A huge week for new tracks from Drake, Gucci Mane, Kanye West, Pusha T, Travi$ Scott, and more.
Do you ever get the feeling that hip hop's current class of elites is more of a group of superfriends than ever before? Let's play six degrees of separation with this week's top ten tracks-- the most momentous batch in recent memory. At the top we've got DJ Khaled, who's collaborated with more of rap's A- B- and C-listers in his career than arguably anyone else, and who's accompanied by Drake. Drizzy's also got another track in the list, which was debuted alongside a track featuring Gucci Mane (who pops up twice this week) and produced by Vinylz, who's got another beat on Travi$ Scott's "Pick Up The Phone." Two-thirds of that track's lineup, Scott and Quavo, also appear on a GOOD Music posse cut that's on the list, and the other (Young Thug) has two more of this week's top ten tracks. Four tracks remain unmentioned, one of which is Gucci Mane's "First Day Out The Feds" (the one repeat appearance from last week), and that was produced by Mike Will Made It, who's got another joint of his own making the cut. The one GOOD Musician absent from the posse cut, Pusha T, makes up the penultimate track. Thusly, it's really a lone Lil Uzi Vert track that's the one outlier, but even that can be explained away if you take into account his fruitful artistic partnership with Thugger.
Everyone seems to be everyone else's friend (at least strategically), which is odd for hip hop, historically, but goddamn if it doesn't turn out some good-- or at least noteworthy-- music. Drake is still the reigning MVP as far as our charts go in 2016, but Kanye's maintained a strong foothold, and Young Thug stays as hated as ever, but is also much more popular than in previous years. There's no room for anyone below the upper echelon this week, as tracks by Tyga, Nipsey Hussle, Fat Joe/Remy Ma, YG, Kevin Gates, Wiz Khalifa/Juicy J, and Meek Mill all either drop out of the top ten or barely miss the cut. Summer's in full swing, and if you snoozed on your chance to release new shit when things were less popping earlier this year, you're gonna have to fight for air during the next few months.
10. Young Thug Feat. Ty Dolla $ign - Friend Of Scotty (Prod. by Dun Deal)
This Fabo-referencing track first surfaced as a leak back in January 2015, and last week Dun Deal liberated an "official" version that also featured Ty Dolla. Unfortunately, somebody's label (knowing Lyor Cohen, probably Thug's) was unhappy with this, and removed it from SoundCloud. Having been on the cutting room floor for so long, "Friend Of Scotty" is unlikely to make the HiTunes cut, but it's certainly a worthwhile appetizer. It makes its debut at #10.
9. Lil Uzi Vert - $UB ZERO (Prod. by Maaly Raw)
Really the only self-contained unit on the list, Lil Uzi and go-to beatsmith Maaly Raw delivered one of their finest songs to date this past week, a track whose lyrics consist mostly of the word "zero." Uzi continues to hone his reputation as one of hip hop's foremost vocal stylists, and Raw's oeuvre continues to expand with each new outing. "$UB ZERO" debuts at #9.
8. Drake - 4PM In Calabasas (Prod. by Vinylz & Frank Dukes)
In keeping with the rest of Drake's "[Time of day] in [location]" series, this track finds him focusing on lyrical fireworks rather than the pop-mindedness that's currently keeping him afloat on the charts. Vinylz and source material-generator extraordinaire Frank Dukes supply the Bad Boy-styled beat, keeping this one very distinct from the others in its series. Despite its late entry on Saturday evening, "4PM In Calabasas" debuts at #8.
7. Mike Will Made It Feat. Rihanna - Nothing Is Promised
Mike Will's dragged out the release of Ransom 2 for months now, but with GuWop out of jail, we could be seeing it as early as tomorrow (who knows?). We got the first official single last week, with Will pulling out the big guns and giving us a Rihanna feature co-written by Future. "Nothing Is Promised" debuts at #7.
6. Young Thug - Gangster Shit
Is this the HiTunes lead single? Your guess is as good as ours, but wherever it lands, "Gangster Shit" is a banger that's got very little in common with anything on Thugger's two releases of 2016, I'm Up and SS3. Production is uncredited, but we do know that Thug's main engineer, Alex Tumay, mixed this one. "Gangster Shit" makes its debut at #6.
5. Gucci Mane - First Day Out The Feds (Prod. by Mike Will Made It)
The one remnant from last week's list is still here for good reason, as it celebrates quite a momentous occasion. "First Day Out The Feds" may not be as gleeful as "First Day Out," a buoyant Zaytoven-produced track Gucci shared after getting out of jail in 2009, but like his slimmed down and bearded-up appearance, it's a reminder that we might be dealing with a stronger, more mature Radric Davis this time around. "First Day Out The Feds" falls three places from #2 to #5 in its second week out.
4. Travi$ Scott Feat. Young Thug & Quavo - Pick Up The Phone (Prod. by Vinylz)
Has Travi$ been waiting to drop Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight until one of his new singles made a huge impact? If so, "Pick Up The Phone" seems like the one that'll herald the tape's arrival. Bringing the former Rodeo tourmates together alongside Quavo and atop a stellar beat from the production MVP of the week, Vinylz, this track should be audible all summer long. "Pick Up The Phone" debuts at #4.
3. Pusha T Feat. Jay Z - Drug Dealers Anonymous
Before he popped up for a few seconds on the original cut of Drake's "Pop Style" in April, Jay Z hadn't given us new bars in about a year. Two months later and we've got two more verses (the other coming on a remix of Fat Joe and Remy Ma's "All The Way Up")-- is a new project, either solo or with Beyoncé, on the horizon? That's not certain, but the eventual release of Pusha T's King Push is, and this first single is a doozy. "Drug Dealers Anonymous" makes its debut at #3.
2. Kanye West Feat. Desiigner, Travi$ Scott, Big Sean, Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti, 2 Chainz & Quavo - Champions (Round & Round)
Biggest posse cut in a long, long time. Allegedly off of the upcoming GOOD mixtape Cruel Winter, this marathon-length release brings together quite the motley crew of rappers-- who would've expected Gucci's second verse out of prison to appear alongside a Desiigner feature? Once it surfaces in its final form, "Champions" (or "Round & ROund") will probably be an even bigger, shinier trophy of a track, but for now, we wait. "Champions (Round & Round)" debuts at #2.
1. DJ Khaled Feat. Drake - For Free
With all of the hype Khaled put behind his latest single, it's only right that "For Free" lands at number one. Also, a Kendrick Lamar-referencing, "Blow The Whistle"-interpolating Drizzy track is one of the crazier things we could've imagined, so this deserves the spot more than anything else in the crazy big week of singles. Now can Khaled make the rest of his new album live up to this hype? "For Free" makes its debut at #1.