10. That’s Not Me – prod. by Skepta

Gotta show some love to the grime scene over in the UK as well, so here’s a throwback by Skepta to the original “eski” sounding grime beats from the early 2000s. Skepta hops on the track himself and is accompanied by his brother, JME, to round out the song. The remixes (2 of them) are pretty lît too – it’s really hard to go wrong with the addictive synth sounds here.


9. Actin’ Crazy – prod. by Noah “40” Shebib & Omen

Back after the weekend with this mesmerizing production by 40, Drake’s partner in crime, and Omen, who has won a Grammy for his work with Ludacris. Coupled with a pretty great music video, this song apparently samples a Turkish record that Action Bronson dug up. According to Action, “there is a mixture of […] different types of feelings: cold weather [Toronto], warm weather [LA], traveling, you know?” I’m not sure I really do know, but one thing is for sure, from the synth punctuated by a bubbly metronome-style ticking to the occasional jazzy intervals, this beat is fantastic.

8. Grindin’ – prod. by The Neptunes

It seems that anything Pharrell and The Neptunes touch turns into gold, and this is true of this throwback by Clipse, the duo of brothers Pusha T and No Malice. This ultra minimalistic beat was originally made for Jay Z, but once Pusha heard it, he had to hop on it. The little (to no) melody is almost entirely based on Pharrell’s voice during the bridge between the verses, but the heavy percussion is more than sufficient on its own. Pusha has gone on to become President of GOOD music and one of my favorite rappers, and has expressed interest in teaming up with his brother again, but unfortunately No Malice isn’t on board yet.

7. Brothers – prod. by Kid Cudi

Another song that features an artist doing both the production and the rapping (he even directs music videos at times). Kid Cudi, who has been blurring the lines between rap and other genres ever since he hit the scene, decided to show his hand as a producer for his third solo album, Indicud, and produced some pretty great tracks. Really dig the percussion on this number, as well as the slight beat change up/simplification for the hook. Kid Cudi has been in the news lately for beef with his mentor, Kanye (he’s also called out Lupe and Drake recently), so here’s hoping he returns to making this type of music soon and isn’t afraid to venture into production again.

6. Ambitions az a Ridah – prod. by Daz Dillinger

The legendary 2Pac passed away exactly 20 years ago (unless you are insider with the Illuminati and know of his whereabouts in Cuba) and I think this song reflects very well why he is sorely missed. It almost seems as though the beat by Daz Dillinger of The Dogg Pound has been made to fit Pac’s flow at various points. A menacing edge to the production, crisp delivery, and a hook that I quite like, all make for a terrific track.

5. Shadowboxin’ – prod. by RZA

A potential claimant to the throne of greatest hip hop producer ever, Wu Tang Clan’s RZA produces this incredible piece that manages to sound grimy yet ice cool and smooth at the same time. I’m a sucker for simple, repetitive beats, and this one is definitely up there with my favorites. Method Man also “break[s] it down to the bone gristle” and lays down some of his slickest verses to date – just listen to his flow, it’s incredible – possibly outdoing fellow Wu Tang Clan member GZA (who is RZA’s cousin btw) on his own song.

4. War Ready – prod. by James Blake

There are worse ways to open and close a song than by sampling an André 3000 verse on “ATLiens,” which is exactly what the British electronic music artist James Blake does here. Fresh from Vince Staples’ new EP, this track starts with a very sparse beat, building up to a haunting melody that verges on being off-tune and annoying, but works nonetheless. Dope bars from Vince Staples too.