As the school year winds down, and many of us start to look forward to the summer, music often changes as we do in terms of the season. For example, many of the songs released in the dead of winter are somber or harsh in tone and subject matter. But as for the ones that come out around this time of year, they tend to be catchier and more pop-influenced. So, with that in mind, this edition of the playlist will focus on 5 of the biggest “summer jams” ever, with a special lens on the hip-hop genre.
Song #1 – Nicki Minaj – Super Bass (2011)
After three strong singles from her debut album, Pink Friday (“Your Love”, “Right Thru Me” and “Roman’s Revenge”), Minaj reached the pinnacle of success when she released Super Bass in April 2011. Backed by viral videos of popstars like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez rapping along to the song, along with its infectious catchiness, the song skyrocketed up the Billboard charts. The song remains her most successful and identifiable one to date.
Song #2 – Big Sean – My Last f. Chris Brown (2011)
Some would say that 2011 was Big Sean’s year. He released his debut album, had some popular songs, and became a very popular mainstream act with crossover appeal. This song was the catalyst for those things being able to happen. Despite not many mainstream listeners knowing who Big Sean was, the addition of Brown on the chorus and the No I.D. produced beat allowed the song to remain at or near the top of urban radio for months.
Song #3 – Kanye West – Can’t Tell Me Nothing (2007)
By the time Graduation was released in late 2007, Kanye West had become arguably the most popular rapper on the planet. He had released two critically acclaimed (and best-selling) albums in College Dropout and Late Registration. This was the first single off his third album, and it managed to become the most popular hip-hop song of 2007 in terms of radio play and single sales.
Song #4 – Jay Z – Dirt Off Your Shoulder (2004)
In 2004, Jay Z announced his impending retirement from rap, which he would go through with following the release of “The Black Album”. He later rescinded this remark and returned to music, though not full time. Perhaps the seeming finality of the album helped to promote its singles, as nearly all of them reached the Billboard top 10. While The Black Album is not Jay Z’s most successful (this may just be a matter of time, as it’s already 4x platinum), it was critically acclaimed and revered by fans.
Song #5 –Lil Wayne – Got Money (2008)
Unquestionably the most polarizing figure in the genre, Lil Wayne is either loved or hated by his audience. While he has many detractors, his fans are some of the most loyal in music and they proved it in 2008. The Carter III became Lil Wayne’s most successful album behind the strength of it selling a million copies in its first week out. Nearly every single from the album was hugely popular, and even picking one for this playlist was difficult considering the popularity of the album.