Since we have plenty of hip hop fans in our rows, we had to tackle hip hop within this feature, especially after the genre having had such a fascinating run last year. It was a pleasure to put our favorites together, so feel free to comment about your own below!
IDK – IWASVERYBAD
‘Really I’m a good boy/but that Trapaholics tag turned me to a hood boy’. These two bars most succinctly sum up IDK’s massively underrated introspective story about falling in with the wrong crowd, going to jail and reconciling his behavior with his dying mother. It’s honest, uncompromising and reflective.
Dope KNife – NineteenEightyFour
Dope KNife’s latest plays out like a heady journey through the mind of a black man who finds solace from the world crumbling around him by becoming entangled in hedonistic pleasures. Produced by the Savannah MC himself, the beats are sample-heavy with grit to match the cynical, visceral lyrics.
Oddisee – The Iceberg
Feefo from Dead End Hip Hop called The Iceberg ‘grown man hip-hop’, and it’s true! This is the album that 2017 needed. The Brooklyn MC/producer touches on religion, racism, identity, and other issues in the black community and society at large. The absolutely lush, soulful live band production complement the outstanding storytelling. This is a top-notch album.
Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy
Always the ‘loudest in the room‘, Tyler turns over a new leaf as a producer, rapper, and persona on his best album yet. This Grammy-nominated masterpiece takes listeners on a journey through solitude, fame, sexuality, and confusion. Longtime fans finally get a glimpse inside the brain of Tyler Okonma and not just Tyler, the Creator, without compromising on the signature Odd Future sound.
Brockhampton – Saturation II
The best boyband since One Direction single-handedly took the rap game by storm in 2017. Part of a trilogy that came out in the second half of this year, SATURATION II is not only a testament to the group’s songwriting and performance abilities, but also their staying power and potential in the mainstream. In addition to paving the way for more queer rap artists in the future, BROCKHAMPTON brings undeniable charisma in the form of irresistible hooks and melodies
Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
The ‘ghetto superhero’ Open Mike Eagle presents himself as an antithesis to his idol MF DOOM on this breathtaking portrait of the projects. Standing on the rubble of his now-demolished childhood home, the sovereign Open Mike weaves together a world of severe poverty and political turmoil through the eyes of a child. One of the best concept albums of 2017. Period.
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
Though hip hop outings rarely earn the descriptor of delicate, Yesterday’s Gone is just that and so much more. Personal insecurities and grief are explored here against a backdrop of understated, soulful instrumentals. Carner’s verses about his baby sister on “Florence” are particularly poignant, and contrasted perfectly by the brash “NO CD”. This album is welcomingly human and fragile in a genre that can often be characterized by posturing and poise.
Kendrick Lamar – Damn.
DAMN. is a sweeping statement in its own right, but we can hardly expect anything less from its creator. This is perhaps the most varied album we’ve heard from Kendrick so far, deftly switching from huge, boisterous bangers to introspective, dramatic pieces with ease. There are a number of interpretations for the concepts presented here (forwards and backwards), but one thing is unequivocally clear: Kendrick is just as much a part of hip hop’s DNA now as it is a part of his.
milo – Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!
There is something to be said for minimalism in hip-hop. milo uses a bedroom producer aesthetic to bring focus to his incredibly intelligent and philosophical flows. His creative lyricism explores artistry, literature, and experiences of racialization in a complex, critical and occasionally humorous way. It is no surprise that this unique album made it onto our AOTY list.
Jonwayne – Rap Album Two
Amazing instrumentals, on point lines. Between very amazing, personal hip hop records, Jonwayne‘s journey through his own identity as a person and a musician gives you a constant lump in your throat, while inspiring you in an incredibly smooth way. Fantastic album!
Injury Reserve – Drive It Like It’s Stolen
Soulful beats, a certain lo-fi bedroom vibe, and powerful lyrics. Injury Reserve‘s Drive It Like It’s Stolen caught me off guard last year and captivated me with its intriguing content and mesmerizing instrumentals. A worthy successor to their amazing debut album Floss.
Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
If the music world starts to question your artistic relevance, this is how you show them how wrong they are! Nobody expected this kind of bombshell when 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time dropped, but Justin Scott showed us how to make a relevant and contemporary hip hop masterpiece with gospel, blues and soul influences. Applause.
Quelle Chris – Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often
Joey Bada$$ – All American Bada$$
Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
Col3trane – Tsarina
Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom