Riding around in a car with your friends with the window down on a warm summer evening is the perfect time to really embrace the music that is being pushed through the terrible stock speakers on the 98 Jeep that your friends parents bought for them. Hip Hop music has a certain way of uplifting and accentuating any sort of period but nothing’s better than having the sun out and a good beat pulsating in the background. We’re looking at 5 of our favorite summertime tunes and some of the lyrics that make us excited for this 2016 season.
Kendrick Lamar – “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”
“I can feel your energy from two planets away / I got my drink / I got my music / I would share it but today I’m yelling / Bitch don’t kill my vibe…” — Kendrick Lamar
With voice modulation that even Andre 3K could be jealous of, Kendrick Lamar gives us his directions on how to kick back and cool out. His DGAF elements perfectly fit the mood of the season: forget school, forget work, forget anybody who don’t say so. Kendrick speaks often to some of the fear he associated with being out of school and in the dangerous streets of Los Angeles. Threaded throughout these lighter lyrics is deep, searching introspection, which is nothing new from Kendrick. What is new is its marriage to lighter material, similar to the fellow good kid, m.A.A.d city track “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and the sweet sampling of Section.80’s “Rigamortis.” Kendrick gives you lines like, “I can feel the changes, I can feel a new life / I always knew life can be dangerous…You don’t know what pain is.” Perhaps summer isn’t just a season to kill time however we want. Maybe with those extra hours we have on our hands we can think more about what’s really important in our lives. With everything we can learn from Kendrick’s poetry, that might be some of his best advice.
Chance The Rapper – “Cocoa Butter Kisses”
“Cigarettes on cigarettes, my mama think I stank / I got burn holes in my memories, all my homies think it’s dank / I miss my cocoa butter kisses” — Chance The Rapper
Their is a strong “Chance” that “The Coloring Book” could be the rap album of the summer of 2016. But one of Chance’s best works on sunshine and summertime is unique and different, you definitely should make “Cocoa Butter Kisses” part of your seasonal soundtrack. It comes from Chance The Rapper’s excellent 2013 mixtape, “Acid Rap,” a fitting term to describe this song’s far-out beat. Chance’s wandering lyrical subjects match it well, as he talks about everything from the Norse god Thor to Chuck E. Cheese. Chance’s upbeat tone, when coupled with his melodic delivery, somehow turns the quoted lines above from an insult into not just a compliment, but a mark of pride as well. With Twista and Vic Mensa delivering verses after that, this is an all-Chicago affair. You’re getting different flavors all over, starting from the slower Chance and blowing out of the gate with Twista’s quick flow to wrap things up. Perfect for a summertime ride through The Chi.
OutKast – “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”
“Step up in my shoes you crews sitting on Trues / And Vogues for the hoes only when we rolling through / Atlanta skies be blue / The sun is beaming it seeming / That I glisten, rather gleaming” — Andre 3000
With this easy beat, the Atlanta production crew Organized Noize, (consisting of Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown) shows why they are the best in the game when cut with the special sauce of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Three Stacks dials back the complex flow and political messaging enough on this joint for you to bob your head to, and Big Boi is always gonna keep it swinging while talking cars and girls. Their nicknames aren’t the only multitudinous elements of OutKast—so are their sales, as Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik went platinum only a few months after release. These musical brothers turned out to have more staying power than good summer memories. While everyone eagerly awaits Andre 3000’s official return to the music world, Big Boi is rocking across the USA this summer. Sounds like a good opportunity to make more of those lasting summer memories.
Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – “Summertime”
“And think of the summers of the past / Adjust the bass and let the Alpine blast / Pop in my CD let me run a rhyme / Put your car on cruise and lay back because it’s summertime” — Will Smith
This is a little story all about how to make a great summertime beat. You take a sing-along chorus, combine it with lyricism that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and add some easygoing drums that don’t work too hard. All these elements come together perfectly in this song’s music video, which you can look to if you need a little inspiration for summertime activities. It features Jazzy Jeff & Will Smith at a block party, shooting hoops, and busting a move or two at a dance-off, which all fits the obligation-free nature of summer perfectly. And if you’re from Philly like Will, you might recognize city landmarks such as the Schuylkill River, Fairmount Park, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
J. Cole – “Cole Summer”
“’Cause really I am just a born sinner, the opposite of a winner / Cole summer, I predict another winter / Cause I’m finna drop knowledge like a Five Percenter” — J. Cole
Summer isn’t always sunshine and warm weather—there are some rainy days too. One of Kanye West’s few rivals for picking the perfect soul sample, J. Cole’s summery beat will have you snappin’ along to the Lauryn Hill sample in no time, even if his subject matter is rather deep. This perfectly encapsulates the essence of a J Cole, a free flowing and truthful adventure into his days before and after the stardom.