Hip-hop music is thriving more than ever as the most consumed music genre in the country. Kendrick Lamar reigned supreme over nearly everybody once again (shout out to KRS-One) and Jay-Z added yet another classic to his catalog. There was so much floating about the hip-hop stratosphere in 2017 that, inevitably, there were a few equally impressive albums that got lost in the shuffle. Here are five albums that you slept on.
Their 2017 debut album, 2008, represents the year they formed as a group and dropped out of the blue but right on time without missing a step. The album follows a day or two in the lives of the foursome with a wide array of sonics handled by the likes of THC, Terrace Martin, Organized Noize, and the aforementioned Williams. 2008 is the wildest ride of 2017 and with tracks like “Secret Sunday” and “U Let the Homie Hit”, it’s unapologetically LA.
Freddie Gibbs, You Only Live 2wice
In 2016, Gibbs’ voice was nearly silenced when he was charged with sexual abuse while on tour in Europe. After being extradited to an Austrian jail, he sat and did the only thing he could do; write. For three months, he sat in that cell until he was eventually acquitted of all charges. He walked out a changed man with countless songs. You Only Live 2wice recounts the time before, during and immediately following his jail stint. With zero features, the album is a purge of the mental, physical and spiritual anguish the ordeal caused him and his family. It’s also his most concise project yet. At a mere eight tracks —- nine if you count Part 2 of “20 Karat Jesus” —- Gibbs leaves no stone unturned as to how the encounter affected his life, even allowing old Gangsta Gibbs to show up on tracks like “Dear Maria” and the Kaytranada and BadBadNotGood-produced “Alexys.”
Rick Ross, Rather You Than Me
Infamously known as a beat selection virtuoso, his knack for picking the best of what a producer offers is simply unparalleled. He’s still inclined to feed the streets with a banger (“Trap Trap Trap”) but his lane is now adult contemporary soulful rap tunes (“Apple of My Eye,” “Santorini Greece”). Most of the conversation around RYTM centered on “Idols Become Rivals,” where Rozay exposes the long-running folklore of Cash Money Records boss Birdman and business dealings with his artists, specifically Lil Wayne. We hear the pages turn in the booth as each tale is revealed. Ross sounds heartbroken yet resolute, reminiscent of the way Nino Brown parted ways with G Money in New Jack City.
Dom Kennedy & Hit-Boy, Courtesy of Half-A-Mil
On this new LP we hear Dom revert back to his prime Get Home Safely form, gliding right in the pocket on “500 Band Clique” while Hit keeps pace, going bar-for-bar while pulling everything out of his impressive production repertoire. While there isn’t a lot of heft behind the subject matter for the album, it deserves more shine for what it is; an album chock full of smooth slappers from two artists with unquestionable chemistry.
Fabolous and Jadakiss, Friday on Elm Street
True school MC’s Fabolous and Jadakiss owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to their loyal fan base who rely on them to uphold the traditional East Coast aesthetic. If it were left solely to album productivity, who knows where their names would land in the conversation of hip-hop greats?
Thanks to a bevy of memorable features and mixtapes, the allure still exists. After a pump fake or two, we finally have a Fabolous and Jadakiss collab album. Released in late November, smack dab in the middle of Timb-and-hoodie season, we’re treated to the rarest of moments for 45 minutes of Friday on Elm Street; two rappers with 20 years in the game who not only deliver better than ever lyrically, but are as equally invigorating.
In most cases, they aren’t rhyming for the sake of riddling. On the Tevin Campbell-flipped, Teyana Taylor-featured “Talk About It,” Kiss and Fab trade bars, offering their perspective on the wild world state of affairs. They briefly break format on tracks like “Stand Up” and “All About It,” but stick to the script for the most part, paying their debt and delivering a gritty New York street record for a starving audience.