Summer’s finally here and with it comes the balmy nights, blissful cookouts and blistering afternoons that signal its arrival. There’s plenty that we love about the summertime; endless days that stretch effortlessly into midnight, heaps of outdoor concerts scattered across cities nationwide and the ability to drop everything and hit the beach on a whim. Hip Hop doesn’t take a break in the heat either, with simmering artists like Lil Uzi Vert tearing up the East Coast each night with relentless tour dates and Chance The Rapper announcing his massive international circuit for the Magnificent Coloring World Tour to begin in August.

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Thematically, the sweltering days can also catalyze some exquisite smashes, inspiring souring tracks that capture the spirit of the season. Of course, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s quintessential 1991 track, “Summertime” makes the cut each year as one of the best-ever tracks to reign in the lazy, majestic vibe of the summer. 


The track flips Kool & the Gang’s 1974 “Summer Madness” so that Will Smith (as The Fresh Prince) can wax poetic about a picturesque summer’s day. The track has remained a ubiquitous staple of “Summertime” in its purest form each year since its release.

But recent tracks have also made their play at becoming anthemic hits with the power and persuasion to define the season. Chance’s remarkable release, Coloring Book contains one prime example with the track “Summer Friends,” featuring Jeremih & Francis and the Lights.

Chance leaps into the track by bouncing off a glitch-infused diving board and into a breezy yet nostalgic soundscape that immediately plants both feet down on a sweltering Chicago afternoon:

“Socks on concrete/ Jolly Rancher kids/ I was talking back and now I gotta stay at grandma’s crib…”

Fire Hydrant shower

As cemented on Acid Rap and only further reaffirmed on 2016’s Coloring Book, Chance’s approach to songwriting is largely unparalleled; his signature blend of past, present and future makes for highly complex storytelling, coupled with continuously varied flows that make him one of the most renowned lyricists within the genre:

“Ice cream truck and the beauty supply

Blockbuster movie and Harold’s again

We still catching lightning bugs

When the plague hit the backyard

Had to come in at dark, cause the big shawtys act hard


OK now, day camp at Grand Crossing

First day, N**ga’s shooting

Summer school get to losing students

But the CPD getting new recruitment

Our summer don’t, our summer

Our summer don’t get no shine no more,

Our summer die, our summertime don’t got no time no more…”

20 years plus since Will Smith first adorned us with summer’s most emblematic anthem, Chance is weaving far more intricate tales on the same subject matter and raising the bar of pop-accessibility in the process.

Next up is “For The Summer” off of last year’s mixtape from Fabulous, ominously entitled Summertime Shootout. From flexing creatively with samples of Lana Del Ray, to a backbone of A-list features from Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd and others, the project is one of his most successful in recent memory, garnering a quarter-million downloads and featuring fiery seasonal standouts like “For The Summer.” 

Last, but certainly not least, comes Kid Cudi’s 2010 Converse sponsored-smash, “All Summer,” co-written with Best Coast and Rostam, formerly of pop-powerhouse Vampire Weekend. The song features woozy Cudi lines like, “I understand the life of the beggar/ Lookin’ at the ocean, on shrooms is way iller” alongside indie-rock production that’s teeming with superb talent and feel-good riffs.

The track is yet another example of Cudi’s expansive collaborative range, but also serves as an anthemic high-water mark for the summer season and its capacity for grand adventure.

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast boils it all down with a single expressive croon:

“All year long, we wait for sun…”

The lyrics are just playful and ambiguous enough to render us smiling into the perfect bliss of a summer’s day.

Visuals: Richie Williamson