by Nicole Rodriguez, Production Editor
As we reach the midpoint of the semester, the workload and stress levels have significantly increased. While students residing on campus have the luxury of being a short walk away from their classrooms, commuters have an additional stress: commuting. As a commuter, I find myself needing an extra boost in the morning now more than ever. Below is a compilation of songs I find myself listening to as I am heading out the door, on my train ride to school, walking to class or on my way home. Whether you are a fellow commuter plagued by the unpredictability of your commute or you are living on campus, listening to these songs should build some epic momentum for your day.
range brothers – Baby Keem (with Kendrick Lamar)
What better way to commence this playlist than with a “Top of the mornin’.” This track is featured on Baby Keem’s official debut album, “The Melodic Blue,” which is in heavy rotation throughout my morning routine and I suggest giving the entire album a listen at your own leisure. The pair of cousins go wild with their alternating verses establishing themselves with extremely unique and individualized sounds. You can certainly find me head bopping to the infectious beat and gripping flows uphill to our campus upon my arrival at 242nd street.
Way 2 Sexy – Drake (with Future & Young Thug)
Although Drake’s most recent album “Certified Lover Boy” was met with mixed reviews and criticism, I was most definitely a fan (Note: I may or may not be biased as I have been a certified lover of Drake dating back to his days on “Degrassi”). This track samples Right Said Fred’s early 90’s hit “I’m Too Sexy” which was transformed into an incredibly playful and enjoyable hook. I would consider it a crime to not listen to this at least once every morning to set the tone of your entire day as uplifting and enlivening. Overall, it is very catchy and it will inevitably make you feel like the sexiest person on campus.
BESITO – BIA (feat. G Herbo)
You may know her from her viral hit “Whole Lotta Money” and the subsequent remix featuring Nicki Minaj, but BIA is absolutely killing the game. BIA flows from English and Spanish throughout this track easily making it a bilingual banger. She raps about jetting off to Puerto Rico, living lavishly and using men for her benefit — all things I aspire and imagine for myself during my first class of the day. Complemented by Herbo’s sharp verse and a laid-back beat, this is a dynamic track that I am sure will follow the footsteps of her former hits in catching mainstream attention.
GYALIS – Capella Grey
“GYALIS” is untraditional in all respects. The song lacks any hook, bridge, verse and is a total of 1:45. However untraditional the track may be, its spontaneity brings forth its appeal and matches the New York, specifically uptown, scene with ease. I do not think I have ever wished for any song to be longer prior to listening to this and that speaks for itself. It leaves you wanting more and it is the epitome of no stress — just vibes, making it an ideal listen for your morning.
Normal Girl – SZA
This track by SZA is probably one of my personal favorites by the artist. As she explores her utmost interior through self-actualization, she cannot help but compare herself and contemplate societal templates for women deemed as desirable. It is a track presenting her flaws in a relatable and candid manner. What distinguishes this track as one that will positively frame your day is its triumphant end. When SZA sings, “This time next year I’ll be living so good won’t remember no pain,” my daily existential crises are pushed to the side. By mouthing along to said lyrics as I walk, I feel as though I am manifesting the attitude behind those words into existence.
Lo Siento BB :/ – Tainy (with Bad Bunny & Julieta Venegas)
Would it really be a playlist that I created if it did not feature a track with Bad Bunny? (No, it would not be). The recent single from Puerto Rican producer Tainy has a familiar beat associated with any reggaeton track, but the minimal instrumentation draws special attention to the narrative sung by Bad Bunny and Venegas. Venegas opens up the song by sharing sentiments of rekindling a relationship with an old flame and provides the necessary build up for the beat drop and Bad Bunny’s verse to kick in. While Venegas longingly sings of her past romances, Bad Bunny, on the contrary, takes listeners back to basics as he blames his past romances as the reason why he cannot involve himself in anything serious. He puts it very bluntly and nonchalantly that he is just trying to have fun, his time is worth gold and he is just going with the flow. The sweet urban ballad provides us with some positive reinforcement about being in control of the situations in our lives when trying to balance relationships and the madness of midterm season.
EYE ON IT – PARTYNEXTDOOR
PARTYNEXTDOOR gives listeners a lighthearted, island-like track with “EYE ON IT.” While the album where this track was featured, “PARTYMOBILE,” was released prior to the pandemic, it really flew under the radar for many. This song’s electronic instrumentation paired with PARTYNEXTDOOR’S sensual vocals not only makes you bust a move, but transports you to the Caribbean – a destination I fantasize about on a daily basis given the change of seasons. More importantly, it makes me want to keep an eye on my plans for the day ahead.
Bubbly – Young Thug (with Drake & Travis Scott)
Young Thug just released his new album “Punk” on October 15. It has already gained much attention with its notable features from artists such as Drake, J. Cole, Travis Scott, Future, the late Juice WRLD, the late Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, Doja Cat, Gunna and more. This track specifically captured my attention because Thugger and Travis both have equally sharp verses while Drake completely switches up the flow of the song. They each do their take on rapping about their braggadocious, high-class lifestyles which I particularly like to picture myself indulging in. Everyone on this track completely understood the assignment to create this stand-out bop.
h u n g e r. o n. h i l l s i d e – J.Cole (feat. Bas)
As the last track of J.Cole’s album, The Off-Season, released earlier this year, “h u n g e r. o n. h i l l s i d e” concludes his album with pure heat. This track provides a cinematic experience for listeners as if the credits were rolling at the end of a movie. Evoking every possible feeling, the rapper touches upon not only his vulnerability as an artist, but the common experience of human vulnerability. He specifically touches upon people failing to realize your accomplishments and establishing your well-deserved respect. The beat is unreal and the lyrics are reflective of cross-generational struggles making the song applicable to every person despite your background and passions. His lyricism never fails to amaze me with his wise use of intricate imagery and metaphors.
Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare) – Kid Cudi, MGMT, Ratatat
This song is definitely dated compared to the rest of the tracks included on this playlist, but its 2009 release date does not make it any less of a classic nor does it take away from any of its essence. “Pursuit of Happiness” is a timeless hit which on its surface serves as an anthem for living life to the fullest, but when dissected also serves as a cautionary tale about being careful of what you wish for when reaching for seemingly unattainable goals. Although the song details the harsh reality of the pursuit of happiness, I think it is very much relevant to our lives as college students just starting to discover the meaning of life, creating our identities and defining what is of importance.