TOP 10 RAP/HIP-HOP ALBUMS OF 2017
10) KRS One - The World is MIND
Pegged as his 13th studio album [not including the Boogie Down Production classics and other collaborative projects] KRS-One released The World is MIND in 2017 and it’s better than even his most loyal fans could imagine. Yet as groundbreaking as it is to drop a debatable classic 30 years into your career, when you think about it there’s really no good reason to suggest our best artists shouldn't get better with time, and honestly based on this tape KRS hasn't lost a step at all . Thus if it’s true that with age comes wisdom then KRS just might be the most intelligent MC to ever touch a microphone [disregarding his Afrika Bambaataa comments on Drink Champs that we’ll leave alone]. Nonetheless it’s only right that we pay respects and support the real, The World is MIND is one of the best surprises in recent memory.
9) EarthGang - Rags
Although it’s not an album this is still an incredible project to debut on Dreamville records, in which EarthGang hits every note to the point where they seemed destined for greatness. Doctor Dot and Johnny Venus are their names and together EarthGang is seemingly a next generation Outkast, yet to their credit it comes off incredibly natural where that comparison is only genuine and not the result of trying to emulate something they’re not. Therefore it’s perhaps more appropriate to call them the first of their own kind, in which their artistry attached to J Cole is a collaboration that will likely have no limits in the future. Yet in the meantime this 5 track EP is perfect both lyrically and musically (and sonically for those obsessed with that term), highlighted by moments like Red Light and Legendari that showcases their versatility and undeniable potential.
8) Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
K.R.I.T. released his 3rd studio album in 2017 (not including his legendary mixtape catalogue), and by all accounts his latest project plays from start to finish like his best work to date. Let’s not forget that like Cole he’s also a producer as well as an artist, where along with his incredible production it’s his patented spoken word -and equally signature rapid-pace - delivery that makes him one of the most versatile artists in the game without question. Sure enough 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time is a double disc album with plenty of moments on it, highlighted by records like Getaway, Layup, and Price of Fame that solidifies his status as one of the best songwriters in Hip Hop. K.R.I.T. also gets some assistance however from some incredible features provided by the likes of TI, Jill Scott, Lloyd, UGK & Cee Lo Green, which collectively makes this a cohesive album that stands out amongst most of the competition.
7) Jay Z - 4:44
10 records of grown man rap and it’s all 🔥🔥🔥 and not more needs to be said about the GOD MC that hasn’t been said already. I will say that it’s singular best moment was overlooked by many (Legacy) and that some of the NO I.D. production I liked a lot more than others (I personally can do without the title track), yet overall the essence of Sean Carter the family man and businessman is all over this impressive body of work, even if some of the “big baller talk” is not nearly as insightful as Complex magazine may think it is. Sure enough though it all clearly worked out for Hov and then some, and musically I’ll say this is his Lemonade album with even better ingredients than his wife’s recipe, where the content in terms of family is truly some of the best material of his legendary career.
6) Drake - More Life
More Life… what else needs to be said… More Fire… and nobody knows who’s truly the creator, yet in the spirit of Puff Daddy in the No Way Out era, Dr. Dre in the Chronic days, and Kanye his entire career (yes Kanye his entire career), the end result is mostly fire music every time. Every Drake album has been better than good… I wouldn’t say he has any classics… but due to Drake’s presence and delivery he is supremely talented and doesn’t know how to put out trash music. Thus we get More Life only months after we got Views, and there’s no doubt the machine behind Drake could put out fire music every week if they wanted to.
Ultimately More Life is a very good album that’s simply 8 records too long, including more than a few of what should’ve been obvious omissions. On the opposite side of things however there is definitely a lot of heat on here, where Drake as always shows his versatility and reminds us that he’s truly one of the most gifted MCs in the game. The fact remains though that it feels like there’s hundreds of artists fingerprints all over this, thus when it comes to Top 5… let’s just say Drake not touching Kendrick or Cole off the strength of those reference tracks alone… smh reference tracks?... that definitely wasn’t smooth but all the same Drake certainly has star power, and in the end it’s that quality more than anything else that makes his music undeniable.
5) Joey Bada$$ - All Amerikkkan Bada$$
Add another Joey to the list of legendary MCs, as to say it plainly his sophomore studio album is nothing short of incredible. From start to finish there’s really not a bad record on here, and even more notable is that there’s about 5 or 6 legitimate candidates that could’ve been record of the year. Essentially at 22 years young the Brooklyn MC is growing and finding himself as an artist right in front of our eyes, as he was always nice but he’s on another level with this one, and if can continue like this moving forward then he’ll soon be mentioned in Top 5 conversations without question. In the meantime this is an extraordinary body of work that deserves far more acknowledgment than 2017 was ready to give it, and only years later will this album likely get the respect it deserves.
4) Rick Ross - Rather You Than Me
Ross is perhaps one of the great surprises in Hip Hop history period, as if you go back to the beginning of his career it looked certain that Ross was destined to be a trap rapper not known at all for his lyricism, yet as time’s played out he’s surprised everybody and has proven that his sword is sharper than most. Furthermore his style, delivery, and ear for good music is immaculate, and thanks to all his hit records he’s legitimately become the King of commercial Hip Hop. Yet he’d just call himself the Boss, one who in the past decisively won a war with 50 Cent and even survived his own Pill Cosby endorsement, yet today all that matters is that Ross continues to put out cohesive albums that satisfy every type of music fan, from the dedicated Hip Hop head to the casual listener, everybody loves Ross and all for good reason.
With that being said he released his ninth studio album this year entitled Rather You Than Me, and a strong case can be made that this is indeed the best album of his career. It’s true however that he lowkey has debatable classics up and down his catalogue (Teflon Don my personal favorite), yet when you consider how incredible some of these album cuts really are… that Raphael Saadiq feature in particular… this right here might really be the Boss’s Magnum Opus and it’s a cause for a celebration. Salute to the consistency and longevity and shout out the Checkers look and Lemon Pepper wings at Wing Stop, Rick Ross is nothing short of a living legend in the making.
3) Logic - Everybody
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again... Logic is the Chance the Rapper who can fuck up your rewind button, and named Sir Robert Bryson Hall II from Gaithersburg, Maryland he also may be the largest outlier in Hip Hop history. Yet truthfully that’s all in spite of the fact that he’s also one of the most talented MC’s to ever touch a microphone… and that’s no hyperbole… that’s real life facts… as this oddity who stans for Seinfeld, Star Wars, and anything Quentin Tarantino is an absolute beast of an MC who can rap circles around pretty much anybody, despite being written off by the ‘tastemakers’ and ‘influencers’ who at the moment aren’t willing to give him a seat at the cool table. [It should be noted that Logic is indeed a cornball by his own admission, yet if you’re a music journalist who overlooks his undeniable talent then what’s more corny than that?].
And quality of the music aside (where yes by any legit criteria it’s high quality), it’s concepts like this where legends are born, as the collaboration between Logic and famed scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson throughout the album is what makes this listening experience far more meaningful than most. Keeping in mind that Logic’s main speciality at this point is his own sub-genre of cinematic Hip Hop 'science fiction', this connection ultimately bridges the gap between so many different audiences and demographics, allowing people from multiple backgrounds to come together and appreciate this art form in ways that have never been done before. It’s important to note that similar to his favorite rapper J Cole, as Logic transcends the genre he doesn’t compromise any of it’s best qualities, and inevitably he has the skills, production, and concepts to potentially carry it to new heights. For now however this is another very creative project, adding to a catalogue that could debatably place him as a Top 5 spitter in the game.
2) Rapsody - Laila’s Wisdom
Let’s be very clear, while Charlamagne is out of his mind suggesting that “Rapsody is nicer than J Cole” on his Year-In-Review segment with Joe Budden, they’re both right in their unanimous praise for her album Laila’s Wisdom, which for good reason has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Hip Hop albums in recent memory. The facts are that while Rapsody absolutely did her numbers all over this tape, it’s mainly the production by fellow Carolina resident 9th Wonder (along with more heaters from Khrysis, Eric G, Nottz & GQ) that puts this body of work into a different stratosphere, as musically this very well maybe one of my favorite albums of all time. Much respect due to Rapsody for being the nucleus of such an incredible masterpiece, and further praise is deserved for all the undeniable features on the album, including Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Anderson Paak, and many more.
1) Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Easily the most critically acclaimed MC of the time period, Kendrick Lamar has no contemporaries when it comes to being adored by fans and media alike. Some artists have the commercial appeal, and some artists have the critical praise, but very few artists have both, and nobody has more of each than Cornrow Kenny. Coming off the groundbreaking success of both Good Kid Maad City and To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick’s third lp indisputably was to come with high expectations, and one might have suspected that he was doomed to succumb to all the hype and pressure. Yet you know the saying “whatever goes up, must come down,” well apparently it doesn’t apply to Kendrick at all, or at least not yet, considering despite the laws of gravity this Compton MC continues to go higher and higher, and by all accounts his 3rd studio album is likely the best work of his career.
Overall K Dot certainly turned in a debatable classic and cemented his own legendary status with this one, as I’d argue DAMN. is the perfect blend of Good Kid Maad City & To Pimp A Butterfly and ultimately the best project of all three. FEEL. & FEAR. should be added to Kendrick’s Greatest Hits immediately, as should DNA. <<< which should be mandatory to play on high volume to get it’s full effect every time. In the end Kendrick once again lived up to the hype and delivered, and even though Hov once said “first they love you, then they hate you, then they love you again,” at this rate it seems that the unconditional love for Kendrick is going nowhere in the foreseeable future.