Ratchet music emerged in 2012 as the preferred sound for rap fans on the west coast looking to party. Though it kicked off in Shreveport, Louisiana, Los Angeles producer DJ Mustard uprooted the formula and molded it for folks like YG, HBK and Tyga. The result? An inescapable mesh of raunchy lyrics, hyphy 808s and hand-clapping.
See also: DJ Mustard and the Story of Ratchet
Here, then, are the best ratchet songs of 2012. Oh, and though we know that Mike Will was producing ratchet bangers in Atlanta this year, you won't find him on the list, which features strictly West Coast artists.
5. Ty$ and Joe Moses
Ty$ and Joe Moses' Whoop!, featuring a serious helping of DJ Mustard produced jams, may be the most underrated release this year. Standout track “Weekend” is a catchy club single that displays Ty$'s knack for hooks. Though the music comes across as effortless, sonically it's more complex than most made-for-radio tracks, with a densely layered beat accentuated by hypnotizing chants.
4. Jay 305
Jay 305's “Youzza Flip” is the only independent record cracking the list. It's catchy and features bars of braggadocio, while Roosevelt's production wouldn't sound out of place on a HBK or Pushaz Ink record. “She made a career off her pusshole/Damn shame, 'cause the bitch is still broke,” Jay notes. His lyrics are both misogynist and humorous, which is pretty much what ratchet is all about.
3. E-40, Problem, IAMSU and YG
In ratchet, a good time reigns supreme. And no song this year better captured this than “Function” — the bass-heavy E-40 track boasting an all star cast of raunchy hit-makers, YG, IAMSU and Problem. Trend of the League of Starz makes a strong case for best-ratchet-producer-not-named-Mustard, while E-40 leads his youthful cohorts by example with his “word candy, S-L-A-N-G.”
A mostly bleeped-out version of “Pop It” has been in rotation on L.A. radio since its release in May. The chorus samples Khia's 2002 hit “My Neck, My Back”; YG provides a macho reworking. The lyrics aren't especially profound — “I got black hoes, Asian hoes, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans…If I could choose my baby mama, she'd be a Puerto Rican.” But he makes up for it with a bobbing and weaving, nearly-mastered flow.
The genius of Tyga's ode to strip club culture is not solely found in its hypnotically crude chorus. The 2x-platinum single is almost singularly responsible for catipulting ratchet into the mainstream. It inspired countless remixes, imitations and parodies while defining the dominant sonic trend in rap for 2012. Though digitally released in late 2011, the impact of “Rack City” was felt this year, as rappers and producers tried to recreate the formula used by Tyga and DJ Mustard, who produced it.