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Memorial Day Weekend is on the horizon¹, and that means we are officially entering Summer Jam Season™. It’s time to break out your sunglasses, sun tan lotion and tracks that someone else has deemed “Songs of the Summer.” Of course, no two songs define the season from person-to-person if we’re being honest here. No outlet can definitively tell you how to relax by the pool, take in the rolling waves of the beach or ride your bike through the piping hot city streets. Plus, the Summer Jam Season™ changes and morphs throughout time. Whatever is hot during Memorial Day Weekend is going to be well past its sell-by date once we hit the dog days of August.

We here at TwH are not in the business of declaring something as THE Song of the Summer – there are a ton of other places for that. We’re just here to guide you to some songs you might want to add to your Spotify, iTunes or that little upstart streaming app with a teal logo, for the summer. We’ll give you updates as the summer progresses.

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Schoolboy Q sans bucket hat

The line stretched for almost a full city block. Among the throngs of fans waiting to get in to see Schoolboy Q were bucket hats – a lot of bucket hats. It was almost like a show of solidarity. You couldn’t mistake the fact of who these people came to see. Yet after the headliner took the stage, you wouldn’t be faulted if you felt like he wasn’t the main attraction.

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The first time I heard Young Thug, I was in my car. I had just downloaded his 1017 Thug mixtape and put it on my iPhone. The first song I skipped to was the one that garnered a considerable amount of buzz among message boards and tastemakers alike – a song entitled “Picacho.” “My diamonds just say Picacho,” Young Thug shouted, his voice almost cracking before heading into the second line. Though the wordplay itself was not necessarily the best I had ever heard, it was certainly noteworthy because of the yelping vocal delivery. It’s a pulse of energy that you can feel in your chest with each listen, and you just want to sing along during every chorus. You want to imitate that weird style and see if you can pull it off yourself. You are not Young Thug though, and you cannot perform this to desired results. It is, however, extremely fun to try and do so.

Fast forward to January, and Young Thug drops Black Portland with his booming cohort, Bloody Jay. On this effort, you hear gargles, warbles, whispers and that esophageal sound that you’d only hear when watching The Grudge. The signature sonic hiccuping from 1017 Thug is still present, but it is flanked by Young Thug using the low end of his voice. There’s a lot more mumbling, which starts from a high squeal, but it slowly degrades into something you are hardly able to discern. This is most evident on “Movin,” where Young Thug devolves into someone who hasn’t quite remembered the words to his favorite rapper’s song and starts uttering them with the confidence of a backing track. It’s one of the many things on Black Portland that makes it such a great listen. It can go from ALL-CAPS to 8-pt wingdings at the drop of a fast-paced snare roll.

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