1. “#1 Crew” - Treated Crew
2. “Beez in the Trap” - Nicki Minaj (feat. 2 Chainz)
3. “Big Beast” - Killer Mike (feat. Bun B, T.I., Trouble)
4. “Call Me Maybe” - Carly Rae Jepsen
5. “Cashin’ Out” - Cash Out
6. “Chillllll” – Traxman
7. “How Long Have You Known?” - DIIV
8. “HYFR (Hell Yeah Fucking Right)” - Drake (feat. Lil Wayne)
9. “I Don’t Like” - Chief Keef (feat. Lil Reese)
10. “Jack Rollin” - Fort Romeau
11. “The Man” - Joe Moses & Ty$
12. “Lean Wit It” - Meek Mill
13. “Mercy” - Kanye West (feat. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz)
14. “The Motto (Remix)” - Drake (feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga)
15. “Oblivion” - Grimes
16. “Okay With Me” - Gucci Mane (feat. 2 Chainz)
17. “PMBB” - Ice Burgandy (feat. Sean Mack)
18. “Rooster in My Rari” - Waka Flocka Flame
20. “Swishers and Liquor” – Fat Trel
21. “T.A.P.” - Wiz Khalifa
22. “Titanium” - David Guetta (feat. Sia)
23. “Westside 4 Fingaz” - YG (feat Reem Riches & Riko)
24. “What Makes You Beautiful” - One Direction
25. “Up” – Loverance (feat. IamSu, Skipper and 50 Cent)
1. The “I miss you so bad” bridge from “Call Me Maybe”.
2. The beat reversing on the final verse on “PMBB”.
3. The entire vocal track of “Jack Rollin”.
4. The questionable dance, I’ve made for “Westside 4 Fingaz”.
5. Any of the emotions I feel listening to Grimes’ Visions.
6. Lil Wayne’s interview questions on “HYFR”.
7. The “You know what life is pretty awesome sometimes” feeling when the third verse on “Cashin’ Out” is played on the radio.
8. The moment at the end of the school year, when I finally rapped 2 Chainz verse on “Mercy” fully without tripping over myself.
9. The multiple times during Taylor Allderdice, where Wiz says he’ll share a smoke with his haters.
10. The opening of Wooh Da Kid’s verse on “Triple F Outro”: “December 16th, a part of me died, part of me stayed strong, but a part of me cried, pardon me on the song while I mention my pain, a part of me getting weak when they mention your name, it goes R.I.P. Slim D”.
The big rap song of 2012 is “Rack City”. Tyga’s chant of “Rack city bitch” and the ridiculous low-high budget action music video might have been what broader pop culture picked up from the song, but the song’s producer, DJ Mustard, is who the focus should have been put on. The minimalism of “Rack City” flies in the face of radio stations still controlled by Lex Luger and his offspring’s plodding dark plodding beats; but “Up!”, “The Motto”, “Slight Work”, “Beez in the Trap”, and even “Climax” show restraint and not maximalism to be the new trend in rap music. Yet, DJ Mustard works with more than dry minimalism and across multiple singles and a couple mixtapes; he has shown himself ready to be the new hot producer in rap.
Before delving into those other styles, lets travel back to “Rack City”. DJ Mustard doesn’t repeat using the thin wiry synth that is the main drive of the song; instead Mustard takes inspiration from the track’s sparseness. In March, YG released his mixtape 4 Hunnid Degreez that was entirely produced by DJ Mustard. And, the production on “Keenon Jackson” and “Do It With My Tongue” could easily have been “Track 03” and “Track 05” sandwiching “Rack City” on a beat CD sent to Tyga, because those song barely deviate from Tyga’s hit. But, Mustard’s the best take on the “Rack City” formula is “I’m Rollin”, a track originally for Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2, but didn’t quite make the final cut. It strips “Rack City” down even further, to only the drums—and there are mostly just high-hat crashes, some punchy bass, and Mustard’s signature “ha” yells. This allows Meek Mill to rap with no restraint from the production, and while it wouldn’t be the catchiest of singles, it’s a great contrast of styles, as Meek sticks with the Luger indebted MMG sound. Mustard has other songs in this vein (see: “I’ma Thug”, which just adds a siren synth to “I’m Rollin” and not much else), but Mustard’s minimalism take cues beyond just “Rack City”.
The Virginian duo, The Neptunes, influence on pop and rap music has dwindled since their early 2000s peak; but, young artists like Tyler the Creator citing them as primary influences shows a new generation of producers aren’t going to let their sound be lost. Mustard, who just turned 21, would have been in middle school, when the Neptunes were ruling the pop charts with stripped down minimalism (“Grindin”) and out there maximalism (“Slave 4 U”), and doing what now seems impossible in getting multiple hits out of the Clipse. With “How To Make It In America” Mustard remakes a lesser Clipse hits “When the Last Time” with a familiar airy stomp that knocks harder when the rest of the track is so empty. Biting the Neptunes isn’t Mustard at his most original, but sounding a decade out of date isn’t a bad way to find a unique sound.
And, yet this minimalist angle is just one side of DJ Mustard, because he really separates himself from other producers with his R&B tinged tracks. The other mixtape that Mustard entirely produced this year was Joe Moses and Ty$’s Whoop!. The highlight of the tape is “The Man”, where the two rapped verses take a backseat to Ty$ chorus (“Imma be the man for a minute”) and Mustard’s beat that re-imagines Snap music for the bedroom instead of a middle school playground. “Don’t Stop” also manages to include vodocer in the chorus, which along with the auto-tuned first verse sounds like they were inspired to create some multiple generational voice modulated R&B (or maybe that one of these guys read Dave Tompkins, vodocer history book, How to Wreck a Nice Beach, and was striving to be included in a revised edition). Yet, in these R&B inspired songs, Mustard’s handclaps and “ha” remained, acting as his own calling card, no matter how out there his production gets.
With all of these different styles, I’d wager Mustard has listened to more than The Neptunes and some Dr. Dre records at some point in his life. But, I’m not sure if he was listening to Chillwave in 2009, so I doubt he was thinking of the much-maligned genre when he produced “Go So Deep”. The song is a bit more PRB&B than Chillwave, to continue with the questionable critic genre names, but the bedroom-recorded sounding sample of “we go so deep” that floats in the background brings to mind early Washed Out or ephemeral tracks from Tri Angle Records. Yet, there are more Top 40 sounds with “Boothang” by Bobby Bracken, Joe Moses, and Ty$, which sounds like the rave synths of Red One or David Guetta set on top of “Rack City”. It might not be the best track Mustard produced, but it is an interesting take on 2012 radio music, where “Rack City” and “Starships” are the biggest rap songs of the year. And, that probably what’s so great about Mustard’s recent work is how his production easily switches between various these genres without calling attention to itself, while emulating these other styles pretty damn well.
Toot It and Boot It (Remix) - YG (feat. 50 Cent, Ty$, & Snoop Dogg)
That rappers wasted times freestyling over “Hard in the Paint”, “Black and Yellow” and “Over” this year, while this song was out is a shame. Even YG’s horrible verse on here does not sound too bad, because the beat is impossible to sound bad on. This is not a new concept, but I feel that having Ty$ as a featured artist is sort false advertising, as I would normally assume the song is just full of DJ tags.
So, this song is getting played on the radio in Los Angelos. I would go as far to say I like this song mostly because, if this song ended Travis Porter’s Pround 2 Be a Problem right after “Mighty, Mighty” instead of it going on for eight more songs I would like the mixtape a lot more. Similar, to Travis Porter, YG is a young man making catchy songs about girls and not is not great at rapping or has the most original production, but when those individual parts are put together a catchy radio friendly song is formed.