Hip Hop’s expansive reach was never more felt than in 2017. This year we turned up per usual as a culture, but our collective consciousness was felt from coast to coast and all over the world. In my opinion, these 10 albums helped broaden the reach in 2017. What were your favorites?
Best Rap Albums of 2017
10. 2 Chainz– Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (6/16/2017)
I really appreciate 2 Chainz for acknowledging all the pretty girls who do their daily makeup to cook up cuts. Pretty Girls embodies the comfortable norms for a trap album: beats, bricks and witty hooks but there’s also a lot of inspiration to be gained here as 2 Chainz just has a way of making you believe in yourself. Pretty Girls Like Trap Music spawned several hits as well as a local Atlanta attraction that has served as an HIV testing center for the surrounding communities.
Sleep When U Die
9.) J.I.D- The Never Story (3/10/2017)
Stepping apart from the mumble/trap rapper pack, Atlanta’s J.I.D. leaves his lyricism on the table with The Never Story. Capable, promising songwriting set a solid career foundation. Apart from that, J.I.D.’s ability to jump between firing off lyrics like an automatic, and holding a harmony akin to soft butter on warm bread have me waiting for his next release.
D/vision Ft. EARTHGANG
All Bad Ft. Mereba
8.) Lil Uzi Vert- Luv is Rage 2 (11/11/17)
First of all Lil Uzi Vert is the incarnation of my 16 year old self’s ideal best friend. I go up to his music just like I did to every blink-182, Linkin Park, and Fall Out Boy cd I owned 10 years ago (they’re in my Tidal now). Lil Uzi Vert’s studio energy is just animated as his live performances and Luv is Rage 2 is proof of that. The emotional and angsty end of the Hip Hop spectrum Uzi is aiming for is in part brought to life by production credits ranging from Pharrel to Metroboomin.
The Way Life Goes
Sauce it Up
7.) Goldlink- At What Cost (3/24/2017)
Lyrical dexterity and a penchant for dance inducing production has Goldlink in a league of his own when it comes to Hip Hop. At What Cost stays true to the formula for previous projects delivering hood life relatablity fused with a consistent groove throughout the 14- track project.
Pray Everyday (Survivor’s Guilt)
Herside Story Ft. Hare Squead
6.) Freddie Gibbs- You Only Live 2wice
Street cred, penmanship and the ability to ride a beat are all undeniable factors in having Gibbs take a spot on this list. After an overseas legal hang up, Freddie Gibbs delivers a fresh outlook and a project that was worth the wait. Dropping the catchy hooks of previous works, Gibbs stays true to rap and passes down a well-woven conversation on self-resurrection.
20 Karat Jesus
5.) Tyler, The Creator- Flower Boy (7/21/17)
Instantly one of the most talked about albums upon it’s release, Flower Boy quickly became a contender in the “best of 2017” race. Seen by some as an attempt at reconciliation, many saw it as Tyler, The Creator’s best work thus far. Tyler’s normative broodiness remains intact but it’s been infused with direct, honest, reflection of internal confusion backed by jazz and rock influences.
See You Again
Enjoy Right Now, Today
4.) Cyhi The Prynce- No Dope on Sundays (11/17/17)
Good things come to those who wait, even better things when you factor in the absolute lyrical prowess Cyhi unleashed on No Dope on Sundays. This was one of the few albums that I listened to with lyrics in hand to appreciate the full scope of Cyhi’s ridiculous pen game.
God Bless Your Heart
3.) Rapsody- Laila’s Wisdom (9/22/2017)
One of the most casually complex albums of 2017, Laila’s Wisdom is hands down also one of the best. Funk and Jazz influences permeate the space between Rapsody’s bars, helping to paint pictures so passionate you can see the colors when you close your eyes. Laila’s Wisdom and it’s 10 cohesive tracks do an impeccable job of illustrating the respective woes and wonders of her womanhood, her blackness and their intersection in her world.
Black & Ugly
2.)Jay Z- 4:44 (6/30/17)
Minus the reliance on overly catchy hooks and money, bitches, and cars Jay Z delivered what’s being called the most grown up Hip Hop album of 2017. Replacing the familiar with free, visible game based on his own experiences with finances, investments, cleaning up the hood and the wealth found in caring for spouse/family secured 4:44 a place on this list. Notable features from Frank Ocean, Beyonce and James Blake, and Damian Marley only added to the album’s appeal.
The Story of O.J.
Caught Their Eyes
(You gon’ have to hit up Tidal or something buddy.)
1.) Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (4/14/17)
Now six albums deep into his hip hop path, Kendrick Lamar has long been associated with the wave of the current culture’s storytellers. DAMN. is one of the most engrossing albums of 2017 based soley on the sonic experimentation boasted throughout it’s 14 tracks. Add in the Lamar’s unwavering ability to tie together philosophical ideas and tales of hood life and it’s way too hard for me to deny that DAMN. moved me the most .