Written by LaZedrick Blackshire | @blusatire
Looking back at 2017, Hip-hop was elite with the amount of quality music that was released. Thanks to favorites like Kendrick, Drake, Migos, Childish Gambino, Cardi B, and Logic hip-hop has become not only the most popular genre, but also most listened. Thanks to streaming and the Internet, its accessibility has increased. Now we know about all the big named albums that dropped, but about the people that no one expected? I got 5 artists that really surprised me with their projects this year for different reasons, and I think everyone should take a listen to them.5. Talib Kwali – Radio Silence
I had doubts listening to this one, because we just haven’t heard much from Talib in a while. People still to this day lie in their slumber when it comes to his music. In a place where conscious rap is still underappreciated, Radio Silence was able to catch my attention for multiple listens this year. The album, like his others, has soulful upbeat instrumentals. He shows his talent with wordplay, metaphors, and subtle jabs that keep you listening. It’s a positive album that boost features from BJ The Chicago kid, Anderson Pak, Jay Electronica and others. The Surprise factor in this, that he still was able to produce quality in a mumble rap era and still sound relevant.4. Belly – Mumble Rap
First Glance of the title “ Mumble Rap” and I was prepared for some Atlanta trap music. But Belly hits us with the okie doke and delivers lyrics over nice production, and samples executively produced by Boi-1da. The Canadian rapper shows that he appreciates bars by delivering them throughout the project. Interesting fact, he learned English by listening to classic Hip-Hop albums. I’ve heard Belly years ago on old Drake songs, and he sounded nothing like this. I often avoided songs that had his name on it, but I took a chanced and was pleased. He also killed the “No Limit” remix. If you like lyrics and smooth chill flows on the beat; Belly will be a surprise talent.
- Lecrae – All Things Come together
I knew I had to listen to this album when I heard “If Young Metro don’t trust you Ima shoot you” and Lecrae started spitting over a Metro Booming beat. All Things Come together is just that…. hip-hop, faith and good music meshing into one. I was a fan of Lecrae when he dropped Church Clothes, as it sounded more Hip-Hop, than “Christian Rap”. I almost forgot that Lecrae’s music was faith based, as he himself declared to be viewed as a hip-hop artist and not a Christian rapper. The Ty Dolla feature, along with Aha Gazelle, and Tori Kelly make it sound like a modern hip-hop album as he drops life bars and metaphors while never sounding preachy or judgmental.
- Cyhi the Prynce – No Dope on Sunday
Folks were waiting forever for Cyhi to drop an album since the buzz he got way back when GOOD Music was doing cyphers. Many thought he just said eff it and wanted to stick to the mixtape game, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that he dropped his debut album. His past mixtapes were album worthy especially The Black Hystori Projects. No Dope On Sunday pulls no punches as the production is great and the bars are present. His wordplay is what many considers his greatest strength and he displays it on the album with great expertise. The features aren’t bad either, as he has Kanye, Pusha T, BJ the Chicago Kid and a couple others. This in my opinion is a contender for top 5 albums of 2017.
- Jaden Smith – Syre
The biggest surprise to me of the year will have to go to this young man. I remember listening to Jaden on one of his Cooltape mixtapes and saying, give him time and he could possibly be a force in the future. Syre started with Willow singing on a melodic beat, and I was like “ok she sounds nice but what’s next”? Then she turned up and Jaden said, “Hold my beer sis” and he flowed effortlessly. He may sound a little bit childish, and one can’t deny that his subject matter may cause folks outside of the rich LA life to wonder how he has experienced it, but his creativity and flow is undeniable. The production on the album is superb and carries him well assisted by background vocals from his sister, Teo (Not the Dancer) throughout multiple tracks. The kid has an ear for music despite if he is weird to the masses, but he surprised many with his debut album and showed the game that he is serious about the rap game.
What were your favorite albums of 2017?