A lot of sites and magazines are dropping their Best of 2017 albums list. Some of the lists are dope, and others are just clueless. We all know the high-profile albums that were released in 2017. Some of us are aware of the underground gems that thumped in our cars and/or headphones this year as well. Andwe ALL know what sound dominates urban radio.
Im looking at 2017 as the year that Hip-Hop fought to get its name back.
Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Available now http://smarturl.it/DAMN Prod: Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, Dave Free Nathan K. Scherrer, Jason Baum, Jamie Rabineau Prod Co: TDE Films / FREENJOY INC Dir: Dave Meyers & the little homies Music video by Kendrick Lamar performing HUMBLE..
This was the year of Old Heads vs. Mumble Rappers. Is Mumble Rap Hip-Hop? Are 80s and 90s fans salty because the sound they loved is now considered old school?
There are a couple of times where this debate played out among leaders of both sides. Pete Rock versus Waka Flocka, Joe Budden versus Migos, Lil Yachty and every other Mumble Rapper. Even Lonzo Ball, rookie point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, said that Nas isnt real Hip-Hop but Future is?
This deflated debate will most likely rage on well into 2018, but whos winning? Id say the fans are.
Whether youre a fan of one or the other, the dialogue is valid. I think we all can admit that the balance of radio spins tips more on the side of uninspired braggadocios lyrics. The way I feel about it, if you are still checking the radio to see whats good in Hip-Hop youse a damn fool.
Watch the The Story of O.J.
For a listener like myself, 2017 was a year that saw a healthy return to conscious and self-reflecting Hip-Hop music. Some of it also found its way to the airwaves.
Kendrick Lamar probably could be viewed as one of the leaders, as his album DAMN furthered his legend and stellar catalog. Dropping conscious bars over trendy production with catchy hooks and powerful imagery via videos is him stuffing the stat sheet. Kendricks the easy answer.
Jay Z returned in 2017 with a new album called 4:44. Its a project that is, hands down, his most personal to date. No I.D. handled all of the production, giving the album a Blueprint nostalgia feel.
Hov talked about cheating on his wife (yes, Beyonce fool), his wealth, his family, and overall legacy. This is coming from a man who typically gave us only glimpses into his personal affairs. Nothing on this album was about joining the latest trend. Who wants to be that old dude still hanging out at the club?
Those two albums were gimmes.
How about Joey Bada$$s All Amerikkkan Bada$$? Its an album clearly inspired by the ongoing police brutality that has targeted black males for decades, with fresh production, potent lyrics. It was criminally slept-on in 2017.
“ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” available now https://JoeyBadass.lnk.to/AABAID Directed by Nathan R Smith & Joey Bada$$ Produced by Paulette Agnes Ang at KODE Follow Joey Bada$$ Twitter: https://twitter.com/joeyBADASS Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fckingbadass Instagram: http://instagram.com/joeybadass Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1yvtlm7 Website: http://joeybadass.com Follow Pro Era Twitter: https://twitter.com/proera Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/ProgressiveEra Tumblr: http://proera.tumblr.com Instagram: http://instagram.com/proera47 Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/proeraradio Website: http://theproera.com Shop – http://shop.theproera.com/ Shop – http://shop.thesmokersclub.com Pro Era / Cinematic Music Group
Another slept-on album is Oddisees Iceberg, with introspective verses and a refreshing take on various issues that we face as a society.
What about records that just rocked out in 2017? No heavy subject matter, just dope beats and rhymes. Ever heard of Skyzoo? His Ep Peddler Themes has been in my heavy rotation since it dropped back in July.
Skyzoo – Peddler Themes (Full) Purchase: itun.es/us/54W-kb 1. Short Money [0:00] 2. Bamboo [3:47] 3. Doing Something [8:25] 4. Finesse Everything [11:37] 5. Let It Fly [14:43] 6. For Real(er) [17:41] 7. ’95 Bad Boy Logo [21:33] 8. Long Money [25:06] Skyzoo – Peddler Themes (Full)
Old Heads might remember Heltah Skeltah from the mid-90s. Group member Rock dropped a head-nod inducing album called Rockness A.P. (After Price). That title directly connects to his partner in rhyme Ruck a.k.a Sean Price.
Price passed away in August of 2015, but Duckdown Records dropped his posthumous album Imperius Rex this year. If that first track doesnt make you want to slap the mumble out of a wack emcee, I need to see your Hip-Hop credentials.
Rock of Heltah Skeltah’s first ever solo studio album “Rockness A.P. (After Price)” – 09/22/17 iTunes pre-order: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/rockness-a-p/id1272288467?ls=1&app=itunes CD Pre-order: https://www.fatbeats.com/collections/pre-order/products/rock-of-heltah-skeltah-rockness-a-p-after-price-cd Executive produced by Phil Anastasia (Blood Before Pride) featuring appearances from Buckshot, Tek & Steele (Smif-n-Wessun), Raekwon, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Kuniva (D12), Ras Kass, Young Noble, Ron Browz and M.O.P.
Where the ladies at?
Rapsodyput out a pretty dope debut on Jay Z’s imprint Roc Nation entitled, Laila’s Wisdom. When the mainstream gives you overly sexualized black Barbie dolls, Rapsody does it for the culture. No shade, facts only. It’s rare when an artist writes from the perspective of a woman without making males feel alienated in their listening experience. Rapsody’s wordplay is top notch, and only outdone by her gift to make you care about the subject matter.
I mentioned earlier that Hip-Hop was fighting to get its name back. It’s true. None of the albums I mentioned are trap-laced mumble fests designed for radio spins. There’s nothing wrong with that music, it’s the fact that it is all you get to experience when you turn on the radio. So much fly sh*t is being missed.
Rapsody is the new force in hip hop, and she’s blazing the trail for a new generation of emcees. Culture Over Everything. Music video by Rapsody performing Power. (C) 2017 Jamla Records, LLC. Under exclusive license to Roc Nation http://vevo.ly/fxBjW7
This year, true Hip-Hop skill was the storyline.
Talib Kweli and Cyhi the Prynce dropped two really dope albums on the same day! Cyhi’s debut album No Dope on Sundays is energetic, insightful, and packed full of quotable bars. Talib Kweli’s eighth solo album Radio Silence is his best since Gravitas in my opinion. This latest project is as soulful and informative as ever. Two really solid candidates for your top five albums of this year.
There are almost too many albums to name in one article and that’s a good problem. A lot of true Hip-Hop fans have given up on the genre they love. The general consensus was that it was truly dead.
Nothing could be further from the truth. No more do you have to turn on the radio to find out what’s hot. The power is in your hands.
New music from Talib Kweli’s album ‘Radio Silence’, out now.
All of this music is available for stream/download and purchase. Some of it is also free! The hip-hop you love is stronger than ever going into 2018. Support it!
Here are more notable albums/mixtapes released 2017:
Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
JR Writer – #IREALLYRAP
Statik Selektah 8
Royce Da 5’9 The Bar Exam 4
Scarface Deeply Rooted (The Lost Files)
Tyler, The Creator Flower Boy
Fabolous & Jadakiss Friday On Elm Street
Meek Mill Wins & Losses
Rick Ross Rather You Than Me
Raekwon The Wild
Talib Kweli & Styles P The Seven
Freddie Gibbs You Only Live 2wice