Feature: 2018: Favorite 50 Songs

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Hello again, dearest readers, and welcome to The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year™, wherein we here at TMT™ proceed to systematically overwhelm you with such devastating displays of our collective musical taste buds’ complete and utter Un-Fuck-With-Ability™ throughout the past 365 days that you have no choice but to capitulate, agree with, and retweet everything we say. Oh, how we’ve been looking forward to this!

The latest in our power-mad agenda is this genuinely infallible list of our Favorite 50 Songs of 2018, which revisits all of the choice jams and non-jams that made the year 2018 so indisputably GREAT for EVERYONE in EVERY COUNTRY on EARTH, bar none! But don’t worry: because we know that your powers of retention are kinda feeble compared with ours, we’ve decided once again to make it a little easier for you to digest all of this next-level information by dividing it up into five separate themed mixes that we’re rolling out each day this week, titled GYM, VOID, CLIFF, ALLEY, and COUPE.

Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy our list of GYM songs while driving your COUPE off of a CLIFF or whatever; it’s just that we’re really, really desperate to control every aspect of your psychology, and we thought that sorting all of these fantastic 2018 highlights according to a few completely subjective and impressionistic “moods” would be a great way to do that. I mean: who the hell are you to argue, right? Right!

Happy holidays, everyone. Let’s get listening.


GYM · VOID · CLIFF · ALLEY · COUPE

Today’s GYM mix features 10 ridiculously brawny jams from the past year, guaranteed to increase your VO2 max, even if you’re lying under the covers with your basset hound and smartphone right now. From powerlifting heavyweights like Ms. Boogie and DJ Koze to lithe and agile entries from W00dy and Charli XCX, all of these entries are sweaty, swole, tight, and chiseled like washboards.

PART 1: “GYM” mixed by C Monster


W00dy

“Catharsis”

[00:16]

[Self-Released]

“Catharsis” was the sound of a million MIDI-triggered samples shooting into an anti-gravity chamber at lightspeed. Once W00dy threw a new, brightly-colored element into the mix, it didn’t stop for a second, bouncing off other components instead, creating increasingly chaotic yet ultimately deterministic complexity akin to a double pendulum. The Philadelphia producer is one of few artists in the deconstructed club scene breaking apart traditional club elements while simultaneously keeping the dance floor moving. Fitting that her tagline is: “Attempting to bring absurdity 2 the dance floor.” Close your eyes, find something to latch onto, don’t let go for seven minutes.


Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

“きみのみかた (Kimino Mikata)”

[07:54]

[unBORDE]

“Kimino Mikata” was a gift. I mean that literally. Given as a birthday present to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu from producer Yasutaka Nakata, the track erupted with a sparkling onslaught of hyaluronic J-pop melodics and sprightly bass throbs, proving how a culture of cuteness doesn’t have to be a market of infantilization, even if the Harajuku star uses the track to sell skin-renewing face masks dipped in liquid essence. While the song touted uncharacteristically serious subject matter — the search for allies in the face of alienation and Fake News — “Kimino Mikata” was also about replenishment and renewal, about perseverance and the refusal of the human spirit to submit.


Ms. Boogie

“Morphin Time”

[11:27]

[Self-Released]

Over the most killer bass line of the year, darkly elastic and building with sinister synths, Ms. Boogie spat and purred. “Morphin Time” read as a celebration of transness as transition. Rather than an end product based on a normative idea of what a woman or man should be, she celebrated a process of becoming that was full of contradictions. And if that sounds a bit heavy, it was accompanied by references to the titular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (the metaphor should be obvious), a delightfully dirtied-up J-Lo line, a queered Sisqo, Wakanda’s Black (power) Afrofuturist Vibranium, and vogue/ballroom culture. Ms. Boogie is stepping into her comfort zone, and “Morphin Time” was a bangin’ly seductive introduction to join her there.


Channel Tres

“Controller”

[15:00]

[Godmode]

As sensual as lip-wet whispers and a voice so sexy even the sax shudders while flirting with such deep gentle resonance. And the beat bounces! Swathing Moodymann’s blues with purple light, pink sound. While the sun shines. And it’s all just so… comfy! Yet, however seduced, we can’t lie in languor, so now we move all flash and flourish, like fingertips light on the keys and tip toes on warm pavement and hip, those roses strewn in the street. A daze for days, though eyelids low still eyes sparkle; this beat kept us cool.


Bad Gyal

“Internationally”

[18:36]

[Puro/CANADA]

GYM! GYM! GYM! I do not go to the GYM anymore. They tried to kick me out for “lifting weak-like, dancing way big, a spectacle.” They wanted to revoke my membership! But then I asked the GYM people if they’d ever felt their whole hearts melted into rainbow chasm? If they’d ever heard a whole planet reflected in that space, a bopping neon liberating and loving all their bodies? And they said no they hadn’t! So I let them drink from my headphones that effervescent trap gospel of Bad Gyal. And the GYM people asked me, “Will this free us?” So I shrugged! And now we all dance, membershipless, “INTERNATIONALLY,” thinking, maybe it will.


Ploy

“Ramos”

[21:59]

[Timedance]

This year, Ploy gave us the answer to a question we didn’t know we’d been asking: what happens when you take the current strain of post-hardcore continuum/bass music (?) emerging from labels like Timedance and combine it with the sound of one of those springy door stoppers being thwacked? You get something like “Ramos,” this year’s consensus pick for track most likely to make you grin in the dance. Over nearly seven delirious minutes, “Ramos” rolled and gasped, spitting out words (“Selektah”) and parts of words (“tah, tah, tah”) before juddering to a halt, ready to be rewound and set on its merry way once more. Sing it with me now: “Selektah, tah, tah, tah.”


Charli XCX

“Focus”

[28:34]

[Asylum]

It would be nice to believe that it’s enough in the era of chronic distraction to momentarily narrow your field of view to something sensual and human. Charli XCX’s “Focus,” an alloy of unadulterated desire and satisfaction, embodied the simple dream of embrace without interruption. If pop generally finds the essences of music synthesized into overcompressed clods of pleasure-forward sound, “Focus,” with its crystalline synths and calibrated melodies, was its apotheosis, a song so fixed to the ethos of pop escapism that the attention-deficient world outside of it languished in plain, loveless monochrome. It was a diamond among infinite interference, contact in the cold.


DJ Koze

“Pick Up”

[31:57]

[Pampa]

House music’s endless pulse continues to transform as the decades march on, but DJ Koze cut straight to its core this year with his album-minted version of live favorite “Pick Up.” True to the genre’s form, the song did as much as it could with as little as possible, consisting entirely of a sample from Melba Moore’s 1970s disco single “Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance” mixed in with the occasional refrain from Gladys Knight’s “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).” It was a hi-def take on the classic sound of 90s techno (which was, itself, standing on the shoulders of those crooning soul singers of days past), all brought back into focus for a late-2010s world that’s begun to rediscover dance music for itself. Between its vintage sparkle and bassy punch, “Pick Up” reached for timelessness in an age where nothing seems to last for more than a few seconds, gazing to the past while capturing a tangible slice of the neverending present. It was bittersweet in the same way that looking through old photographs is, reminding us that while it’s true we can never go back, just look at how far we’ve come.


Valee

“Womp Womp” (ft. Jeremih)

[38:21]

[G.O.O.D. Music]

Here at TMT, we like to think that we often “womp” our readers with site content. This might not make any sense to you, so here’s a favorite song of ours by Valee and Jeremih, titled “Womp Womp,” to show you what we mean. Hear how Jeremih is womp-ing at the beginning of the hook, and you don’t really understand it, but you like it? That’s the womp factor. Then here comes Valee (a Chicagoan who made big moves in 2018 by signing to G.O.O.D. Music) like halfway through, sauntering up to the mic with aloof detachment, present but removed, his flow a sigh in concert with cool animation: that’s also the womp factor. They perfectly tag-teamed the womp throughout and struck a fine balance over the filthy womp-worthy beat; by the end, they were just having fun passing the baton back and forth, womping and womping. Delightful! What else can be said? You’re right: womp womp.


Marie Davidson

“Work It”

[42:29]

[Ninja Tune]

For the high-functioning Type A in your rolodex: “Work It” was retro-dance fetishism in function and in form — business and pleasure with elite performance. It exploited the shared jargon of the office and the nightclub in solidarity with the corporatized center of modern dance music. Consider the idea of mobility: capitalism is, like, so obsessed with the illusion of the corporate ladder, and the liberational movement of dance, co-opted so gracelessly away from its roots, inches ever toward dancefloor meritocracy. At this point, all you can do is monetize your existence like everyone else.

Come back tomorrow to hear the “VOID” mix by Evan Coral.

Chance The Rapper – “The Man Who Has Everything” & “My Own Thing” (Feat. Joey Purp)

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Chance-The-RapperOver the summer, there was a rumor that young Chicago royal Chance The Rapper was about to come out with a new album. That didn’t happen. But Chance did release four new songs into the world on one Friday morning — not an EP, but four individual singles. This morning, Chance … More »

Column: Favorite Rap Mixtapes of October 2018

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With a cascade of releases spewing from the likes of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, it can be difficult to keep up with the overbearing yet increasingly vital mixtape game. In this column, we aim to immerse ourselves in this hyper-prolific world and share our favorite releases each month. The focus will primarily be on rap mixtapes — loosely defined here as free (or sometimes free-to-stream) digital releases — but we’ll keep things loose enough to branch out if/when we feel it necessary. (Check out last month’s installment here.)

Here at Tiny Mix Tapes, mixtapes are like Halloween handouts, which is to say we recommend continual and regular consumption of sweets, sours, and suckers balanced by physical activities including but not limited to picking and carving, taking long walks, and watching so many scary movies it becomes physically tasking. To wit, my list for the month so far includes: The Omen (1976), Damien: Omen II (1978), Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), Season of the Witch (1972), The Man in the Orange Jacket (2014), Daughter of Horror (1955), Daybreakers (2009), Nightmare City (1980), Fear X (2003), The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976), Shock (1946), Shock (1977), The Stuff (1985), Santa Sangre (1989), Neon Demon (2016), The Lost Boys (1987), and The Skeleton Key (2005). Therein, as below, audiences can discover numerous tricks and treats. It is, of course, our privilege to help pass along both as they’re equally essential, like ODB would say, “for the children.” And speaking of the little ones, let us not gloss over this month without acknowledging that it somehow brought out releases by no less than seven (!) established “Lil” rappers: B, Baby, Gnar, Jay So Icy, Mosey, Tracy and Xelly. “The horror!”


Illingsworth – You’re No Fun

[DOWNLOAD/STREAM]

Swerve past the skeptics and you’ll find that there still are scythe-tongued rappers and producers beholden to the unseen funk. Although rapper-producers are not rare, there are few today who manage such a fluid blend of sway and spitfire as my latest chiropractor, the Detroit-bred Illingsworth. While known mostly for his beats, the plunderer can kick some nerdy flex raps too; he was nonchalantly sipping on lemonade in a pirate’s fit, while you were busy teething on cockroaches. On his latest opal with Mello Music Group, You’re No Fun, Illingsworth’s pearly bounce is as live as ever. The lasting sapphire in the mix might just be “Wind (No Clues),” a “Love’s Gonna Get’cha”-esque ode to a young have-not, searching for a path where shards of systemic violence won’t sink into the soles. In the grubby fists of a lesser MC, the concept might ring out as corny. But in the studious grasp of Illingsworth, it feels as if the ghosts of SV sprinkled steez over construction gravel to help the whole damn thing glisten.


Kodie Shane – Stay Tuned …

[STREAM]

Some two years after stealing the show on the Sailing Team’s “All In,” Kodie Shane’s just about ready for her close-up. Young Heartthrob, her full-length debut, drops early November, meaning that Stay Tuned … is the last in a long line of EPs by which she has built a fanbase and a reputation, (mostly) escaping Lil Yachty’s shadow and establishing herself as an artist who deserves a spotlight of her own. Packed front-to-back with brand-name features, Stay Tuned … scans as a set of songs too pedestrian for the album but too expensive to discard entirely, less interesting for Rich the Kid’s continued interrogation of the phrase “dat way!” than for the promising glimpse it provides into Shane’s musical development since last year’s Back From the Future. I can’t imagine listening to this once Young Heartthrob is out, but I won’t be listening to anything else until then.


MihTy – MihTy

[STREAM]

Here you have it folks: the long-rumored, widely-anticipated eponymous collab between the foremost crooners in hip-hop. That’s right — Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign have teamed up in true Rhythm-and-Blues Brothers fashion to give us MihTy, which apparently might have been completed as far back as 2017?? The original release was supposed to come August 2018, but, as happens so often these days, the drop date was pushed back to October. So, here we are! Dolla and ‘Mih apparently churned out some 60 songs in the studio, then picked out these 11 from said batch, which explains why this project doesn’t hit me as incredibly cohesive or focused on a particular idea, aside from, of course, romance, sex, and various forms of decadence. But if you know these two at all, that shouldn’t surprise you, and perhaps all that intimacy is exactly why you (and I) listen. It’s a solid and varied tape, with a good list of producers (exec. produced by Hitmaka, with appearances by Go Grizzly, Keyz, et al.) and suave harmonies. In a most satisfying way, it’s the tape I’d expect from the two — a wonderfully romantic, melodic, and smooth-hip-hop-R&B ditty to cuddle up with as the weather gets colder.


Bambu – Exrcising A Demon | Article 1 | A Few Left

[DOWNLOAD/STREAM]

Filipino-American California MC Bambu has been kicking bloody street soliloquies as far back as the early 2000s and even released a critically acclaimed full-length collaboration with L.A. rap royalty’s DJ Muggs in 2010. However, if there’s ever been a moment better suited for this particular audio document, it must have occurred in some alternate timeline, because Exrcising A Demon | Article 1 | A Few Left arrives at a juncture that demands more than ever for stories of American immigrants and their children and the struggles they share to be told plainly, without glorification, political comment, or other modes of curated re-contextualization. The truth, like humanity, is brutal, war-torn even, but above all else, necessary. And if this release is truly the first in a five-part series, as the Bandcamp page describes, then Bambu and OJ The Producer have set the bar incredibly high for themselves out the gate. Clearly, though, this is a matter of both exercising and exorcising, show-and-prove a given.


Shy Glizzy – Fully Loaded

[STREAM]

For a couple years now, the Washington Wizards have stood pat in free agency, keeping their roster’s core intact in order to develop their existing players rather than compromising their identity in pursuit of new ones. Their horrific start to the current season aside, it’s worked pretty well; the John Wall era has been one of consistent success, salad days not only for Wall, but also for a host of young stars under his tutelage: Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and most recently Kelly Oubre. Yet in their consistency, the Wizards have raised questions about untapped potential, about complacency in the face of the consistently “pretty good,” and about who is really to blame for a series of failed attempts to integrate new play styles and personalities. Luckily, rap isn’t basketball. Probably.


Lil B – Options

[STREAM]


Gangsta Boo & BeatKing – Underground Cassette Tape Music Vol. 2

[STREAM]

Being a consumer of contemporary “rap” music in 2018 without recognizing Gangsta Boo is a privilege. As a member of Three 6 Mafia, she helped collapse geographical and aesthetic distinctions between Southern rap, experimental horrorcore, and radio music without burying Memphis signifiers in common ground. Her new mixtape with Houston-hailing BeatKing is a conservation of both artists’ distinct regional styles, revealing by way of phonogeographical survey just how deep trap’s roots go. Fortunately, Underground Cassette Tape Music Vol. 2 is also a banger in its own right, reminding Migos fans why this historical primrose path was worth nourishing and following. Plus, remember Paul Wall, Danny Brown, and RiFF RAFF? They’re all on this, too. It’s a scary good time, so fly that you won’t even remember they’ve been doing this since before I could talk. If there ever were a laurel-draped whip, this whole crew has scrapped it for a brand new ride. And it bumps as hard as everything before it.


D Savage – D Phoenix

[STREAM]

I’m not entirely sure where D Savage came from, but “a neural network trained on 10,000 Soundcloud rappers” isn’t out of the question. Yet amidst opaque mythology — “3900,” “2700,” and a dozen variations of “Phoenix” reappear endlessly across songs and IG captions — and thoroughly ambiguous authorship, there’s an undeniable grasp of melody that refuses to be ignored. As often as not, it’s a mere moment; “What You Want” justifies its existence on the strength of half a hook alone. And that’s more than enough: with tracks rarely exceeding two minutes, D Savage’s best work is so immediate that it can’t even begin to wear out its welcome before its time to rewind. There’s little here that warrants repeated listens, but what sticks will be looping in my mind for months on end.

Stream Ty Dolla $ign & Jeremih’s Collaborative Album Mih-Ty

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Mih-TyJeremih and Ty Dolla $ign are two of the purest talents in modern R&B. Both guys boast instantly recognizable voices, and they flaunt those voices like virtuosos — rarely in an overly showy guitar-shredder fashion, but rather gliding through melodies with the graceful fluidity of a musician who has mastered his instrument. They’re also not … More »

Stream Jeremih & Ty Dolla $ign’s new album MihTy

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With direction and production from Hitmaka, Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign finally deliver their long-awaited and highly anticipated collabo album …

Check out YehMe2’s remix of Valee & Jeremih’s “Womp Womp”

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Josh Young a.k.a. J2K a.k.a. YehMe2 has been putting it down for years. I’ve seen him work his magic on …

Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign announce release date for MihTy and drop new single

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Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign’s long-teased full-length collaboration, MihTy, FINALLY has a release date — just in time for sexy-Halloween costume-sex season (which I just made up), as well as a new advance single!

That’s right, MihTy will grace the world’s boudoirs…on October 26!

Ta dah!

Chatter about the album has persisted throughout the summer since the release of advance track “The Light,” but in the meantime Jeremih has been touring and Ty Dolla $ign has continued his frankly legendary tear as a guest vocalist for pretty much everyone in the biz.

Now, the duo has released a new track, “Goin’ Thru Some Thangz,” which you can listen to below.

Oh yeah: in addition, before the album drops, Jeremih & Ty Dolla $ign have announced they’ll be steaming up late night on October 22 when they play “The Light” on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Hey, awesome! Everyone watches that show!

“Goin’ Thru Some Thangz”:

Jeremih & Ty Dolla Sign are “Going Thru Some Thangz” on new single + announce MihTy release date

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MihTy got a release date. 10/26. I can’t lie, I was going through some things until I got word of …

Watch Meek Mill Talk Prison Reform, Perform “Dangerous” On Fallon

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Meek-Mill-on-FallonMeek Mill has been playing a double role since he was released from prison back in April. He’d been in prison based on a pretty ridiculous probation violation, and his sentence — two to four years after a couple of minor violations — brought a whole lot of attention to how ridiculous the … More »

Jeremih & Ty Dolla $ign – “New Level” (Feat. Lil Wayne)

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Jeremih & Ty Dolla $ign - "New Level" (Feat. Lil Wayne)R&B leading lights Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign have been talking up their collaborative album MihTy for a few months. They promoted it with lead single “The Light,” and it was supposed to drop way back in June. That obviously didn’t happen. No word on when the project might materialize, but in the meantime we … More »