THE TOP TIKTOK SONGS AND TRENDS TO START THE NEW YEAR
Pop music and culture moves fast. If you wait for material to make its way to an LP, it's most likely several years out of date by that point. You'd be as likely to hear hot, fresh tunes on a Burger King commercial as on a proper album.
This is particularly true for a lot of pop, indie, and underground music. With pop music, you find a lot of the forward momentum in the realm of music videos and singles. Some of an artist's best songs don't ever even make it to an album. This goes double for hip-hop, which remains true to its mixtape roots even if rappers are less likely to be slinging their wares out of the trunk of their car.
A lot of current underground music's best and brightest can still be found on social media, which moves even faster than the mercurial world of playlists. It should come as no surprise, then, that TikTok, the world's hottest and most bizarre social media network would be home to some of the most interesting sounds of recent years.
Trawling TikTok can be confusing, with its weighted algorithm and endless collaboration. Amidst all the dance crazes and bizarre conspiracy theories, there's some serious jams to be heard.
Here at We Are: The Guard, we've started scavenging through TikTok look for the heat. Here's some of the best music of TikTok we've found so far this week.
POPP HUNNA - ADDERALL (CORVETTE CORVETTE)
The north Philadelphia rapper's been in the headlines recently for his beef with rapper Trippie Red for supposedly snitching about a murder he saw when he was 14. Before that, however, he'd been earning ink with "Adderall (Corvette Corvette)," a collaboration with fellow Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert.
We're not going to weigh in on Hunna's legalities. Beefs are nothing new in hip-hop, as common and as unavoidable as the sun rising in the east. .What we can say is "Adderall (Corvette Corvette)"'s got a sick beat, a bouncy island rhythm graced with trap snares like tracers in the corner of your vision. It'll be interesting to hear what Popp Hunna has in store for us next, no matter what happens.
KREEPA - OH NO
Alright, let's face it. Sometimes hip-hop hits just right when it's raw, loose, fast, and tight. While ambitious hip-hop is great and all - we need our Kendrick Lamar's and our Solange's - sometimes you just need a boss beat and one good sample for a good rapper to flow over.
"Oh No" is built around a vocal from The Shangri-Las and a hook by Capone. It brings to mind lo-fi sampledelic hip-hop like LA's Blu. It makes for a perfect backdrop for blunder videos on TikTok. So far, it soundtracks a kitty falling into a bathtub or a little girl learning to roller skate, which turns out about how you'd expect. It's got over 9 million individual videos so far, so apparently a lot of people can relate.
"Does it look like I care?" asks Kreepa in his low-key drawl. Nope, not one little bit. We need more of this in the world, especially in the world of rap.
YO GOTTI - RAKE IT UP (FEAT. NICKI MINAJ)
Of all the stupid, senseless crap spewed by Donald Trump on social media the last 4.5 years, blaming the wildfires that raged in California on poorly maintained national forests remains a high point, suggesting that if they wanted to avoid further fires in the future maybe they should rake the forests. It seems like a lifetime ago, when the current president's rhetoric was mostly unintelligent and almost surreal instead of actively invoking the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
"Rake It Up" by Yo Gotti seems almost as long ago. Originally released in 2017, an eternity in pop culture time even before we experienced several apocalypses. It takes us back to simpler, happier times with its almost nonsensical lyrics. Does it need a deep meaning? Nope. "Rake It Up" seems to be mostly about slinging wares and gettin' with strippers - popular themes in rap music since the genre first began. Add in a tight beat by Mike Will Made It and a ferocious flow from Nicki Minaj, and "Rake It Up" sounds just as hot 3 years later, even without the wildfires.
ANDER HUANG & DJ KUROMI - F BOY
Dear God, do we miss raves, clubs, and dance parties. After 10 months of lockdown, we'd give anything to lose ourselves on a sweaty dance floor. We're not the only ones, judging from the 4.7 million videos using Ander Huang & DJ Kuromi's big room, big beat banger "F Boy."
Attaining mainstream attention is tricky business for an EDM artist. Things need to be more immediate than in underground dance parties or on album deep cuts. Top 40 EDM almost always ends up with the sugary tang of euphoric Trance.
Such is the case with "F Boy," but it's never enough to give you a sugar hangover or diabetic crash. Huang and DJ Kuromi hit that sweet spot, with bold, bouncing trance chords and more builds and breaks than a stagehand's union, but it's all given a gritty edge with a growling sub-bass and a rough kicking synthwave. It sounds like Killer Instinct racing pole position through an asteroid belt. May it give us enough momentum to get through the rest of quarantine, when we can revisit real life dancefloors again.
MEGAN THEE STALLION - CRY BABY (FEAT. DA BABY)
Let's be real, mainstream hip-hop's in kind of a weird space right now. Probably has been for a bit. Between the multi-colored, face tatted SoundCloud rap, the down and dirty #girlboss swagger of Cardi B, and the ever-present girls, guns, and money, same as it ever was, the hip-hop landscape is about as cohesive as a Salvador Dali canvas and makes about as much sense.
Case in point, Meghan Thee Stallion's collab with Da Baby "Cry Baby." What the hell's it about? Is about a guy crawlin', trying to get laid? Is it just about gettin' down and dirty? Who knows? The music video isn't forthcoming…. Just follows Da Baby carrying a cross through a cemetery, throwing cash around a home movie theatre, playing with a little girl.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter much. If you like Meghan Thee Stallion, this is her at her finest, as low-down, freaky, and nasty as you could want. She even makes Nicki Minaj seem chaste, at times. She manages to outfreak Cardi B, the beats rage, Da Baby's flow kicks… what more do you want? If this is the sound of quarantine psychosis, so be it. We're here for it.
CJ - WHOOPTY
In hip-hop, often the more raw the better. Hip-hop, after all, is by, for, and about the streets, meant to be banged out of trunk-mounted 12"s and in impromptu street corner freestyle battles. And while, on one hand, hip-hop becomes the soundtrack for lifestyle aspiration, slung by millionaires from their glass castles and ivory towers, hip-hop will never be able to shake its street roots.
Such is the case with drill music, dribbling out of some of the roughest neighborhoods in the United States. "Whoopty" marks Brooklyn's entrance into the world of drill, as rapper CJ makes a grab for the brass ring after the sad passing of Pop Smoke, which helped bring drill to the masses.
"Whoopty" is as low down and nasty as you could hope for. Music for trap houses and ammo clips, for house parties and getting laid in the front seat of a two-seater. It's as raw as you could hope for, just the way we like it with our hip-hop.
GRIMES - OBLIVION
One of the things that's great about TikTok (but also a little weird) is the way it throws time out of joint. Videos are weighted by popularity and by what the algorithm dictates. It makes it the perfect network for re-discovering old favorites and lost classics.
Long before Grimes was making headlines for birthing extraterrestrial babies with Elon Musk, she was the queen of the indie underworld with her poppy, infectious synthpop. Hot take, but Grimes doesn't get better than Visions, the album that brought her to widespread attention. The catchy, chirpy bop of "Oblivion" sounds just as fresh as it did in 2012 when she was still just a quirky, albeit highly talented, artsy indie musician conjuring synthy indie pop in her bedroom.
It also makes "Oblivion" prime material for TikTok. It's the soundtrack for staring at sparkly shoes or prancing through fields wearing flower crowns in what feels like an eternity ago. It's still a great song and a career highlight, nearly 10 years on.
INTERNET MONEY - LEMONADE (FEAT. GUNNA, DON TOLIVER, NAV)
We've had big room bangers, even though we're all locked in our bedrooms, music for grinding and trap houses and traipsing through fields full of flowers, so let's round out this week's TikTok charts with something chill. "Lemonade" from the hip-hop collective Internet Money is looow and slooow, dragging itself along the floor in an opiated crawl.
You'll catch a contact high, with all this talk of codeine and bars. Luckily, you'll have some of hip-hop's hottest talent, from the team that brought you XXXtencion's "F*ck Love" to Juice WRLD's "Lucid Dreams," and bars, like spoken bars, from Gunna, Don Toliver, and Nav. Jared Goldsmith’s cover of “Lemonade” became a popular sound on the app, too!
There you have it! That concludes this week's TikTok round-up here at We Are: The Guard. You can also follow our Spotify Playlist to follow along with what we're jamming on TikTok! Hope this gives you some ideas for your own TikTok duets and collabs, and check back next Tuesday for more bops!
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.