It seems like as the year winds down, everyone makes their year end lists of which were the best albums of the past 365 days. I always kind of do them too, but just to myself. I never really reveal them to anyone, and their placement are never really set in stone. But I decided to make my own list of the top 10 hip-hop albums that I enjoyed most this year. Remember: this list is PERSONAL. Not everyone on RosecransAve.com feels the same as I do, as I’m sure not everyone reading this will agree with my list. It’s a personal list of music that I enjoyed and the reason I am making it is so maybe if you didn’t hear a certain album, you can check it out, or if you weren’t really feeling the album, maybe you can go back and listen to some of it again and change your mind. Either way, it’s a personal thing. I’ll start off with a couple honorable mentions and get into the list. (By the way, it was really hard to narrow it down to 10, but it basically came down to which albums I found myself listening to more throughout the year.)
The only reason that Pusha T‘s King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude isn’t in my top 10 is because it came out so late in 2015, I had no time to go back to it. But don’t get it wrong, this album is great. I’ve been loving everything Push has been doing since he went solo, and this one is no different. It also gives me a clear idea of where he is gonna go with his actual King Push album next year, which has me super excited for it. Also, Push, since you’re the President of G.O.O.D now, can you tell Kanye to hurry up and drop Swish? Favorite Tracks: “Untouchable”, “M.F.T.R.”, “Crutches, Crosses, Caskets”, “Keep Dealing”.
Next on the list is Young Fathers with White Men Are Black Men Too. This Scottish group has been on my radar ever since they dropped Tape One back in 2012 and got my full attention once I heard the really emotional track I Heard (ironically enough) on their Tape Two project in 2013. For this album however, Young Fathers went into a little different zone with some lo-fi sounding hip hop and beats to back it up. The end result was great and I found myself going back to this album on a regular basis. Favorite Tracks: “Shame”, “27”, “Rain Or Shine”.
Next up is Mac Miller with GO:OD AM. Mac has come a long way from his beginning music, and those beginning projects are what kind of make people put Mac to the side when it comes to his new music now, but let me tell you, they really should give him a chance, especially with this album here. It was a really great album that just narrowly didn’t make it onto my top 10. But man, the bars he spits in this album are really up there with some of the best of the year. Favorite Tracks: “Brand Name”, “Two Matches”, “100 Grandkids”, “Break The Law”.
Last of my honorable mentions goes to Milo for So The Flies Don’t Come. I’ve been keeping up with Milo ever since my homie introduced me to him back in senior year of high school (shoutout to Enrique Robles) and ever since, I’ve always found myself waiting for a new project of his to come out. This album was great, with a plethora of jazzy instrumentals for Milo to do his thing over. Favorite Tracks: “Souvenir”, “Zen Scientist”, “Going No Place”.
Top Ten List
10. Logic – The Incredible True Story
Logic’s sophomore album makes it very clear that he’s not in any type of sophomore slump. The underlying theme of this album was enough to catch my interest with it having to do with the future and space travel and me, of course, being a big sci-fi fan (I’m looking at you, Interstellar). But don’t get it twisted, Logic isn’t over here rapping about aliens and life on other planets, you just have to hear it to get it. But either way, Logic brings us another solid album with T.I.T.S. (which is an acronym I love using for obvious reasons) and I look forward to what he brings us next. Also, his interviews are DAMN good. Favorite Tracks: “Contact”, “Fade Away”, “Young Jesus”, “Lord Willin”, “Never Been”.
9. Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$
The debut studio album from Joey Bada$$ did not disappoint. I think Joey caught a lot of our attention when his 1999 mixtape came out and we all heard “Waves” and felt a bit nostalgic for that 90s New York hip hop sound. I was really excited for this album ever since Joey had announced it was going to come out, and even though it came out really early in the year, I think it was in about the first 3 weeks of the year, I found myself going back to this album continuously throughout the year. The old school boom bap feel is still in here and the New York lyricism is abundant in every song. Favorite Tracks: “Contact”, “Paper Trails”, “Hazeus View”, “Christ Conscious”, “Big Dusty”.
8. The Game – The Documentary 2.5
Kind of a spoiler to the rest of the list, but yes. I enjoyed 2.5 more than 2. I think the reason was that I felt a more L.A. sound coming from Game on 2.5 than I did on 2. It was oozing through my headphones as soon as I started playing it. The song topics about gang violence, the bars from Game, the hard hitting beats combined with the smooth tracks. It was a perfect blend. And also, let’s give it up for Game. Because goddamn, this dude gave us damn near 40 songs in less than a week! Jeez. And that El Chapo track with Skrillex? Fuck. (Kinda liked the leaked version better but the album version goes hard too.) Favorite Tracks: “Magnus Carlsen”, “Crenshaw/80s and Cocaine”, “Gang Bang Anyway”, “From Adam”, “The Ghetto”, “Last Time You Seen”, “El Chapo”.
7. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
Vince came out with a really solid debut album with this one that had me going back and listening constantly. 1 cd one day, another one the other day. Also, 20 songs for a debut album? Damn, Vince! I remember when Vince said he wasn’t really trying to continue to make music, and I kind of now think he was trolling us, as he usually does on Twitter. But either way, this was a consistently good album from track 1 through 20. Excited to see what Vince has in store for the future. Also, SUPER big shoutout to Vince for getting in a song in the super good movie Creed this year with Childish Gambino and Jhené Aiko. I remember hearing it in the theater and thinking WOAH. Dude really got a song in this movie! AND he had some really funny scenes in Dope. Check that movie out if you haven’t yet. “Ayeee! Slippery slope!” Favorite Tracks: “Norf Norf”, “Lemme Know”, “Señorita”, “Summertime”, “Hang N’ Bang”, “Like It Is”.
6. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
Earl also showed that he wasn’t going to fall into the sophomore slump with this sophomore album. I always liked Earl’s lyricism and music probably most from the Odd Future group, along with Domo Genesis, and Earl keeps up the qualities in his music that I love. This album seems to be a bit darker and more personal and we see Earl touch on more of those personal themes. He touches again on the passing of his grandmother, which he also talked about on Doris. Favorite Tracks: “Wool”, “Grief”, “Huey”, “Faucet”, “Mantra”, “DNA”.
5. A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.A$AP
This year started off tough for the A$AP crew with the passing of A$AP Yams. The loss was deeply felt by everyone in the rap community and especially his homies in the crew. However, A$AP came out with his sophomore album this year too (notice all the sophomore albums on this list) and like the other ones I listed before, he also proved that he wasn’t going to fall into the sophomore slump. Also, I found myself really enjoying the music video for “L$D”, I think I re-watched it about 10 times this year. Favorite Tracks: “Holy Ghost”, “L$D”, “Excuse Me”, “Electric Body”, “Jukebox Joints”, “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2)”, “Everyday”.
4. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
2016 was full of W’s for Drake. Most notably, people will obviously point out his beef against Meek Mill, in which Meek took 2 L’s, (just like the ending of his last name), and he had a super hyped collaboration album with Future titled What A Time To Be Alive which was full of bangers. And maybe it was because of those things that people stopped talking about If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which is a shame because even though Drake called this a mixtape, I think it’s one of his more solid projects to date. Sure, most fans that like the sentimental Drake tended to think this project was just ok, but I personally like to see other sides to artists as well, and not just have them be one dimensional or thought of as just one type of artist, which people were categorizing Drake into (i.e. people saying “Draking and driving”, “Drake will make you text your last 5 ex’s and say sorry at 3AM”). This album showed us that Drake can bring that energy in his tracks (pun intended). Really enjoyed this album and it has me pumped for Views. Favorite Tracks: “Legend”, “Energy”, “10 Bands”, “Know Yourself”, “6 God”, “Star 67”, “Used To”, “6 Man”, “You & The 6”, “Jungle”, “6 PM In New York”.
3. Jay Rock – 90059
TDE had a good year on their hands and so did Jay Rock, the original TDE member (still waiting on that Ab-Soul album though). With an album title like 90059, you know Jay Rock was going to go into his introspective tracks about his upbringing and how it is to live and grow up in that zip code, and that is exactly what we got. Another big thing this album brought us was the group BANGER of a track, “Vice City”, which showed all the members of Black Hippy and really got us wanting a collaborative album of the 4 of them, which would be bonkers. The music video for it teased us even more with those extra lines that Schoolboy Q added to his verse at the end that isn’t on the album version. But oh well, we can only wait and see what happens. Also, I really liked the single he dropped that didn’t end up on the album titled “Pay For It” with really good verses from Jay Rock and Kendrick. Check that out if you haven’t already. Favorite Tracks: “Vice City”, “Easy Bake”, “Gumbo”, “Money Trees Deuce”, “The Ways”, “90059”, “The Message”.
2. Travi$ Scott – Rodeo
I was really surprised when I finished my list and had this album so high on it. I told myself “is this really up at 2?” And every time I went back and heard it again, I was like “YUP”. Most people hate on this style of hip-hop and “trap” music as they categorize it, mostly because it’s just club bangers and songs to play in the background and not really pay attention to any of the words. But I think Travis put more thought into this album, and you can hear it in the lyrics and the instrumentation and the beat selections he makes. It really all comes together to make a solid, cohesive album in which Travis shows us a more personal side of him, and shows that he’s not just about making a hit song that will have the women twerking in the club on a Tuesday. This album also introduced a lot of people to Kacy Hill, the newest G.O.O.D. Music member who had a really great feature in “90210” as well as a 3 song EP that she dropped this year too. Favorite Tracks: “Pornography”, “Oh My Dis Side”, “3500”, “Wasted”, “90210”, “Piss On Your Grave”, “Antidote”, “Nightcrawler”, “Pray 4 Love”, “Apple Pie”.
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or follows me on any social media account. I absolutely loved this album. Not only is it my favorite hip-hop album of the year, it’s my favorite album from any genre of music of this past year. It dropped relatively early too, but I always found myself going back to it just about every week. This is also another one of those sophomore albums that proved to not be a slump. Kendrick really hit it out of the park with this one. Plus all the music videos to go with it were really great, and I still haven’t found any flaw in it whatsoever. Now, whether the Grammy’s think the same way, who knows. I’m still salty that good Kid, M.A.A.D. city didn’t win anything. But if this one doesn’t win anything, I might have to reconsider these awards. But anyway, I could talk all day about this album, so let’s just end it here. Favorite Tracks: ALL OF THEM.
That’s the list! Some of your picks will coincide with mine, some won’t. But it’s all love. Music is a personal thing, and this list is by no means saying that this order and selection should be the same for everyone, it was just a list of my own personal favorites of the past year. As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking with us throughout the whole year. This was a great year for Rosecrans Ave, and we just hope that 2016 can be full of way more cooler shit. Have a great New Year!