Hip hop has had a strong start in 2017. With an album from Migos, back to back Future LP’s, an upcoming Drake playlist, and much more, we’ve been spoiled in just 3 months. Collectively, music fans usually use the aux chord to listen to music, and radio has become a dying industry.
Most of us aren’t paying attention to the Billboard Top 100. We are too focused on numbers from YouTube and SoundCloud, and retweets from Twitter. But Billboard has continued to document the list in every genre. Unfortunately, they still combine r&b and hip hop into one list (and hip hop songs tend to take over.)
I occasionally check the site, as I’m a blogger and like to stay in the know. This year especially, I have been amazed at how many bad songs have charted. While many are being deservingly recognized, there are some that just baffle me.
I wanted to share my thoughts on this, by listing 10 songs that have hit the top 10 Hip Hop/R&B charts that I really don’t like. They are listed in order of dislike, with #1 being my least favorite. While a few may shock you – I have given some detailed explanation so you can hear me out.
Before we get into the list, brief yourself on how The Billboard Top 10 works with a quote from the official Billboard website:
This week’s most popular R&B/hip-hop songs are ranked by radio airplay audience impressions as measured by Nielsen Music.
1. Bad Things – Machine Gun Kelly + Camila Cabello
I’ve never been a big fan of Machine Gun Kelly, so maybe adding Bad Things to the list is biased. In retrospect, if ANY rapper made a song like this, I would hate it just the same (besides maybe Drake – no shame.) This is an obvious attempt at making a song for the radio, and Machine Gun Kelly accomplished just that. The single has gone Platinum in less than a year, and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I will admit – Kelly has been dabbling in pop/rap for some time now (see A Little More with Victoria Monet) and most of these songs are very personal to him and his struggles. But damn man, get back to your mixtape roots! When he dedicates himself to actually rhyming, he is a force to be reckoned with. His intensity is unmatched, especially in his live shows.
So – I literally groan out loud when a song like Bad Things is brought to my attention. Kelly actually tries to sing on this – with horrific results. It is the complete opposite of songs like Wild Boy, and a generic disappointment. I know he can do so much better, and he actually did with his second LP General Admission. But, this chart topper is 10 steps in the wrong direction.
* The chorus sung by Kelly is the chorus of a nostalgic Fastball song. Sadly, their song is 10x better.
2. Rolex – Ayo + Teo
Ayo + Teo went viral with Rolex and their #rolexchallenge (that I still don’t understand the significance of. First off – who the fuck are these guys? They sound like a cheap version of Lil Uzi, and any SoundCloud rapper using this increasingly popular flow.
They don’t make good music, case in point with their previous release In Reverse, and follow up to Rolex, Lit Right Now. Rolex is ingenue, and hardly something worth even playing once.
3. Selfish – PNB Rock
Selfish has been widely successful. Dropping as a single in mid June, it was well received on a host of blogs including The Fader, Complex, and Hotnewhiphop. In just over 2 months, the official music video has been viewed over 8.5 Million times, and at the time of this post, it has made the Billboard top 10 (for Rap) for 13 weeks collectively.
Many hip hop fans believe Selfish is PNB at his best; and stands as their personal favorite. I’m a fan of PNB’s music; his ability to out-rap the most mainstream artists, and his unique approach to melody. His beat selection is uncanny, and he definitely delivered on GTTM. I play it often – (especially the banger that is Range Rover.)
The selling point for critics and fans alike is the “catchiness” of the record…but I don’t hear it in the slightest. It’s a structural mess, with PNB awkwardly trying to match the rhythm of the Needlz and Donut produced beat. His vocal performance is one of his worst, as he attempts to stay on pitch, crooning with a barely audible flow. While the subject matter is genuine, (peep his interview with Fader) his expression of these feelings are mediocre at best.
4. iSpy – KYLE + Lil Yachty
iSpy isn’t on this list because I hate Lil Yachty. I don’t. I actually like a lot of his music (especially Mixtape and his recent feature on Taylor Bennet’s new album.) Most of my distain comes from KYLE. I’ll be honest – I hadn’t heard of him until this song, and he gave a pretty awful first impression. He is a direct clone of Yachty on this record. Upon further research – I found out he started as SuperDuperKyle and/or K.i.D. and dropped an LP in 2015.
The LP, Smyle, contained much better music. While iSpy definitely seemed like an organic collaboration, it’s ultimately tasteless. It caters to the mindless 12-16 year olds that don’t even like hip hop, and just want a catchy hook and a simple beat.
5. Congratulations – Post Malone + Quavo
Critics REALLY ragged on Stoney. I enjoyed a lot of the songs, but at 18 tracks deep (with the deluxe edition) it was a tiresome listen. While Money Made Me Do It stands as my 2nd favorite record of Post Malone’s, (#1 going to Tear$) the other single, Congratulations, wasn’t even in my top 10 in his collective discography. Why? While Malone contributed some great verses (mostly towards the beginning), the song really went down hill when he attempted to harmonize.
I stand by my belief that Post does best over slow rolling beats, as evident in Broken Whiskey Glass and Patient. But Congratulations barely moves, making the 3 and a half minute song feel like 6. The saving grace is Quavo. He outperforms Post vocally and rhythmically.
6. Do You Mind – DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, August Alsina, Jeremih, Future, Rick Ross
I need Khaled to stop making music. Like now. There are literally SIX artists on this record, as an attempt for click bait. Khaled has been doing this from the start of his career, and whenever I see the featured list go past 3 I know it’ll be a bust (with the exception being I’m On One.)
Do You Mind is another one of those songs. One thought that always crosses my mind is how can a single with so many great artists produce something so excruciatingly bad? Khaled is the master at bringing these results.
I really don’t have much more of an explanation to why I dislike Do You Mind so much. I’m guessing most of my readers will agree with me. His album, Major Key, did well, but to be honest I couldn’t get past track #2 because I had just about enough of Khaled’s annoying ad-libs. I wish I could have – because I hear a lot of the songs are pretty good. (I will admit I gave Nas Album Done a thorough listen, because, come on.) If someone could send me Major Key cutting out Khaled entirely, I will be forever grateful.
7. Black Beatles – Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane
Black Beatles is by far Swae Lee + Slim Jxmmi’s most successful song. The single has been purchased over 1.2 millions times, the official music video has over 400 Million views, it sparked the viral Mannequin Challenge, and Rolling Stone + Pitchfork dubbed it one of the best songs of 2016.
While all of this is true – I can’t stand this song. The chorus isn’t the problem; it’s the surrounding verses that turned me off. They are off pitch and lack even more substance that a typical Rae Sremmurd track. Fans of the song (which have proven to numerous) love the Mike Will Made It beat, but I found it to be one of his weaker instrumentals. It made no lasting impact upon repeated listens, and I’m actually a huge fan of Mike’s work.
More than that – many of Gucci’s bars are weak, especially in the beginning of his verse. I will admit things start to pick up steam, but it’s definitely not his best performance. I truly believe I could have loved BB if the aforementioned elements were tweaked. This guy got it right.
In case you were wondering – I agree SremmLife 2 was a solid project. But, the best songs on the LP are Real Chill (with Kodak Black) + closer Just Like Us. If you want my in depth thoughts, peep my collaborative review with Color + Rhyme.
8. Juju On That Beat – Zay Hilfigerrr + Zayion McCall
Yes, I realize the impact Juju has had on popular culture. It became a viral meme towards the end of last year, earning hella money. According to Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall, the song was made in about 5 minutes. To summarize the history of the hit record (according to Sterogum):
Hilfigerrr came up with the song, initially calling it “TZ Anthem” and getting it out into the world by starting a #TZAnthemChallenge hashtag. Pretty soon, kids were filming their own versions and posting them. For some reason, it became a thing with white girls, and then it became another thing for people on Twitter to argue about whether the white girls in the videos had made fools of themselves or not. (You will find so much of this if you do even the tiniest bit of Googling.) Two guys dressed as clowns, apparently part of a dance crew called @FreshTheClowns, went viral doing the dance a couple of months ago, and someone at Atlantic had the bright idea to sign Hilfigerrr and McCall, and to get the song out into the world in a form that people could buy. All this happened in a few months.
There is no shade thrown to Zay + Zayion on the success of Juju, but singling out the actual audio, it’s pretty rough. Yes, I realize it was made to get people to dance, but I’m a little tired of seeing songs climb up the charts based off popularity (see #2.) It is a step backwards in the hip hop culture, and should not have been put into the “rap” charts. There is nothing “hip hop” about this.
9. Now Or Later – Sage the Gemini
Sage the Gemini hit my radar in 2013 with his hit song Gas Pedal (featuring Iamsu!.) It was a hyphy classic, certified at 2x Platinum. The duo even performed it on the Late Night Show With David Letterman, just a week after it’s official release. While the Salva remix impressed me more, I thought it was a nice offering from the Cali rapper.
My experience with Gas Pedal made Now Or Later even more of a let down. The instrumental (which was so popular it sparked a Snapchat filter ) was flawless, and snippets of Sage’s flow were as smooth as butter. But the chorus killed me. If he combined his catchy verses into a chorus, Now Or Later wouldn’t be on this list. Hopefully his second studio album, Bachelor Party, won’t have more of these.
10. Too Much Sauce DJ Esco featuring Future + Lil Uzi
This will be another controversial listing, but hear me out. Getting Esco, Future and Lil Uzi on a song is my personal wet dream. I love all of these guys – and have been following their musical endeavors for quiet some time. So – when I heard about the collaboration, I couldn’t wait to give it a proper listen.
While this barely made the list, I’m still underwhelmed by Too Much Sauce. Uzi is the main feature, and while I am a huge fan of his music, his contribution was a complete snooze. I do think the structure of the song was creative, with a brief chorus from the recognizable voice that is Future. But it was repeated ad nauseam, and by the time it was over I knew I would never play it again.