Top 15 Hip Hop And Rap Albums Mid 2016
Why even bother making a list? It’s usually albums you’ve never heard of, albums you don’t care about, or albums you either have heard or are intrigued enough by the writeup, album art, media buzz to give a chance. Still, if you’re behind on your new hip hop and/or rap music listening for the year so far, you’re welcome. Here’s our top 15 in no particular order:
Drake – Views
The vocals and production are a tour through Toronto. Unlike his mixtapes which can feel like an explosion of spontaneity, this is his map of adversaries and the bottom where he started. It’s Carribean warmth and Canadian cold. He shows vulnerability in his unabashed confidence.
Pusha T – King Push
This album dropped after our cutoff for the 365 days review. His flow is still ruthless, and his worldview is still as compelling as ever. Push tells his side of the story where you have to be violent to be at peace, making villains the heroes.
Kendrick LaMar – Untitled Unmastered
Kendrick is definitely provocative and complex. Obviously the album’s title and release are unique, and it incorporates a bunch of sounds and is almost hypnotic as it gets to the core of hip-hop.
Future – Evol
Evol is strong, intense and forceful, leaving the syrupy sounds behind. It’s still bottles, booze and bitches, but with a punch.
LeCrae – Church Clothes 3
LeCrae is more a household name now than an anomaly as a Christian rapper. He shows the ability on this project to go bar for bar, answer critics and reflect on success. Church Clothes 3 shows an incredible depth of subject matter over imaginative, atmospheric production.
Hoodie Allen – Happy Camper
Happy Camper only climbed to number 28 on the Billboard 200, but it did top the magazine’s rap chart. This album is light, airy and in the “feel-good” genre of Chance The Rapper or even Mac Miller.
Yo Gotti – The Art Of Hustle
This album was actually inspired by Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” which I thought was clever. Throughout it, we find Yo Gotti repping the pain of Memphis, war, success and struggle in the trap.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
This album is definitely daring in it’s cast, production and lyrical stylings. It’s a soulfully produced, introspective view of self that is both provocative and moving.
Kevin Gates – Islah
Kevin Gates is doing it for Baton Rouge with street anthems full of emotion. Gates’ new offering will surprise you with the types of songs you’ll hear on this album.
Young Thug – Slime Season 3
Slime Season 3 is the last of the series that launched his career. The eight tracks, all produced by London On Da Track, are full of enigmatic sounds delivered over percussion.
Twenty88 – Twenty88
This album defines sexy as the LA singer/songwriter teams up with the Detroit MC. Smooth vocals and verses over hypnotic beats and trap drums sets the bar for the modern Rap/R&B duet.
NF – Therapy Session
The Gospel-inspired rapper talks about fame in his second LP. The album is raw and honest in detailing the darker side of celebrity.
Royce Da 5’9″ – Layers
Layers is cool, confident and cinematic going back to the boom bap sound of the 90s. It’s classic Royce who is hardworking, impervious to trends, and well connected.
Straight Outta Compton: Music From The Motion Picture
A compilation album of NWA tracks along with Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E solos. There’s also some Jazz and Funk mixed in.
Hamilton: An American Musical
It’s 2 hours and 23 minutes long and 46 songs. It’s definitely alternative hip-hop, but it’s super educational as a bonus.