J Dilla’s Lasting Legacy

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James Dewitt Yancey was born on February 7th 1974.  What he was able to achieve in terms of musical progression in the 32 years that he was allotted on this earth was quite simply amazing. From original compositions and remixes in the mid to late 90’s to jaw dropping, mind-boggling soundscapes of the early 00’s, Dilla’s penchant for pushing boundaries is that something that is still lauded and awe-inspiring to this day, even 12 years after his death.

As as a youngster discovering sounds and more importantly Hip-Hop for the first time, I was introduced to J Dilla’s work long before I knew who he was. Listening to the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, The Roots and D’Angelo I had no idea that many of the songs that I loved from these artists were in fact produced by him. It wasn’t until early in my college career that I discovered the man behind many of the songs that I deemed classics. If it wasn’t for “J.J.” I seriously doubt that I would have made those connections when I did, so for that I’m forever grateful.

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Once that light bulb went on however, I did my Due DILLAgence and began searching, scouring the net,  the brick and mortar stores and iTunes at the time for all things Jay Dee related. From there I really got into Madlib and Nujabes, the former is one who I strongly consider to be a direct contemporary. It was no coincidence that right after I had that thought, I came across “Champion Sound” which was sadly Jaylib’s lone collaborative project. It is a technical marvel in terms of sound and is rightfully considered an underground classic.

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Slum Village-Fan-Tas-Tic Vol.1

Slum Village was another important pickup for me while I was “digging” so to speak. “Fan-tas-tic Vol. 1” was the one that I gravitated toward, falling in love with the minimalist approach to crafting songs. “Welcome To Detroit” was yet another album that I have a ton of respect for. For me it sounded like more of what I was accustomed to in terms of the Slum sound and was a great addition to an already stellar catalog.  While listening to Slum Village, I was introduced to Elzhi and Black Milk.

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Khrysis and Elzhi are “Jericho Jackscon”

Even though most of Elzhi’s work was on subsequent Slum Village albums after Jay Dee’s departure from the group, there was still a bevy of material to sift through with Elzhi tearing apart Dilla Beats.  “Villa Manifesto” was the last time all four members of Slum Village were featured on a single project…Rest In Peace Baatin.  Even with the album pictured above that was released on February 23rd, 2018 the legacy lives on with Elzhi sounding as sharp as ever while Khrysis crafts beats that are reminiscent of  Dilla’s early work.

 

 

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Karriem Riggins- Headnod Suite

When “Headnod Suite” dropped on February 24th 2017, I declared then that if  J Dilla were alive today and dropped “Donuts 2”, It would sound exactly like this. From the chopped up loops, to abrupt breaks or “perfect mistakes” as I call them, It is abundantly clear that Mr. Riggins  has studied the techniques very closely and has arguably perfected the sound altogether. It’s also no coincidence that Karriem Riggins was entrusted with completing “The Shining” which was unfortunately only 75% completed at the time of Dilla’s passing.

 

Black Milk Fever
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As mentioned earlier, while listening to Slum Village I discovered Black Milk while reading through the liner notes. Determined not to make the same mistake I did with J Dilla, I immediately bought “Popular Demand” and was blown away.  Any album that he has dropped since Dilla has passed has felt like he picked up the mantle of pushing boundaries musically. Every album sounds and feels different sonically.  The “Fever” album also dropped on February 23rd, 2018 and I implore all of you to go give this album a spin, you will not be disappointed.

 

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In ending, The words above summarizes my senitments on J Dilla entirely, to quote Black Thought’s heart-felt and soul stirring voicemail from the song “Can’t Stop This” he states:

“My man, JD, was a true hip hop artist
… I can’t explain the influence that
His mind and ear have had on my band
Myself and the careers of so many other
Artists.
 The most humble, modest, worthy

And gifted beatmaker I’ve known. And
Definitely the best producer on the mic
Never without that signature smile and head
Bouncin’ to the beat.
 JD had a passion for

Life and music, and will never be forgotten
He’s a brother that was loved by me, and I
Love what he’s done for us. And though I’m
Happy he’s no longer in the pain he’d been
Recently feelin’, I’m crushed by the pain of
His absence.
 Name’s Dilla Dog and I can only
Rep the real and raw.
 My man, Dilla, rest in

Peace.”

As I sit here 12 years after J Dilla’s passing, I can’t help but wonder where he would have taken music had he still been with us. What new technique would he have invented that would have changed the landscape entirely. J Dilla did indeed change my life, he changed the way I heard and understood music. He made me study music theory just so I could have a better appreciation of 3 second sample from an obscure record placed at an unconventional section that would normally destroy the structure of a song. A practice that if done by anybody else during that time, I’m not sure that it would have been executed with such precision. James Dewitt Yancey was born on February 7th 1974.  He was truly a one of one the likes of which we will most likely never see again…Maybe in our next lifetime.

The RapNerd’s Lament…

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“A Sad Man” by Javi Velazquez

 

As a life long fan of Hip-Hop, I find myself at a point where I’m extremely conflicted. Although my love for the art form has not wavered, I have begun to question much of the content and intent that has pervaded the mass consciousness of general music listeners. The more I listen, the more I absorb, the more I begin to realize a harsh truth. A truth that many will often defend to the point of being obnoxious, ignorant, selfish or just flat-out wrong. The truth is that we as a Hip-Hop Community hates women, Women in general but Black Women specifically.

On The Diplomats song “Once Upon A Time” Cam’Ron rapped:

“Welcome back to the hallway loiterers
I made mills off the white girl, I exploited her
No disrespecting the ladies, word from my team (why)
That’s the reason Dame smacked Harvey Weinstein.”

By now we should all know about the monster that is Harvey Weinstein and he deserves every punishment that can be given to him. While what Cam rapped about was something commendable on Dame’s behalf, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I went crazy every time “Wet Wipes” or  “Suck It Or Not” was played back in 2007. In 2018 I looked back on those songs began to cringe profusely.  I began to wonder how many men in their early 20’s 10 years ago feel the same way now as I do. As the conversation shifts ever so violently toward women’s rights. I found myself pondering what role if any does Hip-Hop play in the sphere of Misogynoir.

For those of you that don’t know, Misogynoir is defined as; misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. To break that down further, Misogyny is defined as; the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls.  Now when you take those definitions and apply them to the current landscape of Mainstream Hip-Hop (the most listened to genre of music in the world at the present day) There is a very serious issue that stands before us. How many times have we as fans been complicit in the systemic tearing down of black women?

Through the music we have allowed ourselves to fall victim to the politics of respectability. The medium of music videos has done more to marginalize black women. Entire social media and terrestrial media platforms have been created to further drive home that point. So much so, that we as consumers believe that any woman who is apart of these platforms is of low moral standing. We as a community has allowed this to happen.

Another branch of the misogynior tree is rape culture. To make it plain and simple, anytime a woman is forced, or coerced into sex without her consent is rape period. In a world where words or phrases like “thot”, “scrapes”, “stabs”, and “hoes” have become normal jargon, it can blind you to the fact that women, Black women are the targets of these words more times than not. When Rick Ross rapped:

“Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it
Got a hundred acres I live on, you ain’t even know it
Got a hundred rounds in this AR, you ain’t even know it
Got a bag of bitches I play with, on cloud 9 in my spaceship”

he knowingly shared his tactics with us on how he beds women,and all we did was nod along and ran the song back.

There are varying degrees to which we as black men have been complicit with notions and concepts that are less than becoming or savory. Degrees that none of us are exempt from. As I sit here and continue to ponder, I ask myself, where did much is this originate from? On Kid Cudi’s song , “Make Her Say(Poke Her Face)” A song literally about receiving oral pleasure, Conscious Stalwart Common once implored women to “get their hair right and get up on this conscious dick”.  In that verse he answers a poignant question, while “Embodying everything from the Godly to the party” when he finally spit, “that’s the way I was raised in this Southside safari so….” That led me to believe that this has been passed down through generations as misogynoir normally is.

In ending, as I continue this mental exercise, I’m finding myself more confused than when I began. Where is the balance? How do I continue down this path of musical freedom while also being aware that Black Women continue to be marginalized? It’s literally coming from all sides. How do we raise this generation of young girls and boys? when is it the right time to expose them to the art form? While it is beautiful at its core, there is a bunch of muck that surrounds it. Muck that is profitable, Muck that is vibrationally frequent , Muck that is universal.

KayFabe and Hip-Hop

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In professional wrestling, kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true”, specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Doesn’t that sound like something that is enjoyed by billions throughout the globe? Yes my friends, I am talking about The Sports Entertainment world known as Hip-Hop. While the culture and essence of Hip-Hop is still very much intact, The advent of “beef for profit’ has been something that  many of the labels have sought after since the first Hip-Hop record was sold.

When Hip-Hop was in its infancy in the late 70’s and Early 80’s, the life blood of the art form was based widely on competition and crew rivalries(Factions). During that time battles took place within the boroughs to see who could lay claim to the proverbial throne. As Hip-Hop fought for acceptance and viability, it wouldn’t be long before labels came calling, seeking to cash in on what would later on become known as manufactured beef.

Much like Wrestling, Hip-Hop is littered with “BabyFaces” and “Heels”.  As early as the 80’s you had your “Face Rappers” like Will Smith and Young MC while “Heel Rappers” could be seen as Ice T and NWA. While the face rappers were radio friendly and safe for mainstream ears, It was the heel rappers that gave Rap its edge and street cred during that time. It was cool to root for NWO and DX…oops I meant NWA and Public Enemy.

On the T.I. track “Tell’em I Said That” he rapped:

Please pay attention to this part of the bull
One time got robbed got shot got shook
Got a job started rhymin’ came up with a hook
Got a chain and some tats came up with a look
Went and made it here
Workin’ talk tough in a book
F*** the image and perception they never tough as they look

This quote from the album “T.I. vs. T.I.P” succinctly describes the current era of  Hip-Hop. The “Image” is what the label heads are trying to sell the consumer on a daily basis as it churns out act after act. In true Kayfabe fashion, many of the artists don’t bother to separate fiction from reality instead they straddle the line. “Am I really this mega rich, doped up superstar?, Or am I just a actor?” Now some may view this as pure conjecture but to the impressionable, try telling them that wrestling…err..um..Rap is fake.

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When the Drake and Meek beef took place, both artists positioned and postured themselves with a story line that seemed like it was ripped straight from the WWE writer room. While Drake used the Titantron…Shucks I meant the OVOFest screen to get at Meek, Meek cut instagram promos like a true mid carder trying to get over and make it to the main roster. Was it good clean fun for those few days that it occurred, sure but how many of us really believed that any kind of real harm would come to either one of them during this spat.

 

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The Lil Wayne and Birdman situation is something I would liken to the “Montreal Screw Job”. Vince McMahon has been billed as a true heel in the industry and the way he treats his artists….I’m sorry I mean wrestlers… is something that is akin to Birdman. Weezy to me is The Brett Hart of the Rap game and was forced to put other rappers over while his own product suffered.

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2017 gave us another WWE like feud…and it even included microphones being tossed on the floor! Again it was mindless fun like an episode of  Raw or Smackdown but for some reason many of us thought there was a legitimate threat of  a real altercation. No Such luck, just more comedic fodder to create memes and music.

In Ending, there is much to love about about both mediums. Both have their merits and adversely both are not without flaw. The gangsters are hyper gangsters while the more gentle rappers are damn near priests on the mic. As the veil of mystery and secrecy has all but dissolved between artist and consumer, it seems to me that the Rap Kayfabe machine has gone into overdrive. We create hashtags out of catchphrases, we walk around in our favorite wrestlers (there I go again) rappers merch, and throw up their gang signs in our pictures. To be clear there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time connecting with our favorite artist but we must always remember to take a step back and see it for what it truly is…..Music Entertainment.

 

 

 

The 18 For 2018: The Antcipated

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2018 is looking like it’s shaping up to be another one for the record books. 2017 was an awesome year musically, but it felt like something was missing. I can’t fully place my finger on it but when compared to years like 2015 or 2012, there was a significant dip. 2018 to me feels like there will be much more of a balance and we’ll get stellar releases from Vets and Rookies alike…Below are 18 of the drops I’m looking forward to. Here’s to a most fire 2018!!!

 

1. Nipsey Hussle-Victory Lap

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Finalllllly!…..Nipsey is dropping arguably his most anticipated album of his career. I say arguably because this is literally HIS FIRST ALBUM of his career. Although he has given us a slew of stellar mixtapes and projects…This looks like it will shape up to be a most fitting end to the marathon.

 

2. Lupe Fiasco- DROGAS Wave

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2017’s Drogas Light  yielded mixed reviews from the supremely talented lyricist.  Admittedly he said that the release was purposefully “light” and that the follow up would be a lot more dense and would be what Lupe stalwarts have grown accustomed to. Either way you look at, I viewed Drogas Light as the warm-up and I’m expecting Drogas Wave to exceed expectations…Possible album of the year.

 

3.  Maxo Kream- Punken

 

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If  I was Dr. Jeykll, Maxo Kream would without a doubt be Mr. Hyde. I have often referred to him as my Rap Doppelganger.  Since 2013’s QuiccStrikes I’ve been down with the Kream Klicc so to speak and each release has gotten better.  Expect this album to rattle trunks sooner than later.

 

4. Black Panther: The Album 

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Marvel’s Black Panther has already been forecast as 2018’s First Blockbuster, making well over $100 Million dollars opening weekend. In Recent news, Kendrick Lamar and TDE have been pegged to curate/helm the soundtrack. Based on the sound of the first single “All The Stars” Black Panther will be a moment…An Epic Moment…I  Cannot Wait!

 

 

5. PRHYME- PRHYME 2

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DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9 are PRHYME. When their eponymous debut came out in 2014, It literally took the year by storm and it was highly ranked in many year end lists. Its been a long 4 years since then so hopefully we’ll get this project sooner than later.

 

6. Travis Scott-Astroworld

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I am here for anything La Flame decides to give…Even the Huncho Jack offering with Quavo has grown on me. So with that being said…Astroworld is the place where The Birds in the trap sing McKnight.

 

7. Drake-TBD

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On Drake’s Playlist “More Life” he said “he’d be back in 2018 to give us the summary”.  Welp, who knows how far into 2018 we will get until we get a proper Drake album…Here’s hoping he comes back with and drops a classic.

 

8.  Judas Priest- Firepower

 

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I must admit I cackled when I saw this purposed cover art for the the forthcoming Judas Priest album…It does give me that feel of 80’s hair metal and that’s something I’m definitely here for. Don’t be surprised if you see me around town in full air guitar mode. It’s bound to happen so you’ve been warned.

 

9. BrockHampton- Team Effort

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After their breakout monster year, Hip-Hop’s first(?) boy band BrockHampton will drop their 4th album in a years time. Team Effort will look to further solidify the group as a true force in Music and satiate their ever growing rabid fan base.

 

10.  Jack White-Boarding House Reach

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Whew its been Four years since Jack White released Lazoretto…but I’m proud to say that the wait is now over. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from this upcoming album so that by itself has me intrigued.

 

11. Elzhi/Khrysis- Jericho Jackson

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2018 will also see the continuing trend of One MC/One Producer led projects. Khrysis who is fresh off his Grammy Nods for his work on Laila’s Wisdom will jump back behind the boards to give underrated wordsmith Elzhi some top notch beats to lace time and time again…Another early contender for Album of the Year.

 

12. Gucci Mane- Evil Genius

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There is no slowing down for La Flare. Fresh off of a normal year which saw 3 releases, Gucci Mane has already announced another album for 2018. I know I’m speaking for myself but I really enjoyed El Gato and I would not mind getting another offering from Guwop without any features.

 

13.  Kid Cudi-TBD

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Hey!, Mr. Raaager, Mr.Rager
Tell me where you’re going, tell us where you’re headed”

The rumor mills are churning with speculation that Kid Cudi and Kanye West are working on a album together. I don’t know about you but an entire project with Cudder and Kanye is going to be a must listen whenever it drops.

 

14. Lil Wayne-Dedication 6: Reloaded

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Dedication 6 showed flashes of the brilliance that still exist within Wayne and still gives me hope that his title of Greatest Rapper Alive remains. “Family Feud”  only further bolstered that notion for me and only brought up my anticipation factor to astronomical levels. If I get at least 10 “freestyles” like Family Feud, I’ll be more than comfortable saying Weezy is back.

 

15.  Cardi B-TBD

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2017 brought Cardi B her first number one song in the country. That momentum should carry her into 2018 with her Debut album that will probably drop late in the first quarter. I’m excited hear the growth and the content to see if she will be a mainstay in the mainstream for years to come.

 

16.  Key!-777DS5Rrv6VMAAbkjI

 

Fatman is back with some new material on the horizon. 2017 saw the release of  Two-9’s album along with frequent collaborations with the A$AP affiliate “AWGE”. It’s great to see Key! get much deserved shine and as of yet, He has not dropped one bad song.

 

17.  A$AP Rocky-TBD

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A$AP Rocky is primed and ready for another solo release.  Its been 3 years since his last solo outing and while it may be have been deemed too artistic for some. It was still lauded as a brilliant addition to his catalog. Look for something epic to drop soon.

 

18. Pusha T- King Push

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This is one of my main question marks for 2018. Along with Tha Carter V, King Push is the now long awaited 2nd LP from Pusha T. If this year comes and goes without this album dropping…I will officially cast it away to DetoxLand…Never to be spoke of again.

 

The Year In Nerd 2017: The Playlists

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What would you do without your playlist? The literal soundtrack to your life, the drum pattern that mirrors your own heart beat, the sequential order in which you tell time, the energy you need that replaces caffeine or java or breakfast altogether. Oh wait….that’s just me, that’s how I go about my daily routine. I normally cant move from my seat unless my phone and heads phone are fully charged so I can go about my day without worry or care. I’m not sure what I would do without my playlists or music general, but whatever it is, i’m sure it would be boring.  Below are three links to playlists that I made for my listening pleasure as well as yours….CLICK AND ENJOY…Oh and Happy New Year! May 2018 bring you all that you want and need and so much more.

 

Tidal:   https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/145294e5-6e7e-498c-bfeb-ed00ae3ee3a3

Apple Music:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/theyearinnerd2017/pl.u-Zmbllpf0VbZDD

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfiB-brt_K3JjeAOV9Coy02M4G9JGkJkG

 

 

RapNerd Leeb’s Honorable Mentions of 2017

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2017 was quite the year musically I must say. So much so that I found this year to be extremely difficult when deciding which albums would make the final cut.  Was it the rust of me being on hiatus or was it the sheer volume of QUALITY material that dropped during the calendar year? Either way I know it was fun going through all of these albums. It literally took me about a month and a half to bring you all the final product that you are seeing now. Not to mention I’m also dropping a playlist on New Year’s Eve so be on the lookout for that…Okay now I’m starting to ramble….Here are the Honorable Mentions for 2017.(In no particular order).

 

1.  Gucci Mane- El Gato: The Human Glacier

2. Travis Scott and Quavo(Huncho Jack)- Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho

3. Scarface- Deeply Rooted: The Lost Files

4. BrockHampton-Saturation 1,2,3

5. Tyler The Creator-Flower Boy

6. Jeezy- Pressure

7. N.E.R.D.-No One Ever Really Dies

8. Tanya Morgan-YGWY$4 (You Get What You Pay 4)

9. Currensy & Lex Luger-The Motivational Speech

10.  Juicy J- Rubba Band Business

11. Big Sean and Metro Boomin-Double Or Nothing

12. Marqus Clae- P.T.S.D.

13. Jacin Trill-Happyland

14. CyHi The Prynce-No Dope On Sundays

15. Fabolous and Jadakiss- Friday on Elm Street

16. Nav & Metro Boomin-Perfect Timing

17.  Cam’Ron-The Progam

18. Yo Gotti- I Still Am

19.  OverDoz-2008

20. Meek Mill- Wins and Losses

21. Bjork-Utopia

22. Miguel- War and Leisure

23. Talib Kweli-Radio Silence

24. J.I.D.-The Never Story

25. Lil Uzi Vert- Luv Is Rage 2

RapNerd Leeb’s Top 25 of 2017

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Welcome back to RapNerdLeeb.Com! I know its been a longggg time since we last spoke, but time had to be taken, things had to be done and frankly, I needed to reboot and replenish. Now that the hiatus is over I’m here to present to you all my list for the top 25 albums of  2017!  Read On and Enjoy!!!

 

 

25.  Two-9-FRVR

Release Date-February 9th, 2017

 

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Ceej and Jace(Retro Sushi) , Cartier Dave and Lightskin Mac11(FatkidsBrotha), Curtis Williams and Key! form the Atlanta-based collective known as Two-9. When they dropped their “B4 Frvr” mixtape back in 2015 I knew this crew was something special. A full two years later you could hear the growth from all the artist leading up to their debut album. Mike Will has a few gems on his roster and these are a few of them.

 

24.   Dave-Game Over

Release Date-November 3rd, 2017

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Ever since Drake and A$AP Rocky crossed the pond to the UK, I started opening my ears to the music scene even more so than I already had before. I knew of Skepta and Stormzy but once I heard Dave and Drake on “Wanna Know” I knew this kid was special. This EP is brash, inventive and I look forward to hearing what more he has in store for 2018 and beyond.

 

23. Sean Price-Imperius Rex

Release Date- August 8th, 2017

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“First things first Rest In Peace Sean Price…He’s nice.”  This album was a much more fitting tribute to one of the last Bar-barians to grace the mic. A low key sequel to “Monkey Barz” , Imperius showcased P’s at his most savage lyrically and reminded the rap world of a true fallen giant that will be missed until the end of time…Rest On P!!!

 

22. G Herbo- Humble Beast

Release Date- September 22nd

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G-Herbo (fka Lil Herb) finally gave the streets what it has been asking for since at least 2012. One of Chicago’s youngest phenoms, Herbo raps with such presence and poise you would think that he was a grizzled veteran on his 12th project, but in actuality this is his debut album. A great introduction to the rap fans that may not have been aware of his talent.

 

21. Amir Obe-None Of The Clocks Work

Release Date- March 30th, 2017

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The curious case of  Amir Obe. Ever since I heard “Detrooklyn” back in 2014, I’ve been waiting for his debut album. A few EPs and flirtations with OVO later, I’ve been met with yet another EP. It’s not a bad release by any means as it’s what I’ve come to expect from his sound, this material makes me long for a full length project that will make him accessible to the masses.

 

20.  Thundercat- Drunk

Release Date-February 24th, 2017

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If you were to go on an expedition through the deep recesses of my mind, this would undoubtedly be the album that the tour guide would plug into the aux cord. This is such a fun album from top to bottom. Jazz fusion never sounded so good. Do yourself a favor and really sit down with this record. Do whatever you do to get you in that mood and just press play…Thank Me Later, You Are Very Welcome.

 

19. GoldLink- At What Cost 

Release Date-March 24th, 2017

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On the way back from my mind to the safety of your home, this debut album from GoldLink would be that soundtrack. a very ambitious project that combined different sounds and provided a very palatable canvas for your ears and mind. Dope project from One of the DMV’s brightest stars.

 

18. Karriem Riggins- Headnod Suite

Release Date-February 24th, 2017

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How many superlatives can I lay down on this gem of a project in a short amount of time? I’m not sure but i’ll tell you this, if you enjoy instrumental albums, look no further. Coming from the man who literally put the finishing touches on the J Dilla classic  “The Shining”, I knew I was in a for something special. I affectionately called this album “More Donuts” and “Still Shining”. It is a such a worthy successor to the legacy of James Yancey and all that he has given us. You would be hard pressed to find a better instrumental album to drop within the last 10 years.

 

17. 2 Chainz- Pretty Girls Like Trap Music 

Release Date- June 16th, 2017

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This is without a doubt 2 Chainz’ best album to date. He has truly hit his stride musically  and I am absolutely looking forward to hearing where he takes his content as a elder statesman in the trap….I’ll be there for it 100%.

 

16.  Willow Smith- The 1st.

Release Date-October 31st, 2017

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The GROWTH of this young woman is astounding. Listening to her craft this album in all its organic rawness was a very pleasurable if not damn near spiritual experience. There was something highly ethereal about this project. I absolutely love the direction in which she is taking her music. There is something truly grounding about this future person and it made this listen that much more enjoyable.

 

15. Drake-More Life

Release Date- March 18th. 2017

 

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Drake’s “follow-up” to his mixed reviewed but commercially successful “Views” put him on the precipice of over saturation and thereby diluting his brand. So what does he do? puts together a compilation/mixtape/playlist/album featuring many of his world music peers and collaborators. I wont lie, I like this project more than Views and wish he would have released this instead of Views, but that’s just me being selfish.

 

14.  Logic- Everybody

Release Date- May 5th ,2017

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Logic has finally found his voice….that was always my biggest criticism of him but on his third album, he seems to have found his stride and plucked all of the highlights from his previous efforts and what we have here is his best project to date. Here’s hoping he stays on this trajectory and doesn’t fall back into emulating his contemporaries and continues to make music that is unique to him.

 

13. Princess Nokia- 1992 Deluxe

Release Date-September 6th, 2017

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This album is as unapologetic as it comes, a supremely solid effort from One of the New York’s underground rising stars. Each song paints a vivid picture of  her imagination and stark realities of her upbringing. Albeit disguised as trap bangers, once you bust down her lines, you’ll see she is a true force and will change the world.

 

12. Sampha-Process

Release Date-February 3rd, 2017

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I’m going to say this one time and one time only, Sampha’s “Process” is his introduction to the world. Sure you made have heard his collaborating with various artists, but it’s an entirely different animal when you get a full length project from an artist whose voice and tone are unmistakable when you hear it. If this album didn’t wake up the rest of the music world then I don’t know what else to tell you all.

 

11. Rick Ross- Rather You Than Me

Release Date-March 17th, 2017

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On Rozay’s 9th offering , we find William Roberts at his most expressive and most honest I think we’ve ever heard him. It was a great departure from the normal braggadocio that he displayed on past efforts. This album was truly deeper than rap and is a welcome addition to his already solid discography.

 

10. Big Boi-Boomiverse  

Release Date- June 16th, 2017

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Big Boi is one of the greatest to ever do it, Solo or Duo period. As one half of the almighty Outkast, there seemed to be a growing consensus that Andre 3000 was the better MC of the group. As a youngster I too considered Big Boi to be the lesser of the two, but boy was I sorely mistaken. While I continued to study rhyme patterns, flows and cadences, I began to realize that Big Boi is truly in a class by himself and I don’t know or understand how we as a hip-hop community ever allowed that narrative to begin with.

 

9.  Lupe Fiasco-DROGAS Light

Release Date-February 10th, 2017

downloadThe title of the album if pretty straight forward. This project whilst it is an album and should be treated as such, it merely serves as a precusor to whats to come. Drogas: Waves and Drogas: Skulls. This album is best described as pizza, even when pizza is bad , it’s still good. Now while this album no where near bad, its still good when compared to the crop of  bland mainstreams that came out this year.

 

8. Oddisee-The Iceberg

Release Date-February 24th, 2017

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The tip of an iceberg is only a small, often unrepresentative portion of something much larger or more complex that cannot yet be seen or understood. That idiom perfectly describes the jewels that are hidden just beneath the surface of this album. Please do yourself favor and press play and get some of this game for free 99.

 

7.Jaden Smith-SYRE

Release Date-November 17th

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To sit and watch both Jaden and Willow grow into the future people that you may or may not have heard me speak about has been an joy and pleasure. To listen to them conceptualize their ideas and share them with the world is a true gift. We truly do not deserve Jaden and Willow Smith.

 

6. Gucci Mane-DroptopWop

Release Date-May 26th, 2017

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Wizopppp….Has not looked back since “Everybody Looking” and has continued his prolific output, with each release becoming more concerted, its clear to see that Gucci Mane La Flare has no plans on slowing down anytime soon.

 

5.  Smino- BlkSwn

Release Date- March 14th, 2017

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I found this album by accident, I was looking for music by Via Rosa and saw she was featured on one of his songs (Long Run) from his full length debut project “BlkSwn”. This album is too good…TOO GOOD! Every song is like listening to maple syrup on lush production throughout the entirety of the project. What I initially perceived as a accident turned out to be stroke of good luck.

 

4.  Big K.R.I.T.- 4 Eva Is A Mighty Long Time

Release Date-October 27th, 2017

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The third time is indeed the charm for Big Krit. Due to label frustrations, his first two studio albums were met with lukewarm responses while his mixtapes were critically acclaimed gems. Since his release from Def Jam and fully embracing his independence, KRIT unleashed this double album that brought the fire of his mixtapes with the sequencing of his studio albums and it made this his most cohesive and awesome sounding project of his career.

 

3. Jay-Z 4:44

Release Date-June 30th

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Sean Carter metaphorically killed Jay-Z on what would be considered by many to be his most important album of his career. The album finds Jay at his most honest, his most vulnerable, his most accountable. It was a mature album for the mature rap fan that had the ability to appeal to the younger generation without coming off as preachy or pretentious. Admittedly I am not a Jay Stan, but when its all said and done Jay-Z is one of our culture’s GOATS and this album further solidified that fact.

 

2. Rapsody- Laila’s Wisdom

Release Date-September 22nd 2017

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Ms. Marianna Evans is bar none one of the best MC’s currently in game. No she isn’t just nice for woman rapper, she is nice Period. Her couplets, flows, cadences, breath control, are unmatched. She woke the world up when she made Kendrick get in his K.Dot bag and really try to out rap her on “Power”. If that isn’t a testament to her lyrical prowess, I’m not sure what more I can tell you. Laila’s Wisdom is a modern day classic.

 

 

 

1.Kendrick Lamar-DAMN

Release Date-April 14th,  2017

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Kendrick Lamar Duckworth has officially completed the Rap Trifecta. Three straight classic studio albums in a 5 year span. DAMN took the awesomeness of Good Kid, Maad City, mixed it with the angst and urgency of  To Pimp a Butterfly and you have a clear cut ALBUM…a time capsule if you will. We as a community are witnessing one of the last Rap Superstars of the modern era. When it’s all said and done Kendrick Lamar will ascend to the God Tier of Hip-Hop.