Working in this industry means subjecting yourself to an almost inconceivable amount of new music. There are times when it feels like you're sitting atop Scrooge McDuck's money bin, basking in the glory of so much greatness that you can't wait to share with the world. Other times it feels like you're being eaten alive by a hoard of piranhas, each one ripping into you with songs so intolerable you start to question whether you really need ears anymore. Mostly it's a piranha situation.
All in all, 2016 has been pretty great so far. Quality music seems to be hitting the interwebs at a constant pace, and there have been some definite highlights, but already there have been some massive exceptions. Welcome to the Worst Hip-Hop Songs of 2016 (So Far), where we give you the best of the worst to hit out ear drums, because sometimes you're not being a hater, sometimes the music just really does suck.
Three quick notes before we start. First, of course there's much worse on SoundCloud or YouTube, "songs" that aren't mixed or mastered and only have five plays, but including those here would be a dumpster dive - we only considered songs that many, many people have actually heard. Similarly, "worst" is relative to popularity and talent. There's nothing notable about your 36-year-old fuck-up cousin Kyle making a terrible rap song. But when a truly great or massively popular artist makes something bad, that's even worse than Kyle's fire mixtape, even if it's not literally worse than Kenny's fire mixtape. Get it? And last but not least, it's cool if you disagree with some of these selections. That's fine, we get that, but you're wrong and we hate you.
And with that, let's get to the terribleness.
It almost feels clichéd to kick things off with the embattled Australian pop-rap star, but trash is trash and “Azillion” is that giant trash heap floating in the Pacific Ocean. After a considerable hiatus from new solo material, which included the cancellation of her Great Escape Tour amidst a “creative change of heart” and claims that she wanted to figure out how she wanted her sound to progress, she came back with this???
“Azillion” isn’t terrible because Iggy rhymes “azillion” with “trillion,” “billion,” and of course, “million.” It’s not terrible because the word “ceiling” is turned into “silly-on” to keep with the rhyme scheme. It’s not terrible because Iggy sounds nearly incapable of keeping pace with the beat while trying to fit in too many words (slurring them as a result), and it's not because of the ultra-generic, electro-trap that falls flat in an attempt to energize. “Azillion” is terrible because of all of these reasons, combined like a Voltron-esque hodgepodge of facepalm. There’s a reason the label wasn’t behind this one…
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "Dance Off" ft. Idris Elba & Anderson .Paak
There’s cringeworthy, there’s a literal cringe, and then there’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Dance Off.” If you’re like me, you looked at the track list to This Unruly Mess I've Made and thought, “wow, at least I know that Anderson .Paak feature is going to be solid!” Well, I was wrong and you were too, as despite the shortcomings from the Seattle-based duo’s latest album (high points do exist) this train wreck manages to bring shortcoming to an entirely lower level.
I get it, Macklemore’s supposed to be fun! I can deal with corny in limited doses (I’ll take a “Downtown” every once in awhile if I have to), but when I hear a song and all I can think of is the goddamn "Monster Mash," a line needs to be drawn. I understand the “Thriller” nod but let’s keep the spooky narration confined to '80s dance floors, sorry Idris Elba. Not even the dance-off from White Chicks deserves this kind of soundtrack, and not even .Paak could save us, though it's hard to really have an effect with only a few seconds in the spotlight. Someone on Genius asked why Macklemore was rapping like The Lonely Island on "Jizz In My Pants," which makes sense because The Lonely Island would have been right at home on this record.
This one can “shimmy, shimmy, shimmy, shimmy” right into the trash.
Despite living in the shadows of Fetty Wap, Monty (Monty Zoo? Remy Boy Monty? Remy Boy Monty Zoo Boy Remy?) has an undeniable talent of his own. He has the rare ability to change pitch up or down while still sounding the exact same the entire time. But “Not Poppin,” despite oddly being one of the most popular songs on DJBooth over the last few months, is a master’s course in making music that could be used as a torture tactic to drive listeners insane.
Think of it as a roller coaster. You’re on your way up, growing increasingly excited as you hear the tags of Southside, Sonny Digital and Metro Boomin pass by you. Suddenly, you’re at the top and you're quickly sent into free fall at the start of Monty’s hook. BUT WAIT, is it still the hook or are we at the verse?!? Is it just the same five seconds on repeat?!? Suddenly you realize that the entire roller coaster is just one extended loop from which there’s no escaping, and you’re just going around and around and around and oh my god now you’re crazy and you've thrown up cotton candy and hot dogs all over yourself. Thankfully, Fetty busts in to break up the monotony and pull your shuddering body from the wreckage, but by then it’s too late.
Lil Yachty - "All Times"
Let me be clear, it took a lot of listens for me to warm up to and appreciate Lil Yachty. Even the day after his new project Lil Boat The Mixtape dropped, I was more than skeptical. Ultimately, after listening to the entire project I had to face the light - and the wrath of conservative hip-hop heads worldwide - in saying that not only am I a fan of the cherry-headed newcomer, but that LBTM is one of my favorite releases of the year. That said, sometimes a boat glides effortlessly over water and sometimes it crashes into the rocks and explodes into a fiery death trap. This is the audio version of a hypothermic Leonardo Dicaprio drowning.
That fiery death trap is “All Times,” a take on the Rugrats theme that would likely turn Tommy and Chuckie into psychopaths had they heard it during their formative childhood years. I’m almost impressed that a song could be so short and have so much going on, this is the piranha attack I was referring to earlier, just an onslaught of beeps and twinkles and bass and Auto-Tune. All I can say is this was one of the worst one minute and thirty-seven second periods of my year.
Hi, Nathan here, I had to jump in because sweet baby Yeezus do I personally hate this song. It's a great example of relative terribleness - compared to that Lil Yachty song above it's a goddamn masterpiece, but compared to that Lil Yachty song a cat having a seizure on a keyboard is a goddamn masterpiece. But compared to what Kanye's capable of, this is the worst. Let me count the ways.
First, Kanye's just blatantly ripping off Drake's flow here. That high pitched way he ends his lines, the way he sings "can't give shit away..." it's all textbook Drake. And since Drake probably ripped it off from some kid from Toronto, this is a rip off thrice removed from its source. Second, all that might be forgivable if this was a loosie or a "mixtape" joint, but including it on his actual, world shaking, Earth-shattering "gospel" album? FOH. And third, you might have been brainwashed enough to think that lines about Kim Kardashian selling an emoji app are fire, but some of us have actual standards.
Oh, and that stream above? It's from YouTube, because Kanye "this album will only ever be a TIDAL exclusive" released it to every streaming site in the universe after he sucked a couple million people into paying for a TIDAL subscriptions. Kanye can do so much better, this song is basura. #FactsOnly
And with that we're signing off before the hate consumes us, but never fear, we'll be back to update this post throughout the year as more terribleness unfolds. In the meantime, remember to keep it one trill-i-on.