Hip-hop has officially become the most dominant genre in popular music. Kanye West alone has been involved with a half dozen projects this summer while remaining the most infamous man in music. Future has released two mixtapes, one of which was with Juice WRLD, who had only released his debut album five months prior. When he died shortly after the release of Part One, he had just defined himself as much more than a Soundcloud oddity. The kids were listening. Lil Peep connected with audiences for his open and honest discussion of his own anxieties and self-destructive addictions.
He knows all too well the challenges of anxiety, depression, and life. I think that life is beautiful. That album marked the young Odd Future-affiliated rapper starting to find his own identity. He had already defined himself as a brilliant, versatile lyricist, but his sound was still something majorly in the works. Earl is very much back. His sound has defined a new generation of ambitious beat-making. The Metro Boomin tag means emotive production no matter how simple or complex he makes a beat, with music ranging from boldly cinematic to sample forward to heavy low ends.
As Leikeli47 has explained , the title of her new album, Acrylic , comes from a defining characteristic of black neighborhoods. And while it might seem bizarre for a young rapper to focus on a dying medium, Staples seems to be commenting for the most part on how we consume pop music.
Two years ago, Anderson. Now, as many young stars in his position realize, he must find a balance of the art and the fame. Thankfully, Kendrick Lamar is the perfect mentor and collaborator for. Together, their vocal styles mesh effortlessly, along with their dedication to the craft, which is never placed above celebrity status. Tints is a stunning celebration of this balance, a song that could work as a major radio single but also a statement from a young artist who refuses to fall into that cliche slump after success. The Harlem rapper explains how he grew up too quick, living a life where the only options left for him were being involved with drugs and violence and robbery.
In , Ghostface Killah released a romance album. Much of this is thanks to the incredible beat from Kanye West, but also the legitimate romanticism that the song inspires. Maybe this is your answer for that, a crack era. The Reagan administration that niggas are still scared of.
Lyrically she can do more in a few lines than many rappers can do with an entire song, creating something more like spoken-word poetry. That combined with the high-brow, jazz-influenced beats gives Noname an air of true intellectualism without ever feeling pretentious. For years, Elton John has been an avid fan of Young Thug, having heard the rapper on Beats 1 in Shortly after that, the two started working on a collaboration, and a song featuring Thug and Elton John's vocals from "Rocketman" has been rumored ever since.
This year, the two finally made good on that promise, releasing the melodic and thoughtful "High" featuring John's iconic hook. It's a flawless melding of two generations of pop stars, one that on paper could have been a disaster, but is genius given the talent of both musicians involved. On his first proper studio album, Joey Purp arrives to make a statement. After the success of his excellent mixtape iiiDrops , Purp firmly establishes himself on Quarterthing as yet another inventive Chicago rapper.
On "Coco Chanel," she comes back with fire, making spitting the lines that we remember back from her early days. Backed by Foxy Brown, it feels like Nicki has the energy and artistry of a rapper who never attempted to be a pop star. This is a time when hip-hop is taking great strides to address addiction, anxiety, and mental illness in full force. Few rappers did that like Mac Miller, a writer who could define and analyze his own worst moments. But, like this gem from Swimming —released months before his death—his words helped countless young people who took his advice to heart.
At this point in hip-hop anxiety is in the spotlight—whether it be in the form of emotional honesty in music, or the tragic deaths of young, talented rappers. An interesting trend in this phase of emotional hip-hop is a return to melodic and guitar-based music. And Jevon, a promising London MC, delivers these same ideas without the doom and gloom of other rappers. Instead, on Paranoia, he harnesses a dizzying, clicking beat to deliver some open, self-reflection.
It could be a broken heart; it could be one of the many atrocities on the news. On "I Might Need Security," he gets angry, and he channels that emotion into real action in his community.
Since the death of Lil Peep late last year, hip-hop has become an open place for artists to discuss their fears and struggles with substance abuse. In the wake of their dismissal of rapper Ameer Vann, Brockhampton has spent much of proving that they have an identity without their embattled star rapper.
In the second verse, they outline the origins of Brockhampton in a Tolkien-esque skin, and by the third verse it all manages converge into a satisfying conclusion. The Carters are pop music. They're hip-hop. They're culture. The video places black dancers and the Carters in front of white artwork in the Louvre in Paris. Even Pusha said her K. Music projects. The highlight of that release comes on "Rose in Harlem" a song that acts as a biography of her making it out of her home neighborhood.
This marks the second year in a row that a song called "Boys" has shown up on our year end list. And like Charli XCX's song, Lizzo's "Boys" is a celebration of sexual liberty from a powerful female perspective. On April 25, Meek Mill was released from prison, where he was sentenced two to four years for parole violations.
The sentencing set off waves of protests with Jay-Z and Pennsylvania's governor supporting the rapper. He knows first hand how the criminal justice system in America is working against young black men. And on "Stay Woke," his first new track since being released, he uses his moment to carefully outline the horrors of mass incarceration. This marks the Top Dawg rapper's first release since a motorcycle accident nearly took his life. Like his label mate Kendrick Lamar who appears on this song and throughout the album it outlines themes of rebirth, faith, and redemption from their South LA neighborhoods.
The surgical summer officially began on May 29, A decade-long beef sizzling in the subtext of hip-hop, exploded into the most vicious diss track in years with Pusha T's "The Story of Adidon. Drake's response to Pusha's "Infrared" was good, but "The Story of Adidon" took this feud to a mythical status. There's possibly never been a diss track as rhetorically sound, calculated, and damaging as what Pusha wrote Drake was even forced to issue an explanation of the questionable album art.
This ranks among the greatest diss tracks in rap history, and one of the most game-changing songs of the year. Music, movies, TV, unmade cartoons, writing—the list of his talents goes on and on. Together, Cudi and West make something completely unlike each of their solo output, where the moody stoner anthem finds a perfect equilibrium with unchecked ego. Here's a moment where both Cudi and West drag each other out of their melodic and compositional comfort zones. Taking cues from Ocean's masterpiece, "Purity" is anchored by a gentle, bubbling guitar.
Love him or loathe him, but no artist has commanded the spotlight in quite like Kanye West. Some of the things he's said and done this year are unforgivable. But in the soul-searching gospel of "Violent Crimes," West examines the inherent evil of men. At the end, West finds something resembling hope at the conclusion of a dark and fucked-up album. Now, with his own album combined with Cardi B collaborations, Balivn is prepared to own Summer Even though his influence and genre can be heard all over mainstream American music, his sound, especially on the buttery "Peligrosa," will make everyone forget about "Despacito.
He customizes fast cars—full-size and remote control—and cooks. A natural pairing with Jeremih, Womp Womp is an effortless exploration of hip-hop at its most laid-back and fun. Hell yes. Two months after his first nomination for Best Rap Album at the Grammys, Tyler, the Creator returns with an absolutely dizzying boast track.
He proves nothing is off limits, continuing to be one of the most punk rock rappers out there today. While hip-hop was once dominated by materialistic boosterism, a new generation has rebuilt the genre on a basis of sad beats and an oversharing of feelings. If anything, this type of life is a lot more relatable.
With a few mixtapes and his debut studio album, Saba has made an early case for himself as one of the most inspiring new voices in Chicago hip-hop. Lil Yachty is less of a rapper and more of a big kid who someone gave some cool beats and a microphone.
Whether he means to or not, with every new release Drake is able to out-Drake himself. With "God's Plan," he played up his nice guy schtick with a truly touching philanthropic music video. And since this is Drake, fans took it and packaged the idea into the pervasive God's Plan Starts Playing meme. And plus, this might be the most Drake line of all time: "I only love my bed and my momma, I'm sorry.
In one breath, emerging Sacramento rapper Mozzy talks about the corrupt justice system, racism, classism, police brutality. It's just another stunning contribution to popular culture from Kendrick Lamar and Black Panther. The melodic vocal gymnastics of Rae Sremmurd are usually something most rappers don't mess with. Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee play around in those upper registers that make for truly addictive pop-rap. And they can do it over any type of beat, from a bleary trap beat to a driving beat like "Powerglide" featuring Juicy J.
He embodies the true punk aesthetic of SoundCloud hip-hop. But, like a hazy hangover, the Brooklyn rapper recounts a night out as if it's a morning drained of dopamine. Yhung T. Take "Lifestyle" for example, where Yhung T.