TOP 20 RAP/HIP-HOP RECORDS OF 2017
20) French Montana - Famous
“Even though the world was meant for you...I hope you don't get famous” Jay Z clearly got good taste because he apparently hit French up and told him this was his favorite record off his new album, and like Hov I see the appeal as well. By no means is this your quintessential Hip Hop record but it’s smooth, melodic, and incredibly relatable, where it’s general theme will likely hit home for anyone whoever had a crush on a small town girl.
19) Drake - Blem
“Don't switch on me, I got big plans, we need to forward to the islands, and get you gold, no spray tans, I need you to stop runnin back to your ex, he's a wasteman, I wanna know, how come we can never slash and stay friends? I'm blem for real, I might just say how I feel, I'm blem for real, I might just say how I feel” Jamaican Drake came back to give us another one… and you’d be hard pressed not to just press play, vibe, and enjoy. Yet as far as the Twitter critics who have a problem with Drake’s multiple styles and delivery, it seems like we’re making rules up as we go - when again the only rule that really matters is whether or not he’s actually the creator - in which case he’s probably not.
18) Rapsody ft Gwen Bunn & Musiq Soulchild - A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love
“Cuz that’s my rollercoaster love, my rollercoaster love, and we go, up and down, up and down…” Smh what 9th Wonder does to this record isn’t even fair… as this is likely his best singular performance of his career, which if you’re familiar with his decorated catalogue is truly saying a lot. Also that’s Anderson Paak, BJ The Chicago Kid, & Musiq Soulchild on the same album??? All over 9th Wonder & Khrysis production??? Yea it doesn’t get any better than that.
17) KRS One - You Like ME
“As long as I’m dancing, acting, or rapping, walking around like, I don’t know what’s happenin, you like me… if I’m talking about drinking and nothin bout thinking, as long as I’m high and I never ask why, you like me…. But the second I start with the state of the economy, black leadership, black guards and black sovereignty, that’s when you can’t seem to follow me, confusion, you feel like you losing, I’m no longer amusing…” Mannnnnnnn 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 you have to peep the delivery on this record… smh all you sucka MC’s and mumble rappers take notes! This is the best record on The World is MIND project and a manual on how to use a microphone correctly.
16) Kendrick Lamar - FEAR.
“That homework better be finished, I beat yo ass, your teachers better not be bitchin bout you in class, that pizza better not be wasted, you eat it all, that TV better not be loud if you got it on” Produced by Alchemist this is another tough record off the DAMN. album, that finds Kendrick exploring fear in three different occasions at ages 7, 17, and 27. And in similar How Much A Dollar Cost fashion this is why Kendrick Lamar is one of the GOD MCs of the time period.
15) Joey Bada$$ - TEMPTATION
“And I really can’t take it no more, I be fighting temptations, my Lord, I'm making them restless (And I really can't help it), I never felt selfish before, I've been living so reckless, I know, tell me Lord can you help me? (I said Lord can you help me?)” Produced again by Adam Pallin along with Pro Era’s Kirk Knight, this record is both relatable and inspiring and melodically it's also one of the best records of the year. This is the perfect format for Joey’s style and delivery and we need more where this came from.
14) Lupe Fiasco - Coulda Been
“I could be startin guarding, or planting the garden, or security guarding, or I could be starving and eating out your garbage, and found stardom and starring in sitcoms with Martin, I could've been marching with Martin, handcuff, northface, over the face with no comment” At the moment the production credits are unknown but this instrumental is definitely top shelf and the creators need that recognition, and as for Lupe smh… even when he’s in cruise control he’s one of the best MCs of all time, as this one evokes that classic Food & Liquor 1st & 15 wordplay that will forever be his signature sound. On a separate note shame on DJ Booth and Peter Rosenberg for misguidedly slandering Lupe earlier this year, and with label trouble behind him the next album DROGAS Wave will likely be some of the best work of his career.
13) Lupe Fiasco ft Rxmn & Salim - More Than My Heart
“When you got popped up and you got locked up, and the block shot up and your girl knocked up, and your kids be like, ‘Who gonna watch us?’ your mama, they nana” Produced by Soundtrakk the outro of DROGAS Light is one of the best records on the album, where this one was dedicated to Lupe’s mother and is good Hip Hop in every way. Truth be told this should have been the anthem but then again that’s not what the media promotes, even though Lupe would rap circles around all these rap urkels, and that certainly includes all you Yachty’s, XXX's, & Uzi Verts (along with all you Futures, Migos, 21 Savages, etc.).
12) EarthGang - Legendari
“Okay, now I know, what it take, to make the best of my situation, and I admit, that for a minute, I, I couldn't tell you what, what I was chasing”Produced by fellow Atlanta native Childish Major this is a timeless record from EarthGang that’s certainly true to it’s name, as it’s heartfelt lyrics and general uplifting message makes it one of the most significant records to come out this past year. Amongst a very impressive catalogue this is perhaps a prime example of what makes EarthGang so special, as the record flows together seamlessly in such a way that this writer will forever be inspired, a familiar feeling that seems to come with the Dreamville brand altogether.
11) Rapsody ft BJ The Chicago Kid - Knock On My Door
“Welcome, glad you came over, come in you can have a seat on the sofa, you thirsty I got tea and soda, and water out the facet, I was just watching Ali I paused it, damn it really hurt we lost him” This hook is immaculate and the sounds of Laila’s Wisdom is altogether nothing short of a masterpiece, where this particular record has Rapsody in her Alicia Key’s You Don’t Know My Name vibe, which honestly plays even better than it sounds.
10) Action Bronson - Let Me Breathe
“Two uzis and a rifle, it's like I'm at the studio with Michael, you can hear me dancing on the beat, Bam Bam bout to put a mansion on the beach, uh, hundred Latins in your lobby, that's what happens when you fuck around with Body, uh, and I put that on my mami (It's on my mami), I would never give my heart to a thotty” 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 lowkey Action Bronson is a supremely talented artist who's deserving of a lot more respect for pen game and delivery, as he’s more clever than most and actually resembles a true MC in an era of dope fiends and mumble rappers. Nonetheless this one was on Blue Chips 7000 and my only regret is that the video is overly cinematic and to a fault, as the record was good enough and simple enough to have made a much bigger impact throughout the mainstream. Even still it was another great year for Bronson highlighted by his continued success with FuckThatsDelicious, the best reality show that’s always educational and never short of entertaining.
9) Drake ft Young Thug - Ice Melts
“Feelin rough, rough, baby, I'm needin somethin, somethin, I wan beat it up with somethin, somethin, you're a diamond out the rough or somethin' somethin'” There was more More Life and More 🔥🔥🔥 from Drake in 2017, and on this record he and and Young Thug absolutely annihilated the Symbolyc One / Supah Mario instrumental, cementing the fact that if nothing else Young Thug is definitely good for a memorable feature.
8) DJ Khaled ft Beyonce & Jay Z - Shining
“One ain't enough, I need two, that night I mix the Ace with the D'US', hit a triple-double in the Garden, I done my left wrist like I'm Harden (swish)” At midnight right after The Grammys (where the performances are always good and the awards subsequently mean nothing) the greatest promoter on earth capitalized on the moment with help from the biggest stars in show business, and all parties involved definitely delivered. Although it wasn’t one of their most successful collaborations, both Jay & Beyonce floated on this record over fire production from Danja - and altogether this one was actually better than it was given credit for.
7) Logic ft Neil deGrasse Tyson (& J Cole) - AfricAryan
"Tell white people I’m black, feel the need to retreat, like I should be ashamed of my granddaddy Malik, but my beautiful black brothers and sisters, want to act like I’m adopted, go back in time to when my ***** daddy, impregnated my cracker momma and stopped it” On the outro to Everybody Logic summarizes the album’s theme effectively and also hints that his next project will be his last, yet not before he gets a surprise (uncredited) verse from Cole that puts his legacy and impact all in perspective. Cole’s verse is legitimately taken off a voice memo sent from a cell phone yet it’s the power of his words, words like… "All I wanted was acceptance, my latest lesson"… that puts Cole legitimately in a sensei category with more gems like “Are you running from something, with hopes of becoming someone that's finally worthy of love, let me tell you now you're worthy enough, fuck approval from strangers, that shit is dangerous as hell, find God, learn to accept yourself, and I'm gone, acceptance” In the end this collaboration (and the story behind it) is lowkey one of the best pure Hip Hop moments in recent memory, where it should also be noted that separate from bad Joe Budden/Charlamagne analysis, Logic smoked this instrumental in a way that’s simply undeniable.
6) Raekwon ft CeeLo Green - Marvin
“April 2nd 1939, the stars is in line, divine intervention at it's own intention, birthed a gift in this DC kid, he sung heavenly, good values and all…” This is a monumental record from the Chef about the life and death of Marvin Gaye, where in the midst of being one of the most beloved artists of the time period, on April 1st, 1984 (a day before his 45th birthday) he was fatally shot by his own father with the gun he purchased for him. Raekwon’s verses are incredibly descriptive (reminds me of how Nas would do this), and the production from Frank G and hook from Cee Lo Green make this record complete, this off The Wild album was one of the best surprises of 2017.
5) Logic ft Lucy Rose - Anziety
“This is my life, this is my all, this is my all, and now I’m happy... right now I’m happy... but sometimes...” As shown in the Everybody documentary that unfortunately can only be seen in it's entirety on Apple Music, British singer Lucy Rose sings her part effortlessly blind having never heard or seen the music beforehand, thus approaching the music in her most vulnerable state and leading to perhaps the singular greatest moment on the album. This one is both epic and cinematic, and musically a case can be made that it’s one of the best records of his career.
4) Rick Ross ft Raphael Saadiq - Apple of my Eye
“I'm happy Donald Trump became the president, because we gotta destroy, before we elevate, real shit, look at me inside the white house, with a pocket full of weed inside the white house, dead presidents tattooed on a ***** chest, U.S. treasury addressing me, mad at my address, own the biggest residential pool in the U.S, Drake and Kanye can invite every bitch they ever met” Produced by Major Nine aka Chad Thomas the Miami Hurricane football star, the introduction to the Rather You Than Me album is nothing short of incredible. On this groundbreaking work of art Ross spits introspective raps with his patented flow that by now we all know so well, and it's one that slowly but surely has become one of the most profound deliveries in the game. In other words Ross sounds better than ever on this, and speaking of music that sounds good on the ears, Raphael Saadiq on the hook and the bridge is one of the most clutch moves in the history of all music, talking bout "I was strolling down a dark street, when this girl passed me byyyyy, she said you've always been a good friend (always been a good friend), and you never never never let me down” 🔥🔥🔥 all 🔥🔥🔥
3) Joey Bada$$ - Land of the Free
“Sometimes I speak and I feel like it ain't my words, like I'm just a vessel channeling inside this universe, I feel my ancestors arrested inside of me, it's like they want me to shoot my chance and change society” The first single off ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ (produced by Adam Pallin & Kirk Knight) is a political record that touches on it all, and for good measure it was released on Donald Trump’s inauguration day making it’s message all the more significant. Joey’s lyrics from this are incredibly profound with moments like "in the land of the free it's for the free loaders, leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors, they disorganized my people made us all loners, still got the last names... of our slave owners…" incredibly powerful and upon it’s release was an early candidate for record of the year.
2) Jay Z - Legacy
“My stake in Roc Nation should go to you, leave a piece for your siblings to give to their children too, TIDAL, the champagne, D'USSÉ, I'd like to see, a nice peace-fund ideas from people who look like we… Legacy, Legacy, Legacy, Legacy, black excellence baby, you gon let em see” Jay thinks of the big picture and what he’ll leave behind when he’s gone, and due to the weight of the concept and the descriptiveness of the lyrics, this is perhaps the most meaningful record on the 4:44 album no matter how overlooked it may be. Also worth mentioning is that on this record NO I.D. (whom we all know produced 4:44 in it’s entirety) sampled Donny Hathaway’s Someday We’ll All Be Free, which is lowkey some of the best production on the album as well. Similar to the miscellaneous record History that was criminally ignored by the masses many years ago, this is clear evidence that with wisdom a great artist can even get better over time.
1) J Cole - High For Hours
“American hypocrisy, oh, let me count the ways, they came here seekin freedom, then they end up ownin slaves” Nevermind what any tastemaker, influencer, or Twitter A&R will tell you, Jermaine Cole is without a doubt one of the most significant MC’s of the time period, and whenever he raps both his critics and fans hang on every single word. On this monumental record that will go down as another miscellaneous 💎 from his catalogue (by now it should be known that miscellaneous Cole is as good as mixtape/album Cole) Jermaine raps about everything from contradictions in Christianity, his recent Q & A with President Obama, followed by his own newfound reservations for the theory of revolution - within three timeless verses that are Hip Hop at it’s absolute finest - J Cole is perhaps the most important artist to the genre since Tupac Shakur.