20) A$AP Rocky ft Skepta - Praise The Lord (Da Shine)
“I came, I saw, I came, I saw, I praise, the Lord, then break, the law, I take, what's mine, then take, some more, it rains, it pours, it rains, it pours” I first heard of the UK artist Skepta from Drake’s More Life album, yet I’m not sure I knew he was also a producer until this particular record, which is a highlighted by an incredible flute arrangement that appears to be sampled from a PC game titled Rome: Total War. Regardless this instrumental right here is pure 🔥🔥🔥 and frequent collaborator Rocky flexes on it as he should. It should also be noted that this record was apparently made in London while all parties involved were tripping on LSD, and honestly, from an artistic standpoint, I’m somewhat inspired.
19) Black Thought - 9th vs Thought
“I mess around make the call and get the gat involved, I know people it's a small world after all” SMH 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 Per usual it’s Black Thought on the mic and it’s a murder scene, this time with the body provided by none other than 9th Wonder whose own resume, of course, speaks for itself. Sure enough, this is arguably The Roots lead singer’s first solo project ever, and it comes in a 5 track EP that’s produced wholly by 9th Wonder and his Jamla collective (including Khrysison the outro), and somewhere the Rap Gods are looking down and smiling on hip-hop. Meanwhile, this record probably showcases Black Thought’s best two verses on the tape, accompanied by two interludes cut from novelist and intellectual Toni Morrison’s speech at Portland State University in ‘75, and that right there might be the cheat code that opens up Hip Hop's Heaven’s Gates
18) Buddy ft Snoop Dogg - The Blue
“I wasn't looking for a lover, but I found you (ooh), I didn't wanna feel the way I do (the way I do), but I still do (ooh), baby youuuu, came out of the blue…”Mannnn 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 this right here is nothing but flames 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 produced by Mike N Keys, Brody Brown & Roofeeo this was made for hot summer days with drinks on ice, BBQ smoke, and good company all around you, Buddy captures a vintage sound on this record that can be played a hundred years from now and still have its same effect. This is timeless music in every way.
17) Logic ft Hailee Steinfeld - Ordinary Day
“It was an ordinary day until I saw you crawl around my way, and the night goes, on, and on, and on, and on, On, and on, and on, and on…” Maryland native and soon-to-be global superstar Logic has just released his fourth studio album YSIV, the first ‘album’ and fourth installment of the Young Sinatra series that turned him into a household name. This one produced by longtime collaborator and in-house producer 6ix is a smooth-windows-down-feel- good-type of record that simply allows Logic to do what Logic does best, and even as a standalone track it’s one of the best in his catalog.
16) Pusha T - Infrared
“Believe in myself and the Coles and Kendricks, let the sock puppets play in their roles and gimmicks, shit remember Will Smith won the first Grammy? and they ain't even recognize Hov until ‘Annie’” More truth and raw lyricism from Pusha yet again I have to ask who’s more of a gimmick than Kanye at this point? Regardless this instrumental from Kanye (if it came from Kanye) is nothing short of immaculate and Pusha takes no bars off from start to finish, complete with some more darts towards Wayne & Birdman with: "Salute Ross 'cause the message was pure, he see what I see when you see Wayne on tour, flash without the fire, another multi-platinum rapper trapped and can't retire, ****** get exposed I see the cracks and I'm the liar? Shit, I’ve been exposed I took the crack and built the wire, now who do you admire?” SMH 🔥🔥🔥 this record lived up to the hype on a project that overall was… let’s just say the Internet is going to Internet every time without fail. Therefore, off the Drake content alone this was sure to do its numbers, and overall Daytona is still a solid 7-track project even if it’s not the undeniable classic that Twitter would hope it to be.
15) Royce Da 5’9’’ - Power (Book of Ryan)
“The turkey's done in the Montgomery home, Dad has just been awakened again (uh-oh), Greg is making all kinds of noise, Daddy's on his way angry again, ‘Who is that making all that God damn noise?’” One of the standouts on Royce’s latest studio album has the Detroit legend taking a trip down memory lane in classic hip-hop storytelling mode, and while this may be an unpopular opinion it seems as if Royce is the only emcee who can still capture the essence of what used to be Eminem’s most signature talent. Or perhaps that’s not unpopular considering their background and affiliation, where on these types of records Royce is really able to weave in and out of incredibly detailed scenarios that paint a picture so vivid there’s no doubt he’s a GOD MC in his own right, yet in terms of brutal honesty regarding family drama one can’t also help but think of the other side of Bad Meets Evil - and that’s a testament to both with even more respect for the underappreciated yet equally as legendary Nickel Nine. Nonetheless, this album and this record is all about sharing these stories through the lens of Ryan, Royce’s birth name which by default makes this his most personal album to date. For the record this one really hits home.
14) Troy Ave - Streets Is a Myth
“****** point in my direction but they don’t make the news/ ****** offer me direction but can’t walk in my shoes/ I pay six figures in lawyers after paying my dues/ Charlamagne pay for the lawyer that that hater gon use/ that explains the bias views/ edits in my interviews…” People can say what they want about Troy Ave, but hip-hop media along with all its contradictions hasn’t told this story correctly. The facts are that Dope Boy Troy has played his hand better than anyone could’ve imagined, as the cool table is so mad and corny you can’t even find lyrics to this song online. Also for the record, double standards are never cool, and regardless it should be noted that Taxstone is a funny guy but he forgot this important lesson… never throw your life away for a rep on the internet.
13) Mac Miller - 2009
“And sometimes I wish I took a simpler route, instead of having demons that's as big as my house” Over producer Eric G’s piano keys Mac Miller delivers a career-defining record that exemplifies his growth and maturity through his almost ten year run in the music industry. His first mixtape K.I.D.S.created a lane for the Pittsburgh MC that generated multiple Platinum records and millions of fans across the globe, yet forever he’ll be remembered as a cautionary tale as to why you should never look to medicate all your misery and pain. In fact, one can’t help but think of J Cole’s album released this same year entitled K.O.D. (aka Kids on Drugs), that made a case for meditation over percocets, painkillers, and heroin, yet at the moment that’s only wishful thinking for a culture that glorifies these demons at every turn [See Future, Migos, Travis Scott’s entire careers for confirmation]. Perhaps, however, Mac Miller wasn’t inspired by anyone and was only lost in trying to figure out life for himself, yet in any event, he definitely made a large impact in the short amount of time that he gave himself.
12) Wiz Khalifa ft Swae Lee - Hopeless Romantic
“My night runs into morning, all the time” Swae Lee is officially one of the best hitmakers in the game, and that’s honestly been official ever since the Sremmurd Bros arrived on the scene in ‘15. I’ve had this hook running through my head continuously for days, and for that reason, I can’t help but consider it one of the Top 5 songs of the summer (thus far). This record is super 🔥🔥🔥 and mainstream radio needs to start playing this immediately.
11) French Montana - Famous
“Even though the world was meant for you… I hope you don’t get famous…” A great record that deservedly got the video treatment, and although I can tell French likes to travel I’m not sure why this was the direction for this particular song.
10) Nipsey Hussle ft Belly & Dom Kennedy) - Double Up
“Double up, three or four times, I ain't tellin no lies I just run it up, never let a hard time humble us, do-do-double up” Probably my favorite record on the tape bar none, is this bonus record that exemplifies the tone of the album perfectly, which Nipsey describes in his own words by stating “my new shit sound like it's Soul Train, Tookie Williams over Coltrane, Eric B by the rope chain” smh Nipsey took it to an entire different level with this album and I’m riding out to this record indefinitely.
9) Rae Sremmurd ft Young Thug - Offshore
“So in love, I can buy the bitch a ring every day, stop this rap shit turn to a mob any day, bossman I could get homie dropped any day, I'll slap the shit out Donald Trump any day, brand new assistant I like any day, better get it right if you don't want gunplay, I'ma do it right and fill up the driveway, Bentley on the side and it's sittin on LeBron James” SMH 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 only because the flow is amazing and honestly I’ve tried to refrain from writing about this artist for years for a few different reasons, yet nonetheless he’s always been a unique talent with the potential for moments of brilliance and this is definitely one of those occasions - as this verse right here is undeniable. Sure enough, the Sremmurd brothers set up Young Thug with the perfect record that he honestly only makes better, and overall this is so far the best record of the summer that for some reason no one is talking about. Play in this in the whip on a sunny day with maximum volume.
8) J Cole - ATM
“I want it in physical, a million dollars I count up in intervals, without it I'm miserable, don't wanna fall off so I'm all in my bag, thanking God like it's biblical, I know it's gon solve every problem I have” As heard a million times already in all the NBA Playoffs promotion, this one right here is 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 stupid fire and this one not only reminds me of Hollywood Cole but also the HeadBussa/ChrisTucker Cole where he is absolutely flexing all over this production provided by none other than himself! Forget what any of these copy-and-pasted critics say, J. Cole is not only a legend for producing his own music, but quietly kept he’s also one of the most talented and refined producers in the genre period. And once again he provides more layers in his writing than most, with a hook and a bridge that easily makes this one of the best commercial records of the year. And as for the video?!?!?! Stupid 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 likely the best visuals in-house director Scott Lazer has ever brought to the screen.
7) Fabolous, Jadakiss - Soul Food
“More passport stamps, less trips to Miami, yeah bro, we all need a little culture, a little time away from bird ass ***** and vultures, I tell you what you need to hear and not try to insult you, I'm too old to kid you I gotta adult you” Another visual off the Freddy vs Jason tape, and while this record (and production from C-Sick) is definitely a surefire heater, the video to be honest needs a lot of work…
6) Lupe Fiasco - Jonylah Forever
“At six you started reading whole books, at seven you knew how a brain looked, and could roughly describe all the different regions, could tell when we was sick and even knew the reason” Dedicated to all the innocent victims of the violence embedded in his hometown of Chicago, specificallyJonylah Watkins who was only 6 months old when she was murdered back in 2013 by a bullet meant for her father, this tribute for its content, framework, and delivery is one of the most significant records of the year. The story actually follows young Jonylah through an alternate universe, where she not only lives to see her first birthday but also grows to be a young ambitious woman, who in pursuit of her academics even encounters Hadiya Pendleton; who in this reality is an alumnus of King College Prep High School and is back in her former school teaching art. Conversely, however, Pendleton is actually another victim of the senseless gun violence perpetrated by the gang lifestyle in Chicago, thus this alternate universe where Jonylah and Hadiya grow and prosper together is the vision that the city needed, and I can’t think of any other artist that could have painted this picture better than Lupe Fiasco. The execution of this record is hip-hop in its purest form, and for that reason alone this record should one day be in a museum.
5) Royce Da 5’9’’ ft J Cole - Boblo Boat
“That’s for another chapter, that’s for another story, to God be the glory, I made it out unscathed and now I sunbathe with my son in Tanzanian sunrays, thinking bout them days” Cole saves his best bars for the final four (in March no less) and this right here is nothing but madness... honestly though this isn’t even in my Top 50 Cole verses so the hypebeasts need to relax and let the music breathe for a minute, yet even still this unexpected collaboration is definitely enough to get excited about for good reason. For those wondering, the Boblo Boat is a reference to the transportation provided to the Boblo Island Amusement Park in Ontario from Detroit, Michigan, and as random as that may seem it’s those type of references that puts artists like Cole & Royce in a special category. Also salute to Royce for allowing Cole to make his directorial debut, hopefully, this is the first of many future endeavors.
4) Lupe Fiasco ft Nikki Jean - Haile Selassie
"’Then until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior, is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, that until there no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.’ - Selassie” An excerpt from Haile Selassie’s speech at the United Nations in 1964, this record is fully inspired by the former Ethiopian Emperor who during his reign brought the country into the League of Nations, and was also an iconic figure of the Rastafarian movement; who considered Selassie to be a returned Messiah of the Bible, God incarnate who would lead a “future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity.” Sure enough, musically Lupe Fiasco once again pens an incredible tribute in the man’s honor, and over in-house production by Soundtrakk, this is easily one of the standout records off his seventh studio album DROGAS WAVE.
3) Rapsody ft J Cole - Sajourner
“Scared that I'm too disconnected from the kids' perspective, the world ain't got no patience for some shit that's introspective, so where in the fuck that leave me? Irrelevant I guess, went from Heaven-sent to hella bent, intelligent but stressed, damn” J Cole over 9th Wonder production!!!! Finally!!!! Plus it’s the very first Cole & Rapsody collaboration!!! North Carolina stand up!!! And this one does not disappoint, honestly of all the great J Cole features this year this just might be his very best, complete with a sultry Come Up/Warm Up/Truly Yours type of hook that lets you know this track came from the soul. This is the J Cole that resonated with us from the beginning, the essence of what makes his artistry so beautiful, where meanwhile these Carolina collaborations had been a long time coming.
2) Kendrick Lamar, SZA - All The Stars
“Tell me what you gon' do to me, confrontation ain't nothin new to me, you can bring a bullet, bring a sword, bring a morgue, but you can't bring the truth to me” The first 🔥🔥🔥 of 2018 is a TDE release that’s to be showcased in the upcoming Black Panther film (which will be a blockbuster and a major look that I’ll speak more about at a later point in time - though I can’t help but immediately consider certain nuances and themes that I’ve already touched onright here) yet in terms of strictly the music… this is truly nothing but 🔥🔥🔥 although I personally would have taken one more Kendrick verse for good measure.
Nipsey Hussle ft Kendrick Lamar - Dedication
“This ain't entertainment it's for ***** on the slave ship, these songs just the spirituals I swam against them waves with, ended up on shore to their amazement, and now they hope the example I set's not contagious” smh 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 this record right here is insane meaning this is scorching hot and I never heard Nipsey rip an instrumental quite like this, as I knew he was nice but this right here is a different level. Meanwhile, the production is incredible and the featured verse from Kendrick might be one of his all-time classics, especially that “minor setback for a major comeback that’s my favorite” 💯💯💯🔥🔥🔥