For those who may have missed last week, a quick reminder. We're making some changes at The DJBooth. Instead of five songs (and the occasional album), I'm narrowing this weekly column down to a single selection, the one song you MUST listen to. I'll spotlight the single most awesome piece of music released in the last week - be it a song, album, beat, verse, or bar - and rap nerd out about it. It might be less total music, but the music will have the highest concentration of amazingness, so you'll still get your fix. Instead of four sliders, it'll be one juicy, bacon-slathered burger.
Real talk, this "one song" business is tough sledding. Not because there are no options, but because there are five hundred thousand dope options. How the hell can I pick one? Seriously, I must have said, "Yup. This is the song of the week," nine times. I thought the challenge with this new format would be finding enough to write about, but it turns out that's the easy part. The tough part is just picking that one song. Oh well, that's why they pay me the big internet bucks. After a week of long, thoughtful deliberation, I'm ready to crown a winner. That winner is Voli.
Now, I said this was a tough pick, but truthfully, in my heart of music hearts, once I heard this tune I knew it was over. People always say, "You'll know when you see it," and I generally hate that expression, but in the case of "The Wander Years" it turned out to be true. This explosive effort is simply on another level. With other songs I thought, "hmmm, maybe," but when this one came to a conclusion I thought, "woah."
First and foremost, the cinematic production; self-produced by Voli. As is typically the case with Voli, the beat is much more than just a beat. Before he even says a word on the track he has me on the edge of my seat because the production is so emotionally charged. It sounds weird to say about a beat - how can an instrumental have emotions? - but it's true. Something about Voli's boardwork, the solos, the drums, or maybe a dangerous combination of all of them, sounds like it's speaking to me directly. A beat is often used to set the vibe of the track, but rarely does it convey this much power and passion. Rarely do the instrumentals "speak" as loud and as passionately as the vocals. And it's not like the vocals don't hit hard as well. Voli has that covered with his emphatic, beautiful yet raspy singing style. It's amazing to me how striking his voice is without having to hit crazy notes. He keeps a relatively constant, even-keeled vocal approach and yet I really hang onto every word thanks to his delivery and conviction.
Overall though, more than the beat or his vocals, it was the attitude of this effort, the power, that separated it from the pack and resonated with me longer and stronger than any other song. Granted, music is 99.9% subjective, but this truly felt like the most significant, important listen of the week. It's so powerful without shoving anything down your throat ears. Voli created an emotional, heavy piece of music that speaks for itself. Though it isn't hip-hop, exactly, I think even the biggest backpackers can approach this for its sheer musicality. It's that "woah"-inducing quality that makes Voli's "The Wander Years" the Song of the Week and guarantees it will stay in heavy rotation.
The Weeknd "Earned It" video: Booty and nipple tape are always welcome, but really it's all about this incredible song.
Azad Right - "When You Know": Great production. This song is cooler than the other side of the igloo.
DJ Shoey ft. YGTUT & Nebu Kiniza - "Livin' Stars": For the love of all things holy please keep an eye on YGTUT!
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. When not writing about rap on the internet he is also an actor. You can find him in movies such as Bad Boys II and The Notebook. You can tweet him at@LucasDJBooth.]