Another summer has gone by in the blink of an eye. Naturally, hip-hop's finest provided the soundtrack to the season. There were usual suspects: Rick Ross, Drake, Kanye West and Lil Wayne. And, there were newcomers: Loverance, Future and 2 Chainz (sort of). With labor day marking the unofficial close to the summer, XXLMag.com lists the 25 hottest songs of the season.—XXL Staff (@XXL)
25. Future "Turn on the Lights," Pluto (2012)
It's unclear exactly what's going on on Future's "Turn Off the Lights"--the 2012 freshman's most bizarre hits to date. Unlike his past smashes, there's no catchy nursery cadence, here--just a whole lot of half-muted-yelling-meet-singing with a pinch of Auto-Tune. It's already a favorite among Future fans and at No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100, it's only beginning to heat up.
*24. Lil Wayne ft. Big Sean "My Homies Still," I'm Not a Human Being II (2012)
Weezy and Sean weren't exactly an expected pair. But their collaboration, the lead single to Wayne's I'm Not a Human Being II, cracked the Billboard Hot 100 as expected.
23. Rick Ross "Hold Me Back, God Forgives, I Don't (2012)
This Rozay thumper got off to a slow start. Critics initially wrote the hard-hitting single off for its familiar simplistic hook, but like most hits, it becomes more addictive with each spin. A gritty black and white video added to the song's cache. It's no radio staple, but play it at a party and someone may just get hurt.
*22. Fat Joe ft. Kanye West, Miguel, Roscoe Dash, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Yasiin Bey and DJ Khaled ""Pride N Joy," TBA (2012)
Joey continues to churn out hits as an independent artist. His latest, the Kanye West-assisted gained a solid radio presence despite its non-traditional format. In addition to having Miguel and Roscoe Dash on ad-libs and hooks, respectively, the song features a host on untested vocalists, including Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss mixed in with Mos Def for the outro chant. Joe's definitely still crack.
*21. Nicki Minaj ft. 2 Chainz "Beez in the Trap," Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012)
Who said Nicki isn't hip-hop. The Young Money rapstress showed that she can still get ratchet with the best of them on this club-friendly joint. The song got spins on urban radio while songs like "Starships" dominated the Z100s of the world. The track also exposed 2 Chainz to a wider audience and signaled the start of his mainstream emergence.
20. Rick Ross ft. Meek Mill "So Sophisticated," God Forgives, I Don't (2012)
Maybach Music Group's members are clearly naturals working with one another, but Rozay and Meek Millie specifically seem to make magic together when paired up. Add "So Sophisticated" to the list. Released as a buzz cut off GFID, it set to table the most anticipated LP of the year and earned heavy spins though it wasn't officially released as a single.
19. Kirko Bangz "Drank in My Cup," Progression 2: A Young Texas Playa (2012)
Talk about a slow build. Kirko's mixtape burner was officially released a year ago, but was initially a regional hit. It eventually grew legs continued to infiltrate radio stations from state to state. A year later, it's now certified gold.
*18. Juicy J "Bandz a Make Her Dance" (2012)
Strip clubs will never be the same. Three 6 Mafia's own Juicy J may quite possibly have crafted the best strip anthem that's actually about strip clubs—"Rack City" excluded. The record has just begun steaming and now with a remix featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, the record's poised to keep getting bigger.
*17. Kanye West "Cold," Cruel Summer (2012)
Yeezy’s solo cut off Cruel Summer isn’t the quintessential hit, but it’s arguably the year’s most controversial track. Initially titled, “Theraflu,” the song’s hook features West saying, “Tell PETA my mink is dragging on the floor.” The line predictably outraged the animal rights organization, who spoke out against Yeezy in a statement via XXLMag.com. Cold medecine Theraflu then released a statement that it did not condone the song—prompting ‘Ye to change the title to “Way Too Cold” and later “Cold.” The song most famously caused a frenzy for a lyric in which West dissed Kim Kardashian’s ex husband, Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries, followed by a revelation that he’d fallen in love with the reality TV star. Kim K. and Yeezy’s relationship was made public soon after. The single only peaked at no. 86, but it generated publicity rarely matched by chart-topping songs.
*16. Wiz Khalifa "Work Hard, Play Hard," O.N.I.F.C. (2012)
The lead single to Wiz's O.N.I.F.C. may be the year's most unassuming hit. After peaking at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song quietly earned a gold certification and continues to get frequent spins on radio stations nationwide.
15. Rick Ross ft. Drake, French Montana “Stay Stechmin," Rich Forever (2012)
Rick Ross ft. Drake & French Montana “Stay Schemin,” Rich Forever (2012) Though it dropped way back in January, Rich Forever’s most powerful cut is still omnipresent on radio nine months later. Peaking at No. 58 on the Billboard Hot 100, its chart position in no way reflects the song’s impact. The cut famously features Drake’s rebuttal to Common’s “Sweet”—Com would later use the instrumental to respond to Drake—but it’s most memorably for the year’s most quote line. “Bitch, you wasn’t with me shootin’ in the gym, “ Drake rhymes before being echoed by Ross.
14. Future “Same Damn Time,” Pluto (2012)
Future delivered his most riotous hit yet with this Sonny Digital banger. The bow-throwing cut also spawned a remix with Diddy and Ludacris and had fans coming up with their own "Same Damn Time" combos. Never has multitasking been so celebrated. Making hits, making money at the same. damn.time!
13. Kendrick Lamar ft. Dr. Dre "The Recipe," good kid, m.A.A.d City (2012)
Shortly after officially announcing the signing of Kendrick Lamar to Dr. Dre's Aftermath, K. Dot and the Good Doctor teamed up for a long awaited collaboration. The result was an unmistakably Californian anthem celebrating some of the finest things the Left Coast has to offer: Women, Weed and Weather. The record proved Kendrick had big record potential while offering up Dre's best verse since the 2001 era.
*12. DJ Khaled ft. Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Chris Brown "Take It to the Head,"
*11. Young Jeezy ft. Ne-Yo "Can't Leave You Alone," Thug Motivation 103: Hustler's Ambitionz (2012)
TM103 finally found the bonafied radio it was longing for in the Ne-Yo-assisted, "Can't Leave You Alone." Jizzle typically moves units with harder-edge singles, but this time a joint for the ladies did the trick. The single helped push TM103 to a gold certification.
"Ready to Fuck"
*9. Tyga ft. Lil Wayne "Faded," Careless World: Rise of the Last King (2012)
"She giving up that dome, man/Don't give my number, she know the name…I heated up that pussy, that wet-wet in my two-seater…Roll over, give daddy some/I'm gon' come, you gon' come."
8. Meek Mill ft. Big Sean "Burn," Dreamchasers 2 (2012)
This standout off Meek's Dreamchasers never became an official single, but its title is appropriate nonetheless. The song has been a fixture on radio and clubs since the mixtape's release. The song's rough feel nicely compliments the sultry "Amen." Maybe Meek doesn't need to switch it up after all.
"I Be Puttin' On"
*7. French Montana ft. Rick Ross, Drake & Lil Wayne "Pop That," Excuse Me (2012)
"Self-made, self-paid, forty on my belt waist/Hundred pound lobster feast, get a shell face/I be twisted off the molly doe, chopped bricks karate doe/Closet two floors, got safari dough."
*6. Meek Mill ft. Drake and Jeremih “Amen,” Dreamchasers/Dreams & Nightmares (2012)
Meek's Mixtapes have apparently become breeding ground for hit singles. This Drake and Jeremih-assisted standout quickly garnered radio spins upon the release of the Philadelphia rapper's Dreamchasers 2. It would later become the lead single to Meek's highly anticipated debut, Dreams & Nightmares. The song wasn't without controversy. Philadelphia pastor Jomo K. Johnson called for a boycott of the song—charging that it was misusing the religious term on a song promoting the nightlife. Johnson and even had a heated debated on Philly radio station 107.9. The pastor later called the boycott off after Meek apologized weeks later.
*5. Chief Keef "I Don't Like," Back from the Dead (2012)
It's the song that helped jumpstart the 16-year-old Chicago phenomenon and put even more eyes on the Windy City's already burgeoning scene. The single even caught the attention of fellow Chi-Town rep Kanye West, who decided to remix the track alongside G.O.O.D Music's Pusha and Big Sean with a brand new verse from Keef. Rumors persisted that Birdman wanted to add Keef to YMCMB's ever-expanding roster, but Interscope won the bidding war in the end. Bang, bang!
4. Loverance ft. 50 Cent, T.I. & Young Jeezy "Up! (Remix)," (2012)
Loverance set the West Coast ablaze with his ode to getting the skins late last year, but his fire spread nationwide after superstars T.I. and 50 Cent jumped on the song's remix. The original version featuring Iam Su and Skipper still gets plenty of spins. The song peaked at No. 3 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
*3. Cash Out "Cashin' Out," It's My Time (2012)
Cash Out's breakout sounds like a guilty pleasure, but it's simply a fun song. Calling the song puzzling would be an understatement. As if the current single-driven market doesn't already make it easy for rappers to get overshadowed by their own song--Cash Out opted to title his song, "Cash Out." And, chances are that fans who rhyme along to the song's chorus actually don't know it word for word. Still, the single earned a gold certification and was a requisite selection in clubs nationwide this summer. Cash Out is really cashing out now.
*2. 2 Chainz ft. Drake "No Lie," Based on a Tru Story (2012)
Having become one of rap's most sought after guest MCs, 2 Chainz delivered a hit of his own with the Drake-assisted, "No Lie." Sure, "Spend It" had previously helped sparked the lanky rapper's heavy buzz, but this particular number put Chainz on a different scale. The song peaked at No. 15 and earned a platinum certification.
*1. Kanye West ft. Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz “Mercy”
Kanye West can do no wrong. In April, the Louis Vuitton Don released a pair of singles to appear on the forthcoming G.O.O.D. Music compilation. As if the catchy screwed up hook wasn’t addictive enough, Big Sean, Pusha, Yeezy and 2 Chainz take turns reciting quotable-heavy-karaoke-friendly verses over Lifted’s hypnotic, yet bouncy track. The song peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100—the highest-charting rap song to date this year—and garnered a platinum plaque. Swerve!