If you’re a college student like me, you know exactly how stressful the last weeks of the semester can be. With projects, exams and papers, you probably don’t even actually read all the assigned chapters in the book because you don’t have any time! Especially if you already feel burnt out. Sometimes I feel like the only thing that keeps me sane is the 10 to 15 minutes worth of tunes I can squeeze in between classes and riding the bus. Fortunately, for spring semester students, summer is just around the corner. Instead of listening to sappy songs to match how much college sucks, I play music that excites me for the break. Catchy, up-tempo, hype-party music puts me in the vacation mindset and right now, the new west coast rappers are the masters of it. The new wave of Cali rappers are droppin’ serious street and club anthems that will be the soundtrack to all the pool parties, beer-pong tournaments, car rides to the beach, and all the other non-school fun stuff.
1. “Time Of Your Life” – Kid Ink
From being indie to signing with a major label, Los Angeles’s Kid Ink proved to his fans and the industry that he could be commercial without sacrificing his artistic integrity. Back in January of 2014, the overly-tattooed MC released his second studio album My Own Lane, which has two hit records, “Show Me” and “Main Chick.” But true fans knew he had hit singles in him before the major deal. During his independent grind, Kid Ink released his debut album Up & Away in 2012, which featured “Time Of Your Life.” This is by far one of Kid Ink’s most underrated and best songs. The airy-space feel I get from the shuffling synths and soft angelic piano keys is like none other. I’m not even exaggerating, when the beat kicks it’s like I’m gracefully flying through a partly cloudy sky. The longer I’m flying, the more worries get left behind. Although this song has the overly-used generic rap/r&b concept of wooing a girl and showing her a good time, Ned Cameron’s production and Kid Ink’s well-put chorus and delivery makes for one of the smoothest songs I’ve ever heard from a new Cali rapper.
2. “Left, Right” – YG
You can’t talk west coast party bangers without bringing up YG. The young Compton rapper is undeniably having the biggest year of his career. With five mix tapes and a platinum single under his belt, he’s solidifying his position in the new west movement. On March 18, 2014, the young gangsta released his debut album My Krazy Life, which has plenty of catchy street anthems. The song that stands out most is “Left, Right,” produced by DJ Mustard. The song perfectly represents what YG and Mustard do best, bringing back the nostalgic 90’s L.A. gangsta rap feel with a new millennium bounce. Mustard and YG are definitely the closest thing to this generation’s next Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The chemistry between rapper and producer is like none other – they sound meant for each other. The best thing about this song is that it sounds far from friendly. Unlike most radio rap singles, “Left, Right” is very in-your-face and brash. The violent head-nodding orchestra, crunchy snares and bouncy clap make this both a street and club anthem. YG’s smoothly-toned chorus and Mustard yelling at all the girls on how to shake it makes this a unique summer smash. Put on the black Converses and let the ’64 Impalas roll out.
3. “College Drop” – Sage The Gemini
Arguably the new face of the Bay Area is San Francisco’s own, Sage The Gemini. The 21-year-old rapper has two successful chart topping hits, “Gas Pedal” and “Red Nose”. Both songs are wildly viral thanks to Vine and YouTube. Without a doubt, Sage’s signature bay-area tempo contributed to the popularity of hyphy music. His debut album Remember Me released on March 25, 2014, and almost every song is 110% bay-area’d out with repetitive claps and up-tempo keys. My favorite song on the album is “College Drop,” and from how the beat was made to the single title, it sounds single-worthy. The hard fast-paced claps drizzling over the bouncy keys would make the most timid person in the club want to show out in the middle of the dance floor. Sage’s catchy hook tells both male and female college students to gon’ get down, which is brilliant because that’s his target audience and the people who would go stupid when it plays. Including yours truly.