That’s right, Metal Lungies has revived the Beat Drop. This lapsed annual tradition gathers the Internet super friends to discuss the best beats of the year. This year, our panel includes the following esteemed fellows:
- Black Milk, Detroit mainstay (If There’s a Hell Below)
- Christian Rich, rising production duo (Vince Staples, Childish Gambino, Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller) (SW14)
- Shafiq Husayn, 1/3 of Sa-Ra and more recently 1/2 of White Boiz (Bilal, Thundercat, Erykah Badu) (Neighborhood Wonderful)
- Rabit, Houston instrumental grime producer, but transcending that into instrumental madness (Communion)
- Strict Face, Adelaide grime producer (Marble Isles)
- Tuamie, Atlanta beat junkie (Blue Black Purple Ethiopian Girl)
- Craig S. Jenkins, contributing editor at Noisey and then some
- Dan from the Internet, Dan from the Internet
- Harold Stallworth, Washington City Paper, Bandwidth, The Bookends Review, and Passion of the Weiss
- Metal Lungies “editor” Evan Nabavian
The Game – Up on the Wall (ft. Problem, Ty Dolla $ign, YG)
Harold Stallworth: It took damn near a decade for Battlecat to finally land a production credit on one of The Game’s retail albums, but it was well worth the wait. Whereas so many modern posse cuts sound like they were derived with data gathered by focus groups, “Up On the Wall” comes across as an organic West Coast anthem, in large part due to Battlecat’s trademark sound: G-funk with a frenetic edge.
Sevyn Streeter - Don’t Kill The Fun (ft. Chris Brown)
Strict Face: This is a bit of a kooky one, I’ll admit. Somehow it manages to capture a 70s MOR/soul jam and a 2015 trap joint all in one go without sounding jarring. It just keeps you on your toes.
Cardo, Yung Exclusive
Jay Rock – Vice City (ft. Black Hippy)
Tuamie: The rap flows and the programming on that beat fit perfectly, and the pattern is crazy.
Che Pope, Kanye West, Omar Riad (co-production by Illangelo, additional production by Mike Dean)
The Weeknd – Tell Your Friends
Christian Rich: Been playing this nonstop in the whip. I also wanted to hear a pop artist on a soul sample. The Weeknd has earned that pop star title. I remember Common took the sample when I was a kid, but this flip is more calm. The lyrics are raw and the synth at the end brings it full circle with today’s music. Kanye and crew killed this.
Mac Miller – Time Flies (ft. Lil B)
Christian Rich: Now this is our joint. I’m not biased, it just sounds like nothing I’ve heard before with the compression and suction. Plus, Lil B’s philosophies are like listening to Socrates in modern day. Mac delivers on this.
Rick Ross – Bill Gates
Harold Stallworth: The production on “Bill Gates” meets halfway between Mannie Fresh circa 1999 and the Trackmasters circa 1997. Here, Atlanta producer D. Rich combines his loose, bouncy drums with what could very well pass for the ambient sounds of a tropical rainforest. What results is the rare fusion of Rick Ross’s trap side and mafioso side.
Denmark Vessey – Warning (ft. Guilty Simpson)
Evan: I imagine that when making this beat, Denmark Vessey pushed himself to see how broken he could make it sounds and while maintaining coherence. The drums amble along as if unsure of themselves and the Kill Bill Ironside siren shows up, stutters, and fades out totally off beat. There are few other sounds. A headnod feels unnatural. It’s the kind of track RZA, Madlib, and Dilla would relish. It challenges you to keep up.
Travis Scott – Antidote
Christian Rich: This right here is a joint that came out of nowhere. It was just a SoundCloud song that blew up. It’s like a Rae Sremmurd record but with Travis’ own twist. This feels like a timeless record. Like it’s gonna be played at weddings and shit. Wonagurl is a gem.
Finn – Iya (ft. Faultz)
Strict Face: One of the better grime producers to emerge as of late links up with one of the hardest (and hungriest) MCs I’ve heard out of England. It’s practically a victorious Dipset instrumental, only recast at 140bpm, when you think about it.
Flippa, Miguel, Oakwud, PopWansel, Steve “Ace” Mostyn
Miguel – Deal
Black Milk: The first few cuts on this Miguel album were a new sound for him that I really like. This song in particular sorta has three different beats in one. I love how it starts with an intro, transitions into the main beat, and then slows way down toward the end. It has a really good groove throughout.
Flying Lotus, Thundercat
Thundercat – Them Changes
Shafiq Husayn: It’s obviously an Isley Brothers drum loop but he then put an amazing song on top of it. Simplicity.
Frank Dukes, Velous, Vinylz
Drake – Right Hand
Christian Rich: One of Drake’s slept on records. It’s his take on the Bay Sound, but I think it has a little more to it. It’s subtle but got the right swing. Almost like a J Dilla joint. The hook, of course, is infectious. It’s a quiet banger.
Young Thug – That’s All
Dan from the Internet: “That’s All” is bar none the best beat to come out of Young Thug’s recent onslaught of free music. Goose has been silently producing some of Thug’s most accessible and pop beats, so much so he’s giving frequent collaborators London On Da Track and Metro Boomin a run for their money. The bright synths melt into Thug’s signature yelp like the beat was made especially for Thug; and if it was, I wouldn’t be surprised. The beat is spare and sugary. But it’s signature Young Thug and Goose, who also produced the excellent “Calling Your Name.” Goose is a trap producer with a pop pedigree and it shows on every single nook and cranny of this song. Goose becoming Thug’s go to producer could only make them the strongest pairing in rap right now and hopefully that future isn’t too faraway.
The Hitmen, Puff Daddy
Puff Daddy – Auction (ft. Lil Kim, King Los, Styles P)
Harold Stallworth: The first five tracks on MMM (Money Making Mitch), Diddy’s surprisingly strong promotional mixtape, were composed by at least a sliver of Bad Boy’s legendary stable of in-house producers, The Hitmen. The mixtape was intended to serve as a primer to No Way Out II, the sequel to his debut solo album from nearly two decades earlier. The Hitmen succeeded in recapturing a bit of the big, symphonic sound that marked the darker corners of Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death and The Lox’s Money Power & Respect. “Auction” is their bubbliest and most triumphant beat on the mixtape, but there’s still an underlying grit that harkens back to the golden era of Bad Boy.
hoodlove – Penny Sweets And Cream Soda
Evan: I think I found this track when Mr. Mitch reposted it on SoundCloud and/or played it on a Rinse show. It feels like a lullaby built from spare parts. A handful of sounds clang and echo, leaving big empty spaces for you to fill with your own wistful nostalgia. With under 500 plays, it’s the most obscure track you’ll find on an end of year list, which is fitting for a track so minimal that it seems to fade away while you’re listening to it.