San Diego's Best Hip-Hop Releases of 2016

J. Smith's favorite hip-hop songs of the year

There were a lot of solid local rap releases in 2016. And while it's the end of the year, which means "top tens" ad nauseam, this is less a "best of" and more a personal favorites list.

5. In February, CALiens released "love is," a low-key gem that highlights the awesome power of love and also articulates the different ways that it's often expressed. Off kilter and raw, "love is" is the kind of song that women can champion and men can nod along to.

4. At the end of summer, Gonjasufi released his "Callus" LP. But just before his full length arrived, he put out a fantastic split single, "The Kill/Prints of Sin." Drum heavy and thick with distortion, it's a spooky trip that twists, then turns, in a strange but interesting psychedelic vertigo.

3. Spring Valley resident Ryan Anthony might live too far inland to ever see the beach, but he's certainly familiar with the communities that sit just south of the 94 freeway. In his video for "Never Been," the lanky rapper invites Mitchy Slick along as they guide out-of-towners through San Diego back streets and local neighborhoods.

2. In 2016, Mitchy Slick was everywhere, and his single "Imperial," which was released in 2015, was still going strong. The cautionary tale is a laid-back regional anthem that continues to garner a ton of local radio play. And as a real time banger it even received a nod of approval from Currensy via Twitter. So, if Spitta Andretti's co-signing, then it's official.

1. San Diego's never been known for its hip-hop scene. Beaches, yes. Nice weather, absolutely. But rap stars? Not so much. And while that's been the rule for a very long time, 2016 proved an exception, as Lemon Grove native Rob Stone struck music industry pay dirt with his smash single, "Chill Bill." To date, the song has racked up over 53 million views on YouTube, charted on Billboard, eclipsed Kylie Jenner in her own Snap story, and on Oct. 25, it was certified gold with 500,000 copies sold. It's a bonafide hit record, so congratulations Rob Stone, we salute you.

J. Smith, aka 1019, is a San Diego native, rap fan and one half of the rap duo Parker & the Numberman. You can follow him on Instagram at 1019_the_numberman or on Twitter

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