Sober - Childish Gambino Dancing in the Rain - Taylor Bennett ft Donnie Trumpet, Shay Lewis, Brandon Fox Wolves - Kanye ft Vic Mensa & Sia love. - Kid Cudi Stevie Wonder - Lucki Eck$ ft Chance The Rapper Apparently - J.Cole Apple Pie - Travis Scott Sapiosexual - Ab-Soul No Fucks Given - Supa Slackas Excuse Me - ASAP Rocky Lord Knows - Meek Mill How Do You Want It - 2Pac ft K-Ci & JoJo Chains - Usher ft Nas & Bibi Bourelly Angels - Chance The Rapper ft Saba Alright - Kendrick Lamar Devil’s Whisper- Raury The Famm - Marty Grimes ft G-Eazy Sweatpants - Childish Gambino No Role Modelz- J.Cole Paradise(Extended) - Big Sean Wonderful - Travis Scott ft The Weeknd True Colors - Wiz Khalifa ft Nicki Minaj Dance On Me - Goldlink Cruisin’ - Class OK Alright - Travis Scott ft Schoolboy Q & SZA
This mixtape cemented Lil Yachty’s presence on the rap scene. He’d already
burst onto the scene with “1 Night” and “Minnesota”, but no one really knew
what Yachty had to offer. On this tape—which improves upon “Minnesota” with a
remix including Young Thug and Quavo—we see a full showcase of Lil Boat’s
talent. In the intro, he references his two aliases: “Today I’m gonna tell you
a story about my two nephews, Lil Yachty and Lil Boat.” These two aliases
reference his versatility in his raps, whether it’s lyrical swiftness with his
bars or melodic sing-rap that sounds like a children’s song—a children’s song
from the Zone 6 Precinct in Atlanta.
9. Kendrick Lamar: untitled unmastered.
Holy shit. This album blew me away. When it came out, I wasn’t very excited. We were just coming off of the 2015 seminal release of To Pimp a Butterfly, which made more of an impact on American culture than I can even explain. This album seemed like throwaways from TPAB sessions, but I was wrong. It indeed was a collection of demo tracks that didn’t make the album, but that’s because it seems more like the tracks didn’t fit the concept of the introspective, nearly Dylan-esque protest album from 2015. It’s eight tracks of Kendrick’s new jazz-hop sound and it hits harder than arguably any other Kendrick Lamar project on the first listen. Kendrick didn’t send any message this album; he’s content at the top of the rap game. This seems to be Kendrick paying homage to fans – giving them new music – than an important album. It’s not going to impact culture or be recognized as a legendary work of art like Lamar’s previous two albums. That doesn’t mean it’s not just as good, though. Because it is. This will be a hidden gem of Kendrick’s discography when it’s all said and done.
8. Payroll Giovanni: Big Bossin, Vol. 1
Cardo Got Wings is an established producer in the hip-hop world, working with the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Domo Genesis and Nef the Pharaoh. Payroll Giovanni is a legend in the Detroit rap scene, but hasn’t seen a ton of publicity outside of the Midwest. The two had worked before in the past, but teamed up to create Big Bossin, a great album to enter the summer. You wouldn’t think a Detroit native and a Texas-based producer would create a west coast rap album, but here we are. The album doesn’t have too much depth – it’s classic Payroll rap over orgasmic, deep bass production from Cardo – but it’s a perfect combination and a perfect summer soundtrack.
7. James Blake: The Colour in Anything
I’m a sucker for albums that create an intense feeling. Listening to James Blake’s newest project, the pain and paranoia is almost tangible. Each time I put it on, I feel like I’m walking through the pouring rain thinking about everything there is to think about in life. In addition to the album’s feeling, this is Blake’s most cohesive effort yet. The strong keys combined with the scraps of what’s left of Blake’s EDM influences that he ran with at the beginning of his career create beautifully chaotic noise. Blake’s production gives way to accompany his almost surreal, ethereal voice. It’s an ominous, fragile voice that perfectly captures everything James Blake is about in his music.
6. Kanye West: The Life of Pablo
I could say a lot about this album. Although, after Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, it’s becoming evident that Chance may have been the main architect of the album’s organic gospel sound as well as its driving force lyrically, this album still is quintessential Kanye West. In a 180 degree turnaround from the anger-fueled, experimental Yeezus, this album comes from a positive but confused place of Kanye’s heart. The sequencing is chaotic, something I wasn’t a fan of at first. Over time, though, I’ve realized that the sequencing was on purpose. Kanye may be happy, but he’s at a crossroads in his life. He’s cemented himself as a hip-hop legend but wants to keep pushing towards a new frontier, which has had its obstacles. It’s fitting that as this album was rolled out, Kanye was concurrently losing his mind on Twitter. Lyrics have never been Kanye’s strong suit – did you hear him get washed by Chance on “Ultralight Beam”? – but he has some nice moments over some smooth beats. He also enlisted some of the best help you can get with Chance, The Weeknd, Andre 3000, Swizz Beats, Rihanna, Metro Boomin and more. This is yet another seminal Kanye West album that I can’t wait to see age.
5. KAYTRANADA: 99.9%
Some albums don’t need a lot of explaining. One listen through KAYTRANADA’s debut album and you can feel the infectious rhythms coupled with fun, loopy synths and catchy samples. It’s almost like a mix of classic house music with the soundscape of Madvillainy-era Madlib. The Haitian, dancehall influence gives the album depth and creative freedom. Just like KAYTRANADA, the majority of guests (BADBADNOTGOOD, Anderson .Paak and GoldLink, just to name a few) are artists exploring new genres and experimenting with new sounds. One area of Kay’s expertise is his ability to develop chemistry and work with a wide range of artists with varying styles. This album is a collection of new experiments and creative artists all wrapped up in a mellow aesthetic that only KAYTRANADA could create.
4. Beyonce: Lemonade
Ok, I’m going to say it. This is the best pop album since Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. Beyonce attacks the songs with intensity than she ever has before. The delivery of the “video-album” was Kanye West-esque, with an accompanying film with the album. It was quickly realized that this album was a statement against her husband, Jay Z, which only sparked public interest about the album. The project itself, though, is what makes the album so incredible. The genre bending blues-folk-rock-soul sound that Beyonce implements in this album is breathtaking. From Jack White guitar-shredding on “Don’t Hurt Yourself” to the empowering folk ballad of “Daddy Lessons”, the album explores areas of sound that Beyonce has never done before. The most powerful point in the album comes on “Freedom”, a strong-willed protest song with none other than Kendrick Lamar. The magnum opus of the album, though, is the last song and the most popular single, “Formation”, a statement about the black experience in America, more specifically black women. This album is Beyonce’s best work today – and that says a lot. Middle fingers up.
3. Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial
After flipping on the first track, “Fill in the Blank”, I knew that I was in store for a great album. I was captivated by the band’s raw energy channeled through a completely new Indie Rock sound. My issue with a lot of Indie Rock is that it’s eerily close to elevator music. It can be boring and artists in that genre are slow to adapt to new, changing styles. Car Seat Headrest sheds all of the preconceived notions of indie rock bands in this album. The punk-rock, 90’s grunge sound wrapped up in a Yo La Tengo-esque aesthetic makes for a very expansive, unique soundscape. My favorite part of the album, though, comes from lead man Will Toledo’s songwriting abilities. The album is essentially an hour long story about drugs, depression and loneliness. Common themes of bad trips of pyschedelics, apathy, giving up and a lot of drinking appear throughout the project. I want to categorize this project, but I can’t; it’s genre-bending. And that’s what makes it so great.
2. Lil Uzi Vert: Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The
The world has been put on alert. We saw a lot of Philly’s newest
star before this project, with his guest appearances on Young Thug’s Slime Season 2 or his collaboration with
Playboi Carti (“Left Right”) in addition to his LUV is Rage tape from last fall. This project is a full showcase of
Uzi’s ability. The melodies over weird (for lack of a better word) Don Cannon
and Maaly Raw beats in addition to his unique cadences over classic Metro
Boomin production gives a little heat to Uzi fans of all shapes and sizes. It’s
clear to hear an Atlanta rap influence on this music as well as a very heavy
rock influence (Uzi says Marilyn Manson is one of his biggest influences),
something that we’ve never heard before.
1. Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book
Damn, Chance. The 23-year old’s 3rd official mixtape could not have
delivered more. While 2013’s critically
acclaimed release Acid Rap became a
legendary underground mixtape of sorts, Chance the Rapper’s next 3 years had
been relatively quiet. He collaborated with the Social Experiment to create a
live instrumentation album that reeks of positivity—Surf. Although that project got generally favorable reviews, it
wasn’t what fans wanted from Chance. I know I was worried about the young
rapper’s career path. Towards the beginning of 2016, though, things started to
shift. It was rumored he was working with Kanye West on his new album, The Life of Pablo. We didn’t know how
much Chance contributed to the project until the release, when we basically found
out that he was the architect of the album’s general sound. It all comes to
fruition in his verse on the intro track, which catapulted Chance into the
national spotlight. The release of his new tape was important, because the eyes
of the country were keyed in on Chance. And he delivered. The tape was an
embodiment of Chance’s evolution. He’s at a different place than he was during
the drugged-out confusion of Acid Rap. He’s a father and has realized how
successful he is. All of that gave way to a heavy gospel sound to the album,
which was beautifully accompanied by Chance’s excellent songwriting and catchy
melodies. The rap throne is Chancellor Bennett’s for the taking.