The Most Overlooked Tracks of 2010: Alley Boy and Young Dro, Trae, Husalah, and More


Our look back at all things 2010 continues this week as we highlight some of the year’s most overlooked tracks. In this edition: unheralded regional rap.

Alley Boy f. Young Dro, “Tall” (from The Definition of Fuck Shit mixtape)
The Atlanta pair’s y-axis antithesis to “Low Rider,” in which 30-inch rims make a mobile throne, or gallant steel steed. And these two trip over themselves in the way only Atlanta rappers can, trying to tell us how fucking awesome that is (don’t think the quietly brilliant double-entendre “ride these inches” goes unnoticed). That humid-as-hell vocal sample seems out of place at first blush amongst those hyperactive paper-thin drum presets, but as you get to know it more, begins to feel more like the duo is gently coasting through a stop sign that they’re riding high enough to literally high-five.

Husalah, “You Neva Know” (from Messy Marv Presents: The Shooting Range)
A coke charge introduced Husalah–at the time affiliated with semi-legendary Bay Area collective Mob Figaz–to the business side of a prison cell last decade, where he languished for half the 2000s. And you can just taste his gratification now that he’s out: “You Neva Know” sounds alive like few rap tracks this year. That gaudy, glimmering synth under Hus’s playful, return-to-form verses is Pebbles’ “Love Makes Things Happen” repurposed into a warm stutter that recalls, of all things, Axel Willner’s M.O. on the 2007 instant minimal house classic From Here We Go Sublime (which I’d say is unexpected, but then again fellow Bay Area denizen E-40 sampled Medulla, so). But it’s when that serpentine G-Funk synth line slithers to life, and Hus starts singing, in the sort of instantly loveable, good-natured faux-soul croon that would make Ghostface jealous, that your living room blizzard fort turns into a steamy late-afternoon barbecue.

Trae f. Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, “Inkredible” (from Tha Truth)
All praise due to Lil Wayne and Bangladesh’s list-shuffling late-year reunion track “6′ 7′”, but this Weezy-featuring, “A Milli”-smelling Trae single is just as good. And not just because, like rock to paper, “pockets on Charlie Weis” will always beat “pockets on bodybuilder.” It’s because producer Inkredible sets those same coffee-can lid drums amidst a drizzling backdrop of screaming strings, shuffled and dealt like a Psycho DVD skipping during the shower scene. All the while, Trae–by day, a model citizen–half-whispers/half-snarls a variety of murder taunts, and Rick Ross continues his 2010 narrative reinvention, asking “Look into my eyes/Do you see a C.O.?” Well, do you?