We live in a time where good music is fleeting. So many songs drop daily that even the best ones got lost in the shuffle, buried in the depths of SoundCloud or hidden in the abyss of YouTube. Keeping track of what's new (and what's worth listening to) has almost turned into a full-time job now (Case in point: My job as music editor).
This is where I come in: I've taken on the onerous task of selecting five of the best rap bangers — so far — from 2016 for your listening pleasure. These songs — from both unknown and up-and-coming artists — represent the breadth and diversity of the Bay Area's hip-hop scene; not to mention, they're just really good songs. Don't sleep on these.
1. “Shit N' Floss” by Rexx Life Raj Twenty-six-year-old Rexx Life Raj hails from Berkeley and is one of the newest, not to mention most promising MCs to come out of the Bay this year. “Shit N' Floss,” off of his upcoming debut Father Figure (out June 24), is a smooth, melodic track that, despite the slight autotuning, showcases Raj's rapping and singing capabilities. There's strong hints of Drizzy Drake throughout the braggadocio-heavy track, but it's clear that Raj is stylistically in a league of his own.
2. “Horse” by Lil Yase Hailing from Sunnydale, Lil Yase is one of the hottest underground rappers in the Bay Area right now. In “Horse,” Yase teams up with local emcees Dre and BandGang Biggs to craft a bouncy, bass-punctuated, piano-laced track that, despite its simplicity, keeps you coming back for more. It's the kind of song that you could spin at a party to get the crowd turnt, while at the same time making yourself look cool because you're playing a banger that most people haven't heard. Download it for free on SoundCloud.
3. “Ahh Shit Gah Damn!” by Kool John featuring Snoop Dogg and Iamsu!This buzzy, synth-heavy song by Heart Break Gang's Kool John is one of the funnest and most infectious songs on this list. Featuring Snoop Dogg and fellow HBK rapper Iamsu! (who sings the chorus), “Ah Shit Gah Damn” is one of those upbeat, feel good about yourself songs that you just can't help vibing to. With its hyphy-meets-trap beat, it's no wonder that Canada's Murda Beatz produced the track, as he's the mastermind behind many of Migos' best tracks. Kool John always brings the party with his songs and “Ah Shit Gah Damn” doesn't disapoint.
4. “Niggas” by Kamaiyah Off of Kamaiyah's debut album, A Good Night In The Ghetto, “Niggas” is a silly, boastful song about the Oakland rapper's many conquests and wannabe boyfriends. Over a synth beat punctuated with thumping 808s, Kamaiyah channels her inner Lil' Kim, rapping about all the men she's dated or slept with who want to be in a relationship with her — except for the fact that she doesn't want to be tied down, “at least not right now.” It's a fun track, with a bit of an old-school flavor, and it just goes to show that Kamaiyah has more than one hit to share with the world aside from “How Does It Feel.”
5. “The Juice” by Caleborate Berkeley rapper Caleborate is the definition of a wordsmith. With clever, quick witted lyrics and an athletic, natural flow, his prowess as an emcee belies the short amount of time that he's been in the game (only about five years). Over an alternating piano beat, Caleborate raps in his scratchy voice, delivering solid bars at a rapid fire pace. “The Juice” is only one of his many amazing songs — seriously, check out last summer's Hella Good for more — but it's a tantalizing one, nonetheless.