Best Albums of 2017

2017 was a pretty fantastic year for hip-hop fans. Before 2018 begins, I thought I’d take a look back at 2017 and recall some of the great projects that were released.

 In no specific order, here are ten of my favorite albums from 2017:

 Damn. (Kendrick Lamar)

West 1996, Pt. 2 (Lute)

TMRWFRVR (Luke Christopher)

The Never Story (J.I.D)

No Dope On Sundays (Cyhi the Prynce)

4:44 (Jay-Z)

Jay’s too cool for Spotify

Blue Chips 7000 (Action Bronson)

Laila’s Wisdom (Rapsody)

OBLiBiON (T-Pain)

State of Mind 2 (Dizzy Wright)

 

Honorable Mentions:

There’s Really a Wolf (Russ)

Everybody (Logic)

X Infinity (Watsky)

Trial by Fire (Yelawolf)

Rags & Robots (Earthgang)

Real Person (Caleborate)

508-507-2209 (Joyner Lucas)

 

What were your favorite albums from 2017?

 

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Sean Paul

As a child, Jamaican dancehall rapper, Sean Paul, was a hero of mine. Something about his ability to perfectly blend rap, reggae, dancehall, and pop music really struck a chord with me.

 

In the early 2000’s, Dutty Rock, The Trinity, and Imperial Blaze garnered a lot of attention from a mainstream American audience. Since 2010, Sean Paul’s released two more albums, which weren’t as commercially successful in the U.S. as his previous projects. Personally, I think this is a result of a dramatic tonal shift in his music from rap/dancehall/reggae to techno/dancehall/reggae. I feel it’s never too late for a comeback though.

 

For now, all we can do is appreciate his classics and hope Sean Paul returns to his musical roots.

 

Here are ten of my favorite Sean Paul tracks:

“Like Glue” (By far, my favorite song by him)

“We Be Burning”

“Never Gonna Be the Same”

“Hold My Hand”

“Gimme the Light”

“Give It Up to Me”

“I’m Still In Love With You”

“Wedding Crashers”

“Baby Boy”

“Temperature”

 

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Let me know if there’s an artist you’d like to see a “top 10” list for!

Ten of the Most Influential Rap Albums

Lately, there’s been a lot of debate regarding whether or not Tha Carter III is a classic. Some people even cited it as one of the most influential albums of the hip-hop genre.

 

I don’t want to get into that argument because I think Complex had a very accurate assessment. (Read the article by clicking here)

 

Instead, I’d like to list some truly influential records.

 

“Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang

Released in September 1979, it’s considered to be the song that introduced hip-hop music to the masses. Generally, “Rapper’s Delight” is seen as the first official rap song.

 

 Raising Hell by Run-D.M.C.

Run-D.M.C. is undoubtedly one of the most influential acts in hip-hop history. They were the first group in the genre to have gold, platinum, and multiplatinum certifications. Additionally, they were the first to be nominated for a Grammy, first to appear on American Bandstand, and the first to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. Their third (and most successful) album, Raising Hell, featured “Walk This Way” which revived Aerosmith’s career and became one of the biggest hits of the 1980’s.

 

 Public Enemy

I don’t want to pick a specific body of work by Public Enemy because all of their music was influential. Known for their politically charged music and criticisms of the American media, the group’s active frustrations and concerns of the African American community were an important part of the golden age of hip hop.

 

The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest

Bridging the gap between jazz and hip-hop, this was instrumental in the birth of alternative rap.

 

Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.

This was the debut project for N.W.A. The group was among the earliest and most controversial acts in gangsta rap. Their explicit lyrics included glorification of drugs and crime that caused them to be banned from many mainstream radio stations. They’ve still managed to sell over 10 million units in the U.S.

 

Illmatic by Nas

Released in the midst of the boiling East-West conflict, Illmatic is commonly regarded as the best hip-hop album of all time.

 

Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan

This was the debut project for Wu-Tang Clan who many critics call the best rap group ever. In 2004, NME named them as one of the most influential groups of the last ten years. In 2008, About ranked them as “the No. 1 greatest hip-hop group of all time.”

 

Ready to Die by The Notorious B.I.G.

Not only was Ready to Die Biggie’s debut studio album, but it was the only project released during his lifetime. It launched him into stardom and revitalized the East Coast hip-hop scene at a time when the West Coast dominated the industry. I view Ready to Die as one of the most important rap albums of the 1990’s.

 

Me Against the World by 2pac

Pac’s third studio record addressed issues such as: racism, police brutality, poverty, crime and his impending prison sentence. Released while Shakur was imprisoned, Me Against the World became an instant commercial success. The album’s considered the best and most introspective project of his career.

 

The Slim Shady LP by Eminem

Earning him his first Grammy and skyrocketing him into mainstream culture, The Slim Shady LP marked the beginning of Em’s reign as king. He’s received 15 Grammy Awards and sold more than 172 million albums, which makes Eminem one of the most commercially successful artists of all time.

 

Is Tha Carter III a classic? Was it influential? Let me know what you think.

 

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Ab-Soul

Herbert Anthony Stevens IV (better known by the name Ab-Soul) is a California-based rapper and a member of the Black Hippy collective. He’s probably one of the most intellectual rappers I’ve heard in modern hip-hop.

 

Known for his introspective lyricism and clever metaphores, it’s impossible to fully comprehend his multi-layered personality in only ten songs… This is a good start though.

 

“Book of Soul”

“Book of Soul” is the story of some of the struggles he’s gone through. From being diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome to enduring heartbreak and loss, it makes sense that he would title the song after the Book of Job.

 

“Long Term 2”

After the previous song, I wanted to pick something more uplifting.

 

“Can Anybody Hear Me”

“Can Anybody Hear Me” features a verse from Terrence Henderson (AKA Punch) who is best known for being the president of Top Dawg Entertainment.

 

“Tree of Life”

From Soul’s third studio album, These Days…, “Tree of Life” was definitely one of the standout tracks in my opinion.

 

“Illuminate”

Whenever Kendrick and Ab get together on a record, the result is mind-blowing. Their chemistry is out of this world. I’d include “Turn Me Up” if I hadn’t already used it in another list.

 

“Ab-Soul’s Outro”

Section.80, which is quite possibly my favorite album of all time, includes this gem.

 

“Raw Backwards”

I wasn’t enamored with Ab-Soul’s latest album, Do What Thou Wilt., but this track was worth mentioning. He’s still the same talented rapper but he experimented with different sounds on the album that I simply didn’t enjoy as much.

 

“Top Dawg Underdog”

This is just a great song. Ab-Soul can tell a hell of a story.

 

“Soul Cry”

Similar to “Book of Soul” this track tells us more about Ab’s early life and the beginning of his rap career.

 

“Mayday”

Usually, Ab-Soul’s more laid-back but this song proves that he’s more than capable of delivering power.

 

Honorable mentions: …all of his other songs

What’s your favorite Ab-Soul song?

 

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Action Bronson

Gourmet chef, TV personality, and rapper, Action Bronson is gearing up to release a new album. Blue Chips 7000 will arrive this Friday (August 25th) so I decided to honor his music with a top-10 list.

 

Here are 10 of my favorite tracks from Bronsolini’s discography:

 

“9-24-11”

From Action’s Blue Chips mixtape series, this song is one of the most epic lyrical miracles from the New York emcee.

 

“Actin Crazy”

The music video is a masterpiece that makes me love the song even more. “Actin Crazy” is definitely a standout track from Mr. Wonderful.

 

“Mike Vick”

Bronson’s affinity for luxury is highlighted in this record. His performance in “Mike Vick” is the lyrical equivalent of a pimp walk.

 

“It’s Me”

Action’s lighthearted lyrics and the whimsical tone of the instrumental highlight the comedic demeanor that made him famous.

 

“Easy Rider”

Both the song and the music video are epic.

 

“Tapas”

Action Bronson can deliver one of the best old-school flows.

 

“Tan Leather”

Bam Bam’s laid-back rhymes truly shine in “Tan Leather”. His indefinable coolness is part of what makes Action Bronson a larger than life personality.

 

“Riggs & Murtaugh” by Reks (ft. Action Bronson)

Reks is one of my favorite underground rappers. The two artists have great chemistry in “Riggs & Murtaugh”. Statik Selektah’s the only producer who could create such harmony.

 

“Hookers At The Point”

If you’re easily offended, DO NOT listen to this track.

 

“Pouches of Tuna”

Action’s voice and some string instruments are all the ingredients needed for a dose of dopeness.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Amadu Diablo

Pepe Lopez

Eggs On The Third Floor

 

What are your favorite records from Mr. Wonderful?

 

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Raz Simone

An introduction to the talented up-and-comer

Raz Simone’s a Seattle-based songwriter and member of the hip-hop collective, Black Umbrella. In 2014, industry executives Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz, and Kevin Liles signed Raz to their newly established 300 Entertainment. With his unique voice, unusually staccato delivery and the support of 300 Entertainment, Simone has unlimited potential.

 

“Still Mobbin’”

This is probably my favorite Raz Simone record. The catchy chorus, smooth vocals, and fantastic beat are all the ingredients needed for a masterpiece.

 

“They’ll Speak”

“They’ll Speak” is the first track I heard from the artist and I instantly knew he was special. The song is basically a five-minute freeform poem backed by Hans Zimmer’s score from The Dark Knight.

 

“Pulling”

“Pulling” tells an incredibly vivid and dark story. Only a truly talented artist can convey such emotion.

 

“Hometown”

“Hometown Glory” by Adele has to be one of the most heavily remixed ballads in hip-hop music. This is a very impressive remix though.

 

“Nothing’s Gonna Change”

Raz teams up with fellow Black Umbrella artist, Sam Lachow, to deliver “Nothing’s Gonna Change.”

 

“Same Problems”

Simone shows his tougher, more agressive side with this one. “Same Problems” also features verses from Fatal Lucciauno and Gifted Gab.

 

“Sometimes I Don’t”

Accompanied by Sam Lachow, “Sometimes I Don’t” is a smooth jam to ride to.

 

“Shoes On”

Although he doesn’t always talk about it in his music, Raz Simone does hustle hard.

 

“Don’t Shine”

“Don’t Shine” reminds me of “Heaven at Night” by Kid Cudi for some reason… Both good songs though.

 

“Respect For The Dope Fiends”

This track is from Simone’s project Trap Spirituals in which Raz experiments with a more trap sound.

 

What do you think of Raz Simone? Which was your favorite song?

 

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Ultimate Party Playlist

I believe I’ve created the formula for the perfect playlist to get everyone on the dance floor at a party.

  1. All songs must be danceable… No slow jams.

 

  1. The lyrical content needs to fit the party atmosphere. Nobody wants to hear life lessons when they are drinking. There is a time and place for conscious rap and it isn’t at a party.

 

  1. At least 75-85% of the playlist needs to be made up of popular songs that people know. This doesn’t mean play only songs from the past two years. Look over the past 20 years and dig up some throwbacks. In college, I tried playing underground artists like Kendrick and J. Cole before they were popular. Unfortunately, this resulted in guests constantly requesting song changes. On the whole, people don’t want to be introduced to unfamiliar artists at a party. They just want something they can jam to.

 

Click here or follow the link below to check out my ultimate party playlist.

What do you think of the playlist? Is there a different kind of playlist you’d like to see?

 

Leave comments and requests for different lists below.

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