The Top 50 Hip Hop Songs of July (Submit Yours for August/September) Co-Owner, Journalist and Rap Artist AWKWORD Curates the Top 50 Hip Hop Songs of July (Free Stream via Audiomack)

July was looking good. I'd never seen so much Protest Music put out in a one-month period in my whole life --and from apolitical artists (e.g., Hot Boy Turk), too. Hip Hop was/is going back to its roots, with a big middle finger to the Man... But, then, on the last day of the month, the day before my 35th birthday, I lost one of my oldest and best friends, New York City legend Andreis Costa aka GuessWho? aka YME. So, I start this month off by paying tribute to my fallen brother, with a 're-release' of an old record from his group No Question?, also consisting of Whatzisface? and super-producer Harry Fraud. Fittingly, I selected "T&C Surf Design" from the crew's 'Nintendo Mixtape', a song that starts: "These cops is coming / Better start to running / When you see 'them boys...'" So, the theme persists -- about half the songs this month are political, and timely in addressing inequality, injustice, racism and police brutality.

'Gangster' rappers Uncle Murda and Maino make waves with "Hands Up"; Jay-Z even gets political, releasing "Spiritual" from the vault; West Coasters Mistah FAB and Fashawn contribute with the touching "6 Shots" and "Mother AmeriKKKa," respectively; Kemba (fka YC The Cynic) returns for the second month with two more creative Frank Drake-produced socially conscious cuts; Nas/Erykah Badu and Swizz Beatz/Scarface drop iconic collaborations; and newcomer Nick Grant exposes stereotyping on my favorite record of the month, "Black Boy/White Boy." 

Best playlist yet. Stream below. (The Top 100 Songs of 2016 drops in January!)

#RIPYME. Legends Never Die.


  1. No Question? (Whatzisace?, GuessWho? [RIP] & Harry Fraud) – T&C Surf Design (Them Boys) [prod. by Harry Fraud]
  2. Uncle Murda ft. Maino & Jay Watts – Hands Up [prod. by Reefa & 12 Keyz]
  3. Jarren Benton ft. OnCue & Big Rube – Scared [prod. by The Coalition]
  4. Noochie – Jerome [prod. by RaRa & Mr. Williams]
  5. Cassidy – Let the Truth be Told
  6. Mistah FAB – 6 Shots [prod. by The Mekanix]
  7. Daylyt – Pokemon Lives Matter
  8. King Dreams – Red & Blue
  9. Fashawn – Mother AmeriKKKa [prod. by Hecktik & Jukebawks]
  10. Nas ft. Erykah Badu – This Bitter Land [prod. by JB Bontemps]
  11. Jay-Z – Spiritual [prod. by Detail]
  12. Swizz Beatz ft. Scarface – Sad News [prod. by Swizz Beatz]
  13. Kemba – Brown Skin Jesus [prod. by Frank Drake]
  14. Kemba – Already [prod. by Frank Drake]
  15. Nick Grant – Black Boy/White Boy
  16. Termanology ft. Saigon – We’re Both Wrong [prod. by Q-Tip]
  17. Golden Age (Do D.A.T.MaliciousLee) – What’s A Black Life Worth? [prod. by MaliciousLee]
  18. Joe Budden – Freedom (Freestyle) [prod. by Jonny Coffer, Beyonce & Just Blaze]
  19. Hot Boy Turk – Justice or Else [prod. by JoeyDidThis]
  20. Pop Dollarz – Walk With Me
  21. DJ Greg Street ft. Akon, B.o.B. & Big K.R.I.T. – I Am Somebody
  22. Sean Brown – Big Dreams [prod. by Crazy T]
  23. Michael Cobbs ft. KRS-One – More Love (Remix)
  24. Kosha Dillz ft. Matisyahu – Dodging Bullets [prod. by Yuc Beats]
  25. Team Bangah (Ray Vegas & Ray Bangah) – Middle of a War [prod. by YBMuzik]
  26. Jarren Benton – My Word [prod. by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League & Royce Music Group]
  27. SITES (Canada) ft. Royce da 5’9” & Bowza (UK) – The Pain [prod. by WADE C]
  28. Rockie Fresh – Lies and Lullabies
  29. AllttA (Mr. J. Medeiros & 20syl) – The Woods
  30. Torii Wolf & DJ Premier – Shadows Crawl [prod. by DJ Premier]
  31. Danny Matos ft. Joie Giordano – Fought the Devil [prod. by Rusty Mack & The Red Walrus]
  32. SteiN – Oh Well [prod. by Statik Selektah]
  33. Saint Joe ft. West Philly Freck & Hypnautic – Being Real [prod. by Dialectic]
  34. Kembe X – Talk Back [prod. by Hippie Sabotage]
  35. Lupe Fiasco – Pick Up The Phone
  36. Neef Buck ft. Raheem Devaughn – Pretty Thang [prod. by Jahlil Beats]
  37. TAO & Eric Heron ft. Christina Carte – Time [prod. by TAO]
  38. Wil Akogu ft. Mike Wavvs – Fade to Black [prod. by Jabari Rayford, Dougy OGC, Mike Wavvs & Wolfgang]
  39. Remy Ma – My Shit [prod. by D Stackz]
  40. Mister Miles – Bars
  41. Light the Emcee – Live Pro [prod. by DJ Premier]
  42. SPNDA ft. Guilty Simpson & Chilla Jones – Give N Take [prod. by Hash Gordn]
  43. The Other Guys ft. Skyzoo – Realer Than Most
  44. Beanie Sigel & Jadakiss – Dinero [prod. by Buda Da Future & Grandz Muzik]
  45. Planet Asia – Feliz Navidad [prod. by DirtyDiggs]
  46. DJ Skizz ft. Roc Marciano & Conway – Bosses [prod. by DJ Skizz & Frank Dukes]
  47. Bozack Morris ft. Conway & WestSide Gunn – Never Change [prod. by Bozack Morris]
  48. Benny (Black Soprano Family) ft. WestSide Gunn & Conway – Tom Ford Socks
  49. WestSide Gunn – Peter Luger [prod. by Daringer]
  50. Daniel Son – Rum Cake [prod. by Vic Grimes]


To have your song considered for feature, follow these steps:

1. Upload your song to Audiomack.
2. Email the Audiomack link to AWKWORD.
3. Wait and see.

New Music from Skyzoo, Rapper Big Pooh & Awkword

Industry Insider: 5 Questions with Hip Hop's Jack of All Trades, Curtiss King

Curtiss King sets an example for artists of all ages and at all stages.

Curtiss King embodies the age old term "jack of all trades". As a teenager, growing up in Carson, CA, Curtiss made the decision that he would not only pursue his passion for rap, but also learn the technicalities of production, engineering, graphic design, and marketing. Residing in the Inland Empire, Curtiss's music embodies the "feel good" essence of the 90s, intertwined with a refreshingly raw appeal and inspiring contemporary edge. His credits are nothing short of impressive, including artists such as: Compton native Kendrick Lamar (TDE), Ab-Soul (TDE), E-40, MURS (Strange Music) and super producer Hit-Boy. Curtiss continues to reinvent himself through his music and constant output of value for his fellow artists and producers through artist 1 on 1 coaching, online tutorials, and public speaking. --

1. How do you juggle all the different jobs? Describe how you manage your time, how you determine when to work on what? 

One word: Discipline. Before every week I designate different days for different jobs. Monday - Social Media Scheduling, Tuesday - Artist Marketing & Producer Motivation Video Days, Wednesday - Rapper Days, Thursday - Make Beats and Piano Lessons, Friday - Make Beats and Do Weekly Sales Analysis. I wake up every morning and make a realistic list of the things that I want to accomplish that day. I set short and clear goals for each task and get to work. Everyday I workout, eat fresh foods, and read to make sure my body and mind can perform at top levels for these tasks.

2. Realistic goals, organization, and physical and mental health -- and I know you offer one-on-one services to help guide artists who need help in these and other areas. Is this a major source of income for you? Or, is there another area of your business that is most profitable?

At the moment my production is the most successful part of my business financially. As a rapper and producer I think it's the most successful for a few reasons. Artists in our industry have a bigger void of great production than they do a void of great feature rap verses. So the need and the demand of me at the present time is predominantly my production at Another factor is that I've worked with the likes of respected artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, E-40, and MURS so their influence obviously translates to more eyes and potential clients.

3. So, if it's not the money, why do you work so hard to help other independent artists? 

Editors note: A twitter back-and-forth between Curtiss and an associate, with that associate likening Curtiss's current efforts to those of the late, great Praverb, led to this interview for Praverb's site.

I work hard to provide authentic value to my fellow independent artists for many reasons. Firstly, I know what it felt like when I first began making music and tirelessly searched the internet for REAL information that could help me. I wish in my early days I had a mentor or a big brother to help me avoid certain pitfalls that I encountered. Secondly, I have learned that the way to ensure my own success is to be of service to the people. Thirdly, it fills me up to help good people. There is no feeling in the world better than to see or hear about someone breathing a sigh of relief because someone like me gave a damn enough to help them. I have read so many books, articles, and listened to hours of podcast and what I continuously heard about was how every one of these millionaires had teaching as one of their main sources of income. THAT was a light bulb moment where it made me question some of the ethics and ideologies in Hip Hop. We don't teach each other like we should. We look down on the teachers in our genre. Why is that the OGs compete with the young heads instead of helping them clime? Why is that the young heads won't bless the old heads with game about Soundcloud or new social media knowledge that could help them? Both sides have legitimate arguments on why they don't, but no matter the reason this is a problem that needs to be solved for the preservation of the culture we all love. If I can spark the idea or the conversation to begin changing this mentality, I've done my job.

4. That's beautiful, my brother. Now, since faith played a significant role in the life of Praverb and remains important to many of our readers, how does religion/faith play into your day to day life? 

Religion and Faith are literally the backbone of everything that I do. I talk to God often through prayer. I ask questions and I feel that he answers them in different ways, but he always answers them. I try my best to go to church every Sunday and pay my tithes. My life has been a rollercoaster of trials and triumphs that only a higher power could create. My life has been a 4 Runner driven on the gas of faith. Many of the principles of value and success that I have found in business related books all reference the Bible and I understand why. I'm never one to judge, but I don't know how any man or woman can attain true success and not believe in a higher power. True success comes as a result of strong faith, love, and understanding. Faith and understanding are at the foundation of God's love. I look around at where I am today in comparison to where I was at when I was 17 and I know God is real.

5. So, other than more brothers like you and Praverb, what does Hip Hop need more of? And what is the biggest lesson you've learned that all up-and-coming artists should heed?

Hip Hop needs more compassion for one another and leadership that truly understands what it means to be valuable and to give value. For a genre that was built on the foundation of giving a voice to the unheard, compassion is imperative to the success of the unheard. For me compassion comes in the form of teaching. I'm not a 'teacher' in the traditional sense with a classroom and whiteboard, but I am someone that knows what they are talking, has proof of concept, and wants to be of value to his peers. The biggest lesson I've learned was that failure doesn't exist, only exciting opportunities to learn something new. Also that GIVING VALUE isn't something you have to wait until you are rich to do. Value is something a 17 year old producer who is just starting off can give his 12 year old brother who wants to learn how to make beats. Up and coming artists, your success will not come down to how great you rap or make beats. The success you attain or the money you make in your life will be dependent upon the size of the problems you solve and how many people you solve those problems for. Be a giver and you will receive everything you desire in this world. I know it sounds crazy, but let these words sit with you and do what feels RIGHT, young creators.

Listen to Curtiss King's Raging Waters LP:

Look Back: Indie Rap in June (Top 50 Playlist)

I went through all the rap music uploaded to Audiomack in the month of June, picked out the 50 best songs, and created a playlist that flows from start to finish. Don’t let them tell you that Hip Hop is dead. We got beautiful genre-blending records, work from overseas in Africa, Europe and Latin America, a few throwbacks to the golden era, and even some protest music. Some of the artists, like De La Soul, Snoop Dogg and DMX, have been around for years, and some are new — proof that all hope isn’t lost. The top 10 highlights for me include:
  1. Young Lito and Troy Ave’s off-key singalong, “I Love This Game”
  2. The soulful “Don’t Forget ‘Em” remix from OLD Kanye and his former Chi-town collaborator Consequence
  3. The rock-influenced song of protest “Say When” from THEY. 
  4. Skyzoo’s genius response to Jay-Z’s “Friend or Foe ’98”
  5. Some non-violent rap confrontation from Diabolic and Talib Kweli, as well as Hus Kingpin and Rozewood talking to their (former) friends from Griselda
  6. The triumphant return of YC the Cynic, as Kemba (2 tracks)
  7. A bold effort from Vic Mensa, with Le1f, Lil B, Halsey and Malik Yusef
  8. More work from my “I Am” cohorts in Nigeria and Zambia, Modenine and Holstar
  9. New, classic ILL BILL
  10. My song of the month, the “1st” remix from Torii Wolf and DJ Premier, featuring Dilated Peoples

  1. De La Soul ft. Snoop Dogg – “Pain”
  2. Russ – “DiMaggio” [prod. by Russ]
  3. Young Lito ft. Troy Ave – “I Love This Game” [prod. by Robbie Nova & Yankee]
  4. Consequence Kanye West – “Don’t Forget ‘Em (Remix)” [prod. by Kanye West]
  5. JAQUEBEATZ – “N.A.S.A.” [prod. by JAQEBEATZ]
  6. THEY. – “Say When”
  7. APSPDR+ ft. SZANemo Achida & Moruf – “Bed (Reenacted)” [prod. by APSPDR+]
  8. KoS [Ghana] – “Certainly” [prod. by Bliz]
  9. Torii Wolf ft. Dilated Peoples (Evidence Rakaa Iriscience) – “1st (Remix)” [prod. by DJ Premier]
  10. Vic Mensa ft. Le1fHalseyLil B & Malik Yusef – “Free Love” [prod. by Papi Beatz]
  11. Kutt Calhoun ft. The Jokerr – “Alive” [prod. by DJ Pain 1]
  12. Modenine [Nigeria] ft. Maka [Nigeria] – “No Matter What” [prod. by Black Intelligence [Nigeria]]
  13. Holstar [Zambia] ft. Jane Jonazi [Zambia] – “Nipempako” [prod. by Kati [Zambia]]
  14. Jon Connor ft. Ali Vegas – “It’s Gonna Come (Remix)” [prod. by Jon Connor]
  15. Reek Da Villian – “Trouble Waters” [prod. by Sarah Jay]
  16. Donte Peace – “D.R.U.G.S.” [prod. by MaxTrax]
  17. Hussle Crowe – “B.L.A.C.K. Unity” [prod. by Ear 2 Tha Beat]
  18. Kemba (FKA YC the Cynic) – “Already” [prod. by Frank Drake]
  19. Kemba – “The New Black Theory” [prod. by Frank Drake]
  20. Napoleon Da Legend – “Time is the Enemy” [prod. by Quantic]
  21. Thelonious Martin ft. Joey Purp – “Bomaye” [prod. by Thelonious Martin]
  22. DMX – “Blood Red” [prod. by Divine Bars]
  23. Bishop Lamont ft. Ryu Apathy – “Un-American” [prod. by Paul Cabbin]
  24. ILL BILL – “Make Them Die Slowly” [prod. by DJ Skizz]
  25. Superanfor (Colombia) ft. Planet Asia – “Respeta”
  26. Diabolic – “IneKwelity” (Talib Kweli Diss) [prod. by Junior Makhno]
  27. Talib Kweli – “You Tried It” (Diabolic Diss) [prod. by J. Rawls]
  28. MindsOne (KON Sci, Tronic, Noumenon & Slim Deluxe) & DJ Iron – “Follow The Light” [prod. by DJ Iron]
  29. Ugly Heroes (Verbal KentRed Pill & Apollo Brown) – “Today Right Now” [prod. by Apollo Brown]
  30. A-F-R-O & Marco Polo ft. Shylow – “Long Time Coming” [prod. by Marco Polo]
  31. MC White Owl – “Pickle Juice” [prod. by Jakk Wonders (South Africa)]
  32. Kuna (Italy) ft. K-Squeez – “So Cold” [prod. by Kuna]
  33. Oun-P ft. Styles P – “Fake Niggas” [prod. by The Cratez]
  34. Troy S.L.U.G.S. – “Under the Street Light”
  35. Aaron Cohen – “Off The Ground” [prod. by Kemal]
  36. Kembe X – “Excellence” [prod. by Hippie Sabotage]
  37. Black El ft. Black Josh – “Getaway” [prod. by Durkin]
  38. Gensu Dean & Denmark Vessey – “The Meek” [prod. by Gensu Dean]
  39. Maffew Ragazino – “Snowing in Jerusalem” [prod. by Sebb Bash]
  40. Cousin Stizz – “500 Horses” [prod. by Lil Rich]
  41. Napoleon Da Legend – “Fist of the North Star” [prod. by The Alchemist]
  42. PhybaOptikz ft. Daniel Son & SmooVth – “Fools Gold” [prod. by Giallo Point]
  43. WestSide Gunn ft. WestSide Pootie – “SummerSlam 88” [prod. by Your Old Droog]
  44. Ras Beats ft. Roc Marciano – “Wit No Pressure” [prod. by Ras Beats]
  45. Killer Ben & DirtyDiggs ft. Phil the Agony & Roc Marciano – “Cristal” [prod. by DirtyDiggs]
  46. Planet Asia – “SciThug” [prod. by BudaMonk]
  47. Big Twins ft. Planet Asia – “Last Man Standing” [prod. by Twiz the Beat Pro]
  48. Big Twins ft. Rozewood Hus Kingpin – “Power” [prod. by Twiz the Beat Pro]
  49. Hus Kingpin & Rozewood – “Love Day”
  50. Skyzoo – “Friend or Foe Pt. 3”

Guest Post: Why So Few Hip Hop Artists Find Success

Written by Darius Burgan of Artist Shortcut / Edited by AWKWORD

Thanks to the internet, Hip Hop has grown from a label-dependent industry to one full of opportunities for those willing to go after them. Recording equipment is more affordable, effective marketing platforms are more accessible, and contacting industry professionals is easier than ever. So, why is there still such a small percentage of Hip Hop artists who've become successful? 

The answer to that question is simpler than you think, and it has nothing to do with lack of talent or money.


You can spend all of your time chasing and trying to catch the cat (fame, money, success, etc.), but chances are, you’ll never catch it. The cat is too fast and will always get away from you at the last minute. But what if, instead of chasing the cat, you create cat food (value) and let the cat come to you? 

This is why so few Hip Hop artists become successful. 

They’re too busy chasing success (the cat), instead of creating genuine relationships (cat food), learning how to become successful (cat food), and putting in the work (cat food) necessary to attract success.


I get a lot of emails from hip-hop artist asking these questions:

  • How do I get more views on my Soundcloud?
  • How do I get more followers?
  • How do I get more downloads of my mixtape?
  • How do I sell my music to people?
It makes me sad. When I see these types of emails, I know the artist is chasing success. They’re worried about stats and numbers, when they should be worried about their audience. Views DON'T make you successful, followers DON'T make you successful, and downloads DON'T make you successful. 

Stats, and any money you earn, are a RESULT of the WORK you’re putting in. 

Better questions to ask:

  • How do I add value for my audience?
  • How do I build relationships with influential people?
  • Where can I find educational business, marketing and communications information?
Those are better questions to ask, because:

  • By adding value for your audience, you can enhance fan loyalty and increase engagement. Fan loyalty and increased engagement will attract more Soundcloud plays, followers, downloads, customers, etc.
  • By building relationships with influential people, you increase the amount of opportunities available to you. More opportunities can attract more fans and money.
  • By learning how to become successful through educational information, you’ll begin to learn how to add value to your audience, build relationships with people, and a ton more. 

I’ve listed a few tips below that will help you start attracting success, instead of chasing it. However, before these tips can be helpful, you’ll have to identify whether you've  been chasing success. To find out, simply take a step back and evaluate yourself. Whenever you’re about to do something for your music career, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” 

Your answer should always fall into one of the following categories.

Building Relationships

Relationships are so key that without them you won’t be successful. Now, don’t feel bad or hopeless if you don’t have a lot of relationships with people in the industry. These take a while to build, but once you have them, they’re priceless.

Here are a few tips for building relationships:

Professionally introduce yourself.

Find the email address for 10 influential people in Hip Hop and send them an email introducing yourself. Don’t promote or link your music anywhere in the email. Your main goal is to build a relationship. I usually recommend keeping the email focused on what you can do for them.
If you don’t get a response within 7-14 days, follow up with them. People are busy. It’s possible that your message just got lost in the inbox and your follow-up email will help remind them.

Support them.

You want fans and, likewise, the people with whom you're trying to connect want them too. When you see them post new content, share it on social media, leave a comment and show support. They’ll notice, and this will make connecting with them much easier down the road.

Connect with others in their circle(s).

This is one of my secret techniques. If you want to build a relationship with someone who's hard to reach, focus on building relationships with people around them, and you’ll eventually be able to connect with the hard-to-reach person.

The key to this technique is to build genuine relationships. Do NOT try to build a relationship with someone just so you can get to someone else. That’s the wrong way to use this technique and it’s going to make you look foolish. Only connect with someone if you feel it’s a win-win relationship for both of you.


As the saying goes, “the more you learn, the more you earn.” The more you understand about business, marketing, finance, communications, etc., the more you’ll understand success. 

Success in Hip Hop is not a secret, and everything you need to know can be found in books, on the internet, and from others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to look stupid. The only stupid person is the one who had a question but did not ask it.

Here are a few resources to check out for learning more about becoming a successful hip-hop artist:


In addition to dreaming big, you must put in the work necessary to become successful; and you can't be afraid to fail. A multi-millionaire once told me, “The faster you fail, the faster you get it out of the way and succeed,” and it’s a wonderful quote by which to live. If you’re not making mistakes and failing, you may not be dreaming big enough.


Have you ever found yourself chasing success instead of doing the things necessary to attract success? If so, share your story in the comments and tell us what advice you’d give to anyone who’s still chasing success.

The Top 50 Songs of May [#1 Trending Audiomack Playlist]

AWKWORD's Best of Audiomack Playlist, May 2016

Sure, we’re more than halfway through the month of June, and it’s a little late to drop a Best of May playlist; but, I dropped the April mix around the same time in May, and it’s been streamed a record number of times. Not to mention that good music doesn’t get old, this mix is already the number-one trending playlist on Audiomack, and we’ll revisit all the playlists at the end of the year for the Top 100 of 2016. This month, we have another wide selection spanning the genre, including a number of songs from international artists; some guilty-pleasure bully rap; music for the advancement of our culture; a few pop-leaning head nodders; that good-old boom bap; and even a taste of the South.

Highlights include:
  • Full songs from female rappers Kash and Sa-Roc
  • A Mistah Fab collaboration with his Cali peers Kendrick Lamar and Crooked I
  • Verses from the incredible Invincible of Detroit, as well as The Last Emperor, my favorite rapper when I was in college
  • “They” from Sturk, a rapper new to me who's now an affiliate
  • Two appearances each from newbie Will EQ and my Smart Crew-reppin homie from NY, Meyhem Lauren, whose whole album could’ve made the list
Other notables include: Mark Battles; Masta Ace; (spoken word from) Chuck D; Rise Rashid; (self-produced) Jonwayne; Action Bronson; (guest appearances from) Joe Budden, Pusha T and Cormega; (a freestyle from) Jadakiss; (a remix of) Russ; Homeboy Sandman (twice); Mike Eagle; Aesop Rock; Hus Kingpin; Daniel Son; Conway; and Stargiela. Production this month comes from my producers Harry Fraud, Audible Doctor and C-Lance, as well as list-frequenter Dame Grease; the homie Statik Selektah; Thelonious Martin; Nottz (twice); Ant of Atmosphere; Large Professor; Alchemist, the god; DJ Muggs; and Hippie Sabotage.

  1. Kash – “This Is Me” [prod. by Dame Grease]
  2. Sturk ft. DJ Khaled – “They”
  3. Mark Battles – “Something Real”
  4. Tony B – “Get Away” (Freestyle) [prod. by EZ Elpee]
  5. Blasphome – “We Gonna Make It”
  6. Mistah Fab ft. Kendrick Lamar, Crooked I & Kobe Honeycutt – “Survive” [prod. by Tha Bizness]
  7. Masta Ace ft. Pav Bundy, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble & Chuck D – “Young Black Intelligent (Y.B.I.)” [prod. by KIC Beats]
  8. Maylay Sparks ft. Rucker Pawk, The Last Emperor & DJ Devastate – “Illadelph Elohim” [prod. by Koolade]
  9. Sa-Roc – “Code of Hammurabi” [prod. by Sol Messiah]
  10. The Black Opera ft. Guilty Simpson, Invincible & Magestik Legend – “Faces of Death” [prod. by Audible Doctor]
  11. Mozzy – “Pain Killers” [prod. by TD Slaps]
  12. Charlieboi (Ghana) ft. Jay Buzzles – “Struggles” [prod. by Charlieboi]
  13. Nowaah The Flood – “Change” [prod. by Cap Chino]
  14. Rise Rashid – “A Mother Like You” [prod. by DJ Terrorkane]
  15. ELem (South Africa) – “Blessed” [prod. by ELem]
  16. Ignition (South Africa) ft. KayKay – “Blessings” [prod. by Siz]
  17. DA – “TIMI 2 Intro” [prod. by Yung Corelione]
  18. Jonwayne – “Wonka” [prod. by Jonwayne]
  19. Slayter ft. Michael Christmas – “Shit on Her” [prod. by Thelonious Martin]
  20. Action Bronson – “The Rainmaker” [prod. by Statik Selektah]
  21. Will EQ – “Ctrl Alt Delete” [prod. by The Psychonautz]
  22. Will EQ ft. Dave East – “Started in the Hooptie” [prod. Phantom Boyz & Arkitexx]
  23. Casey Veggies – “Perfect Timing” [prod. by Harry Fraud]
  24. Curren$y – “Supply & Demand” [prod. by Marvel Hitz]
  25. Hodgy Beats – “Kobain” [prod. by Nottz]
  26. Super Nike Nando & SMII Much – “Mr. Everywhere” [prod. by Swellthy]
  27. Scott King ft. DJ Greg Street – “No Role Models” (Remix) [prod. by Phonix Beats & J. Cole]
  28. MC Moeblak – “Enjoy Tha Summer” [prod. by Erick Towerz (Peru)]
  29. Joey B ft. Joe Budden – “By Myself” [prod. by C-Lance]
  30. Kyle Lucas – “I Can’t Stay” [prod. by 20syl]
  31. Russ – “What They Want (Crisis Remix)” [prod. by Russ & DJ Millhammer]
  32. ARos ft. Pusha T – “All I Wanted”
  33. Ely Ayers – “Move Along” [prod. by TaylorM]
  34. Lex One & Mike Beatz (FKA Wizard Sleeve) – “My Own Worst Remedy” [prod. by Mike Beatz]
  35. Homeboy Sandman – “Kindness for Weakness” [prod. by K-Nite)
  36. Aesop Rock ft. Homeboy Sandman & Open Mike Eagle – “Syrup” [prod. by Ant of Atmosphere]
  37. Alpha Faktion – “Creative Control” [prod. by Nottz]
  38. Alex Wiley – “I Need That” [prod. by Hippie Sabotage]
  39. Tek (of Smiff N Wessun) – “Money” (Freestyle)
  40. Farid Bang (Spain/Germany) ft. Fat Joe – “Escobar”
  41. Spic Academy (Godilla, Adrian Adonis, JBL The Titan & DJ Rybe) – “Tamales” [prod. by JBL The Titan & DJ Rybe]
  42. Meyhem Lauren – “Elevation” [prod. by DJ Muggs]
  43. Meyhem Lauren – “Not Guilty” [prod. by Large Professor]
  44. Hus Kingpin ft. Sage Infinite – “Kingpin’s Canvas” [prod. by Camoflauge Monk]
  45. Killer Ben – “Half the Man” [prod. by Twiz the Beat Pro]
  46. Flash ft. Conway – “El Padrone” [prod. by Flash]
  47. Daniel Son – “Silvio” [prod. by Giallo Point]
  48. Havoc (of Mobb Deep) & The Alchemist ft. Cormega – “Hear Me Now” [prod. by Alchemist]
  49. Stargiela ft. 808 & Saj – “Rap Money”
  50. Jadakiss – “All The Way Up (Remix)” [prod. by Edsclusive]

UpcomingHipHop Podcast Ep. 3: Rapper, Executive Producer, Blogger & Publicist AWKWORD

The Upcoming Hip Hop Podcast episode 3 features a conversation between Matt O and AWKWORD. They discuss many aspects of the music industry including executive producing, PR, blogging, and more. AWKWORD is a Global Hip Hop Ambassador; Protest Music/Rap Artist, Songwriter and Executive Producer; Social Justice and Civil Rights Activist; Hip Hop Educator; Sociologist; Journalist and Blogger; and Cultural Influencer. He is the creator of the first and only 100% for-charity global Hip Hop album, World View, which features contributions from six continents and 16 countries, and from which all proceeds are donated to Guns 4 Cameras, a 501c3-registered nonprofit that strives to end gun and gang violence through the Hip Hop-inspired education and empowerment of ‘at-risk’ youth. AWKWORD focuses on the transformative power of Hip Hop, by connecting us globally through thought, sound and sight. He recently released the critically acclaimed international Hip Hop collaboration “I Am,” featuring artists from nine countries and four continents. He’s now raising money through to create the music video, shot in the artists’ homelands. 

The Upcoming Hip Hop Podcast was created by Upcoming Hip Hop’s founder Matt O to give you the information you need to succeed in the music industry. The podcast will feature small business owners, bloggers, A&Rs, managers, promoters, tastemakers, and more. Week after week guests will bring their own unique perspective to the show that will help you get an all around look at the entertainment and music industry. The guests of the show will be handpicked by the team at UHH so that we can provide you with the most helpful information possible. They may not own the biggest or most popular brands but they will have the experience. A lot of our guests have been doing their thing for more than 2-3 years. The goal isn’t for you to copy their idea but be inspired by it and create something great of your own.

AWKWORD Presents: The Top 50 Hip Hop/Rap Songs of April

This month's mix blends boombap, political, international, bully rap and even a pop rap song from a diverse selection of artists both well established and unknown. You might hear something you missed from an all-time great (e.g., the Phife Dawg tribute from KRS-One); or you might discover an artist who becomes a new favorite (e.g., Chisom). At the very least, you’ll rock out to the “Dirty Cops” remix from Onyx and Snowgoons, and you’ll get hooked on another self-produced gem from rapper/singer Russ. Enjoy. And be sure to download the Audiomack app so you can play this on your commute.

  1. Onyx ft. Chris Rivers – “Dirty Cops (Remix)” [prod. by Snowgoons]
  2. Killa Kyleon – “Black History Month” [prod. by Trill Gates]
  3. CHI-ILL & Dame Grease – “Show the World Somethin” [prod. by Dame Grease]
  4. The Undergrind – “Declaration” [prod. by The Key Majors]
  5. Modenine (Nigeria) ft. Amuta Stone & Uchie The African Rockstar – “My Country” [prod. by Chordless]
  6. King Hakim ft. C. Dilla – “Homicide” [prod. by P. Vidal]
  7. Ajay Krae (Zimbabwe) – “Legends” [prod. by XVI_RULE]
  8. Taj Mahal & Elite Lyricists (aka E.Lz)  – “Soldier” [prod. by WatchM.E.N.]
  9. Yohannes (Canada) – “Plan of Power”
  10. Senica Da Misfit – “Where Yah Eyes At”
  11. Grafh ft. Royce da 5’9” – “Wrong One” [prod. by Pete Rock]
  12. A$AP Nast, A$AP Twelvyy & A$AP Rocky – “Presidents”
  13. Schoolboy Q – “Groovy Tony” [prod. by Tae Beast]
  14. Beanie Sigel – “Top Shotta” [prod. by Jahlil Beats]
  15. Havoc & The Alchemist ft. Method Man – “Buck 50s & Bullet Wounds” [prod. by Alchemist]
  16. Ty Farris – "Invitation 2 Da Streets" [prod. by Alchemist]
  17. Baby Aztro ft. WestSide Gunn – “Resti2shin” [prod. by Mikey Strange]
  18. Conway – “Bandit” [prod. by Nicholas Craven]
  19. Big Twins & Twiz the Beat Pro – “Rap Star” [prod. by Twiz the Beat Pro]
  20. Larry Fisherman ft. Your Old Droog – “!Go Fish! Volume 2” [prod. by Larry Fisherman]
  21. Red Eye ft. Tragedy Khadafi, Goretex (of Non Phixion) & DJ Tray – “Olympic Melo” [prod. by DJ Tray]
  22. Ugly Heroes – “This World” [prod. by Apollo Brown]
  23. Superior (Germany) ft. Verbal Kent – “Mastermind” [prod. by Superior]
  24. Atmosphere ft. Grieves & G Koop – “Fireflies” [prod. by Ant]
  25. Chisom – “REAL.” [prod. by Cyan]
  26. DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels – “Nobody Speak” [prod. by DJ Shadow]
  27. Radamiz ft. I.O.D., Kidaf, Oswin Benjamin & L.atasha A.lcindor – “1 CROWN” [prod. by B L A N K]
  28. Hi-Rez ft. Sean Price – “Stuck Somewhere” [prod. by Rekstarr]
  29. Awon & Phoniks – “Concrete Confessions (Remix)” [prod. by Phoniks]
  30. MCskill ThaPreacha (Nigeria) – “Beats And Rhymes [Episode One]” [prod. by Stormatique]
  31. KRS-One – “The Phife Tribute” [prod. by DJ Static]
  32. The Game ft. Lorine Chia – “Rest In Purple (Prince Tribute)” [prod. by Bongo By The Way]
  33. Charlee Rich ft. Jus-10 – “My Nigga” [prod. by Platinum Sellers Beats]
  34. G Koop & O-Man ft. Brother Ali – “Ya Mawlana” [prod. by G Koop & O-Man & Ant (of Atmosphere)]
  35. Fashawn – “Heart Gently Weeps” [prod. by Hecktik & Jukebawks]
  36. N.O.R.E. ft. Killer Mike & Sleepy Brown – “Make ‘Em Pay” [prod. by Caviar]
  37. Stalley – “Ball” [prod. by Rashad]
  38. Stargiela – “Believe It’s Jumpin”
  39. Phlow (Nigeria) ft. Gogo – “Reminder” [prod. by Teck-Zilla (Canada)]
  40. Storm – “Skool Dayz”
  41. Tone Atlas – “Death of a Salesman” [prod. by Mazik Beats]
  42. Tayyib Ali – “I’m Back” [prod. by DJ Grumble]
  43. Koncept & J57 – “Live For It (Bless The Booth Freestyle)” [prod. by J57]
  44. Ray Vegas – “Look Alive” [prod. by Spence Mills]
  45. Ess Vee – “City Lights” [prod. by Tecknowledgy]
  46. St. Basil ft. Mike D’Angelo & Santos – “City Life” [prod. by Digital Crates]
  47. Sean Brown – “Thru The City” [prod. by Sean Brown]
  48. Russ – “Manifest” [prod. by Russ]
  49. Super Nike Nando – “Uber Everywhere (Remix)” [prod. by K Swisha]
  50. DJ Doobious (Switzerland) – “Voices”

5 Reasons Vinyl is Better

I'm a music lover. Spent my entire life embracing sounds, artists and the equipment used to enjoy it. I've had genuine love for each new and supposedly game-changing format. I can see why the digital format is rocking the universe. But I would be remiss if I didn't admit when I think of the best ways to listen to music, it goes back to where I started: the vinyl recording.

I think it's unfortunate that vinyl has become something of a rarity. Vinyl remains a great way to enjoy music. Put down that iPad for a second and take a look at five reasons why vinyl is better than any other music format.

There's a greater chance you'll explore new forms of music.

Go into iTunes or open your Tidal account and you go straight to the tune you want. Ariana Grande, the new one from Mariah or that tune you heard from this old group called the Rolling Stones, you put what you want in your cart and download.

At the record store, you might end up buying something you wouldn't have otherwise. A big part of the vinyl experience is finding something outside your comfort zone. The Belieber could discover 70s soul! The Britney Spears fan could learn why Cher is forever!

Buying Vinyl is an Unparalleled Experience

No one spends hours in a digital music store. In today's world, we're more interested in the Adele video that's getting millions of hits on YouTube. At the record store, time can fly while you explore amazing album art or unique artists like Captain Sky. You might drop some cash just to hear the sounds.

A Vinyl Collection can be an Investment

Think 30 years from now. How many people will you come across looking for Drake or Maroon 5? Not many. Digital is indeed forever. But that also means it will always be available. While you won't even be able to legally sell your MP3, the collector can sell that vinyl record.

Anyone with a vinyl collection has brokered a collection that can't be found anywhere else. For a solid comparison, your digital copy of the Beatles "Yesterday and Today" will never make you money. In 1996, a vinyl copy sold for $38,800.

Vinyl Doesn't Have to Be Loud

Vinyl – as well as earlier formats like tape and 8-track — doesn't have to be loud. CD and digital music are artificially engineered formats that can't be louder. It's why so many people in public with headphones have their music so loud you can hear it across the street. Digital is a flat format transferred to a file that loses texture and depth. If you need proof, play a digital version of a song and then the vinyl version. Note which sounds better without having to turn the volume up.

Vinyl Sounds Better

And the debate goes on. Your digital music does indeed have that clean sound, but it will never have that rich, mahogany-warm spirit you get from vinyl. Audio compressed digital is designed to lose something. You can go 56 and have room for more music, go the standard 128 or go as high as 356 for a better sound, but sacrificing storage space.

As vinyl was engineered to be listened to under specific circumstances with no compromise, it will always sound as good as the originators intended it to.

This Guest Blog was written by Jessica Kane, a music connoisseur, an avid record collector, and a writer for SoundStageDirect.

Which Music Streaming Services Best Serve Indie Artists?

Since time immemorial, the most important things for artists has been to make their music available to the largest audience possible. In the modern era, nothing has been more effective as the internet in providing a massive audience to artists. Music streaming services are at the forefront in offering artists an opportunity to tap into a broad audience while still earning income from that audience.

When it comes to those music streaming services, however, most internet platforms tend to give more exposure to established artists. Independent and self-releasing artists usually find enormous hurdles when submitting music to streaming services such as the need to have a record label or a digital distributor, which locks out many talented artists.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular services:


One of the oldest streaming services on the internet with arguably the largest listenership of all streaming services at 81 million a month, you could not do any better. Pandora asserts that its mission is to connect artists with an audience that will love their music regardless of popularity or style of music. With its Music Genome Project driven recommendations and playlists, you are sure to get listenership on the platform. Its latest acquisition of Rdio means that your music can now find a greater audience even if it not in English as it now holds an audience in more than 60 countries.

When it comes to independent artists, Pandora is a pioneer in this space launching its open submission process in 2014. The open submission process is an easy process that allows any artist to submit their work to the service. It requires no CD release or prerequisites since your contact information and a link to your tracks will be enough for submitting your music on the website’s submissions page.

Google Play

While a relatively late entrant to the music streaming industry, Google Play Music is a good option for independent artists due to its straightforward submission process. As an independent artist, all you have to do is register a Google Play artist hub account (anyone with a Google account can register) that you can use to control distribution, downloading and streaming settings, and retail prices. The service offers a simple step-by-step process to create an album on your account that you can complete in minutes.

My favorite aspect of the Google Play Music service is that unlike other services, every track on Google Play has a generous 90-second preview that your listeners can listen to before making s purchasing decision. Moreover, you can reach 35 million streamers who can instantly purchase and stream your music from the cloud. If you want to do something different, you can change your distribution, retail and streaming settings for tracks and albums at any time.


Tidal is the new kid on the block with innovative ideas. Acquired by Jay-Z and 16 other big name artists, its mission is the promotion of artists and equal and fair pay for those artists. This assertion alone makes this a service that you need to check out as an independent or self-releasing artist. The many features of the Tidal platform including Tidal Discovery, Tidal Rising and the short articles and videos to entertain and inform listeners about music genres, artists, producers and studios could come in handy to boost your profile as an independent artist.

However, the bad news is that while Tidal declares that you do not need an intermediary to submit your music, in reality, they only remove record companies and introduce a requirement for digital distributors instead. After signing a contract with one, all of these distributors charge either annual fees ranging up to $50 per year or a portion of your royalties. Moreover, while Tidal says that Discovery artists that perform well on the platform will be in the featured section of Tidal Discovery, this section is a subpage rather than the homepage. This means that your exposure will likely be minimal.


Boasting over 60 million active monthly users spread over 58 countries, Spotify is one of the fastest growing streaming services. Unlike other services, the service allows users to generate their own playlists and customize their radio station options. It even integrates with social media with few difficulties. On the other hand, the lack of an auto-generated playlist may be a negative. Your music may never be discovered on the platform as it would on a site such as Pandora.

Similar to Tidal, Spotify does not allow independent artists to upload their submissions directly on the platform which really is a shame given that it is one of the industry leaders. To submit your music to Spotify, you have to go through either artist aggregators or label aggregators that have deals with Spotify. The aggregators are in charge of the distribution and licensing of your music. This includes handling all royalty payments that your streams generate on the platform.

Apple Music

The newest entrant to the music streaming industry, Apple Music does not seem to offer much to indie artists. While it has a radio station, it is likely to favor established artists. The only main advantage the service has is its massive growth since its inception.

The main gripe I have with Apple Music is that it will not allow Indie artists to submit music to the platform but instead directs users to independent aggregators. Apple Music offers little control over distribution, retailing and royalty payments. The most you can do as an independent artist is upload your videos and backstage performances to your Apple Music profile to connect with fans. The aggregators are in charge of all aspects of distribution and licensing.

Streaming from Geo-Blocked Countries

If you are an artist in a country not known for an open internet and open expression, you may run into some problems online. A drawback of using streaming services is that not all of them are available in every country. If you are in a country in which your favorite streaming service is not available, a VPN service is your best bet. With a wide-reaching VPN, you can change your IP address with a click of your mouse to a country that the service supports and get access to the tools you need. Don’t let your location get in the way of reaching a wide audience.

The Verdict

Overall Pandora and Google Play Music have the best platform for an independent artist. Tidal offers artist power but it has yet to be convincing. Apple Music and Spotify have exponential growth and huge audiences in their favor, but they still require aggregators as intermediaries.

What streaming service do you believe is best for the independent artist in offering a level playground? Join the conversation below.

This Guest Blog was written by Cassie Phillips, a blogger and writer for



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