HipHopUndead: The Best Of 2016, In Hip-Hop.
20. REKS – The Greatest X
Massachusetts emcee, REKS, delivered a hefty amount of music this year. Dropping a 2 disc album, The Greatest X. This double LP has some strong political views. REKS never shy’s away from speaking on these topics. Revolutionary to be exact. The Greatest X also features REKS flaunting his wicked flow over top-notch production. Great featuring emcees as well. Every track wasn’t always a highlight but regardless of that, REKS delivered on this album.
Why Is This Album Important To Hip-Hop: One of my favorite parts of this album was the messages it would explore. There is a great cut from this album featuring 8 emcees with quality lyrics. REKS created a solid effort with this album. Proving, we can still have quality, conscious Hip-Hop in 2016! The best of 2016 in Hip-Hop. Order here.
19. KA – Honor Killed The Samuari
KA‘s HKTS is a super slept on album. His flow and overall message could be the contributing factor but I feel it adds to his aura and personality. KA rhymes at an incredible rate, making pinpointing your favorite line, a tough decision.
With production not focusing on kicks and snares, it allows KA the stage and spotlight for his lyrics to be up front. The music is just a sample and heavy treble line, other than that, its KA‘s voice taking the brunt of the project. No features and film samples, this project is a tight, focused album. Executing every single track and wasting no space.
The best of 2016 in Hip-Hop
KA has created a strong presence and he did it his way. Whats more Hip-Hop than that??
18. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
Love him or hate him, Danny Brown is a BEAST! He knows how to distinguish himself from everyone else in Hip-Hop. From his high pitch voice, his ad-libs, his appearance, and you can now add his production choices. Atrocity Exhibition explores a dark, rock, Detroit house music.
Me personally, I love metal music. So when rappers bend the genre, it’s very exciting for me. Danny Brown properly does that while sounding organic. Danny is already an oddball so it feels like this was a natural progression. This was also an album that took 3 years to listen too. At its arrival it lived up to its hype.
Reason For The Ranking: Of course, this is an album that I don’t play everyday since its mood is dark, psychedelic. But when I want to hear some modern, genius work, Atrocity Exhibition is the first on my playlist!
Why Is This Album Important To Hip-Hop?: I thoroughly enjoyed the social lyrics Danny made on Detroit. As well as the brave approach of this album. Expanding listeners to a properly done album with alternative intentions. The best of 2016 in Hip-Hop.
17. Ugly Heroes – Everything in Between
Ugly Heroes consist of Producer Apollo Brown and two emcees: Red Pill & Verbal Kent. Mello Music signees who bring great depth to the label. Mello Music is turning into a staple in Hip-Hop. Much like Rhymesayers and Stones Throw.
Everything In Between is Ugly Heroes best album to date. There previous albums suffered from depressing content and uplifting production. EIB was a well-rounded album. Blending soulful production and motivational lyrics. The dark side of the emcees do peak in but like I said, it was more balanced. The content matched the production and overall, just a great album!
I loved the vinyl cracks before every track. The cover photo of the album also used the same thing where it had a sun beaten cover exposing the imprint of a vinyl record. Great touch from the crew and Apollo Brown is one of the best in Hip-Hop!! Red Pill is simply amazing in this album. His voice is iconic and content is so genuine. Verbal Kent counters Red Pill‘s fluent flow with an aggressive, hype vocals. Bringing contrast and a different energy to the songs. The best of 2016 in Hip-Hop.
16. Open Mike Eagle & Paul White – Hella Personal Film Festival
Paul White creates a great atmosphere for Open Mike Eagle to strive in. Paul Whites production is definitely alternative compared to traditional hip-hop. It works perfect with Open Mike Eagles drowsy flow and comical content. The emcee and producer fit each others mold creatively and it makes for a great album.
There are plenty of personal references that are eerily on point and others are sad but true. Open Mike Eagle follows up his Dark Comedy in a great way!
Reason For The Ranking: Some songs do feel a bit underwhelming. I feel the reason is the production can be a little too soft. While Mikes’ delivery doesn’t necessary lift it. But I feel like that alone works but this album just needs to grow on you. A lyric sheet will definitely help to appreciate the album more. The touch of film clips adds a nice narrative to the overall theme.
Why Is This Album Important For Hip-Hop?: Open Mike Eagle just might be one of he next best emcee in Hip-Hop right now! Mike is creating something ironic, funny, intelligent and honest in music. He is like no one else in the music industry. I am very proud to have Open Mike Eagle a part of Hip-Hop. The best of 2016, in Hip-Hop.
15. Nolan The Ninja – he(art)
The return of the Boom-Bap! Nolan The Ninja is an emcee/ producer from Detroit. Who also delivers Boom-bap in 2016 at the age of 24! To me, I was not too interested in Fuck The Hype, Nolan’s EP last year. So when I walked into this project, I was floored.
Mostly because of his delivery but it gave me a nostalgic feel that Onyx would give me. It also reminded me of The RZA’s delivery on the track, “WU-Tang Clan Aint N’tn To Fuck Wit’“
With all that being said, Nolan The Ninja did his thing on He(art). He stood out from the rest of the industry by delivering a solid project. Bars, Delivery, content and skill. This is what Hip-Hop is all about!
Reason for ranking: Nolan The Ninja‘s vocal delivery (for me) meshed the songs together. To where there wasn’t much separation. If it wasn’t for the production, the tracks wouldn’t be able to stand out. I would have liked some separation just so specific lyrics could stand out among the vocal projection.
Why its important to Hip-Hop: Overall, just an amazing project. I listened to this project a lot. I Spread the word about it and people were tripped out about how this was a new album. This album is important because it shows that the youth of Hip-Hop still appreciate what the golden era offers. Nolan is a purist at He(art)! The best of 2016, in Hip-Hop.
14. De La Soul – and the Anonymous Nobody
De La Soul, WOW! What can I say about this that hasn’t!! It’s up for a Grammy this year in 2016. I’m hoping they get it but i’m not holding my breath. But damn, and the Anonymous Nobody is such a fun project to listen too. I was expecting a Grind Date or Art Of Intelligence approach and got an alternative, funky, instrumental approach…..and I loved it!
What else could you expect from these black hippies?? They pulled off an album that shouldn’t work. I know there was a lot of people who were disappointed about this project not being a bar-fest but it should have grown on you by now. This had to grow on me, it took some time and the only reason why I gave that time is because De La always delivers. Upon it’s third or fourth listen i began to enjoy it more and more. It began to make sense.
Reason for ranking: As much as I liked this project, it doesn’t get as many spins as the other projects. It is definitely a mood project. I need to be in a mood to play it. Its instrumentals are amazing, it’s the first thing I’ll play at a get together. The best of 2016, in Hip-Hop.
Why its important to Hip-Hop: De La Soul “Have been doing this” they know how to show up and they did. It’s important because these are pioneers in Hip-Hop that can still pull of a quality project that expands your interest and preference. Just the way 3 Feet High did, all those years ago.
13. Kembe X – Talk Back
Kembe X is the perfect bridge from new school fans who want to transition to traditional Hip-Hop. You know, like rhyming with a message or purpose! Now this is me just talking shit but it’s true. Kembe X is one of the few very new artist I can get behind. Talk Back is an amazing project full of relatable content.
Kembe X talks about being underestimated, which is nothing new for a rapper to talk about but when you he backs that statement with this project. He also explores positive attitude taking on the role of a motivational speaker.
Reason For Ranking: Kembe X flow is fluent. He impresses me with how easy he can rap. Like he’s been doing it for years! I also love his overall message, which was for me was TALK BACK! Fight back, overcome, meditate, visualize, believe in yourself and move. This album always makes me want to keep pursuing my dreams. Whether it’s Pushups, emails, networking, whatever your hustle is, Kembe X is here to motivate. The best of 2016, in Hip-Hop.
Why Is This Album Important To Hip-Hop?: Talk Back is important for its overall message and content. It is refreshing to have Kembe X in Hip-Hop. Being a new rapper that respects the culture and focuses on lyrics over gimmicks.
12. Aesop Rock- The Impossible Kid
Another great project for a semi old school artist. Aesop Rock is not from the golden era but he is from, what i like to call, the original underground. When mainstream Hip-Hop was becoming more club banger oriented, Aesop Rock was among the underground elite. With artist like Slug, MF Doom, Sage Francis, Immortal Technique, El-P, J-Live, 2MEX, Cannibal OX and so many more.
The Impossible Kid feels that vintage Bazooka Tooth i would listen to as a teenager in a black light lit room. At the same time, Aesop makes this album feel new and interesting. What also makes this interesting for me, is i’m aging (29) with Aesop. So songs like “Hella Years” and “Dorks” ring true to me in my age. It’s great to grow with this mans music. The best of 2016, in Hip-Hop.
Reason For Ranking: The Impossible Kid is such a full, well-balanced album. From the lyrics to production and humor. I don’t think Hip-Hop heads should take these albums lightly. Emcee’s don’t age well but this year,they have!
The Reason Why This Album Is Important To Hip-Hop?: Aesop Rock can still rock the mic! You can’t say that for a lot of legends in the game. The Impossible Kid adds to ‘Bazooka Tooth’s’ legacy.
11. j-zone – Fish-N-Grits
This album spoke to me, a lot. From its cover and cynical themes about the current state of Hip-Hop. It was a lot of fun to listen to. Humor and nostalgia aside, J-Zone rode every beat in every different way. Switching up his flow to the production. J-Zone never left me feeling bored at all.
Now, back to the humor. Talking mad shit! If you’re a rapper, this could sound discouraging and i feel that was a point. It really focused on the swag rappers. It never got to a point where it was beating a dead horse. Every statement felt validated. Every insult was justified and was never really about the same specific topic. And the live feel of this music was incredible!!
The music was incredible. Creating samples from classic records. The live drums sounded bright and funky. Overall, a blast to listen to. Funny as hell as well! The best of 2016, in Hip-Hop.
Stay tuned for the rest of our list, out soon!!