Am I doing a piece on bangers just because I wrote about crying yesterday and I'm concerned people will think I'm soft? No. Yes. Noyes. But beyond preserving my apparently fragile sense of manhood, I'd like to believe there's a through line here. A banger is also music that makes you feel something; in this case the urge to punch a kitten right in the face. Same emotional coin, opposite side.
More selfishly though, I also keep a banger playlist on deck for moments when I need it - like when I have to stab someone with a spoon in the prison cafeteria because they stole my shower shoes - and it's sorely in need of an update. My current playlist has some classics, but they're all at least a couple years old. I know that if I write this DJBooth Nation will come through with a gang of worthy candidates in the comment section that I'll be able to draw from. So I'll get things started, y'all add on. Deal? Deal.
Before we kick things off though, I want to make clear what kind of music I'm looking for. Lucas and I have debated it in the past, so I know my definition of a "banger" isn't necessarily the average. Banger has become in many ways synonymous with energetic party music. That's fine and good, but I'm not looking to party. I'm looking to rob someone for their wallet and then demand their socks because fuck 'em. I'm looking to commit felonies with zero remorse. I'm looking for music that wouldn't be allowed inside the club because the bouncers can tell it's carrying razorblades in its socks just by looking at it.
Case in point, ScHoolboy Q's "Man of the Year" gets me pumped, the video also features models on the beach for a reason. "Gangsta" on the other hand? That song where he says, "I don't care if that ho got pneumonia"? Banger. No Drake song has ever been a banger. "U Guessed It" is right on the fence because it's obviously crazy aggressive, but when Maco says "You was right..." it's kind of funny and there shouldn't be anything funny about a banger. Rick Ross songs are often on the fence for the same reason. "Holy Ghost" goes hard, but Diddy's ad-libs are too hilarious for me to ever take seriously.
See where I'm coming from? Hopefully the music will be worth a thousand words.
Run the Jewels "Jeopardy (Only Killer Mike's Intro Though)"
The rest of the song doesn't quite cut it, but when Killer Mike opens with "I'M FITTIN TO BANG THIS BITCH THE FUCK OUT!!!" that's exactly what I'm looking for. If I ever saw Mike yell that at me in person I'd immediately march to the nearest bank and get everyone on the floor.
Interestingly though, while RTJ2 undoubtedly goes hard, and overall may be the hardest album of the year, I don't know if there's any song on that album that really gets into true, elite banger status. Even it's armed robbery tracks, like "Close You Eyes," have a certain intelligence to them. Mike's intro here is the most I'm-genuinely-afraid-of-what-this-man-might-do-to-me-and-my-family moments on the album - no better way to kick this off this piece.
ScHoolboy Q "Gangsta"
I mentioned it in the intro, had to include it here. I've probably listened to "Gangsta" more times than any other song this year, which probably says a lot about what kind of year I'm having.
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Q says the word "gangsta" 43 times in the hook and intro alone, frankly it could have been the only thing he said all song and I'd be 100% on board, although lines about leaving his enemies brains on their doormats certainly help his cause. Plus that beat is just so goddamn ominous, PLUS you've got a parade of his signature "YAWK!" ad-libs. This is that music that the devil probably listens to when he needs to get inspiration for designing that eighth circle of hell. My daughter saying "My daddy a rap blogger" isn't nearly as cool, but as least I can live vicariously though Q.
BEATKING x Gangsta Boo "Mashing"
For the record, BEATKING and Gangsta Boo's "Underground Cassette Tape Music" is a repository, a myriad, a cornocopia of non-fuck giving, but "Mashing" is the most bangerest moment of all. "Rambunctious" is up there too, but that Riff Raff verse isn't intimidating anyone.
This shit though? As I write this there's a guy in my office drinking a Snapple and I'm seriously considering just walking up, taking it and seeing what he'll do. I'm willing to bet he'll see this look in my eyes that says I've been listening to "Mashing" for the last hour and decide it's wiser if he just lets me have the Snapple. That's goddamn right son, that's my Snapple now. Fuck yo dreams.
Yelawolf x Rittz "Bowties"
"Bowties" isn't exactly the kind of title that strikes fear into the hearts of your enemies, but don't judge a book by it's cover. Post "Radioactive" Yela's recommitted himself to music about doing crystal meth in a trailer park surrounded by Mossbergs, and I'd consider that a very good thing.
Off Black Fall, Yela's often-overlooked project with DJ Paul, who as long as we're on the subject is an under-rated producer, when I first heard it I put "Bowties" on repeat for an entire day and by the time the sun set I had a nosebleed for no discernible reason. Now that's the kind of music that will earn you a place on my banger playlist. And make no mistake, inclusion here is quite the honor. It's like the Grammys for people who terrify the Grammys far too much to ever be invited to the Grammys.
Danny Brown "Smokin & Drinkin"
Danny Brown's basically the living embodiment of what I mean when I say "banger." That dude has made some terrible life decisions, except for the part where he's turned those poor life decisions into great music.
Full disclosure though, I'm a little conflicted about "Smokin & Drinkin." On the surface it would seem to be exactly the kind of energetic party song that disqualifies it from true banger status, but then why does it still make my head explode? If this is a party song it's the kind of party where someone gets their stomach pumped and no one ever talks about that night again, not the kind of party where someone drinks from a bottle with a fucking sparkler in it. At the very least can we all agree that "Scrap or Die" is basically the hardest song ever? He's rapping about STEALING COPPER FROM ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS FOR MONEY WITH HIS CRACKHEAD UNCLE! Danny Brown my only role model.
So there you go DJBooth Nation, I'd like to believe I've set us all down the appropriate path to destruction, now it's up to you to bring us all the way to the apocalypse. Hit me with every true banger that's been breaking your speakers and I'll compile the best selections into a playlist. After all, if we don't create the soundtrack to an armed robbery gone wrong, who will?
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]