Summer Slaps: The Best (and worst) of 2019

Liz Foster ’22

A&E Editor

Summer 2019 saw A$AP Rocky go to Swedish prison, Lil Nas X break a record for the longest-running number-one single on Billboard, and the XXL Freshman list…well, I’ll let Lil Mosey’s “freestyle” speak for itself. A lot happened, so I’m here to simplify the smorgasbord of summer slaps.

In rap, Denzel Curry’s ZUU is a stellar follow up to his 2018 release Ta13oo. Singles “SPEEDBOAT” and “RICKY” set a high bar for the album which arrived hand-in-hand with Curry’s embarking on the G59 Records Grey Day tour. ZUU has several highlight tracks like
“WISH” and “CAROLMART” which feature snappy production under Curry’s booming vocals. For fans of rap who want to spice up their music library, I cannot recommend ZUU enough.
A$AP Ferg’s latest release, Floor Seats, showcases the rapper’s old and new talents with his craft. He teams up with Asian Doll and Rico Nasty for two songs, blending their powerful female energy with his traptastic sound. On “WAM,” Ferg and MadeinTYO create a charming, bubbly sound as the latter raps about a girl who is “a pro with the neck” in the duo’s icy, clever word play filled track. “Pups” by Ferg and “get home ASAP” Rocky features the sample of the summer. As a song, it’s a classic trappy banger, but at the 1:17 timestamp, the song warps into a nifty sample of Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba” after Rocky calls out “man I got these hoes…feeling like Mo Bamba!” before spiraling back to the Frankie P produced beat.
YBN Cordae’s debut The Lost Boy gave hope to the rising class of rap. With snappy flows and clever word play, the album infuses old school charm with a newer, jazzy influence on some tracks. With storytelling and well crafted sound, Cordae shows promise on his freshman piece. His performance of “RNP” with Anderson.Paak on the Tonight Show is particularly excellent as the two artists ebb off of each other’s flow.

Summer 2019 saw the return of pop after the genre took a backseat to hip hop in the past years. In mainstream pop, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” soared its feminist positivity, Taylor Swift’s seventh album, Lover, brought its weakest singles in “You Need to Calm Down” and “ME!”, but did provide cute, bubblegum hits like “Lover” and “Cruel Summer.” An early summer EP Miley Cyrus’ She is Coming is rich in wavy, trappy pop smashes like the wistful “D.R.E.A.M.” and empowered “Mother’s Daughter.”
Kim Petras’ Clarity is a trap-influenced pop record that reflects the German artist’s impending takeover of the genre. Petras commands sugary, bubble gum soprano vocals with the confidence of an industry mega on her first full-length record. Songs like “Do Me” and “Meet the Parents” reflect sexual empowerment, “Icy” and “Clarity” lay the artist’s confidence out on the table, and charming bangers like “Got My Number” and “Personal Hell” mesh her talent with the classic tones of pop music with a taste of sticky trap-rap beats. Though not a perfect album, Clarity lays the groundwork for a bright future for Kim Petras.
My hot-take-favorite of summer is Jaden Smith’s July release: Erys. Yes, it is the name of his last album spelled backwards and yes, it is unoriginal and at times boring, but I’ll be damned if some of these songs aren’t slaps. With Norwegian producer Lido at the helm, “K” is one of the album’s standouts. The song starts with a crooning Jaden who lost his girl even with his wrist “bust down,” but switches to a quicker, braggadocious tone ending in his nothing how he just “killed Coachella.” “Noize” is another song to salvage from the wreckage of backward SYRE with its Tesla and DMT name-dropping lyrics. Erys as a collective seems to rip and pull from the trap-adelic sound populating rap, but there’s too much charm in Jaden Smith’s distorted vocals for me to care.

With their Death Grips meets NeverShoutNever sound, 100 gecs released the debut 1000 gecs, with whirring, chipmunk tweaked vocals and complex, synthy breakdowns complete with obscure grinding and clanking noise. The album isn’t for everyone, but for those who like the works of JPEGMafia, GFOTY, or other PC music-esque artists, check out tracks like “hand crushed by a mallet” and “745 sticky.”
I’ve already extended beyond my allotted word count, so below is an abbreviated list of random but excellent singles:

“Jesus is the One (I Got Depression)” by Zack Fox ft. Kenny Beats
“Baguettes in the Face” by DJ Mustard ft. YG, Tyga, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg
“Fuck it I love you” by Lana Del Rey
“XXXTC” by Brooke Candy ft. Charli XCX and Maliibu Miitch
“Cash Shit” by Megan Thee Stallion ft Lil Baby
“Money in the Grave” by Drake ft. Rick Ross
“North” by Clairo

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