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Look, summer jams are a thing. A stupid thing, maybe; a “bullshit media construct,” as Esquire (rightly) put it last year. But summer is also a construct. It’s a state of mind—a drunken one fed by U Street Tacos and lowbrow bangers. People do dumb things in the summer, like wear brown flip-flops and set off fireworks at 2 p.m. on July 5. So open your arms to D.C.’s very own supply of summer songs. Not all of them are mindless truck-rattlers, of course; several of the best tracks are soothing, like aloe vera for a sunburn. But the dumb ones aren’t harming anything, except maybe our brains, and you don’t need one of those to love a summer jam.
1. Wale, “Clappers”
Summer would go unconsummated without a twerk anthem, and Wale isn’t about to let that tradition die. “We’re takin’ over summer,” Wale announces at the top of “Clappers,” a strip-club track even more strip-clubby than 2011’s “Bait.” The D.C. rapper throws one bone after another to his built-in local fanbase: “Shorty got a big ol’ butt, oh yeaaaaaaaah,” he bellows—a nod to EU’s untouchable “Da Butt,” which the song samples—topping it off with a few Chuck Brown RIPs. All of that’s expected, but the love for thigh dimples is kind of a surprise. “Shout out to that cellulite,” spits Nicki Minaj, with the perpetually wasted MC Juicy J showing up to declare his indifference to the blubbery stuff. —Julian Kimble
2. Visto, “How That Pxssy Taste”
R. Kelly would appreciate Visto’s silky, pervy ode to oral sex, which sounds like a C-side to Kellz’ beachy 1994 come-on, “Your Body’s Callin‘.” But no one should be proud of the gross-out verse from rapper Phil Da Phuture, which leaves nothing to the imagination, though Phil’s tales of group sex sounds plucked directly from his. —AS
3. Midas, Bear Witnez, PRO’Verb, Lyriciss, and WhiteFolkz, “Highlander”
“Fuck is y’all thinking, focus!” shouts rapper Bear Witnez at the top of “Highlander.” “Midas got the oil light blinkin’/Bear the hottest shit smokin’.” But it’s Midas’ extended, generous sample of Queen’s “Princes of the Universe” that makes this stampeding posse cut explode. —Marcus J. Moore
4. Young Summer, “Fever Dream”
Music blogs have been superficially chattering about local singer Bobbie Allen’s “Fever Dream” single since about February, but this is a summer track that has no business existing in winter. The glowy synth-pop brainsticker, written by Allen (who performs under the name Young Summer) and Nashville songwriter Trent Dabbs, sounds made for crushed-out 12-year-olds at summer sleepaway camp. —AS
5. Violet Rocker, “Step It Out”
As the frontman of rock/rap hybrid Violet Says 5, Ethan Spalding rarely drifts into pop territory. But on “Step It Out,” the Takoma Park rapper capably throws the doors open to the club (pronounced cluuuub). “Ain’t no standin’ by the wall, y’all,” Spalding repeats in his trademark Southern drawl. The lyrics are simple, but whatever—it’s clearly about the groove. —MJM
6. Carolyn Malachi, “Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer”
Malachi’s airy, meditative song doesn’t bombard you; she saves her energy to softly backhand her detractors. “Doubting me was a mistake,” she coos with subtle flash. It’s one of the best tracks from Malachi’s forthcoming album, GOLD, out July 30. Malachi made us dance last summer with “Free Your Mind”; this time, she urges us to chill. —MJM
7. Zo! feat. Phonte and Choklate, “Making Time”
A standout from Zo!’s new album, ManMade, “Making Time” is more nocturnal than your typical summer tune. It captures a calm evening vibe, like driving with the windows down. This isn’t a jam, but it’s a summer wind-down. —MJM