Now that it's almost the end of the year, the Best Of The Booth Awards are in full effect (no Wreckx-n). For the sake of time, importance and our sanity, we narrowed our yearly awards list down to ten categories we felt were the most important, but that only scratches the tip of the iceberg; there are about a million other categories we could have chosen, and I can't rest easy knowing I didn't at least touch on a few of them. I mean can you really ride off into sunset of 2014 without arguing over, say, the best hook of the year? Didn't think so. As the man behind the hook check-in back in May, I felt it was only right that I follow it up seven months later. Will my picks back then hold true today? Let's find out.
Well, before we get into it, the hook of the year is "Fancy." Sorry. I hate it just as much as you do, but we both know there wasn't a single piece of music more influential and more popular than that hook; the average rap fan knows "Loyal" but even your grandma was singing "Fancy." It's the hook of the year and it's not even close, but since nobody wants to pick "Fancy" let's pick a real winner. The Grammys may love her, but the people don't, and here at DJBooth we are all about the people.
Before we do though, the guidelines. Normally when doing these "Best of" discussions popularity is but a small factor, but when you are talking about a hook, popularity is a huge part of it. More so than a eloquent bar or perfectly sampled beat, a hook is often the most important part of a song because it's the most recognizable and memorable part. Sort of like a catchy slogan, a great hook will stick in your brain whether you like it or not. There's a lot of danger in that, but it's also pretty incredible that three or four lines can effective make your song a hit or a flop. You can hate the song (and a lot of these you probably will) but a great hook causes you ignore the fact that the song is responsible for the decline of Western civilization. At the same time though, this wouldn't be a DJBooth award if quality wasn't considered too. Got it?
Now onto the hooks:
O.T. Genasis - "CoCo"
A newer release, but still worthy of our attention. For most songs, the hook is like 2-4 lines, but honestly, those whole song feels like a hook; it's a song made up entirely of hooks. You know how ants are super lame when all alone, but when you get a whole colony they can like eat your flesh off? It's the same way here, these lines are truly disastrous and down right weak, but when they are all together, as one massive, four-minute long hook, it's fucking awesome. This song is everything I hate about rap and I still love it. I don't get why people love Migos, Thug, or any of those other guys, but I totally get "CoCo." This shit is undeniable, catchy and fun.
Mick Jenkins - "Jazz"
Mick might not win in terms of popularity, but in terms of power, no hook was better than "Jazz." I quote this one like I do "0 to 100" or "Fancy" but I don't have the same feeling of shame. Seriously, that "With my hand in the air like JFK" line hit me as hard, if not harder than any other line in rap this year. The first time I heard it I had to pause the song. It was just to much. For the imagery alone it deserves the nod. This hook encapsulates why Mick is such a young, bright star. This hook is fucking deep and it really fits the mood, themes and concept of the song. Normally hooks are simple and easy, but Mick, in true Mick form, really goes that extra mile to create something so dense and meaningful. Not only is the hook construction interesting - I love the mini-hooks/bridges that lead into the main one - but it really helps pace the track; I love how he builds momentum and it all culminates at the hook. The power for what he says and how he says it cuts through and really shakes you. It moves me like any of these other hooks but does it in a completely different, more meaningful way.
Drake - "0 to 100"
Maybe, just maybe, this is the most quoted line of the year. Shit, I know I say it a whole bunch.Truthfully, I am not 100% sure this is one of the best hooks, but I think about all the times I've been at a show or a bar and heard people go wild when this comes on. Even the people who claim to hate Drake get juiced for this hook when it comes on. Maybe the quality of the rest of the song makes this hook less important. On songs like "Loyal" or "CoCo" you really don't have much to write home about if it weren't for the hook but Drizzy is pretty solid on the mic. I'm not listening just for the hook, but the power and effectiveness of that hook is too much to deny.
Big Sean ft. E-40 - "IDFWU"
Big Sean is my least favorite rapper. Dude is boring as shit and never, ever, ever, adds anything to a track. He's the rap game parsley. Honestly, I have never even listened to this song. Not once. The only experience I have is hearing the hook on a 15 second YouTube ad and yet, I still know that hook like the back of my hand. I hate Big Sean and might hate YouTube ads even more, yet when I heard that hook, I couldn't press skip. It's because it's as simple and fun as it is vulgar. I'll never listen to the whole thing because I'd rather Van Gogh myself than hear Big Sean tell me things, but damn it if that hook ain't a god damn effective. Ugh. I feel dirty, but I have to say it, "IDFWU" is one of the best hooks of the year.
Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Tyga - "Loyal"
One of two tracks to survive the second half of the year (we'll get to the other later), "Loyal" is everything you hate about music and everything you love about a hook. Chris Brown is an asshole, I have to be reminded that Lil Wayne can't rap anymore, and lest we forget the travesty that is Mr.Tyga, and yet I'm willing to sit through three awful verses for a hook; that's power. I don't even listen to this song anymore, and I think its radio time has gone way down, but still, I can't get the hook out of my head. I haven't listened to the song, well, since May really, but I have continued to have this hook stuck in my head. This song would have fallen into the ranks of obscurity with so many other bubble-gum, factory-made cuts, but that hook keeps it relevant.
Saba ft. Eryn Allen Kane - "Burnout"
This was my pick back in May and I'm sticking with it. I've grown to love Saba's approach much more than I did back in May, but my love for the hook hasn't died down. With most of these other picks, I listen obsessively for a week or so and then I'm kind of done with it. I mean sure I still say "About a week ago" with reckless abandon, but it doesn't have the same zeal. With Saba's "Burnout" however, each time feels like the first listen. Honestly, there is probably no other song I have played more in the past six months than this one. Like Rick Ross on the Tilt-A-Whirl it's been in heavy rotation, and still each time it feels like the first time. I know that sounds like some Hallmark, Dawson's Creek-esque shit, but it's true. For a hook to be that heavily played and still hit me like the first listen speaks volumes to its power; I still anticipate (and rewind) that hook like I did back in May and no matter how much bullshit the universe comes at me with, Eryn's hook always put a smile on my face. it may not have the popularity (although you could argue in a way, it helped make Saba one of the best up-and-comers in the game) but the quality is undeniable. Saba's "Burnout" is the hook of the year..for me. How about you?
"No Flex Zone"/"No Type," "Man Of The Year," "Shot You Down (Remix)," "We Dem Boyz," "Chandelier."
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]