By: Jefferson Marshall
Behind every great athlete comes a great playlist. Music helps athletes prepare and get into the right mindset for competition. Any competitor will tell you music fuels the need for victory. So here are a few essential tracks that have come out in the last couple of years to better the on-field performance of any athlete.
Lil Uzi Vert – “Original (4 of Us)”
Since coming onto the scene in 2013, Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert has a vast catalogue of hype and high-tempo songs. However, “Original (4 of Us)” is a stand-out. Right when the song begins the fast-paced hook sets the tone for the rest of the track. Eventually the beat drops and Uzi spits over the sporadic instrumental where he sprinkles his renowned ad-libs every now-and-then. With the addition of lyrics co-signing Metta World Peace, while also referencing being the header photo for someone else’s girlfriend’s Twitter profile. In a recent interview with XXL Uzi says his music is all about being “lit” and this track is that and more, as the song is the ultimate pump-up tune no matter what anyone says.
Beyonce – Formation
The hit single off of the ‘Lemonade’ album features a dynamic beat produced by Mike WiLL Made-It. The music video shows many visuals referring to the Black Lives Matters movement and the injustice America has seen in the past few years, which is why the song came out a day after what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 21st birthday and one day before what would have been Sandra Bland’s 29th birthday. The lyrics speak heavily on how Beyonce has stayed true to her southern ways despite the fame and fortune: “Earned all this money, but they never take the country out me. I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.”
Drake – “Gyalchester”
With “More Life” being one of the most anticipated projects of the year so far, Drake delivered with a lengthy 22-track ‘playlist’. Most of the songs on the playlist possessed Drake’s signature slow jam or vibey Caribbean sound, but “Gyalchester” is one of the outliers. The extremely bass-heavy tune has Drizzy bragging about his prolific position in the rap game and his ability to afford extremely expensive mink fur coats and Hermes gold bracelets. While utilizing a trap-inspired flow; Drake really goes all out in one of the more strident songs on his newest project.
Drake – “5am in Toronto”
One of the greatest Drake tracks that no one knows about. Dropping as a single a few months before the ‘Nothing Was the Same’ album in 2013, “5am in Toronto” became the second installment in the ‘AM-PM’ series. Unlike most of his tracks, Drake does not input a chorus within the song and goes in for the three-minute-long track. Aside from him mentioning his admiration for a “dread head rapper from New Orleans” (Lil Wayne), his net worth getting him onto the Forbes list, Drizzy also decides to send a subliminal shot towards fellow Torontonian The Weeknd. Despite, not getting the notoriety like most of his work does, it’s a shame that “5am in Toronto” is often overlooked as it’s one of his hardest songs Drake has ever put out.
XXXtentaction – “Look At Me!”
No matter how his name is pronounced, the Soundcloud rapper has a caught a massive wave of popularity these past couple of months. “Look at Me” is credited as the track that started this new-found success. The track is nowhere near similar to any mainstream hip-hop tracks of recent memory it mixes an accent of the punk-rock genre as its accompanied by its heavily vulgar lyrics. The instrumental is essentially a sped-up version of Lil Dicky’s “Too High”. Nonetheless, the Florida rapper makes the beat his own as he lets his aggressively expressed lyrics fly, and really cranks it up a notch on the second verse. Despite being currently held in jail on numerous charges including assault, and robbery; “Look at Me” reached 61 on the Billboard charts as of March 2017.
J Cole – “Immortal”
In the most lyrically enriched songs on this list, Cole paints a picture of life and death in the projects while never being able to escape through the prospective of his drug-slanging friend. The track carries a methodical pace to it, but hits hard with Cole’s enthusiastic delivery. The message that Jermaine is trying to convey does not fall short as the theme of the marginalization of African-Americans in the song is heard loud and clear. Cole states “They tellin’ (us) to sell dope, rap or go to NBA, in that order. It’s that sort of thinkin’ that been keepin’ (us) chained at the bottom and hanged.” This is one of the many socially-conscious lyrics heard throughout the album that shines a light on the conflicts within today’s black communities.
Calvin Harris – This is What You Came For (ft. Rihanna)
With the help of Rihanna providing the vocals, this Calvin Harris song earned the achievement of going double platinum in the U.S. The song starts off with a soft medley which eventually leads into a satisfying instrumental drop for the chorus. This song carries that upbeat top 40 flavor which makes it perfect for cardio exercises.
Meek Mill – “Litty” (ft. Torey Lanez)
Despite Meek Mill’s recent misfortune (i.e. Drake beef, Nicki Manaj breakup, falling off his mother’s front porch), he teamed up with Torey Lanez on “Litty” and made one of the biggest bangers of 2016.
Torey Lanez who also has had a quarrel with Drake provides the hook with his Travis Scott-like auto tune. Both artists equip the track with some memorable bars, in Mill’s second verse, he compares his now ex-girlfriend Nicki Manaj to pop sensation Mariah Carey: “I marry Nicki, still married to money, she rich as Mariah, I carry the money and [screw] a deposit, I bury the money.” Not to be outdone, the 24-year-old Lanez confronts the people on the internet who tend to make fun of his receding hair: “[People] be talking ’bout my hair line I laugh about it, I be feelin’ them. See, we both be making M’s. They be making memes, I be making millions.” All in all, the song does what it’s set out to do with its hefty beat and lyrics filled with gloating.
Torey Lanez – “DopeMan Go”
New Toronto 2 was one of the two mixtapes Lanez dropped on New Year’s Day 2017. “DopeMan Go” appeared third on the tracklist and consists of a catchy bridge that has a sound of a trap themed nursery rhyme which is followed by an impactful hook that accelerates the well-devolved instrumental. The Brampton-native, uses his versatility that has been displayed in his past work as he sings the bridge and raps trap-influenced bars in his verses. Lanez might not be the most popular Toronto-based out there at the moment, but fresh off releasing his debut album last summer and the success of these recent mixtapes Torey looks to be on the right path.
Brantley Gilbert – “Kick It in the Sticks”
For the country enthusiasts, Brantley Gilbert brings his trademark raspy southern twang and created a ballad of what it is like to spend a night-out in the south. The guitars really complement the aggressive vibe in the track, especially when the song breaks down to the guitar solo towards the end. The lyrics follow the basis of most country songs as it mentions trucks, beer, and just having a good ol’ time.