The start of summer is officially here! It’s a time for making memories, and here at TUC we believe the best memories come with the best soundtracks. Check out these ten songs, perfectly suited for every situation you’ll find yourself in this summer.
Playboi Carti – wokeuplikethis* (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)
When to play it: As soon as you wake up
Hopefully it won’t be hard to understand the first selection on our list. Playboi Carti’s staking his claim for artist of the summer, after dropping his self-titled debut mixtape in April. He’ll be playing shows across the country all summer, hitting 35 cities on his first ever headlining tour.
Initially released as a single leading up to the mixtape, “wokeuplikethis*” is Carti’s warning shot to his imitators in the rap game. Set over a victorious, energetic beat, it’ll have you feeling on top of the world from the moment you open your eyes in the morning.
Smino – Anita
When to play it: Picking up summer bae for the first time
You know the feeling. You’re about to take that special one on a date for the first time, and your brain is tying itself in knots trying to figure out how to impress them. What better way to shield your nervousness than letting a professional do all the wooing for you?
Smino’s debut album blkswn is one of the best projects of 2017 thus far, gaining him much deserved recognition. He followed it up with a nationwide tour, performing several shows on crutches in a walking boot after fracturing his foot at the second show. On “Anita,” clever lines like “You giving me Erykah vibes/Bah I do wanna tell you something/You make December feel like summer” have the kind of wordplay that are sure to put a smile on your crush’s face, even if you can’t.
Usher – U Don’t Have to Call
When to play it: Driving down the coast
A throwback to a simpler time, a time when it was normal to purchase an artist’s album instead of streaming it from a third party. Usher’s timeless classic needs no introduction, as the beat is still just as infectious more than 15 years after it’s initial release. Put this track on in the car and take a drive down memory lane.
Elujay – Golden
When to play it: At the beach
Elujay has all the traits of a star in the making. His 2016 album Jentrify encapsulates his hometown of Oakland, intended to retain the true essence of the city as the effects of gentrification begin to take hold. He flows with confidence over silky smooth beats, holding your attention with endearing lines like “You that nug, you that nug, you that bug in my blunt” on “Flagrant.”
On “Golden,” his only release thus far in 2017, he comes through with a song for the summer, a vibrant, joyous single with an irresistible funk. Play this track while lying on the beach, and see how long it takes before you leap out of the sand and make a beeline for the water.
Kamasi Washington – Truth
When to play it: While you’re bored at home
Summer’s great. Really, it is. Even still, there’s bound to be stretches of boredom, when you’re stuck at the house without an appealing activity in sight.
Insert Kamasi Washington’s 13 minute-plus single, “Truth.” The brilliant saxophonist embarks on a euphonic journey through jazz, repeatedly building the magnitude of the music just to strip it back down to its roots. Instead of jealously watching your friends’ Snapchat stories and mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, queue up “Truth” and let your mind wander to the music. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, or if you’re willing to admit you won’t be leaving the couch for the entirety of the day, follow it up with The Epic, Kamasi’s three-part magnum opus that clocks in at nearly three hours.
Wale – My Love (featuring Major Lazer, WizKid, and Dua Lipa)
When to Play it: At the pool party
Wale’s career may be forever linked with those of Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and J. Cole. The four rappers rose to the forefront of the hip-hop world around the same time, but in 2017 Wale sits a tier below that elite trio in the eyes of many. Whether that’s fair or not is a debate on its own, but it’s a fact Wale himself is aware of, and has struggled with in his music for some time. Even J. Cole spoke on it on his single “False Prophets,” advising Wale to focus on his many loyal fans and the successes he’s had in his career rather than bemoaning his place in the game.
On his latest project, Shine, Wale seems to have heeded his friend’s wisdom, appearing more joyful and content in his lyrics than in previous albums. He credits his newborn daughter for helping him learn to appreciate his blessings, singing on “Smile,” “I got my family and I got my squad/And as long as they got me, then I’ll be just fine.”
“My Love,” the lead single from the album, condenses all of Wale’s newfound jubilance into a four minute jolt of energy. It’s a global song for a global world, with features from WizKid and Dua Lipa set over Afrobeat influenced production by Major Lazer. Suitable for the whole family, it’s what belly flopping off the diving board into refreshing, chlorine-infused water sounds like.
Rihanna – Kiss it Better – KAYTRANADA Edition
When to play it: At the pregame
Following her critically acclaimed album Anti, Rihanna tabbed a slew of producers and DJs to remix several of the hits for the dance floor. For “Kiss it Better,” she enlisted the help of Kaytranada, who came through with a groovy flip of her smooth vocals.
Kaytranada brings the bounce to the song, incorporating his signature electronic/R&B sound. It’s the first time the two have joined forces on a track, and he proves more than capable of meshing his talent with hers. Play this track as you’re pregaming for a night out, and warm up your dancing feet early.
Bryson Tiller – Self-Made
When to play it: The turn-up
Bryson Tiller snuck True To Self into the world on the same day fellow artists Lil Yachty and Gucci Mane had planned to release their albums, and ended up outselling them both in the first week. The standout track from the lengthy album might be “Self-Made,” a hard hitting testament to his own successes. Bryson name drops several luxurious brands on the hook, boasting about how his own work made it possible for him to rock them all. No matter what threads you’re pulling up to the party in, however, the booming 808’s will have you feeling like the biggest baller in the building.
alcordo – No Good
When to play it: After the party
alcordo’s music library is by far the smallest on this list. Her SoundCloud account shows only two songs, one of which is a cover of a few classic Erykah Badu records, “Window Seat” and “Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long.” The other track, released towards the end of May, paints a mellow picture of heartbreak, produced by JMSN, the founder of White Room Records which she is signed to.
The downtempo, oddly soothing song sounds best when the party is over and all the unwanted guests have wandered off in search of food or other drunken pleasures. Switch up the mood, and let the Canadian crooner serenade you into relaxation.
TUT – G35 (feat. Isaiah Rashad)
When to play it: On a late night drive
Chattanooga’s finest link up on a track for the vibers, featuring a hazy groove to mellow you out in the nighttime. True to the southern tradition of showing love for their cars in music, TUT dedicates this track to his 2003 Infiniti G35, which he revealed in an interview with Billboard was the car his mother gave him when he was 16.
TUT frequently speaks on religion in his music due to his background in the church. His 2015 album, aptly titled Preacher’s Son (his father is a Bishop who preaches at Olivet Baptist Church in Chattanooga) touches on his upbringing and his dichotomous life, prevalent in songs such as “Holy Water” and “Sunday Service.” On “G35,” he speaks on this as well, as a young friend tries in vain to buy weed from him before asking to pray for him.
TDE’s Isaiah Rashad starts the song off right with a smooth verse, passing off the mic to TUT at the end without missing a beat. Together they form an impressive duo, creating a track that’s at its best when its knocking from your car’s sound system.
If you like what you heard above, make sure to check out TUC’s “Summer Sunshine” playlist, where you’ll find many more songs that need to be in your rotation this summer.