Here’s a concise list of our fav albums (or EPs, or Mixtapes, or “Projects”)
A special subsection of our fav R&B albums
It takes more than 100 bullets to faze Young Dolph. After unknown assailants crashed into and fired 100 gunshots at Dolph’s SUV in Charlotte in February, the rapper emerged unscathed and took the stage mere hours later to perform “Play Wit Your Bitch,” a savage diss track to his enemies. Building upon that career defining moment, Dolph released Bulletproof, a lean, mean collection of trap anthems, purpose-built to propel Dolph to national stardom. Featuring Gucci Mane as the solitary guest, each song title is aimed directly at his haters and asserts his dominance. His second of three albums released in 2017, Bulletproof peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200, earned over 40 million Spotify streams, and solidifies Dolph’s rightful position as the King of Memphis and one of the most popular rappers in the game.
Fat Joe & Remy Ma are quintessential ambassadors for New York Hip-Hop. Following the colossal success of multi-platinum, GRAMMY-nominated smash “All The Way Up,” which racked up over 129 million Spotify streams and peaked at #27 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016, Fat Joe and Remy Ma released Plata O Plomo, their first full-length collaborative album, in February 2017. Packed with scorchers like “Cookin,” with French Montana, “Money Showers,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, and the Caribbean-tinged, Billboard-premiered “Heartbreak,” featuring The-Dream, Plato o Plomo was a triumphant return for the two Terror Squad rappers, peaking at #44 on the Billboard 200, #12 on the Billboard Rap Chart, and #19 on the Billboard R&B chart.
Effortlessly cool, slyly menacing, and undeniably influential, Snoop Dogg conquered the rap game to become an omnipresent cultural icon, a successful entrepreneur, and a respected community leader. With Make America Crip Again, Snoop’s provocatively titled 2017 album, the Doggfather used his cultural and political capital to advocate for caring and unity. Though the title of M.A.C.A. is a direct challenge to the current administration, the tape itself does not dwell on divisive political issues, instead focusing on the funky gangsta music for which Snoop is known. Distributed by EMPIRE, Make America Crip Again showcases all sides of the legendary rapper, from the loving husband on “My Last Name,” to the quintessential stoner on “Dis Finna Be a Breeze” the streetwise OG on “None of Mine,” and the player on “3’s Company,” a club-ready, very West Coast banger premiered by Complex.
A hard-as-nails rapper with a remarkable facility for melody and memorable hooks, YFN Lucci followed up his breakout 2016 with an even more successful 2017. The young hitmaker built upon the massive success of his gold-certified single “Key to the Streets” with the Long Live Nut EP, an homage to his late mentor Nut, who died before he could witness the Think It’s a Game artist’s rise to success. Featuring hit singles like the PNB Rock-featuring “Everyday We Lit,” which reached #33 on the Billboard Hot 100, reached Gold status with the RIAA and earned 111 million views on YouTube, 42.5 million plays on SoundCloud and 75 million streams on Spotify, and the Rick Ross-featuring, Will-A-Fool-produced “Heartless” (12.4 million Spotify streams), Long Live Nut cemented the Atlanta artist’s status as a local hero and a rising star in the rap game.
Six years ago, Tennessee emcees Don Trip andStarlito joined together for Step Brothers, an eccentric, perfectly executed rappity-rap album inspired by the 2008 cult Will Ferrell comedy of the same name. Bigger, better and with more room for activities, the duo returned for Step Brothers THREE, an excellent display of Trip and Lito’s uncanny chemistry, as the emcees trade quips, finish each other’s bars, and perfectly balance their unique rhyming styles over 15 excellent tracks. Peaking at #164 of the Billboard 200, the album received widespread critical acclaim, including a 7.7 score from Pitchfork, who praised the album as “an alchemic blend of technique and confession,” adding, “they turn street voyeurism and psychic panic into a triumph.”
20-year-old wifisfuneral built a devoted fanbase online with his introspective and preternaturally wise brand of cerebral Hip-Hop. Bursting from a burgeoning South Florida scene, wifisfuneral became one of the breakout emcees of 2017, signing to Alamo/Interscope, performing at festivals, and headlining a nationwide tour. The first of two full-lengths by wifisfuneral this year, When Hell Falls is a dark, cerebral, and engaging record; a paranoid collection of minor-key bangers. Highlighted by FADER-premiered relationship drama “Luv Me Never,” the gleefully introverted XXL-debuted “Antisocial Club,” and the languid confessional “Lost My Mind,” premiered by Pigeons & Planes on their Beats 1radio show, When Hell Falls peaked at #17 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart, earned more than 5.2 million plays on SoundCloud, and kickstarted a wave of momentum that has not yet abated for the young rapper.
Vallejo, California’s Nef The Pharaoh‘s elastic flow, affinity for sharp wordplay, and outsized charisma combine to make him one of the most popular and promising young rappers in the flourishing Bay Area hip-hop scene. Combining an old-school, colorful rhyming style with pristine, state-of-the-art Bay Area production, The Chang Project is an effervescent portrait of the 22-year-old’s life as a rising rapper and recent father. Boasting appearances from Ty Dolla $ign, Larry June, Caleborate, SOB x RBE, OMB Peezy, Jay Ant, and others, and featuring the hit single “Bling Blaow,” The Chang Project racked up over 4.1 million streams on Spotify and 5.5 million plays on SoundCloud.
Alabama-native and Sacremento-resident OMB Peezy mixes the heavily accented melodicism of Gulf Coast hip-hop with the slaps and confrontational attitude of NorCal rap, injected with a heavy dose of ice-cold bars. Just 20-years-young, OMB Peezy has struck gold with every track he’s released so far, culminating in the Humble Beginnings EP, a collaborative project with GRAMMY-nominated producer Cardo Got Wingz. Humble Beginnings is a cinematic and accomplished effort, with Peezy flashing his world-weary Southern drawl over widescreen Cardo productions, telling the story of his abrupt transition from a “kid out the mud” to a budding rap superstar. In his breakout 2017, OMB Peezy earned praise from various publications, including the New York Times, Pigeons & Planes, The FADER, and Pitchfork, who raved, “The real intensity of Peezy’s raps is in the way he unspools his words: He barely leaves a single breath between his syllables, speeding through his verses like a boulder tumbling down a hill. ”
A soft-spoken trapper with a list of co-signs as long as his braids, ATL’s Hoodrich Pablo Juanably represents for the city’s East Side. Growing a following with the help of notable co-signs from the likes of Migos and Gucci Mane, who signed the rapper to his 1017 Records, HPJ quickly gained a reputation as the city’s next to blow, prompting Complex to quip: “Nine out of ten rap fans seem to agree: Hoodrich Pablo Juan is up next.” In October, Pablo Juan shared Designer Drugz 3, a 14-track trapstravaganza that Stereogum called “one of the most consistently enjoyable rap full-lengths I’ve heard in recent memory.” Featuring bonafide hits like the bouncy, infectious “We Don’t Luv Em” (1.15 million plays on SoundCloud; 2.7 million on YouTube) and the Migos-assisted “Do What I Wanna Do” (currently on Spotify’s Most Necessary playlist), and with 6.5 million combined plays on SoundCloud and Spotify, DD3 is a star-studded celebration of Atlanta’s flourishing scene.
With his impish charm, his flair for wordplay, and his guy-next-door realness, it’s easy to relate to Berkeley-via-Sacramento rapper Caleborate. Packed with soul-sampled beats that evoke the sonic palette of College Dropout-era Kanye West, Caleborate’s 2017 Real Person project the finds the burgeoning 24-year-old delving deep within himself, speaking on his career goals, his relationships, the current presidential administration, and his artistic struggle. The follow-up to 2016’s buoyant 1993, the subdued and personal Real Person finds the young rapper developing into a unique talent with a distinct sound and aesthetic all to his own. Featuring the anti-sellout anthem “Soul,” which garnered more than 1.1 million plays on Spotify and over 400,000 on Pandora, featured on Ebro Darden’s Beats 1 radio show, and earned a spot on Spotify’s Most Necessary playlist, Real Person is the next step of Caleborate’s move from underdog to top dog.
Your favorite rapper’s favorite singer, Eric Bellinger had a monstrously successful 2017, releasing four distinct projects and several popular singles. Knitting together varied sounds from bossa nova, dancehall, reggae, and other beach-friendly genres, Eric B. For President: Term 2 is a breezier version of Eric’s woozy, sensual brand of R&B. Featuring guest spots from Wale, Tayla Parx, and Victoria Monet, the EP boasts singles like the delectable “Treat Yourself” (1.8 million plays on Spotify) and the romantic “Make Her Mine” (2.15 million plays on Spotify). With 1.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the Los Angeles native also keeps busy on social media, putting his own spin on popular songs (which he calls “E-Mixes”) and starting #challenges based on his conceptually clever songs.
Crafting compact jams about complex romantic situations, Verse Simmonds is as a master of R&B storytelling. Making his name as an in-demand songwriter, writing hits for the likes of Usher, Chris Brown, and Jay-Z & Kanye West, Verse steps out on Diamonds, a potent hybrid of Hip-Hop and R&B, showcasing Verse’s divine singing voice and his structurally sound compositions. Featuring an appearance from Ty Dolla $ign, Diamonds is a genre-bending cocktail of well-crafted R&B, brimming with emotional complexity and musical invention.
A formidable duo that blends Latin sensibilities with smooth West Coast sounds, Baby Bash and Frankie J have been making hits together for well over a decade. More than 10 years since reaching the Billboard Top 10 with “Suga Suga” and “Obsession,” Baby Bash and Frankie J released Sangria, a well-blended cocktail of a California party album. With Baby Bash’s suavely confident rhymes complemented and enhanced by Frankie J’s soaring vocals, Sangria is a pleasing hybrid of pop, hip-hop and Latin music, speckled by acoustic guitar melodies, syncopated percussion, and an endless array of hooks. Described by Baby Bash as a “saucy Spanglish album for the lovers, dreamers, and people with great vibes,” the album preceded a successful press tour, during which the duo performed an acoustic version of “Suga Suga” on Billboard Live and chopped it up with Desus & Mero.