I don’t even know how to start this off. So much work was put into this post. It was exhausting, it was time-consuming and it was fun. This isn’t a chore for me, more a celebration of Chicago hip hop.
2016 is almost over. Chicago has stood proud proving that the city can’t be fucked with. I’ve been listening to hip hop seriously for quiet some time, and it was only in August of this year that I decided to bring my passion to putting others on to great underground hip hop. While flowsfordays is based in Chicago, we’ve posted a ton of other content from some amazing artists outside of the city.
We all know at the end of December we’ll be getting an overload of year end lists for music. While some are informative, others definitely miss the mark. All music is subjective, but some big publications get it wrong.
While the site might not be global yet, I am working tirelessly day in and day out to bring fresh, new content that others will enjoy. I’m not one to post popular music-you can find that all over the web. It gets stale. I want to help you guys discover some great records, videos and albums you may have never known existed.
That being said, I have put together my 50 FAVORITE loose tracks coming out of the city of Chicago from 2016. Let me say a few things:
- Loose tracks/loosies are defined as: Songs released by an artist that were not placed on any EP/mixtape or album.
- Yes, I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. Remember, these are my favorites. To analyze thousands of tracks and come up with the “best” is insane. These are the ones I’ve played the most in 2016.
- These are not in order. There is no ranking here.
- Please forgive me if I misspelled an artist/producer/contributor’s name. Maybe just forgive me for any incorrect spelling/info in general. I feel confident that almost all of my text is correct, but remember…there are 50 songs here.
- And finally – I know there are a few weeks left in December. But four more year end lists are heading your way and I had to make room. I’m sure some amazing songs will be released in the remainder of December, but no year end list can cover everything.
Every song has a stream and some extra hyperlink goodies so you can do some exploring. This was a huge project and I truly hope you take advantage of what’s been given. More than anything, please enjoy.
These Days – Dally Auston
Dally Auston has released quiet a few singles this year, but These Days is his best offering yet. It’s a shorter song, but thrives with a tight chorus. Jack Vegas’ plucking instrumental gives Dally the perfect backdrop to wax poetics on numerous topics, my favorite being the line “your bitch I swear she plado.”
His upcoming project, ROSES, should be impacting soon, and might have at the time of this writing.
Countin (prod. by Mulatto Beats) – Qari + Warhol.SS
My Chicago cohorts all know Warhol.SS has dropped a crazy amount of music in 2016. Qari (formerly Carl) was featured on one of my favorite songs of 2016 (Palms off the new Odd Couple album) and gave us a few loosies as well. Mulatto has continued to produce his ass off. While their single offerings were notable, it was when they all hopped on Countin’ that put them on this list. Warhol is at his best as he provides the chorus (which is set oddly in the beginning.) Qari brings the song to life with bars on bars; and Mulatto once again proves his undeniable chemistry with not only Qari but Warhol.
I Want You (prod. by C-Sick) – Spenzo & Tory Lanez
I don’t have to tell you twice that the Tory Lanez had the biggest year of his career in 2016. His debut album, I Told You was HUGE although the timing was a bit unfortunate (Frank Ocean’s Blonde anyone?) There was some criticism on the project, but overall it was received well.
2016 was pretty good to Spenzo too, as it saw him get on a track with Young Thug (which didn’t do as well as it should have) and towards the end of the year, a song with Taylor Bennett and Brian Fresco. Arguably his biggest song to date (besides possible contender Wife Er) was with Tory Lanez, called I Want You. The song could have easily been a cut off I Told You, which just proves C-Sick’s versatility as a producer. Tory does his thing as usual, but Spenzo gives a huge verse completely repping Englewood and his humble beginnings. Spenzo has gone the r&b route before, but this is him at his most polished. At the time of this writing, the song has garnered over 430K plays and continues to build.
WYT (What You Thinking) (prod. by The 25th Hour) – eGo Jaleel
One of my favorite deep, underground hits of the year goes to eGo + The 25th Hour’s song WYT. 25th Hour’s stuttering beat and eGo’s ability to rap + sing on the same track produced one of the strongest cut’s out of Chicago this year. 25th Hour is a criminally underrated producer, but you can learn more about his career and what’s coming next in our exclusive interview here. eGo gave the song away for free and is still available for download, so be sure to cop.
Next To You (feat. Jeremih) – Twista
Twista puts on for his city. He’s been featured on so many Chicago emcee’s songs that it’s hard to keep track. But, we all know when he does the solo route things get serious. He excels on the pop front once again…and enlisting Jeremih for the infectious chorus is a smart choice. The song samples Rose Royce’s “I Wanna Get Next To You, giving it a lollipop soul sound.
Brand New – C$
C$ sent me this submission as soon as it impacted back in October. I loved it so much I hit him up about being a part of our dissection interview series. It ended up being one of my favorite interviews to date. You can get a VERY in depth look at the inspiration and process of creating the track by clicking this link.
In summary: it was produced by Taylor King who C$ was introduced to straight through SoundCloud. It’s an insane beat, and C$ flows vigorously throughout. His latest drop Dial Tone hit us later on, but Brand New is my favorite to date.
Hopefully – Tobi Lou
Tobi is as versatile as it gets. He’s made his mark in Chicago garnering 12.8K followers on SoundCloud (at the time of this writing.) His song Hopefully hit us at the top of the year, but instantly stood out to me. He has a soft voice on the chorus, then incorporates auto-tune and a melodic flow to reveal some inner emotions about a hopeful new relationship. He produced the track along with LYNY. Watch out for (around) the 2:40 minute mark as that switch up is killer. There were a lot of songs to choose from with Tobi, but this cut stands out the most.
Totality (feat. Christian JaLon + Scotty Brown) – Squeakpivot + Waxroof
This song is pure floetry. It was released back in October, but has gotten lots of attention since. The focus is on the producers Waxroof and Squeak, and vocalists Christian JaLon and Scotty Brown. He’s collaborated with artists on a few key Chicago tracks, but this one is almost flawless.
Side note: Squeak was featured on Saba’s newest LP, Bucket List Project, which was HIGHLY praised. It was a great look for him.
I Got The Keys (Freestyle) – E.Nos
E.Nos completely killed this instrumental. I Got The Keys is the intro track off DJ Khaled’s 2016 LP Major Key. It featured Jay Z + Future, but E.Nos still does it justice. It’s a quick one…just under 2 minutes, but is reminiscent of Future’s legendary predatory flow. There is some voice manipulation as well. Trust me, this could have gone wrong. But Nos made the mark.
Raise Hell – Sir The Baptist
When Raise Hell dropped music critics and fans went crazy. It hit playlists on Spotify and inspired a lot of interviews with the 27 year old singer. It’s the first single off his upcoming album Preacher’s Kid. As expected it’s full of traditional church hand claps, gospel backings, and a get up and dance beat. Sir grew up in a neighborhood in Chicago called Bronzeville which is a historic Chicago neighborhood with roots in jazz and blues. Everyone from Muddy Waters, Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong hung out there. You can definitely hear the influence in his music. Don’t sleep on this one.