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!

10 Songs You Need to Hear: Watsky

George Watsky, widely known as Watsky, is a rapper, slam poet, and author from San Francisco.

 

Watsky’s intellect, stage presence, and lyrical ability are undoubtedly the most defining qualities of his music, tackling pretty much any subject matter with ease. Recently, Watsky contributed a song to Lin-Manuel Maranda’s The Hamilton Mixtape as well as dropping his own fifth studio album, x Infinity.

 

Here are ten songs from Watsky’s discography to serve as an introduction:

  1. “S for Lisp”

2. “Whoa Whoa Whoa”

3. “Never Let it Die”

4. “Hey, Asshole”

5. “Strong as an Oak”

6. “Ten Fingers”

7. “Rich Girl”

8. “Cardboard Castles”

9. “Pink Lemonade”

10. “Wounded Healer”

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Tito Lopez

Mississippi underdog, Tito Lopez, is an artist that many Hip Hop Heads are familiar with.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tito Lo, check out his story here.

Tito’s released many mixtapes over the years, but here are 10 songs that’ll serve as a good jumping-off point introducing you to his music:

 

  1. “Black Dude Spanish Name”

2. “Try Me”

3. “THE GREATEST”

4. “Y.O.U.”

5. “The Blues”

6. “Have Mercy”

7. “Story to Tell”

8. “Jada Pac [Venting Session #9]”

9. “Mississippi Burning”

10. “Outkast Medley”

 

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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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My Reaction to the XXL 2017 Freshman Class

Note: My use of hyperlinks throughout the article is very deliberate. I recommend clicking them.

 

No offense to the XXL staff members… but what the hell?

  

Beginning in 2007, XXL has released an annual list of 10 up-and-coming artists to showcase new talent in the hip-hop genre. The first few years were awesome and accurately predicted the artists with the most potential. In 2011, they introduced an annual cypher, which was a great addition.

 

In 2014, the tide began to turn. The freshman class of 2014 consisted of 5 talented rappers and 5 people that made me seriously question the selection process. The unbalanced talent in the 2014 class was very evident in the cypher because half of the participants rapped like they’d never touched a microphone before.

 

2015 and 2016 were total disappointments. Just when I thought they couldn’t get any worse, they released the 2017 freshman class.

 

This year’s class is undoubtedly the worst one yet. The cyphers are sure to be a laughable mess and I’ve basically lost all faith in the XXL decision makers. The annual list was originally intended to showcase artists who represent the future of the genre. I pray that XXL’s 2017 list isn’t an accurate prediction of where rap is headed. 

  

Below, I’ve made a list of 10 people who should’ve been chosen.

 

  

Young M.A

 At the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, she delivered what XXL Magazine described as a “show-stopping freestyle… one of the best freestyles of the night.” I can’t speak for the LGBT community but I’d imagine they’d be happy to see her in the 2017

 

 

J.I.D.

 I’m really surprised J.I.D. wasn’t picked for this year’s freshman class… especially after J. Cole signed him to Dreameville Records.

 

 

D.R.A.M.

 Why was D.R.A.M. not picked? He has the personality that makes a superstar and he’s collaborated with popular artists like in the song “Broccoli” which features Lil Yachty. There’s no logical explanation for D.R.A.M. not appearing on the cover in this year.

 

 

KYLE

KYLE is one of the few rappers who earned their spot in the 2017 freshman class. Congratulations, KYLE. Well done.

 

 

Token

 Token has yet to drop his debut album but if it’s released in 2017, his name will blow up. He’ll be picked for the 2018 or 2019 for sure and, as a seasoned battle rapper, he’ll perform well in the cypher.

 

 

Montana of 300

Montana of 300 was originally signed to Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment but has since left that label. Regardless, he should have been chosen for the cover. According to his facebook, “So I found out that I had the most votes for the XXL Freshman cover and I still didn’t get on there. They said my fans was going crazy….disrespecting the director and ppl in charge of the XXL cover. Rather my fans was disrespectful of not, we all know I wasn’t gone get on there anyway. It’s all about politics. Everybody, including every rapper on the cover knows who Montana of 300 is. But guess what….since idk anybody that’s connected with them (that’s vouching for me heavy), and I’m not dealing with any major record labels to push for me AND I’m not paying to get on that bitch either, that’s why my votes ain’t mean shit. The power of intimidation is a mf. It’s not about talent, it’s about politics.”

 

 

RJ

 RJ is a talented rapper who’s known for collaborating with YG and DJ Mustard. His recently released album, Mr. LA, is a solid project. I imagine that he’ll be chosen for the cover in 2018 after he gains a little more notoriety.

 

 

Russ

He’s selling out shows wherever he goes and his music video views are off the charts. His debut album wasn’t mind-blowing but Russ is making waves. Kap G was picked for this year’s class and as a GA native, I can assure that Kap G doesn’t accurately represent popular music in Atlanta.

 

 

Xxxtentacion

 I personally think XXX is complete garbage but he’s popular among the younger crowd so being chosen for the 2017 freshman class made sense.

 

 

Joyner Lucas

 Joyner Lucas is a true lyricist with a rapidly growing audience. Having Joyner Lucas on the cover would’ve made up for Xxxtentacion’s lack of talent. In the words of Forest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

 

What did you think of the 2017 Freshman Class?

 Who do you think should’ve been chosen?

 Please comment below

 

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