The Top 10 Songs in … HIP-HOP AND R&B!

1. Usher, “Climax”


Usher works his falsetto as he teams up with Diplo, who outfits this post-grown and sexy jam with sad electronic growls. Taking cues from minimal techno and The Weeknd’s dark down-tempo R&B, “Climax” is a quiet storm that is less about climaxing, more about edgeplay on a late-night express train to nowhere.
Grade: A
Best YouTube Comment: “whenever I hear this song I look to the nearest person to me and look them in the eyes and whisper ‘body roll,’ then I body roll like nobody’s business.” — jmkeo44

2. Rihanna ft. Chris Brown, “Birthday Cake”


You ever go to a little kid’s birthday party where one kid gets too jacked up on soda, runs around screaming, knocks over the presents table, destroys the cake, and makes someone cry? That kid is Chris Brown. Don’t look, but he is pissing out your candles right now.
Grade: B
Best YouTube Comment: “how come rihanna used to be like, aye mr DJ pon de replay! and now shes all like hurt me, sex sex sex, fuck me with a knife.” — ChelseaaLovesYou

3. Young Jeezy ft. Ne-Yo, “Leave You Alone”


Produced by Warren G (he cameos in the West Side Story–style extended video), this Jeezy jam has smooth synths offset with piano plinks. It’s motivational music for a Sunday-morning drive to the beach.
Grade: A-
Best YouTube Comment: “Young Jeezy is Fine as fuck in this video. dayummm.” – SunshineNoRainyDayz

4. LoveRance Ft. IAMSU & Skipper “UP!”


Bay Areaaaaaaaaa slaps from LoveRance with guest spots from IAMSU and Skipper. A perfect spring-into-summer song with a super California sound; heavy on the bass, handclaps, and laid-back nasty sex talk.
Grade: A
Best YouTube Comment: “I’ll heat the pizza UP! UP! UP! UP! UP! UP! UP!” — thekinkle

5. Ca$h Out, “Cashin Out”


Regional hit from Atlanta’s Ca$h Out. Highlights: “got a condo on my wrist,” obviously; having your name in the name of your single; the Archie comics–like love triangle between Ca$h Out, Nina, and Keisha. Unbelievably catchy, incredibly repetitive (which is part of what makes it so catchy), and so ephemeral it tastes like air.
Grade: B-
Best YouTube Comment: “In a way you wanna cut your damn ears off but its catchy” — woahProd

6. Kirko Bangz, “Drank in My Cup”


Fake Drake heater from Houston rapper Kirko Bangz (say it aloud). These are my ideas for future Kirko Bangz song titles: “Pennyroyal Sizzurp,” “Drape Me,” “Heart-Shaped Box Frame” “Brain You,” “About A G.”
Grade: B+
Best YouTube Comment: “God I’m getting old. I thought Drake sang this song. Slowly…losing…touch…with…new music.” — WickidHolly

7. Fat Joe ft. Chris Brown, “Another Round”


Fat Joe’s scarf. Fat Joe standing on a cube. Fat Joe and Chris Brown in front of a Spinal Tap–style tiny little pyramid and waves. I hope the ocean swallows Chris Brown.
Grade: D
Best YouTube Comment: “This porn has shitty music.” — 5l13lV7D1293

8. Beyoncé, “Love on Top”


Beyoncé has a new fragrance coming out called “Midnight Heat.” Where did the baby weight go? I’m just saying (Midnight Heat IS BEYONCÉ).
Grade: B
Best YouTube Comment: “it’s fascinating to watch how as the song goes on and the costume changes happen, her freakin’ top is gettin more and more exposed on her chest and I’m just sitting there thinking how there’s no way those boobs never jumped off the vest during this video shoot.” — KikkaLuly

9. Drake ft. Lil Wayne, “The Motto”


LOL Drake, you little leopard. Also, money talks, and Mr. Ed. Canadian producer T-Minus also did Ludacris’s “How Low,” Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life,” and Wayne and Drake’s “She Will.”
Grade: B
Best YouTube Comment: “‘rest in peace mac dre ima do it for the bay, okay’ the woman at the start of the video is mac dre’s mother, you’re welcome.” — rememberthisname233

10. Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz, “Mercy”


The sample is Super Beagle’s “Dust a Sound Boy.” I love the Satanic dancehall vibes of this song. It’s both avant-garde and guaranteed to appeal to pretty much everyone. I also love that Kanye cops to being Rick James (red leather, suspicious tantrums). Can Kanye score a Dario Argento–type horror film at some point? He’s so goth lately.
Grade: A
Best YouTube Comment: “i just walk around the city when I’m on lunch break screaming that shit in the beginning of the song.” — MRMAL1CE

Filed Under: Beyonce, Chris Brown, Diplo, Drake, Grading the Charts, Hip Hop, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, Usher, Young Jeezy

Photo on 2014-01-10 at 12.58 #3

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

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