Ranking One Direction members’ debut Solo singles

All five One Direction members have now officially released at least one single as solo artists, with Liam Payne being the last one to release one and Zayn Malik being the first. It only seems right to compare how they’ve all done and see who out of Harry, Niall, Louis, Liam and Zayn gave us the best first impression as a solo artist with their debut single. I will eventually do the same with when they’ve all released albums but at the moment it is just Harry and Zayn who have brought out full LPs. Who will come out on top? There’s only one way to find out.

5. Steve Aoki & Louis Tomlinson – Just Hold On
As soon as I saw that this was the avenue Louis was going down, collaborating with trash EDM artists, I just sighed and shook my head. My early predictions sure weren’t wrong, as we were given a dull song with what can only be described as the mother of all mum drops courtesy of Steve Aoki, who’s comedic value went through the roof after this shocker. Louis sounds out of touch vocally, he doesn’t suit the track in my opinion and appears to be missing the support of his fellow 1D members far more than they are. There’s not much more I can say about this track other than that it was a certainty to be at the bottom of this list.

4. Liam Payne ft. Quavo – Strip That Down
Every figment of my being wanted to enjoy this song far more than I did. First of all, he has Quavo of hip-hop group Migos on here, suggesting it’s going to be an upbeat R&B/Hip-Hop song, perhaps of a similar ilk to Zayn’s ‘PILLOWTALK’. What it actually is, I’m afraid to report, is a cheap Ed Sheeran tribute track, from the instrumental right up to the vocal delivery. Liam sounds identical to how Ed sounds on ‘Shape Of You’ while he does the pre-chorus of this one and it’s a real shame to say that; but it truly is half-hearted and unoriginal. I do still really like the Quavo feature, however, simply because he’s one of the greatest treasure’s this planet has ever produced.

3. Niall Horan – This Town
This acoustic atmosphere is something I actually expected from more of the members once they departed the pop boy band label they were granted as One Direction, but Niall is the only one who truly stuck with that. ‘This Town’ is a pleasant listen and is a solid demonstration of his ability as a songwriter and solo performer; where his voice passes the difficult isolation task that comes with solo artists who have previously transitioned from group work. Ed Sheeran comparisons spawned from this song’s release but I don’t really see Niall quite reaching that level, selling out stadiums and headlining festivals on his own, smashing records just seems a bit too far for Niall so to compare him to that so early on in his career is a poor decision. The song itself doesn’t have truly remarkable features but it does the simple things well and can be enjoyed in a chilled out environment, it does leave you wanting a bit more, however.

2. Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times
When I first heard this song I was filled with anger and frustration, because it sounded like a really shoddy version of a classic ballad, but the more I’ve listened, the more I’ve warmed to it. I can’t quite put my finger on what made it click in my head, but whatever it was I’m grateful for it; because now I can truly appreciate how great of a song it is, especially as a debut single. A song about love and the world around us, Harry takes on a level of maturity that you don’t even get close to seeing from the other members’ singles, as he seems the most suited to being a solo artist with his vocal variations and this colossal progression on the song’s progression. He doesn’t lose pace as the song goes on and it’s a five minute enjoyment fest. Despite all of this, it isn’t my number one, though.

1. Zayn Malik – PILLOWTALK
Contrary to how I feel about his album as a whole, I absolutely loved ‘PILLOWTALK’ from the moment it was released. I enjoyed the fresh sound we were given from Zayn as he justified his decision to be the first member to walk away from 1D and pursue his own aspirations in the music industry. In terms of invention he takes the cake against his fellow One Direction members as he gives an R&B flavour to us all to bleed out his true identity to the musical spheres. The attitude and swagger within the song makes it a standout hit of it’s time as it flew to the top of the charts and has gone on to generate over 500 million Spotify streams. His voice is powerful and fits with the moody atmosphere he creates with an incredibly catchy instrumental. A very raunchy concept which had plenty swooning over him all over again, and had Music fans intrigued about what the future may lie for Zayn.

Hip-Hop Power Rankings (March/April)

This brand new series of mine will help decipher who is the true commercial king of hip-hop at the time. Is it Drake? Is it Kendrick? Could Future sneak his way in? Who is the new kid destined to become the top dog? All these questions will be answered every other month by this top 10, which will take into consideration chart positions, commercial value and current relevancy as we find out who is the rapper on everyone’s lips at this moment in time? So without further ado, here is the March/April edition of the Hip-Hop Power Rankings.

10. Rick Ross
With his highly anticipated ninth studio album ‘Rather You Than Me’ being released on St. Patrick’s Day this year, Rozay has continued his legacy as a pop rap icon, going 15 years strong as a truly relevant artist. His longevity is unrivalled in this list and the commercial success he has enjoyed from his latest album has been right up there with his biggest to date. Lead single ‘Trap Trap Trap’ with Young Thug and Wale is a chart smash hit while ‘I Think She Like Me’ with Ty Dolla $ign is a slick hip-hop vibe track. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 which suggests that Rick Ross is far from a finished entity and he still has plenty left in the tank yet.

9. Lil Yachty
He’s announced his debut album, ‘Teenage Emotions’ and is releasing it on the 26th May. The cover prompted excitement and joy across the internet as it embraced all walks of life, from homosexuality to mental health sufferers. Lil Boat also released two singles alongside this announcement, the most successful of this being ‘Peek A Boo’ featuring Migos, a song which has charted well in America upon its release. Yachty could well leap above a couple of these names if his album is a success; if it is a failure, we could see the beginning of the demise for Yachty as a limelight artist. Only time will tell.

8. Joey Bada$$
He may well have released album of the year so far in ‘ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$’ but that wasn’t enough for him to dominate the charts quite like other artists higher in this list have. Nonetheless, Joey has seen a big push into the commercial limelight as a result of his album, with singles ‘DEVASTATED’, ‘LAND OF THE FREE’ & ‘ROCKABYE BABY’ have gained millions of plays over the last month and created a new radio-friendly sound for the New York Rapper. Despite this, don’t expect a rapper like Joey to feature regularly here, as he has his Lane of conscious rap which will bring its own fans.

7. Young Thug
Perhaps a harsh placement for Thugger seeing as he had two highly regarded features on Drake’s ‘More Life’ project, as well as a standout involvement on Rick Ross’ lead single ‘Trap Trap Trap’; but you just feel as though Young Thug will be soaring up this list for the next couple of months. The reason for this is the announcement and buzz around his “singing album” titled ‘Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls’ which has, according to Jeffery himself, been executive produced by Drake.

6. Lil Uzi Vert
Uzi’s remarkable claim that he was the equivalent of a hip-hop rockstar doesn’t seem too far-fetched given his persona and recent successes. Just when you thought he couldn’t top hits such as ‘Money Longer’ and ‘You Was Right’ he goes and brings us ‘XO TOUR Llif3’, a song which was influenced by going on tour with The Weeknd, pretty self explanatory really. It was and still is a top 10 hit in America, gaining tens of millions of streams every week. As well as this he’s recently hit 100 million Spotify streams on a few of his songs and has joined the upper bracket of rappers, easily becoming the king of new wave rap.

5. Travis Scott
As I predicted in my feature post a couple of months ago, LA Flame will not burn out and it’s still shining strong. Travis Scott gained a number one song and album recently with his 2016 release ‘Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight’ and corresponding single ‘Goosebumps’. He’s also witnessed his Young Thug collaboration ‘Pick Up The Phone’ go platinum and his colossal hit ‘Antidote’ go triple platinum in the last couple of months. His features have set alight too as he comes to life on Drake’s hit ‘Portland’ and SZA’s recent banger ‘Love Galore’. It’s been a huge couple of months for Travis and with two projects coming this year, don’t be surprised to see him rub shoulders with the elite in the forthcoming lists.

4. Migos
Is there any stopping these Atlanta trap lords? It started with ‘Bad & Boujee’, then came the album ‘Culture’ which was a phenomenon boasting hits such as ‘Get Right Witcha’ and ‘T Shirt’; and now they have collaboration hits all across the board. Their involvement on Calvin Harris’ smash hit ‘Slide’ is fantastic, they steal the show on Lil Yachty’s ‘Peek A Boo’ and they offer something different on Katy Perry’s ‘Bon Appetit’. Away from the group, Quavo has also seen success by providing a great verse on DJ Khaled’s sure to be summer smash ‘I’m The One’ and he has a collab project on the way with Travis Scott. Anyone who claimed the hype would fade is being forced to eat their words.

3. Future
The only artist in chart history to be number one on the album charts in consecutive weeks with different albums. That is a quote stunning accomplishment and it moved Future from mumble rap pioneer to mainstream god. His monumental hit ‘Mask Off’ went platinum in record time for Future as well as topping the Billboard charts, its plain to see why this Rapper is now amongst the top of the game right now. It seems as though every couple of months Future drops a banger or two that soars up the charts so he will be a regular on this hot list.

2. Drake
He broke Ed Sheeran’s streaming records and still isn’t number one on this list. ‘More Life’ shook the earth when it was released and it completely dominated the charts, with ‘Passionfruit’ becoming one of the anthems of the summer already and remaining in the top 5 for the duration of its release. His ‘Boy Meets World’ tour has been gaining rave reviews as Drake performed to millions of people over its course, solidifying his spot as one of the biggest mainstream artists on earth at the present moment. His influence upon other artists and giving them the coverage they deserve has seen Drake gain more plaudits, particularly his work with Young Thug and UK Artists such as Skepta and Giggs. Chart dominance, huge influence and a name recognised universally, so how the hell isn’t he 1st? Well there’s still one man we are yet to talk about..

1. Kendrick Lamar
Remember those streaming records that Drake broke? Kendrick went on to break those with ‘DAMN.’ and as a result reclaimed his throne at the top of the rap game. ‘DAMN.’ now has the highest first week sales figures of any album this year and also has three top 10 singles already in ‘LOYALTY.’, ‘DNA.’ & ‘HUMBLE.’, the latter of which went to number one. He’s proved that he can not only be a role model and somewhat of a prophet with his words like he did with ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ but also has the ability to conquer the popular market by making chart bangers and slick hooks. If that wasn’t enough for him to be number one, the icing on the cake was his headline sets at Coachella this year, both of which were mind blowing in terms of the numbers he drew in to watch as well as his quality within the performance. Kung-Fu Kenny has also promised his fans plenty of feature verses on fellow artists’ projects this year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he stayed at the top for quite some time this year.

Top 10 Radiohead songs

Radiohead’s biggest trait and strength within their discography is their ability to write both popular anthems and conceptual masterpieces, no matter what the album and no matter what the time period. 1995’s release ‘The Bends’ boasts the most Radiohead singles and some of their biggest songs but they also have the thought-provoking dystopia of ‘Kid A’ and ‘OK Computer’ so to narrow it down to 10 songs is somewhat of a possibility. Nevertheless it boils down to personal preference so here are my 10 favourite Radiohead songs.

10: Pyramid Song – from Amnesiac

With inspiration as wide as ancient Egyptian Underworld art and elements of cyclical time discussed by Stephen Hawking, ‘Pyramid Song’ is the lead single from the band’s fifth studio album ‘Amnesiac’. Containing a string section which was formed by Johnny Greenwood, the song balances between simplicity and complexity with seamless continuity. Ranking it above the likes of ‘Karma Police’ and ’15 Step’ proves its genius and the influence it had on Radiohead’s career.

9: House Of Cards – from In Rainbows

The stand out track from the unusually colourful technological project ‘In Rainbows’, released in 2007, ‘House Of Cards’ portrays a blissful insight into the positive side of Thom Yorke’s Lifestyle, going in detail about his relationships both emotionally and physically. It truly has a solid, good vibe to it which can be admired and enjoyed for years to come. Plus, if it’s the stand out of an album as powerful and important as ‘In Rainbows’ then it’s pretty special. The song was Grammy Nominated for Best Rock Song and received a whole host of plaudits, rightfully so.

8: Street Spirit (Fade Out) – from The Bends

The final song of 1995’s ‘The Bends’ album, the best way to describe ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ would be a tragedy tale which is similar to a dark tunnel with no sign of light at the end. The guitar chords at the start of the song really set the tone for this as it brings a mellow, moody atmosphere to proceedings and provide the perfect backdrop for Thom Yorke’s chilling vocal display, easily one of the best of his career. It was inspired musically by R.E.M. and the result was magnificent, something which has progressed beyond that of Michael Stipe and co. in the opinion of most.

7: Burn The Witch – from A Moon Shaped Pool

The history of this track, although it was only released last year, goes quite a while back. The titular phrase appeared in the album artwork for ‘Hail to the Theif’ and has featured in tracklist drafts for previous albums, despite never appearing on any of them. Finally, this song made it to our ears as the lead single and opening track to last years ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ and perhaps one of their strongest introductions to any album in their discography, and one of the many reasons why this record is one of their best. The electronic drum patterns featured on this one are very understated- making way for the percussive stringed instruments which do a sensational job of slowly building tension, making for a tune with a driving, ominous force.

6: No Surprises – from OK Computer

Amidst the electronic, dystopian highrises that characterised the landscapes of the 1997 classic ‘OK Computer’, we were taken by a left hook when we reached the tenth track on the album; ‘No Surprises’ is a depressingly somber, yet profoundly beautiful lullaby. It’s gentle instrumentation complements Yorke’s lyrics, depicting the narrator’s yearning for a life rid of fear and sadness, or perhaps an end to life completely. Another aspect of this song that makes it so memorable is the music video- something so simple as Thom Yorke singing the lyrics from a karaoke screen as he is slowly submerged in water has proved to be one of the most iconic visuals in 90’s music.

5: High And Dry – from The Bends

An interview with Thom Yorke in 2007 revealed that, after writing it, he wasn’t a fan of this song at all- stating that he was pressured into featuring it on their sophomore effort ‘The Bends’. Of course, this didn’t cloud my judgement whatsoever when it came to including this song in this list. From Yorke’s signature falsetto on display in the chorus, to Greenwood’s gorgeous, melodic guitar solo, there’s enough evidence here to say that, whilst Radiohead will go on to be remembered for their forays into the experimental side of rock music, ‘High and Dry’ proves that they could also write a Britpop tune as good as- possibly even better than- their contemporaries.

4: Subterranean Homesick Alien – from OK Computer

Thom Yorke is far from your typical man and this song from the 1997 masterpiece ‘OK Computer’ is a prime example of this. He has often referred to the idea of extra-terrestrial life and this song is somewhat of a homage to that and his experiences surrounding it. There is one particular experience that Yorke encountered which is believed to have inspired the song where he hit a pheasant on a country road, stepped out the car and thought he was being abducted. Sonically it has a space age emotion and passion to match the song’s concept and these thoughts and feelings manifest themselves into a perfectly-rounded song full of grace and quirkiness.

3: 2+2=5 – from Hail To The Thief

What did I say about album openers earlier? Well, this is the one. Radiohead are seasoned experts in the art of the crescendo, and no other track demonstrates this quite like the introduction to ‘Hail to the Theif’. The menacing chord progression that opens up this song foreshadow the chaos which shortly ensues. Just before the 2 minute mark, the air of unease explodes, as York’s eerie croons become manic yelps, and the instrumentation transpires into a cacophonous climax. Quality.

2: Paranoid Android – from OK Computer

As was the case with ‘Kid A’ on the ranking Albums post, the fact that ‘Paranoid Android’ hasn’t topped the lot is somewhat of a remarkable feat given its genius. It is without doubt one of the best songs of the 90s and perhaps even of all time with it’s haunting progression and sumptuous guitar riffs. The effect and wobble that Johnny Greenwood puts on his guitar for the deranged solos is nothing short of exemplary and is now a common technique of his as he continues to move into a field of his own sonically. Thom Yorke is devilish and sadistic vocally as his words cut straight through you and make you think.

1: Idioteque – from Kid A

With the turn of the century, after the resounding success of ‘OK Computer’, Radiohead chose to pursue a new avenue sonically, obsessing over electronic instruments and moving away from their roots in rock music with their 2000 release ‘Kid A’. ‘Idioteque’ is the greatest example of this, and how successful this move was pulled off. The production is ice cold, as Yorke’s haunting vocals run rife through this track, voicing fears of global warming and a nuclear holocaust, two themes that are even more relevant to society now than they were 17 years ago. ‘Idioteque’ marks a turning point in Radiohead’s trajectory as a band; this idea of reinvention would be something the band would press on with years after the release of ‘Kid A’- even to this day. It helped them form a blueprint of evolution, devoiding their work of any kind of expiration date, and ensured that their gifts to the world would always be timeless.

My Predictions for XXL’s 2017 Freshman List

Every year since 2007 (apart from 2008), hip-hop magazine XXL announce their ‘freshman’ list which consists of 10 up-and-coming rappers who are expected to be the future of the genre. Previous years has seen both colossal success stories, most notably the likes of Kendrick Lamar (2011) and J Cole (2010), and catastrophic failures including Iggy Azalea (2012) and Yelawolf (2011). There is a claim that this list is losing it’s value and that many rappers are actually turning it down because they are big enough without it, but my personal opinion is that it helps people discover new artists and it soars them to the limelight. 2016 gave us Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert and many more who have gone on to create huge hits so I think it still holds a fairly significant weight in the industry. Without further ado, here is who I think will make the cut for 2017.

NAV

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The Canadian rapper is signed to The Weeknd’s XO label and much like his mentor, has preferred to let his music do the talking in the early stages of his career. After an electric feature on Travis Scott’s ‘beibs in the trap’ banger, he has started 2017 with success by releasing a self-titled mixtape full of low-key trap anthems and a stellar hit with The Weeknd. He may well be one of my favourites of any of the artists on this list simply for his attitude on a track, as well as his smooth flow and bouncy production. Watch out for this guy.

Saba

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First recognised for his feature on Chance The Rapper’s hits ‘Everybody’s Something’ and ‘Angels’, Chicago born rapper Saba  has a brilliant ability to vary his style from hip-hop in the verses to smooth R&B in the hooks. Despite doing projects before this, it was the help of Chance which gave Saba a platform to gain his own fan base and with his latest mixtape ‘Bucket List Project’ which he released last October, he embraced the new found love with open arms and gave his best performances to date. His rise is only getting bigger as his latest track ‘Monday to Monday’, released in January of this year, is his biggest and most successful release to date in terms of streams.

XXXTENTACION

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The whole world is talking about this Florida born hip-hop artist, whether it be for his pure insanity on a track or his huge ‘Look At Me!’ track which many believe Drake used and stole the flow on for a song of his own. At just 19 years of age, he is combining numerous genres and demonstrating raw talent in such a short space of time, all of this while being behind bars for alleged robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. His raw and versatile style has caused serious waves in the underground area of the genre and you feel he is a dead cert for the Freshman list this year and could potentially be the cover star.

Lil Peep

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Lil Peep is one of the biggest Soundcloud artists around at this moment in time and he is reaping the rewards of this online platform. After dropping out of school in Long Island, Peep managed to release music based on personal experiences and feelings, such as suicidal tendencies and drug use as well as his past relationships. He has released plenty of mixtapes over the past 18 months and they have given us tracks such as “White Wine”, “Star Shopping” and “The Way I See Things” which have all gained over a million YouTube views each. His biggest appeal is his cross-genre talents as he names Gucci Mane, Crystal Castles and Panic! At The Disco as his biggest influences.

Playboi Carti

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There aren’t many on this list that could rival Playboi Carti for out and out bangers over such a short space of time, as well as his ability to call upon some of rap’s freshest and coolest names for collaborations. A brand new track with Lil Uzi Vert has been released as well as his feature the A$AP Mob’s huge hit ‘Telephone Calls’ with Tyler The Creator. Carti’s 2016 mixtape ‘In Abundance’ is a solid piece of work and has big hits on it in abundance, if you will. He appears to be another rapper to come off the streets of Atlanta and make it on the grand stage and he really does have all the credentials to succeed.

Famous Dex

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Unlike the norms of the new wave of rappers to come from Chicago, Famous Dex has a gritty attitude to his tracks as well as a hyped up atmosphere surrounding his persona, something he prides his music on. ‘Drip From My Walk’ is a hit that has made waves around the genre and has even managed to persuade Lil Yachty to remix it. Dex’s work rate is another thing that sets him apart from the rest, releasing an incredible six mixtapes last year, including ‘Dexter’s Laboratory’ and my personal favourite ‘Dexter The Robot’ which features some of his most well-known tracks. The most well-prepared for this list, you could argue.

Robb Banks

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Robb Banks has put in a lot of work in previous years to get to where he is now, releasing his debut mixtape way back in 2012 (‘Calendars’). He then followed that up with ‘Tha City’ a year later but it wasn’t until 2015 when his debut studio album ‘Year Of The Savage’ was released where he was being taken seriously. After being snubbed for the 2016 list, Banks has released a couple of singles in 2016 and proved his talents, surely this year is the year that the New Yorker can break the big time.

Ugly God

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With just one song on Spotify you may be wondering why I have featured this artist on the list. Well, that one song is ‘Water’, a track that has over 30 million streams on Spotify alone and he has more heat on Soundcloud for us to hear. He is quickly developing a reputation as everyone’s favourite loveable artist just for his goofy actions, such as his hilarious captions on his own Genius tracks, his love for Pokémon and that brilliant Luigi hat. He is incredibly talented and has a big future ahead I am sure of it, he reminds me of Yachty massively in that all it took was one hit for it all to take off.

Rich The Kid

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Probably the oldest member on this list at the ripe old age of 24, Rich The Kid hails from Queens in New York and has one of the biggest names on the list without a doubt. His mixtapes have many high-profile features, including Migos, Kodak Black and Ty Dolla $ign as well as showing off Rich’s brilliance when it comes to production. After growing tired off being just a producer for artists like Migos, Bobby Shmurda and Jaden Smith, he focused on some work of his own and showed off his bars better than anyone could’ve expected. The work he has put in over the past few years must surely warrant a place on this year’s Freshman list, he is exactly what they’re looking for.

Young M.A.

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Potentially the only female to appear this year and her portfolio is hard to argue with. Most importantly of all, she has the biggest hit out of everyone in this list, with ‘OOOUUU’ hitting over 100 million streams and still rising. Her bars are cold and her flow is even colder as she sticks true to her Brooklyn roots and goes hard on every beat she is given. Having a single that charts on Billboard is nothing to scrunch your nose up at and Young M.A. has done exactly that, reaching number 19 with ‘OOOUUU’ and it was so popular even 50 Cent covered it. After being snubbed last year, surely it’s her time to shine?

Top 20 Rappers in their 20s

Last September, Complex did their ’20 Best Rappers In Their 20s’ list and as is often the case with a Complex post, it caused a few controversies. Inclusions of the likes of Lil Uzi Vert and Swae Lee seemed just as odd as their choice to put YG and Meek Mill above A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott and it has prompted me to do my own list. I’ll also shoutout Liam Jones who did this post first and added fuel to my fire in terms of wanting to put out this list so check that out too. Links to both lists will be at the bottom of the post. Without further ado let’s get into the list.

DISCLAIMER: ARTISTS SUCH AS DRAKE, CHILDISH GAMBINO AND SCHOOLBOY Q ARE 30 OR OVER SO CANNOT BE CONSIDERED FOR THIS LIST. LIL YACHTY IS 19 SO HE IS TOO YOUNG FOR THE LIST.

20. Mac Miller (25 years old)

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Mac Miller has been a rapper that I have struggled to get involved with and enjoy previously, but with the release of his latest album ‘The Divine Feminine’ he silenced critics and proved his credentials as a great artist. Mac has also had a lot to say about Donald Trump and much like fellow rapper YG, has written a song about his shortcomings if he were to be elected as President (which he has in case you lived under a rock). I like his suave style over a beat and the beats themselves are soulful to the core.

 

19. D.R.A.M. (28 years old)

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The happiest man in the world, I have never seen a man love his dog quite like D.R.A.M. does. After being turned down for the 2016 Freshman list, he could have stopped and thought it would never happen, but no. He kept going and now has a Grammy nominated song to his name with ‘Broccoli’, which also happens to be the greatest song of all time believe it or not. His self-titled debut is feel good and above all it is bloody good too, I hope we hear more from this loveable man and I also hope we see him with more dogs.

 

18. Noname (25 years old)

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A complete unknown at the start of 2016 but look at her now. Noname made just about everyone’s albums of the year list and she was in the top 10 of mine with her smash debut ‘Telefone’. Chicago has been on the up for a while and we are now starting to see this in action with the likes of Noname, Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper becoming big names in the genre. With a very limited number of talented female rappers in today’s rap scene, perhaps Noname has what it takes to become the queen, she has Nicki Minaj to topple first, though…

 

17. Vic Mensa (23 years old)

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More proof that Chicago is having a honeymoon period of music at the moment, Vic Mensa has taken 2016 as an opportunity to speak out on major issues with Chicago, mainly police brutality and the effect it has on the local people. His ‘There’s Alot Going On’ EP was brilliant and it raised a lot of issues, opening a lot of eyes to the current state of America’s police force. His flow and cadence is something we are used to, with previous releases ‘U Mad’ and ‘Down On My Luck’ remaining bangers to this day.

 

16. Meek Mill (29 years old)

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You could excuse people for calling Meek Mill a bit of a banter artist given his well documented feud with Drake which resulted in Meek falling flat on his face and becoming a laughing stock. This papered over the fact that Meek Mill has actually been moving very well musically in the past couple of years and he followed that trend on in 2016 with his DC4 mixtape which featured some of the game’s hottest artists and as a result we got banger after banger. His work ethic can’t be questioned and if he carries on like he is, the Drake feud will be a thing of the past.

 

15. Denzel Curry (22 years old)

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The coldest flow in the game at the moment, hands down. Denzel blows my mind on a regular basis and it all came about from ‘Ultimate’, his biggest track and the soundtrack to the bottle flip challenge. The meme that became of it threw quite a lot of shade on it as a track which is a shame because it is genuinely incredible the way he keeps the track flowing at such a high tempo. He is full of energy and talent, as seen in 2016’s ‘Imperial’ album which was one of the better releases from a Freshman last year. If Denzel can carry on at this rate I honestly think he could be one of the greats.

 

14. YG (26 years old)

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YG seemed like a bit of a joker when he released ‘My N****’ in 2014 but the way he has responded has been very impressive indeed. 2016 was a very busy year for the Compton rapper as he released two projects, ‘Still Brazy’ and ‘Red Friday’, the former of which was absolutely fantastic and made my albums of the year list. His political side has also shone through this year, most notably his ongoing feud with Donald Trump and the message he sends in his ‘FDT’ track. YG has bounced back from being a meme artist and is now one of hip-hop’s truest speakers.

 

13. Tyler, The Creator (25 years old)

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Tyler is as creative as anyone in this list, his mind goes way beyond that of hip-hop and it is very refreshing to see. Odd Future’s ring leader has now moved onto become a fashion guru as well as an award winning solo artist and a TV personality so it is clear to see why he is so well loved by so many people. Sticking with his music, however, Tyler is undoubtedly controversial, that much is a stone cold fact, but his controversies often help him shine and create his best music. 2016 was fairly quiet for Tyler, with us only getting a couple of A$AP Mob collabs and a remix of Zayn Malik’s hit ‘Pillowtalk’. The remix is absolutely stunning and the feature tracks are just as good so the future is bright for Wolf Haley indeed.

 

12. Joey Bada$$ (22 years old)

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One of hip-hop’s wittiest and talented MC’s, it is an absolute criminal offence how underrated Joey Bada$$ is. ‘Paper Trail$’ is one of the best hip-hop songs I have heard in years and it doesn’t stop there. Every track Joey does has his stamp on it, a stamp of phenomenal flow and expressive lyricism from the very core. 2016 has seen Joey plotting a comeback with tracks like ‘Devastated’ and ‘Front & Center’ being released and prompting mass excitement for his new project, particularly after the success of ‘B4.DA.$$’. Joey Bada$$ has a huge future and his new album will be fire, if it isn’t I will eat my shoes.

 

11. 21 Savage (24 years old)

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In his own words, he makes “murder music” and he couldn’t be more correct. 21 is actually an incredibly clever man who has clearly learnt an awful lot from his traumatic experiences on the streets of Atlanta. From gun violence to out and out murders, 21 Savage raps from the heart and tells us all how it is, no sugar coating or stretching the truth. He is one of my favourite artists from the 2016 Freshman list because of how unique he is, sounding like a possessed middle aged man with a death alibi at the best of times but I just can’t explain how it sounds so enjoyable, it just does. Listen to his ‘Savage Mode’ mixtape and you will soon realise what I am talking about.

 

10. Quavo (25 years old)

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Best known as a part of rap group Migos, Quavo has enjoyed a huge 2016 and it has come from a lot of groundwork with Migos, working hard to get commercial success and be recognised by a wider audience. They did that with ‘Versace’ but after that they struggled to hit those heights again. Well, ‘Bad & Boujee’ came out in 2016 and the rest is history, Migos are now a household name and have a song with over 150 million plays on Spotify, not bad going. Quavo himself has also dominated on features with Travis Scott, G.O.O.D. Music and Post Malone, making him almost impossible to ignore.

 

9. Earl Sweatshirt (22 years old)

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Earl truly is like gold dust when he hops on the microphone and gives us some bars. Two releases into his solo career, Earl Sweatshirt has demonstrated that he is far more than one of Tyler, The Creator’s friends from Odd Future; instead he is actually the best MC OFWGKTA have to offer, including Tyler himself. Both ‘Doris’ and ‘I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside’ are prime examples of the raw talent he possesses as a songwriter, rapping about his life and the struggles he has faced, from depression to drug addiction. For such a young man he is incredible and with an album predicted to be released this year, I cannot wait to see what is next.

 

8. Vince Staples (23 years old)

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Vince goes hard, talks hard, and lives hard. 2015’s ‘Summertime 06’ album made him one of hip-hop’s biggest names instantly because of it’s boom blast emotion and the anti-gangster rap mentality he has preached for so long. His rise from Long Beach to the golden sands of fame continued in 2016 with his ‘Prima Donna’ release which was a solid follow up to one of hip-hop’s modern smashes. If you think you had it tough, listen to ‘Norf Norf’, a banging track with a hardcore message about the streets of California growing up as well as the growing unrest between police and black civilians. He has a banger with Australian producer Flume as well so his diversity knows no bounds.

 

7. Big Sean (28 years old)

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Like him or not, Big Sean is one of the most well-known rappers around and that has to stand for something. At the beginning of his career he really struggled to release a good enough quality album to be recognised widely but ever since 2015’s ‘Dark Sky Paradise’, Sean has gone from strength to strength. A couple of huge features on DJ Khaled’s album, particularly on ‘Holy Key’ and the best of the bunch on G.O.O.D. Music’s ‘Champions’ single have seen the Detroit born rapper taken very seriously indeed in the genre. His name hasn’t faded either thanks to the release of album ‘I Decided’ at the start of 2017 as it really looks like Sean has turned a corner.

 

6. Logic (27 years old)

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A white guy with great flow and a name that isn’t Eminem? Surely not? Well think again because Logic is the best name underground hip-hop has to offer for a very good reason. Incredible speed on his bars as well as a positive attitude gives him a very devoted fan base and even if he isn’t hitting the mainstream audiences, Logic is turning heads in the depths of rap and has soared towards the absolute best in the business after his fantastic ‘Bobby Tarantino’ mixtape. Oh, and he can freestyle while doing a Rubiks Cube without looking, so he is basically the coolest guy in the world.

 

5. A$AP Rocky (28 years old)

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Rocky is one of rap’s biggest names, with two commercial hit albums to his name and a rockstar lifestyle which varies from his music to his fashion, both of which he is exceptionally creative with. It is his music we are discussing here, though, and he hasn’t been hugely involved this year. Yes we saw an A$AP Mob album but that seemed fairly half-hearted to me and only told us what we already knew, that Rocky was comfortably the best artist there. Even after this year he makes the top five because as an entity he never seems to fade, with his music always standing tall and blasting through speakers on a regular basis. A big year next time round and he could be a contender for top spot.

 

4. Young Thug (25 years old)

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Hands down the craziest man not just in hip-hop, but in music in general. Thugger has built up his popularity through his incredible work rate and the staggering amount of music he releases. He has been quoted to say that he only listens to his music and nobody else’s but if I was as good as Young Thug I would probably do the same. All of the ‘Slime Season’ mixtapes have been fantastic but Thug really outdid himself on the third, which was released early last year. ‘JEFFERY’ was another success story and gave us perhaps the best music video of all time in ‘Wyclef Jean’. The tracklist was consisted of his influences and I feel like he is close to reaching some of their levels. Also, Elton John compared him to John Lennon while Wyclef Jean himself called him this generation’s Tupac, high praise for a high flyer of the industry.

 

3. Travis Scott (24 years old)

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The king of hooks, Travis Scott is yet to release a song I have disliked, genuinely. That is including songs he features on, his ability to create catchy hooks on top of booming beats is truly one of a kind; whether it be the psychedelic clicks of ‘Goosebumps’ or the feelgood bounce of ‘Apple Pie’. Just listen to the chorus’ on ‘Pick Up The Phone’ and ‘Champions’ and tell me Travis Scott isn’t the first name you’d go to when writing a trap song. His ‘Rodeo’ album is a classic I don’t care what anyone says, and 2016’s ‘Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight’ has simply solidified his place as one of rap’s biggest superstars. Trust me on this, LA Flame has more greatness coming, I am sure of it.

 

2. Chance The Rapper (23 years old)

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Chance has soared from underground success to being arguably the most talked about male artist around at the moment. He started the year with one of the features of the year on Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ and went on from there. His third mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ was the best one yet and as a result he went to the top of Billboard’s charts and even won three Grammy awards; and the best part of all of this? Chance is an independent artist, no label, completely self-controlled. He has shook the world with his accomplishments and he is sure to become the new king of hip-hop in the coming years. His beautiful mixture of gospel and hip-hop is infectious and it is his faith that has made him so passionate, long may it continue.

 

1. Kendrick Lamar (29 years old)

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Simply unstoppable. Luckily for everyone else in this list, Kendrick turns 30 this year so he won’t be able to top this list anymore and we might be able to see some fresh blood take the lead. It is fairly self-explanatory as to why Kendrick Lamar remains the number one MC in the game, whether it is his classic discography which just never seems to grow tiresome or the brilliance of his guest features, just witnessing Kendrick’s influence is enough to tip you over the edge of hype. He is more than just a rapper, he is a wordsmith, a poet and a prophet of our times, a man we should feel luckily to breathe the same air as. All hail the king.

 

Complex’s top 20: http://uk.complex.com/music/2016/09/20-best-rappers-in-their-20s-2016

Liam’s top 20: https://ljmusictalk.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/top-20-rappers-in-their-20s/

 

Top 10 albums of the 2010s so far

The 2010s are into their eight year, wow that has flown by. A lot is made of the state of the music industry currently and that age old statement is said: “music was so much better back in the good old days”. Well although I can often agree with people’s grumbles about modern music, particularly the death of bands and the introduction of brainless EDM, there are still shining lights amongst us don’t you worry. Upon creating this list it did actually make me realise how fantastic some of the projects we have been treated to are. We still have a large portion of fantastic artists who are pushing the culture forwards and trying to create innovative sounds and it is those who I shall be celebrating with this list. I hope you enjoy it and please remember that this is all personal opinion.

10. J Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive

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Did you know this went double platinum with no features? The ongoing meme of this album and it’s crazy success given the lack of commercial appeal is part of the reason people love it so much when in actual fact, it is an absolute stunner of an album. Whether you want a slow jam like ‘Wet Dreamz’ or ‘Apparently’ or a hard hitting banger like ‘A Tale Of 2 Citiez’ and ‘G.O.M.D.’ this album has it all. A 13 track album of hits and supreme talent, entirely self-dependent and absolutely brilliant. It is easily Cole’s best project and without doubt it is one of the best hip-hop albums of this decade, it has all the credentials to be a genre classic.

9. Frank Ocean – Blond

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The best album of 2016 bar none, Frank made us wait for this one that much is for sure. With that being said, once we were treated to ‘Blond’ all was forgiven, we could hear the progression, the journey that Frank Ocean had been on to create the perfect sound to his music and to mature from his days of Odd Future and debut album ‘Channel Orange’. ‘Nike’ is stunning, ‘Nights’ is a toe tapping bop and ‘Futura Free’ is an emotional rollercoaster, as well as a blinding guest feature by Andre 3000 on ‘Solo Reprise’. This album couldn’t be topped in 2016 and it has soared Frank to the top of the game, becoming one of music’s most loved and cherished assets. He could literally retire tomorrow and we wouldn’t begrudge him because he treated us to this.

8. Disclosure – Settle

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This album is a true celebration, a return to form for classic electronic dance track, courtesy of Disclosure, a couple of young lads who wouldn’t strike you as this talented at all. This album is absolutely STACKED with colossal hits and iconic house beats as well as having some very brave and high profile features, with the likes of Sam Smith, London Grammar and Eliza Doolittle changing their styles to create floor filling bangers. Every gamble they took paid off and as a result we were given an album of sheer class from top to bottom. ‘You & Me’, ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ and ‘F For You’ are my personal favourites but in honesty they’re all bangers and they rekindled the flame of funky electronics in the music industry.

7. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

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A viral video has spread in regards to how to write an Alt-J song, creating a bit of a laughing stock stigma around the band, but let’s not forget the absolute brilliance of their award winning debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’, which conquered a stacked group of competitors including Plan B, Michael Kiwanuka and Ben Howard to the Mercury Prize in 2012. They had an album which was bizarre to the core and yet every single track could have been a single, I can’t think of many bands who can create a sound like Alt-J’s and still keep that commercial sound at the helm. Of course they had wild success with ‘Breezeblocks’ and ‘Something Good’ but it was the songs like ‘Tessellate’ and ‘Fitzpleasure’ which really stood out for me and made this one a classic. They are yet to replicate this huge album but they’re comeback is imminent so we can only hope for more brilliance from them.

6. Travis Scott – Rodeo

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An accidental concept album, how does that even happen? This album took Travis Scott from Houston to the big time, from the streets to marble floors, from rags to riches. Yes he had mixtape success beforehand but none of them came close to this, one of the most technically risky and talented hip-hop albums I have heard in a very long time. Lead single ‘Antidote’ will ring many bells with neutrals and rightfully so given it’s popularity and how much of a tune it is. It’s the likes of ‘Apple Pie’, ‘Maria I’m Drunk’ and ‘90210’, however, that make this album so special, trap songs with a completely unique sound; a psychedelic take on a hardcore genre. In short, Travis broke the rules on this song, he flew through the wall of uncertainty and brought us the light, he showed everyone that trap music didn’t have to be like it was, and my god he was right.

5. The xx – xx

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Dark, mysterious, genius. The London based trio’s debut album caused shockwaves in the music industry and completely evolved the way we view the indie and alternative genres for good. ‘Intro’ is still the most remarkable piece of music you will hear and is hands down the best album opener out of any on this list, while lead singles ‘Islands’ and ‘Crystalised’ are passionate but still gloomy and left field. Romy, Oliver and Jamie work perfectly together and there isn’t a single group who can replicate what they do, and god knows people have tried. Listen out for the piano on ‘VCR’ as well as that is just lovely, the production of the album from start to finish is absolutely magnificent and it convinced me that Jamie xx was and still is this country’s supreme music producer. Oh, and it won the Mercury Music Prize in 2010, beating Biffy Clyro, Foals and Dizzee Rascal to the crown.

4. Tame Impala – Currents

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Australia’s best export since Tim Cahill, Kevin Parker and co. who prefer to go by the name of Tame Impala have had a gradual rise to fame in this country particularly. ‘Lonerism’ in 2013 was their second release and was fantastic but it wasn’t really until ‘Currents’ in 2015 when the world stood up and took notice of Tame Impala for what they truly are, a catchy psychedelic band with a unique flavour to their sound. When you open an album with ‘Let It Happen’ and end it with ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ you are onto a winner, let along having hits like ‘The Less I Know The Better’ in between. ‘Cause I’m A Man’ and ‘Yes I’m Changing’ are personal favourites of mine and this album will forever remain in my back catalogue of classics, no matter how modern you may deem it.

3. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

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A cult classic. There isn’t a weak song on this album from Kendrick Lamar, from the big hits ‘i’ and ‘King Kunta’ to the album tracks of ‘Institutionalized’ and ‘Hood Politics’. He was given ELEVEN Grammy nominations for this masterpiece and it truly was the album that certified his spot as king amongst the masses (we knew he was king long before this album came out). ‘How Much A Dollar Cost’ is Barack Obama’s favourite song so it is an instant classic and ‘Mortal Man’ holds an eight minute conversation with the late Tupac at the end to complete the masterpiece. The production is magic, with Flying Lotus and Thundercat doing bits alongside the likes of Pharrell Williams and SZA; and of course Kendrick’s bars are god-level. This album is just incredible and who can forget the poem he crafts throughout the album before reciting it to Pac at the end? Unbelievable stuff.

2. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, M.A.A.D city

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The most culturally important album of this decade, Kendrick is better known by the general public for ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, the album which came after this one but fans of hip-hop will be well aware of the sheer genius behind this project. Lead singles ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ and ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ became club anthems alongside their hugely influential meanings, especially in the latter where he challenges alcoholism. ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst’ steals the show on the whole album as a 12 minute piece about life on the streets and Kendrick’s acceptance of death, it is just chillingly magical. The best part of this album? The tale it tells of course. Teenagers on the streets of Compton with drugs and gangs, with all the dangers that come with it. You find yourself completely engulfed in the anecdotes he tells and it begins to feel like a motion picture towards the end, it is special, truly special.

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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Do I really need to justify this decision? Like at all? If you disagree with me I would love for you to name one album, just one is all I want, that is better than this from our very own twisted genius Kanye West. Let me run through some of the songs that are bangers. ALL OF THEM. Every. Last. One. Every feature is crisp and on form (apart from Jay Z on ‘Monster’), he has two of the biggest hype songs of all time in ‘POWER’ and ‘All Of The Lights’ come one after the other, and he even has time to throw in some heartbreak anthems and a Bon Iver feature, mesmerising to the very core. A polarising album for a polarising figure? Sounds about right but one thing is for certain, this is a world class album from a truly masterful artist who will, whether you like it or not, go down as one of the greatest of our generation, if not THE greatest. If I had to tell you to listen to three songs, they would be ‘Gorgeous’, ‘Devil In A New Dress’ and ‘Runaway’, but just do yourselves a favour, put your Kanye agendas to one side, put down your pitchforks and give it a chance, because I guarantee you there is at least one song on this album that will take you by surprise. AT LEAST.

 

Ranking G.O.O.D. Music’s artists from Best to Worst

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that G.O.O.D. Music are the biggest label in hip-hop at the moment and that they currently run the game from a musical sense right up to their fashion and style. Being a member of G.O.O.D. is more than being a good musician, it is a movement and a culture, you have to have your own style and you have to own it. The likes of Kanye West, Big Sean and Travis Scott are big fashion hitters as well as some of the biggest names in musical terms at the moment, while Desiigner and Migos are young artists with strong followings. I’m not going to sit here and claim they’re all fantastic artists because they aren’t, there are some serious duds on this label but the good outweighs the bad. This post will see me, Liam Jones, Connor Welsh and Callum Galloway rank them all from worst to best. Just for clarity, these are the artists in question and not all of them are officially signed but are heavily affiliated or have previously been a major part of it:

  • Kanye West (founder)
  • Big Sean (joined in 2007)
  • Pusha T (president)
  • Gucci Mane (regular features and producer)
  • Migos (regular feature artists)
  • Kid Cudi (left in 2013)
  • Desiigner (joined in 2016)
  • Travis Scott (production wing)
  • Tyga (joined in 2016)
  • John Legend (left in 2016)

Ellis Karran’s list – @EllisKarran

  1. Kanye West
  2. Pusha T
  3. Travis Scott
  4. Kid Cudi
  5. Big Sean
  6. Migos
  7. Gucci Mane
  8. John Legend
  9. Desiigner
  10. Tyga

1st and 10th were the easiest choices of my life, Kanye stands head and shoulders above the rest simply because he is an all-time great and the others aren’t, while Tyga is the biggest heap of trash in modern rap music along with Kodak Black. Desiigner would have been higher if he wasn’t a one-hit wonder but he still has the potential to succeed with these guys around him. Big Sean gets a lot of stick for being a bit of a meme but he is a good rapper and he has stepped it up massively over the past couple of years, hence why he edges Migos but they are going higher up this list in the future for sure. Pusha is clear of the rest because of his flow and his cold bars so the big one for me was whether or not Travis should go ahead of Cudi. I put him 3rd eventually because of how huge Rodeo became as well as the creativity he shows every single day, something G.O.O.D. pride themselves on. Also, Cudi went through a 4-5 year spell of releasing truly appalling music so that slid him down, if he had released more albums like ‘Man On The Moon’ he could’ve challenged Pusha but as a result he is there. Gucci is a joker and he makes some bangers but I don’t really rate him much without some fire features.

Liam Jones’ list – @liam_jones09

  1. Kanye West
  2. Pusha T
  3. Big Sean
  4. Migos
  5. Gucci Mane
  6. Travis Scott
  7. John Legend
  8. Kid Cudi
  9. Desiigner
  10. Tyga

Tyga is only bottom because Desiigner made Panda simple as that both as trash as each other. Kanye is far and away number one on every possible level, Pusha is severely underrated and is the glue that keeps them together. Big Sean is also massively underrated (all corny lyrics aside) and Migos and Gucci are just such fire at the moment, there’s so much hype on them and Migos made the best song of all time (Bad and Boujee). Travis Scott is a good artist but he’s not as elite as the top 3, I feel like one day he will be a lot higher, however. Kid Cudi just doesn’t do it for me and he is quite an average rapper. As much as I love John Legend I will never rank him above those kinds of rappers.

Connor Welsh’s list – @ConZilla97

  1. Kanye West
  2. Travis Scott
  3. Pusha T
  4. Migos
  5. Gucci Mane
  6. Big Sean
  7. Desiigner
  8. Kid Cudi
  9. John Legend
  10. Tyga

Kanye is the best because he’s Kanye. A god level producer and all round cosmic entity, there’s no-one that will ever replicate that man. Travis Scott is second based on pure enjoyment of his music and watching his performances live, this man is so lit I can’t not smile when I watch a Travis Scott live show. Pusha gets third because he is a stone cold killer, his flow and cadence is always so cold and gangsta that you know this man is a well seasoned veteran. Migos didn’t shock me with talent when they first came out but over time they’ve got better and evolved. ‘Culture’ is great and I’m excited to see more Migos albums in the future. Gucci is a legend. His album ‘The State V.S Radric Davis’ is a classic and his music since he got out of jail has been pretty good with some bangers. The man with the Ice Cream tattoo sure knows how to stay icy. Big Sean can be cheese but the man oozes confidence, he dresses like a true G and you know he truly believes most of his lyrics; except for childish corny tracks like ‘MILF’ and ‘A$$’ but he seems to have gotten past that stuff. Dark Sky Paradise is a decent album too. Desiigner gets his place because of Panda straight up the man could do more but that’s yet to be seen and if we’re guessing off ‘Zombie Walk’ and ‘Timmy Turner’ I’m not sure what to expect. Cudi has never done anything to ever really grab my attention (however I will confess I haven’t given his earlier stuff a listen). The man made one of the worst albums of all time which I’m sorry I can’t forgive him for. John Legend may have a great voice but apart from his work on Big Sean’s ‘One Man Can Change The World’ I haven’t particularly loved any of his work but at least he isn’t Tyga.Tyga is trash not much more to say the man oozes a stinky putrid cheese in every single verse he does. He is too corny for me to actually focus on his songs but if anyone can fix him it might just be Kanye… Probably not though.

Callum Galloway’s list – @CalGalloway

  1. Kanye West
  2. Pusha T
  3. Travis Scott
  4. Migos
  5. Gucci Mane
  6. Kid Cudi
  7. John Legend
  8. Big Sean
  9. Desiigner
  10. Tyga

With no real justification required for Kanye making top of the list, I went for Pusha T next as I feel he is one of the most underrated rappers amongst his contemporaries, as well as being a stand-out figure within the label- featuring on several of Kanye’s GOOD Fridays releases, as well as the collective Cruel Summer project. Despite absolutely adoring Travis Scott and his work, his lack of senior status means he misses out on the second spot for me. However, Travis without doubt has the potential to exceed Pusha T in this list and given his contributions to the label already- particularly in terms of production- is another reason he’s so far up. Next we have the two Atlanta giants Migos and Gucci Mane. With trap’s explosion of popularity in the past few years, everything these lot are touching is turning to gold recently, and with the quality of both Gucci and Quavo’s contributions to Cruel Winter banger Champions, I’m excited to see more of their collaborations with the label. At sixth we have Kid Cudi who, for me, has definitely fallen off quite a bit, with the meme/album Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven and the sadly underwhelming Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’. Although, he will have always done Day ‘n’ Nite, so he is pardoned to some extent. Whilst I might not be his biggest fan, I rate John Legend’s voice and his contribution to MBDTF should definitely be recognised- he also does well to punctuate the absolutely atrocious trio that find themselves at the bottom. Unoriginal, uninspiring, unambitious are all interchangable when it comes to describing these three piles of garbage. Whether they’re cheap knockoffs of other artists or so boring and middle-of-the-road it becomes a mystery as to who they’re actually trying to appeal to, there’s nobody else on this list that warrant being right at the very bottom quite like these 3. To be fair to Big Sean, he’s had moments where he’s been somewhat decent (Beware, IDFWU, All Me verse) and Desiigner has Panda, leaving Tyga to be the ultimate piece of trash we all know him to be at dead last.

Playlist of the Month: January

Welcome along to a brand new series here on Music 4 The Masses and I am going to call it ‘Playlist of the month’. It is a basic premise and it will come to you every single month where I will publish the ten songs I have been listening to most over the past month. The songs can vary from brand new to very old, from trap to acoustic; but one thing is for certain and that is that all these songs are absolutely brilliant. I hope you enjoy this new idea and I look forward to documenting my personal music choices to you each and every month. Let’s crack on with it.

Migos – Bad and Boujee (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

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Anyone who even remotely knows me won’t be shocked to see this song in there, it is the best song of all time after all. Labelled ‘the new Beatles’ by Donald Glover, Migos have broke the mainstream and are now cult figures, just months after being rejected by every single station and talk show for their style. Bad and Boujee is a song that has now got over 100 million plays on Spotify and for a group like Migos to have achieved that in such a small space of time is remarkable, but don’t think they’re done here. The future is Migos, I assure you they won’t be like Desiigner.

Travis Scott – beibs in the trap

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Now in my initial review of this album I rated this as a fairly middle of the road song in comparison to the other songs, I still enjoyed it I just felt other songs were better (wonderful, pick up the phone etc.) but I have rediscovered this song and now adore it. Nav’s feature is fantastic and for me it ranks up there with Andre 3000’s performance as one of the best features on the album. It’s just a class trap song and if you’re not into that then you won’t like this song but if you are then please give it a bash. Is it really a list of mine if Travis Scott doesn’t make an appearance.

Mac Miller – Dang! (feat. Anderson .Paak)

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I think I have been bumping this song for a bit too long now, like it is approaching half a year of this never leaving my playlists and still it sounds slick and cool to me. Easily my favourite Mac Miller song and it comes mainly thanks to the brilliance of feature artist Anderson .Paak, aka the future of music. The soul and the funk he adds to this song is just special, a truly awe-inspiring talent who is destined for greatness and he has helped Mac Miller create a real toe-tapper here. I also really like the cheeky lines in this song and the beat break-ups to throw in a few ad-libs.

Underworld – Born Slippy

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With T2 Trainspotting arriving at it’s destination (the cinema) this month it was hard to not include the song which, arguably, makes the film so memorable. It really is incredible how a film about heroin addicts has become such a cult phenomenon across the United Kingdom but we are grateful for it featuring this, only rivalled by Faithless’ ‘Insomnia’ as the greatest dance track of all time. If you can meet someone who knows all the words to it then do me a favour and shake their hand, that is some accomplishment and a serious amount of dedication.

The xx – Test Me

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This is the last song on The xx’s new album which was released this month, so I was always going to be listening to it a lot because of how much I love The xx. The reason I picked this one over a very good selection of songs is because it is the one that reminds me most of an older xx sound, one that brings me back to that stunning debut album and that is the sound I think they should crave to find once again. The vocals sound like they’re directed at each other so that direct address makes for fantastic listening and well, what more can I say about Jamie xx’s production skills? The man is a borderline genius and is yet to show me otherwise, he has not a single blemish on a staggering collection of music. Dark, haunting and down right mystical, I love this song so much.

The Stone Roses – Elephant Stone

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I have had a bit of a Stone Roses revival recently after having a serious detox from that summer of constant lemons and singing I Am The Resurrection full blast. But now I am back on the bandwagon if you will and this song has stood out above all others as the one I keep going back to, mainly for that drum beat at the start of the song which is just different class from Reni. The whole song, much like many songs from The Roses, has a beautiful sense of freedom and Britishness to it, it’s like having a weight lifted off your shoulders every time you hear it, top draw stuff from a top draw band.

Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White – Thinking Bout You

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Now I’m not usually one who goes crazy for cover albums but I know a blinding rendition of a song when I hear it and this one from Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White is absolutely that. It takes a couple of brave souls to cover any Frank Ocean song given the dexterity and variety he possesses in his vocals, but the duo pull it off incredibly and maintain the structure and context of the song while adding a completely new genre to the mix of this one, using the wonderful synthesisers and autotune devices to maximum effect. Flo is amazing on the chorus and she really steals the show. I am sure Frank will approve of this as they do the song massive justice.
Young Thug – Wyclef Jean
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 The music video that everyone is talking about, Young Thug is without doubt one of the more polarising figures in music and it is this song that confirms all of our beliefs that he is truly a global treasure. If you haven’t seen the music video then please watch it because it will change your opinion on the song itself as well as the policy of music videos as a whole. There is a post coming up about the video and how it could change the way artists do videos from now on so look out for that, but for now just bump this song from Thugger, a legend in the making.
Post Malone – Big Lie
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 This for me confirmed what we could see for a while, that Post Malone has achieved a sonically better album than Bieber could manage with ‘Purpose’ and this song played a big part in the decision process. Post was a support act for Bieber on his Purpose tour and we knew he would walk in similar areas to JB to we didn’t think he had the quality to make an album this good. Trap bangers, soulful acoustics and White Iverson, what more do you want? Big Lie is my choice for the catchy hook and the great beat drop on it but it really could have been any of them because I have been listening to this album cover to cover all month.
Kasabian – Vlad The Impaler
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Ever since they were announced to be headlining festivals I became giddy with excitement at the prospect of seeing them live, something I am unfortunately yet to experience. Those who will attend Benicassim or Reading & Leeds are in for a treat given the reputation Kasabian have as live performers, not to mention the fact they have bangers like this one. The bass riff on this tune is the stuff of gods from Leicester’s finest export Sergio Pizzorno and the whole aurora of the song is full of attitude and it’ll drive a crowd crazy with energy. With a comeback album on the way and a new song that has been previewed on the new FIFA game, it is a very good time to be a Kasabian fan that is for sure.

50 Songs you have to hear before you die

Everyone has different music taste’s, that much is just basic knowledge to us all. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all come together as one over certain songs which are truly timeless, songs which will always be remembered for the incredible work they have done for the development of the industry and the originality that music continues to bring us. I am someone who claims to enjoy most walks of musical life, of course I draw the line at genres which I will find insufferable (Country, Metal & EDM) but I would like to think I am well equipped to create a list like this where people will see the magnificence of many different musical genres and how incredibly lucky we are to have lived through these particular eras. These are my personal 50 tracks that I think everyone needs to hear at least once before their time runs out, feel free to leave other suggestions that I may have missed and of course, enjoy.

Nas – N.Y. State Of Mind

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Could well be the greatest hip-hop song of all time for the simple reason that nobody had ever heard anything like it at the time and it has influenced a wave of spoken word rappers who want to be role models like Nas was to them. His flow is ridiculous, the beat is just as mad and the whole thing just clicks, creating an unstoppable sound which made Nas the biggest deal in music back then, not just in the hip-hop genre. He never once falls off on this song, not even slightly and if you don’t believe me then just listen for yourself, iconic from Nasty Nas.

Underworld – Born Slippy

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If you’ve seen Trainspotting, you’ll know why this song is so memorable and such a big hitter. It fills me with both sorrow and joy that this song has become somewhat of a meme because even if it does tarnish an absolute classic it means more and more people are hearing what an anthem it is. Simply timeless and thoroughly enjoyable for the whole 7:37 it lasts for, get all over it and bring back the times of 90s jungle raves, what a time to be alive. “SHOUTING LAGER LAGER LAGER”.

Kanye West – All Of The Lights

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The biggest hype track you’ll ever hear, this is a song that at least three generations of music have embraced and enjoyed, and that is pretty specialist for a rap song. It is some of Kanye’s finest work and if you aren’t his biggest fan then fear no longer, as Rihanna, Kid Cudi, Fergie, Hype Williams and even Elton John have credited features on this track so there’s a bit on here for everyone. If you find a better hip-hop instrumental from this century I will be very impressed, this one brings the house down every single time it is played. The word that comes to mind is glamour.

Prince – When Doves Cry

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Purple Rain is the obvious choice if you want a Prince song in this list, but I always have and always will prefer When Doves Cry, I just think it is so slick and cool and it epitomises Prince as an artist in every possible way. The attitude he shows in it almost eclipses the immense talent on display and people have been listening to and enjoying this song long before his passing, and they’ll certainly be doing the same long after it. A true icon who’s timeless classic deserved a spot on this list without question.

Ian Brown – F.E.A.R.

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The Stone Roses frontman has never sounded more poetic than on this, it demonstrated a skill set none of us knew he possessed. The song title is done in this way for one simple reason, on every single verse line in the song, the first letter of each word spells out ‘FEAR’. With lyrics as wonderfully crafted as “for everything a reason” and “freeing excellence affects reality”, it is hard to question the man’s talents and to label this as anything other than the most expansive and genius piece of music of his illustrious career. So there you go, he isn’t just a cocky frontman in a great band, he’s actually a stunning musician.

Kendrick Lamar – How Much A Dollar Cost?

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It was Barack Obama’s favourite song of 2015, that should be enough to sway it really. A magnificent tale of Kendrick himself and his encounter with a homeless man and what he does best his build the story up for a shocking finale, it is almost like a playwright rather than a song. The religious imagery of the song is genius, creating a picture with his words and helping us see what is going on in their minds rather than a face-to-face confrontation. The homeless man turns out to be God by the way and it is done to change people’s perceptions of fame and selfishness, truly a prophet of our time, God bless you Kendrick Lamar, God bless you.

Michael Jackson – Earth Song

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Do you ever sit and wonder how we have deserved to live on such an incredible planet? Well this song will sure as hell help you on your way. My favourite Michael Jackson song simply because he spreads the most damning verdict you can, stating that we are destroying the precious ground we step on. It is also immensely progressive and the further on it goes, the angrier and louder MJ gets, clearly showing his frustration at the human race and he’s got a point. His voice gets better and better the further along the song we go and it gives me chills to this day. If we didn’t listen to Michael then what hope does this planet have of survival?

2Pac & Elton John – Ghetto Gospel

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Elton is chilling on that piano it has to be said, it is such a beautiful mood setter for the rest of the song. The best part of this track is the switch from poetic piano keys to a bouncy hip-hop beat but there’s always that undertone of the instrumental Elton plays. What makes this song stand out more than anything, however, is the lyrics Pac uses. A man who was taken from us early and we can’t say he didn’t give us enough warning about this messed up planet. “It ain’t about black or white because we’re human” is the most truth you’ll hear on a rap bar ever, and it’s only competitor is another line from this song. “Before we find world peace, we gotta find peace in the war of the streets” is a direct quote I used in my GCSE English exam, so thanks Pac.

The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

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Yes it’s morbid, but it is the touch of an absolute genius. Morrissey was far too psychologically advanced for the music industry and it is songs like this which prove that point, it is more of a diary extract or a tragedy play than a song but that is what makes it so blissfully unique. Johnny Marr does such a good job in keeping the instrumental together too with a beautiful and catchy acoustic riff but this song truly is all about Morrissey. The title is one which will stay with me forever and a day, and it is perhaps my favourite song of all time.
MGMT – Kids
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A bit of a left-field choice but it is genuinely one of the most iconic tracks of the 21st century and it is the prime example of how to write a modern day classic, meshing the ideas of a classic band concept with the addition of modern technology and electronics, simply perfection. Everyone knows the chorus, everyone. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar and is trying to uphold any form of false integrity they may contain for some unknown reason, just chill out and sing along to this absolute classic.
Fleet Foxes – Mykonos
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A song about an argument so surely it isn’t that technical? Incorrect. The song speaks in metaphoric harmony by relating the island of Mykonos to a rehab centre due to it’s history of seclusion. The first part is describing the argument and then how it will unfold but as the bridge kicks in the instruments become louder and more aggressive as they desperately try to amend the situation and remind him that it doesn’t have to be this way. Another metaphor of “the ancient gate” implies that he is waiting there with open arms as these gates become symbols of forgiveness. It’s just bloody phenomenal and even if you don’t study the song’s meaning it sounds top draw.
Foals – Spanish Sahara
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A blinder in every single sense of the word, this song will rip out your insides and hit you right in the feels whether you like it or not. Listen to this and tell me that Yannis’ hushed tones at the start don’t give you chills, I dare you to even deny that they do. The chorus is gorgeous and makes you close your eyes and want to raise your arms in a fit of smooth energy. It takes the song a good four minutes to kick into overdrive but the build up to it is just as good as the loud instrumental itself. “I’m the fury in your head” is a brilliant line and moves us elegantly into this stunner of a guitar solo before a loud instrumental brings the song to a close. A real journey this one, so strap yourself in.
David Bowie – Space Oddity
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Let’s be honest, I could have done a list solely on Bowie songs you should hear before you die, so picking one was a real struggle. I picked Space Oddity simply because of how brilliantly he crafted the character of Major Tom and the success it gave him. It had people rooting for Major Tom from the moment it was released and we didn’t even know who he was. It was such a brilliant show of emotion from Bowie in this performance as he plays the fear of Major Tom as he fades away and the professionalism of Ground Control who are desperate to hear his voice. All of this from one man and his guitar, faultless and the staple of a man who went on to achieve mind-blowing things and create many more well-loved characters in his 69 year stay on this planet.
Daft Punk – Around The World
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This is just out and out filth from start to finish, a certified finger snapper and a definite toe tapper from the French dance duo who were complete unknowns at the time and to release this is just audacious. The big thing with a song like this is no matter how brilliant it sounds today, it may never compare to how foreign and unusual it must have sounded at the time, because trance and jungle were a dying breed and rock and roll was taking charge. Daft Punk and particularly this song changed the waves of the music industry and created a new era of dance music, an era that I would say we are still heavily involved in.
Jamiroquai – Canned Heat
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Fans of Napoleon Dynamite know why this is here, that dance scene will live in film infamy and it is part of the reason this song is so memorable. Beyond that scene, though, this is just out and out funk music; Jay Kay sure was a funky slick dude, that’s for sure. It is guaranteed to get everyone up and moving and will never get old I promise you, no matter how many times you listen to it. Let me tell you one thing, this boogie sure is for real and it will remain real until the end of time.
Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline
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This is a contender for the best song ever written I’m not even joking. No song can make so many people go so crazy in a chorus quite like our own Diamond can on this one, so much so that it has been revolutionised by the Northern Island football fans and was sung with full aplomb at Euro 2016, becoming the highlight of the tournament for many. The song may as well start when he starts singing “reaching out, touching me, touching you” because that’s when people come alive and really go for it. It is the ultimate sing-a-long tune and it takes some topping.
The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations
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Another real finger snapper here and what makes this song so brilliant is the space-age and psychedelic verses which give you the cloud floating feeling before we move into this upbeat and jolly chorus with a classic 1960s bop to it. It is basically two genres rolled into one song and it is such a cool and clever style from start to finish, switching up and remaining original at every given opportunity. The best song from one of the best bands we have ever seen so it would be harsh to rule it out.
Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name
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Quick disclaimer, this has a slightly different vibe to Neil Diamond and The Beach Boys if you didn’t know, but it is still one of the biggest tracks ever nonetheless. The first track on this list so far with this kind of punk stance and Rage do it better than almost anyone in the history of the genre as they combine thrashing guitar riffs from Tom Morello with rebellious attitudes from the lead singer Zack De La Rocha and the sound it creates is just incredible. Hilariously, this song became Christmas number one in the 00s thanks to an internet campaign and we were all grateful to hear it again above all, especially that possessed guitar solo from Morello which defies the laws of logic even to this day. A middle finger to the system and society, an outburst of attitude and it’s just class.
OutKast – Hey Ya!
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This one will get you moving, your parents moving, your grandparents moving, literally the whole planet jumps in unison to Andre 3000’s swagger and persona on this cheeky R&B classic and it just couldn’t be left off. It has remained relevant even to this day and if anything it is only getting bigger and better, I genuinely believe it will go down as one of the biggest hip-hop songs of all time if it isn’t already, the whole world has jumped on board and it’ll only get bigger.

Vampire Weekend – A-Punk

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The riff is infectious and Ezra Koenig’s bubbly energy shines through on this noughties indie banger which sounds just as good today as it did in 2008 when it was released. Whether it be Just Dance or Guitar Hero, this song has not only dominated the radio but also video games over recent years and it is plain to see why with it’s fun and quirky style. It is guaranteed that everyone likes this song, whether it be infants who sing along to the radio, teenagers discovering their tastes or fully-fledged adults who were around in “the good old days”, it is a near impossibility to dislike this song and for that reason it has to be included on this list.

 

The xx – Intro

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The most haunting yet brilliant song on this list, it was the soundtrack to every single moody and dark scene on television around the time of it’s release and even to this day it’s genius lives on. Jamie xx is an absolute maestro on production and he creates an atmosphere designed to take you to the lowest ebb of humanity, it challenged all that was previously known about music and to this day goes down as one of the most memorable opening tracks on an album in a long time. If I ever create a short film, mark my words that this song will be the background of it all.
Radiohead – Paranoid Android
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An emotional journey which pushes the boundaries of the ideology of modern music, this song came at a time when bands such as Oasis and Blur were at the peak of their powers and creating music designed to get crowds going and make people feel good about themselves. Radiohead were already a household name at this point too, but this is the pinnacle of their musical ability in terms of depth and layering within the subject matter of a song. We dive head first into the twisted and mysterious mind of lead singer Thom Yorke and what is produced as a result of this is truly spell-binding, from the chilling vocal to the shredding guitar solos from the immensely talented Johnny Greenwood. A song for the voices you hear in your head and to show that even the most genius of brains can be conquered by evil at times.
Oasis – Champagne Supernova
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Speaking of Oasis, here is perhaps their best ever song, a true masterclass from Noel Gallagher with his wizardry in the writing of this song and massive props have to go to Liam Gallagher for the performance of it as he manages to capture the perfect emotion necessary for a track like this. The magic of this song lies mainly with the fact that it can sell out a stadium, it can sound incredible live and yet it can still be raw and beautifully emotional, discussing the idea of death and how sometimes we just wish that life could go on forever, seeing as it is the most incredible gift we can ever be given. It is often the song I would describe as the song I want people to remember me with, a song I would describe as one of my favourites of all time and if you’ve got any sense it should be one of yours too.
John Lennon – Imagine
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Why didn’t we just listen to him while he was here? Much like Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’, Lennon creates a blissful aurora that the world in which we live in is truly gorgeous and we need to realise that before it is too late. The constant use of the word “imagine” says all you need to know about the state of the world, the fact that we are just so far away from perfection on earth and those who strive for it are far too isolated; as Lennon suggests, the world is full of people who could live in harmony and peace but it needs everyone to join together and unfortunately there are too many people who tarnish the reputation of the human race. “I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”
Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
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Perhaps the most celebrated black artist of all time, Marvin Gaye was a true pioneer for the rise of African-Americans creating music and becoming a crucial part of the industry. His voice is remarkable and it is hard to not sway along to the suave and sophisticated style of this song which will forever go down as a timeless classic. It really is staggering how a song so old and so specific for it’s time can still sound cool and passionate to this day, but that is just the superhuman talent that Marvin Gaye possessed.
Stevie Wonder – Superstition
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Picture the scene, you’re walking down the street with music in your ears, and suddenly this song comes on; now if you tell me you won’t walk with a serious bounce and swagger while snapping your fingers and doing the occasional spin to this song then I am afraid you are a blatant liar. It is undoubtedly the coolest song of all time and it’s Stevie’s most well known work for a very good reason. Generation after generation have adored this song and that trend will only continue for years to come, plus I can smash it on Guitar Hero.
The Prodigy – Out Of Space
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Who would have thought that a few lads from Essex could create a sound as iconic and game changing as this? The Prodigy were complete unknowns until this blessed our ears in 1992 and it kickstarted a career which has now spanned over two decades, and it’s still going strong to this day. Those keys at the start of this song are just unreal and the way the song moves into this complete mesh of samples is just a complete mind-bender but the whole thing collates together to create something truly special. Trance and rave music became stronger than ever around this time, mainly thanks to tunes like this from the UK’s biggest bunch of lunatics.
Faithless – Insomnia
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The best beat drop in the history of mankind, discussion over. It is probably the most well-known dance track of all time thanks to the enchanting instrumental and the lyrical flow of Faithless himself as he sings about being an insomniac and it gives us the best final line of a song ever, just raise your arms aloft and bellow “I can’t get no sleep” before closing your eyes and feeling the drop take control. It is a travesty how good of a dance track this is, and that’s coming from someone who actively dislikes the direction it has gone in with all this brainless EDM, if they all took the lead of this song, the genre would be far better trust me.
The Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive
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No 70s disco playlist is complete without the smooth tones of Barry Gibb in your ears and it doesn’t get better than Stayin’ Alive. There is of course the iconic music video, which basically invented the walking to the dancefloor dance as they strut their stuff with maximum attitude and groove. It is a floor filler for sure and it brings out all the novelty dance moves, from the arm barrels to the Saturday Night Fever star reaching, young and old can vibe to a song like this and that is testament to how funky and cool it truly is.
Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
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The best progressive rock song there ever has been and ever will be, fact. The work that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant do on this song will live in infamy and as a song it will never die, the meaning is too strong for it to become irrelevant. It is just a genius tale about a lady and her journey to heaven, as simple as that and it just works beautifully. The guitar helps so much with the progression of the song and by the end, the vocals join it’s intensity and it becomes a classic rock track with a stunning guitar solo. It is as close to biblical as a song can get and in terms of sheer quality, it has to be one of the best of all time.
Blink 182 – I Miss You
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Alongside Adam’s Song, this is the saddest and most heart-breaking of all Blink-182’s songs and from a musical perspective, it is absolutely incredible. Co-written and co-sung by lead singer Tom DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus, the pair work together brilliantly to add their own vocal styles onto the song, with Hoppus giving us the mental image of a broken and devastated figure, while DeLonge uses his voice to sound cut up and highly emotional in his words, particularly in the chorus which can bring an arena of thousands to their knees in sheer emotional heartache. With that being said, it is a brilliant song to sing along to and is my favourite of their songs.
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
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 The most recognisable song you’ll hear from the Joy Division discography and it is mainly thanks to that bloody incredible guitar riff. Ian Curtis as we know was a very deranged and bizarre man who clearly had a lot of personal issues, but the way he transcended those issues into his music was exemplary and has been a benchmark for many others to follow; most notably of course being Morrissey of The Smiths. Love Will Tear Us Apart can suit any mood whatsoever, it can be a funky indie banger you can listen to on the highest of highs, and it can be a mood setter in the lowest of lows.
Rod Stewart – Maggie May
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Arise, sir Rod. Recently knighted for his services to music, Rod Stewart soared to fame with this song about losing his virginity to a much older lady and it has stuck ever since to be his most famous and best song. The Robin Hood-esque intro is great don’t get me wrong but when the song really kicks in you just ride this gorgeous cloud of infectious joy as Rod sings about his prosperous and exciting youth of wooing women the lucky devil. Still rocking the stages to this day, Rod Stewart seems immortal and we can only hope it continues for many years to come.
James – Laid
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 If you’ve seen American Pie I have no doubt that this song is your absolute jam, if not it probably still is anyway. A very cheeky indie track about sex, there’s no other way of putting it really but it has a crowd go absolutely berserk every single time without fail. The opening line is just so iconic and once it starts you know it’s really going off, “this bed is on fire with passionate love” says all you need to know about the motive of this track. A 90s classic which has spread to the modern generation, as is often the case.
R.E.M. – Losing My Religion
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 R.E.M. were given a fair amount of flak for being a bit morbid at times but the songs they created were genius and this one tops the lot. Michael Stipe does a fantastic job on this song as the song flows beautifully from verse to chorus and it is hard to miss a word on this one given it’s memorability and the great harmonising he manages to put on most words throughout. The early 90s didn’t know what had hit it when this one came out that’s for sure.
The Notorious B.I.G. – Juicy
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 I could have picked literally any song from Biggie, simply because he is THE GREATEST RAPPER OF ALL TIME. Nobody comes close to him at all and it is songs like this that truly prove my point. Biggie was a visionary and knew exactly what direction he wanted the industry to go and this song helped him on his way to re-shaping music forever. The power of the sampling, the female vocals on a catchy chorus, all sound familiar? That’s because Biggie invented what we hear from rappers on the radio today. Juicy itself is a life tale about he rose from nothing to something and it is a true life celebration, a proper feelgood song.
The Streets – Has It Come To This?
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 Early noughties is the era where Mike Skinner became a middle-class poet, a wordsmith of our time and a cult hero in a way. This track was all about the build up from council estates to wanting to make something of his life, moving on from benefits and drug abuse. Nobody made music like this around this time, musicians were selling unrealistic fantasies about lavish lifestyles and nobody could reach that without supreme talents, something every ordinary figure lacked. Mike Skinner came along and gave people faith, a lad from a council estate who remembered his roots.
The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection
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 Just turn this on and enjoy the wave, the eight minute wave of passion and true Mancunian style. Every part of this song is magical, from the drums to the bass, from the riff and solos to Ian Brown’s cocky persona, I just adore this song and always will. For around three minutes the song is fairly normal and you have a sense of build up with every passing verse, so once that third verse is done and Ian Brown belts out those infamous words “I am the resurrection and I am the life” you get an enormous feel of passion and emotion spilling through the speakers, as well as a continually rocking instrumental obviously. For the next four minutes you have a stunner of an instrumental interlude, solo upon solo of genius from all involved, particularly Mr John Squire on lead guitars who shreds it into the next century.
Dr. Dre – The Next Episode
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 Probably the most famous hip-hop song of all time, coming courtesy of legendary rapper and producer Dr. Dre and his California icon, marijuana connoisseur of a friend Snoop Dogg. The song is just perfect West Coast rap music, portraying the image that Dre basically invented for the West not only in his NWA days but also with his previous works. The fact this song is so recognisable to so many says all you need to know really about the hype and respect this song has been given over the years as an iconic rap record. Snoop and Dre smash their verses and who could possibly resist bashing out that intro at the top of their lungs? Not me.
The Cure – Just Like Heaven
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 This song is worthy of it’s place on the list just for the wonderfully crafted progressive introduction, which slowly and effectively beds in all the instruments for a rousing vocal display from Robert Smith captures our imagination once again. This is one of the best performances Smith does in his entire career and that is some achievement given his incredible track record as a part of The Cure for being a fantastic vocalist. What I love most about this song is that it is just completely typical of The Cure and their style, it is a love song in a crafted poetic rhythm that only they can perform and the unique nature of them as a band is hard to knock.
Arctic Monkeys – A Certain Romance
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 This song goes in there not only for the legacy of the band and in particular this album, but for the sheer brilliance of the local and patriotic sound. Shoutouts to classic Reeboks, scrapping with pool cues and tracksuit bottoms tucked in socks all come in between mesmerising intros and outros to this song, something a song will usually only have one of, logic tends to dictate that having both won’t work. But whoever came up with that clearly never listened to A Certain Romance did they. Just do yourselves a favour and belt it out forever and ever, it’s a classic British indie banger and our current prized assets at their absolute best.
Tame Impala – New Person, Same Old Mistakes
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 A psychedelic rollercoaster ride delivered to us by Australian indie band Tame Impala, it is the final song on their incredible 2015 album ‘Currents’ and it has also been used as an advert track for Donald Glover’s comedy-drama ‘Atlanta’ which gave it yet more of the praise it thoroughly deserves. Every aspect of this song, from the production to the instrumentals, is just heavenly and truly mind-blowing, it explores avenues you never knew existed and flows angelically through from start to finish. Bravo, Kevin Parker; we are not worthy.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge
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 I have had the absolute pleasure of witnessing this song live and let me tell you it as just as good live as it sounds on recordings. The atmosphere this song brings, whether you’re in a muddy field with thousands of people, or simply in your room relaxing, it never fails to make you smile and sing along to that incredible chorus. John Frusicante is a phenomenal guitarist and although he is known more for his insane pace on solos, the acoustic job he does here is divine. A blinding tune from a magnificent band.
Primal Scream – Loaded
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 The Peter Fonda sample at the start of the song creates such a brilliant build up atmosphere to this song and it has soon become a legendary staple of the band’s image, mainly thanks to the widespread success of this song. Everyone knows and loves this song, with NME ranking it as the 59th best song of all time, that is some serious going for a little Scottish band. It is in fact a remix of an earlier Primal Scream song titled “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” and the success that came from it couldn’t have been in their wildest imaginations, but it very quickly surpassed it’s original and became a 90s classic in the Britpop era. It’s also on one of the greatest albums ever in ‘Screamadelica’ so the growing list of reasons to include this song could have me here all day.
The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger
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 I don’t need to remind anyone of how this song goes because it is literally impossible to avoid it, from adverts to club nights every man and his dog blasts this tune out and cranks it up full volume. I hate to sound snobby and pretentious but I was on this song long before others, mainly thanks to the release of their album ‘Costello Music’ which was bloody fantastic (thanks for buying that one mum). It was evident that Chelsea Dagger would be the song that came out of the track list as a leading pop single and a decade later we are still enjoying it and loving the slight country twinge on it. That bridge is fantastic and it’s one of the soundtracks to the darts, different class.
Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere
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 Fleetwood Mac are one of the greatest bands of all time and their greatest strength was the intimacy between all the members, quite literally in fact. Every song they wrote was about one another and sometimes that wasn’t in the nicest of words, but in cases such as this one they were very kind and warming to each other. It may not be a track from ‘Rumours’, an album widely regarded as one of the best albums ever, but it certainly had longevity and it also carries that wonderful sound of the 80s, an absolute definition of the era it came from. It gets your grandparents up dancing, it gets everyone singing along to the chorus and it makes us all fall in love with the band one last time.
Toto – Africa
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 Almost a meme now at this stage but a bloody good meme at that. If you find me a single soul on this earth who actually dislikes this song, not the kind of person who pretends to dislike it for attention or to seem cool, like someone who genuinely doesn’t rate it then I’ll give you this blog and I’ll retire. Toto is hardly a name you’d put alongside Jackson, Bowie and Lennon but he contributed to the world one solitary moment of genius, this song. A Twitter account has been created solely dedicated to this song and it’s lyrics, if that isn’t timeless and legendary then I don’t know what is. Shoutout the spinning globe in the music video, iconic.
New Order – Blue Monday
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 When Ian Curtis committed suicide, Joy Division were back but they were under a new name and had a couple of fresh faces enter the fray. They had a new image and a new sound under New Order and this was the highlight of their very successful careers, creating one of the best songs ever to be created. An electronic masterclass from start to finish and it really is hard to believe this was a band who once created ‘Unknown Pleasures’, one of the most gut-wrenching heartache albums ever to have existed. This sound was to be the future of electronic music and groups such as The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers took full advantage of this change in the murky musical waters.
Dusty Springfield – Son Of A Preacher Man
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 Pulp Fiction fans are all over this one I am sure but that’s not the reason it is on this list. The reason it is here is because it quite simply is one of the best songs ever to have bee written and performed. It has all the fundamentals of a classic song: great vocals, catchy lyrics and a toe-tapping instrumental alongside it, and Dusty Springfield does a brilliant job with this one. It is a song that has been covered numerous times, with Aretha Franklin and Eva Cassidy trying to do the song justice and they’re both good, but they aren’t quite Dusty.
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
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 A song fuelled with emotion for me, it is one of my mum’s favourite songs of all time and without meaning to get too stroppy at modern music, the recent remix of it by Jonas Blue is an absolute disgrace, mainly because it completely ruins an absolutely stunning piece of music. Tracy Chapman has an unbreakable spirit on this song and her vocal delivery is full of passion and beauty from start to finish, as well as every string being played on that guitar sounding so raw it is just amazing. The mere thought of it gives me a lump in my throat because it floods back so many memories of growing up and how much has changed but most of all; how much I am truly grateful for my mum. I didn’t want it to become this but it has so tough luck, thank you mum, this one is for you.

Podcast: Top 10 underrated rappers

In this week’s podcast I was joined by regular visitor Callum Galloway and he brought Connor Welsh and Liam Jones to discuss the top 10 underrated rappers around, ranging from the underground scene to famous offspring (listen and you’ll see what I mean). This was a difficult list to decipher from and it posed the question of what underrated truly is, whether it comes from a lack of commercial recognition or maybe they are superior rappers but don’t get given the praise they deserve. From Denzel Curry to Young Thug, from Big Boi of OutKast to Pusha T; who did we rank where? Find out for yourselves here and let us know any we may have missed. This was so much fun to record and I would like to thank all three of them for joining me for this podcast. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did and apologies for the occasional crackle in audio that was due to varying volumes coming from the microphones and it won’t happen that often I promise!