording songs in a basement, or even all the work he puts in now, he makes it all a part of a narrative. In his world, this was all destiny and he’s exactly where he was supposed to be — whether you like it or not. (Marcus Benjamin)

45. Chance The Rapper feat. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne – “No Problem” [Listen]

That choir. Chainz dropping one-liners you want stamped on your gravestone. Weezy rhyming like it’s at least 2009. Chance emceeing the whole damn sermon and having you catch the Lord and a smile. “No Problem” was everyone’s formal introduction to perhaps the best project of 2016, and at the same time it might’ve become one of the best tracks of the year, too. (Ryan Joseph)

46. Kaytranada feat. Vic Mensa – “DRIVE ME CRAZY” [Listen]

Hate to say it, Vic, but you’re not Kanye’s preferred Chicago-born child. You probably grokked that information upon hearing Coloring Book, but chipper up: You still have a career! And you sound fantastic when you pair with Montréal’s DJ-ing wünderkid, Kaytranada. More ear-cracking bass and sparkling drum kits and less — well, less whatever the fuck this is. Yeezus isn’t a becoming look on anyone. (Ryan Joseph)

47. Samaria feat. Kehlani – “Love Me Crazy” [Listen]

This moody, brooding song from Tsunami Mob’s Samaria details the addictive nature of former relationships, as she brings in Kehlani to lament their romantic pasts over haunting production from DTB. The talented young, songstresses make heartbreak almost sound enticing even while singing about burning bridges and ugly break-ups, providing just a glimpse into the massive potential of the Bay Area collective. (Eddie Fu)

48. Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom” [Listen]

It’s no surprise that Rocafella alumnus Just Blaze produced the goddamned guts out of this bombastic standout off of Lemonade. A beat like this allows Kendrick Lamar to hammer the song home by coming out guns blazing and leave the track with no survivors. (Raj Anand)

49. Don Trip – “Cleo Never Dies” [Listen]

Don Trip’s “Cleo Never Dies” plays to the greed of society in obtaining money. He uses the classic 1996 flick Set It Off as a measuring point. The movie showed us the four woman who wanted to rob a bank, then rob another. Greed stacks up consequences quickly as we see in the movie. Trip proposes an alternate timeline where Cleo doesn’t get killed. (Erich Donaldson)

50. Kanye West feat. Gucci Mane, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Yo Gotti, Quavo and Desiigner – “Champions” [Listen]

Thank Kanye for hitting the Ye button on this triumphant Cruel Winter posse cut, which featured a ridiculous seven guest artists. It’s the G.O.O.D. Music founder at his most self-indulgent, but this time it’s a good thing. The king of features, 2 Chainz, got in his punchlines (“My new bitch gon’ pull me a new bitch/Then pull me a new bitch/See that is a snowball effect”), but the track really let Gucci Mane shine and he had plenty to say. He put the world on notice by stating “it’s over for you Gucci clones.” (Eddie Fu)

51. Skyzoo – “Friend or Foe Pt. 3” [Listen]

Skyzoo dropping this track on June 29 was the equivalent of a ballplayer swishing a half-court three just before halftime. The intricate details, callbacks to the original, and Sky’s well-established Brooklyn lineage make this track a welcome new chapter to Jay Z’s 20-year-old storyline — not just a throwaway gimmick. (Greg Whitt)

52. Maxwell – “1990x” [Listen]

Maxwell is a solar eclipse. He appears every few years and blocks everything else when he does. “1990x” is seduction on wax. So much so, the song itself might impregnate you after one listen. It perfectly encapsulates how to age gracefully as everything around you changes. On one hand, it’d be nice to have him around more because he produces music at such high quality, but on the other hand, there’s a reason solar eclipses are special. (Marcus Benjamin)

53. Kent Jones – “Don’t Mind” [Listen]

DJ Khaled sure knows how to pick ’em and he did good by signing Kent Jones to We the Best Music Group. Jones’ “Don’t Mind” is currently taking over radio by storm and with good reason. The song is catchy as hell and gives listeners a very basic lesson in multiple languages. (Delenda Joseph)

54. Kanye West – “Ultra Light Beam” [Listen]

Kanye’s world may be filled with delusions of grandeur but “Ultra Light Beam,” with help from Chance, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin and more, was one of his finest moments since “Jesus Walks.” He channeled all of that creative energy and his connection to a higher power into a piece of work where at least one of the players involved offers a contribution that has the power to truly touch the soul. (John Gotty)

55. Mistah F.A.B. feat. Kendrick Lamar and Crooked I – “Survive” [Listen]

“Survive” is the most perfect collaboration I’ve heard in 2016 so far. Each artist has shown a deeper level of thinking in their careers, and it all comes together nicely on this song. Crooked I’s start-to-finish story evokes emotion, and Kendrick drops an audio visual of what he sees happening in his city. Give Fabby Davis, Jr his credit as well, because keeping up with two lyrical heavyweights is no easy task. (Erich Donaldson)

56. Anderson .Paak – “Come Down” [Listen]

Honestly, you could just hit shuffle on Anderson .Paak’s Malibu and find something worthwhile. Here, the groovin’ baseline and Paak’s energetic vocals are enough to keep any party going. (Dejen Isaac)

57. Montana of 300 – “Fighting Demons, Dropping Jewels” [Listen]

I’ve already talked extensively about Montana of 300’s “Fighting Demons, Dropping Jewels.” This is one of those songs you want to be appreciated. As the rapper who continues to be overlooked despite his accomplishments and skills, Montana combined both his demons and jewels into a package deal that’s relatable to everyone. (Erich Donaldson)

58. Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa feat. Liam Payne – “You” [Listen]

Juicy J has had like four golden ages, defying odds by not only creating dope new music but slaying his contemporaries that are decades younger, and his latest rejuvenation comes with the cap man Wiz Khalifa and their Rude Awakening project produced by TM88. “You” has the two questioning the people who weren’t there over a frenetic, chaotic beat. If this doesn’t harken back to the original Blue Dream and Lean era J, then nothing will. (Julie J)

59. Blake Carrington – “Becoming”/”Ghetto Free” [Listen]

Keepin’ it 100, I’m at a sentimental point in life that I never expected to experience. My kids are growing up quickly and crossing their own milestones in life with me cheering them on from the side. My parents are getting older, too, and now that I’m experiencing what it means to help shape a life, it’s brought me closer to understanding what they went through with me. I love Blake’s bravado on “Ghetto Free” and his description of the hard knocks paired with the “Becoming” phone convo between him and his dad that always brings that sugar lump to the top of my throat. (John Gotty)

60. Rihanna feat. Drake – “Work” [Listen]

“Work work work work work.” A song dominated by one word drilled its way into our brains and everyone’s favorite Bajan beauty earned another Billboard hit. (Delenda Joseph)

61. Travi$ Scott feat. Young Thug and Quavo – “Pick Up the Phone” [Listen]

If Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug don’t want to make any more music together, fine — that’s on them. It sucks, but that’s their choice. Whatever. But Thugger and Travi$ Scott need to step up and take the baton. Enough is enough already. The Houston and Atlanta connection have yet to miss when they link up, and adding Quavo and the word “discriminize” to the mix is like when the Golden State Warriors added Kevin Durant to a 73-win team, except for the part where everybody hates them. More Thug and Trav collaborations please, and more Quavo sprinkled in, if need be. (Bansky Gonzalez)

62. iLoveMakonnen – “Solo” [Listen]

There’s no stopping Makonnen. Despite label issues and biters galore, the ATL singer-rapper continues to drop dopeness. While Mak Mak has been dropping plenty of notable tracks over the past seven months or so, there’s no question “Solo” from his Drink More Water 6 project packs the most punch. (Beware)

63. YG feat. Sad Boy A.D. and Bricc Baby – “Don’t Come To LA” [Listen]

YG picks up right where My Krazy Life left off and opens Still Brazy with a bang as he brings his homies with him to fire off a vicious ode to gangbanging and the street life. (Raj Anand)

64. Statik Selektah feat. Westside Gunn, Conway, Your Old Droog and Termanology – “The Curve” [Listen]

For anybody who puts a premium on colorful wordplay, give thanks to Statik Selektah for gathering up some of the best the East Coast has to offer and serving them on a silver platter in terms of production. Gunn and Con sound like Smoothe The Hustler and Trigga Da Gambler reincarnated in their chemistry, Droog is a walking thesaurus and Term holds his own, too. (John Gotty)

65. ScHoolboy Q – “Black THougHts” [Listen]

ScHoolboy Q’s stellar fourth album, Blank Face LP, is gritty throughout, but it’s at its best when Q takes time to reflect and offer some maturity and gets downright apologetic . On no track is this more evident than “Black THougHts” where — when accompanied with an incredible video — ScHoolboy pleads with fellow Crips and rival Bloods to “put the guns down and blaze a spiff.” Q hops all over the beat, he’s spastic, changing topics often and taking bated breaths before when he needs them and returns without notice. For nearly four minutes he oozes that aforementioned maturity and what can only be described as growth and clarity and gives the album its best song. (Bansky Gonzalez)

66. Kaytranada – “LITE SPOTS” [Listen]

You know a beat’s powerful when it makes bloggers think they can dance. “LITE SPOTS” comes to life with pulsing kicks and claps beckoning everyone to form a dance circle. The sample’s breezy texture creates a nice contrast with an otherwise hyperactive track. Play it and watch a wallflower turn into Savion Glover. (Sam Cadet)

67. YG feat. Drake and Kamaiyah – “Why You Always Hatin’” [Listen]

Now, this is what an effective collaboration looks like in 2016. (Ryan Joseph)

68. Fetty Wap – “Wake Up” [Listen]

It’s been a minute since Fetty Wap blessed our eardrums with “Trap Queen.” Since then, the Jersey rapper has proven he’s more than capable of crafting hits, with “Wake Up” being one of them. (Delenda Joseph)

69. Vic Mensa – “There’s Alot Going On” [Listen]

This soul baring final track off Mensa’s EP of the same name breaks down what the Chicago rapper has been going through during the past year or two. From first meeting with Jay Z in June 2014 and signing with Roc Nation, to clashing with his ex, and dealing with an Adderall addiction, it was a lot for the young rapper to process. However, the stars aligned when Mensa was brought to work on The Life of Pablo, and it seems like he’s ready to reach his potential. (Eddie Fu)

70. Kendrick Lamar – “Untitled 02 (6.23.2014)” [Listen]

Pimp pimp, hooray! Get Top on the phone! When Kendrick surprised us with Untitled Unmastered, it was met with the obvious praise it deserved for being leftovers from TPAB. Dot takes two different styles and pieces them together for an experience. He knows how to appeal to this generation’s taste without taking the lane of trap rappers and melodic singers. (Erich Donaldson)

71. Spark Master Tape – “Livin Lavish” [Listen]

If you follow SMT at all, it’s pretty much cliche to use the word “mysterious” when discussing his music, but no one knows what the dude looks like or where he lives, so what do you want me to do? His highly anticipated return managed to fulfill fan’s expectations, so as long as the music is jamming, who gives a sh*t who the guy is? (Trackstar the DJ)

72. Lil Uzi Vert – “You Was Right” [Listen]

Over the last year, Philly’s Lil Uzi Vert launched himself to stardom and no song is a better example of why than Lil Uzi vs. The World’s “You Was Right.” The whole recipe is there: one of the best Metro Boomin beats of the year, one of Uzi’s trademark, catchy melodies and some slurred, mumblecore that’s perfect for chanting in the club after a few too many drinks. (Bansky Gonzalez)

73. YG – “Gimme Got Shot” [Listen]

Everybody’s got a few people in their lives who don’t want to get their own. So, the next time a hanger on pleads for a dollar, play this instead of saying no ad nauseum. Beware, the bassline oozes enough funk to make the message fly over their heads. Oh well, at least their needy asses won’t tug on your Gordon Gartrelle for lunch money while this rocks your system. (Sam Cadet)

74. Drake – “Controlla” [Listen]

It’s unclear why Popcaan was removed from the final version and replaced with Beenie Man — aside from “Controlla” sampling Beenie’s “Tear off Mi Garment” — but even with the switch, Drake’s continued foray into dancehall is a win. (Delenda Joseph)

75. TWENTY88 – “Deja Vu” [Listen]

Big Sean and Jhene Aiko have an uncanny chemistry together and their TWENTY88 EP has wound up being on the upper echelon of the 2016’s releases so far, none better than the tale of a crumbling relationship on “Deja Vu.” (Raj Anand)

76. Tef Poe and Black Spade – “Shit Process” [Listen]

Both have made multiple appearances on these lists, but this is their first as an official duo, off their Preacher in the Trap EP. Heavy like Bowser in Mario Kart, the beat leaves plenty of space and pace for Spade’s soulful vibes to mesh perfectly with Tef’s aggressive flow. (Trackstar the DJ)

77. Russ – “Waste My Time” [Listen]

Considering his iron man output, there could be quite a few Russ songs on this list. Yet, the extremely catchy “Waste My Time” is probably the one folks will relate to most, since we all seem to be fighting for an inch of free time whenever we can. (Beware)

78. Daz Rinko – “Angel” [Listen]

When we debuted Daz Rinko’s “Angel” earlier this year, I knew it was dope right away. What I didn’t expect was to keep playing the upbeat, energetic record from Daz’s Lifted project on my own for months on end. That’s ma jam mane. (Beware)

79. Meek Mill, Wale and Rick Ross – “Make It Work” [Listen]

Forget all the dark days MMG has experienced in the past 12 months. All the beefs, inner turmoil, and arrests — plus house arrests — and remember that the cornerstones of the label do make fantastic, formulaic music. Jahlil Beats provided the trio with a monster sound platform and each MC comes through doing what he does best: Meek shrieks, Wale delivers the wordplay, and Ross floats in his self-created imaginary world. Note: Don’t even dare play this on cheap earbuds or PC speakers. Find a proper system, crank the tune near max volume and proceed to get the holy ghost. (John Gotty)

80. Junia-T and Briskinthehouse – “My, My, My” [Listen]

Another fine export from Canada that earned a permanent playlist spot right here. (Darius Sinclair)

81. BJ the Chicago Kid feat. Big K.R.I.T. – “The Resume” [Listen]

We waited a long time to get BJ’s first studio album and In My Mind delivered on all fronts. With timeless, soulful production and baby-making jams like “The Resume” drowning innocent women’s undergarments all over the country, the Chicago Kid solidified himself as a unicorn-like singer/songwriter. While BJ carries the anthem across 5 minutes of soaring keys and fingersnaps, he proved the TSS Crew right in predicting his success from day one. He might have also inadvertently boosted the birth rate in Chicago this year. (Aspektz)

82. A$AP Twelvyy – “Last Year Being Broke” [Listen]

Twelvyy turned his New Year’s Resolution into a catchy anthem that has also doubled as a social-media friendly hashtag. Not a bad look at all as the A$AP member increased his musical output, making sure his actions match his words. (John Gotty)

83. Drake – “One Dance” [Listen]

Drake earned his first no. 1 with “One Dance” and it may be the most fitting song for the honor. It’s everything he excels at as a pop artist: he sings and croons, he creates catchy tunes that etch themselves into listeners’ minds and he gives off a feeling of lighthearted, positive energy that makes it hard for the masses not to fall under his spell. (Darius Sinclair)

84. Buddah Bless feat. Allan Kingdom and King Louie – “Change” [Listen]

All three guys work with a different set of tools under the belt, yet they’re somehow able to mesh into a final whole that works as well in the headphones as it would playing in a well-to-do establishment like Ray’s Boom Boom Room. (John Gotty)

85. Terrace Martin – “Forever With You” [Listen]

After crash landing onto the world’s radar with his work on Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered project, Terrace Martin dropped Velvet Portraits a few months later and won over his new audience in a major way. To be clear, this wasn’t his first project but records like “Forever With You” took audiences deep into the mind of a friend, a lover and a magician of sonic favors. For anybody who doubted the place of the prodigal saxophonist in the hip-hop landscape, tunes like this will be the reason your ugly kids are about to make you a grandparent. (Aspektz)

86. Mike Floss – “Kerosene” [Listen]

To paraphrase Outkast, Nashville’s got something to say. Mike Floss is one of the voices who will deliver the message. (Darius Sinclair)

87. BJ The Chicago Kid – “Turnin’ Me Up [Listen]

BJ’s a neo-soul baby whose musical DNA is so deep and rich your grandparents will co-sign his tunes. “Turnin’ Me Up” has the proper groove to two-step and another little magical number from BJ’s ever-growing catalog of solid songs. (John Gotty)

88. Drake feat. Majid Jordan – “Feel No Ways” [Listen]

Views disappointed, and on that opinion most of us can agree. However, the album did produce a handful of individually great tracks, which included another Majid Jordan-assisted jam, “Feel No Ways.” The sparse, insanely jittery cut meshed perfectly with Drake’s signature sing-song flow, and provided a welcome, actually symbiotically produced respite from the rest of the boring dreck of the Toronto MC’s fourth album (“Controlla” still f*cking rocks, tho, fwiw). (Ryan Joseph)

89. ScHoolboy Q feat. Lance Skiiwalker – “Know Ya Wrong” [Listen]

ScHoolboy Q opened his heart up and poured his emotions out on Blank Face LP, showing significantly more vulnerability than he has on his previous records. On the Lance Skiiwalker-assisted track, “Know Ya Wrong,” he reveals how leeches from his hood hold his life back. (Raj Anand)

90. Future feat. The Weeknd – “Low Life” [Listen]

The Weeknd repped well for the “Low Life” after making his undeniable mark in pop music with Beauty Behind the Madness. Like most of his featured bangers, Abel takes over Future’s record and completely makes it his own. (Delenda Joseph)

91. Future – “Wicked” [Listen]

A song so dope Future tossed it on two separate projects this year. While his run may be letting off the gas just a tad, there’s something so infectious about the hook that you can’t help but sing along and do your own little bop. (Bansky Gonzalez)

92. Dizzy Wright – “Work A Little Harder” [Listen]

Dizzy Wright has always stood for positivity both in and out of his music. He lives what he raps about and after the all the drama that surrounded the shuttering of Funk Volume, he flexed his resiliency and came back strong with his EP, Wisdom and Good Vibes, and showed the world how well he’s capable of picking up the pieces. (Raj Anand)

93. Russ – “Do It Myself” [Listen]

Because everybody needs a little f*ck you anthem to propel them through the average day’s bullshit. (John Gotty)

94. Troy Ave – “Chuck Norris” [Listen]

Harry Powder has had a shitty year so far, but if there’s an upside to it, he did have a lot of really good songs. “Chuck Norris (Hoes N Gangstas)” is 100% Troy in character as he lays all of his cards on the line, latching on to his street persona in the midst of all the drama. (John Gotty)

95. 2 Chainz – “Felt Like Cappin” [Listen]

Don’t tell me you skipped 2 Chainz’ super solid Felt Like Cappin mixtape. Despite coming out of nowhere back in February, the six-track tape was packed with personality, dope beats and this playful title track that was undeniably cool. (Beware)

96. Rittz – “Nostalgia” [Listen]

Once you start listening to “Nostalgia” from Rittz’ latest album Top Of The Line, the obvious conclusion is that he’s speaking about a female. By the song’s end, you realize he has dedicated the touching track to his dog, who recently passed away after over a decade of hard times together. True dog lovers might not be able to make it through this one without crying. Straight up. White Jesus is hitting the feels hard on here, in all the right ways. RIP Butter. (Beware)

97. Kanye West – “No More Parties in L.A.” [Listen]

It seems like after however many years he’s been in the game Kanye West would’ve worked with West Coast production maestro MadLib countless times, but alas it took until 2016 for the two to link up (even though Madlib created the beat back in 2010). The dusty, soul-inflected cut showed West in his lyrical comfort zone, while Kendrick provided a welcomed appearance on a song dedicated to his hometown. It was *kisses fingers* fantastic. (Ryan Joseph)

98. Broderick Batts – “Kate Moss 1986” [Listen]

Carrying an ’80s pop vibe and an irresistible overall delivery, this slept-on single from Tampa singer Broderick Batts should’ve earned 10x more plays the current 66K it currently has. The good part is we have this Tommy Trillfigga-produced gem all to ourselves, without having it run into the ground. Good for us. Bad for Broderick. (Beware)

99. Ugly Heroes – “This World” [Listen]

The Midwest trio’s Everything in Between is an album of the year contender, and “This World” shows why. Rappers Red Pill (“Whether it’s your cousin, your brother or your husband/If they’re not screaming “F*ck the police,” then you’re suffering) and Verbal Kent (“I’ll rip the hair off Donald Trump’s scalp, for runnin’ his fat mouth/Truthfully? I’d rather elect Alf) spit cynical, yet passionate rhymes about today’s politically and racially charged environment over neck-snapping production by Apollo Brown. (Eddie Fu)

100. Chance The Rapper feat. Ty Dolla $ign – “Blessings” [Listen]

Ask yourself repeatedly: Are you ready for your blessings? Are you ready for your miracle? 2016 has been a year filled with loss and a surplus of f*ck sh*t. But it’s nice to hear a song that can give you three minutes to escape the real world and imagine a life where your dreams become your reality. (Darius Sinclair)



This post first appeared on SmokingSection, please read the originial post: here

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The 2016 Intermission: 100 Songs We’ve Enjoyed So Far

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