2017 IN REVIEW

It’s that time again for my review of the last year in hip-hop. Below are some of my favorite highlights of 2017. Check the following Playlists, Albums, Music Videos, Cyphers, and Rap Battles for my personal run-down of the year.


The Latest Playlist: 2017

*Track listing at bottom of post


Notable Albums of 2017

Choosing albums to highlight this year was difficult, and I want to at least mention some of the projects that for whatever reason I had a difficult time deciding not to critique: Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, Kendrick Lamar – DAMN, Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom, Marlon Craft – The Tunnel’s End, Billy Woods – Known Unknowns, and Kota the Friend – Paloma Beach. In the end, I decided to bring attention to the following 2017 projects:

BROCKHAMPTON – SATURATION I, II, & III

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The most wonderful surprise of 2017 was the trilogy of albums released by self-proclaimed Internet boy band, BROCKHAMPTON: SATURATION I, II, & III. My initial intention was to comment on just one of the three albums, but it would have been irresponsible not to address the entire trilogy as a whole, as well as the group’s overall significance in 2017. Formed by Kevin Abstract in an online Kanye West fan forum, the group consists of about a dozen members, each with a unique style, blending together in an incredibly impressive and complex dynamic. With a collective 48 tracks (only 8 of which are skits), and accompanied by about 20 music videos, this trilogy is and has everything, leaving little to be desired.

Forming a description of this music is anything but simple, as there are completely different styles from track to track, and even from section to section within each track. Some parts are difficult to digest; others contain a beautiful harmonizing of melodies, while others tiptoe into more classical rap and lyricism, and at times display styles that resemble poetry and spoken word. SATURATION pulls from a wide variety of genres and uses a plethora of sounds culminating in a project that is uniquely refreshing and absolutely genuine. The overall energy is invigorating and exiting in a way that is reminiscent of early Odd Future, but far more sophisticated.

In general, the content covers everything relevant to 2017 without beating the listener over the head with anything in particular. The message oscillates between introspective, contemplative, and outwardly conscious to a far less enlightened self-indulgence, which is clearly self-aware, dabbling in a comedic irony. The more time you spend with this music, the more there is to unpack and appreciate.

Milo – Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!

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2017 brought yet another magical release from the rap poet alchemist/sorcerer: Milo. With the opening track titled “Poet” and closing track titled “Rapper”, Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?! Actively addresses the natural crossover of poetry and rap, particularly in Milo’s own music, which has become commonly referred to as the Open Mike Eagle coined genre of “Art Rap”.

The instrumentals on this project are mostly mesmerizingly mellow (mmm…), leaving room for Milo’s message, which is, as usual, contemplative and inquisitive on many levels. Deeply saturated with abstract metaphor and philosophical references, as in all of Milo’s music, momentary distraction is unforgiving to the listener, and understanding his messages require undivided attention.

Much of this project seems to be a path of self-discovery through music as well as observation of others, and finding his place relative to those observations. He frequently employs blatant critique of stereotypical rap clichés and shortsighted arrogance, though his disses would clearly be lost upon the targets of his criticism. Well aware of his intellectual prowess, particularly in the field of hip-hop, intelligence and vocabulary become his bragging points: “The point is my vocabulary pays my rent”.

Though I wouldn’t consider this Milo’s best project to date, it is undoubtedly successful, solidifying his place as one of my favorite artists.

lojii & Swarvy – Due Rent

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Any classic head can appreciate “Due Rent”, the latest double “disc” album from lojii & Swarvy. Lojii tackles the age-old hip-hop theme of hustling for cash, striving to overcome struggle, and then rapping about it. With a low-energy Godfather/Mafioso type East Coast flow, lojii casually floats over a bed of dark lo-fi instrumentals that clearly display Swarvy’s ability to orchestrate sample mastery.

Accurately self described as “rap vintage”, each track is only about 2 minutes and is essentially a different take on the same point: lojii going about his day to day trying to find a way to pay rent and make it to the next day, with of course, a bit of classic hip-hop braggadocio peppered in. Overall the album is cohesively satisfying, with a seemingly low budget production and message, lojii & Swarvy show that they can make dope hip-hop with any budget, reminiscent of an earlier time in underground hip-hop production.


Notable Music Videos of 2017

Open Mike Eagle feat. Sammus – Hymnal

Open Mike Eagle – Happy Wasteland Day

Jay-Z – The Story of O.J.

Brother Ali – Never Learn

BROCKHAMPTON – GOLD

BROCKHAMPTON – SWAMP


Notable Cyphers of 2017

Method Man & Black Thought on Sway in the Morning

Harry Mack Freestyles in Venice


Notable Rap Battles of 2017

Bigg K vs Pass (KOTD)

Dizaster vs Oxxxymiron (KOTD)

Oops vs Xcel (KOTD)


The Latest Playlist 2017:

Brother Ali – Never Learn

lojii & Swarvy – Northern Organix

Marlon Craft – The One (Intro) / TTE 1

Milo – Sorcerer

Danny Watts – Things We Have To Do

Devin the Dude – Can I

Open Mike Eagle Feat. Sammus – Hymnal

Little Simz – Backseat

J.I.D. – General

Billy Woods – Snake Oil

BROCKHAMPTON – TOKYO

Araabmuzik feat. Illmind – Selda

Anti-Lilly & Phoniks feat. Mariel – Sunshine

Cyhi The Prynce – God Bless Your Heart

Kendrick Lamar – FEEL

Loyle Carner – Ain’t Nothing Changed

Cunninlynguists – Mr. Morganfield & Ms. Waters (A-Side)

Sampa The Great – Protect Your Queen

Homeboy Sandman – Bless Up

The Doppelgangaz feat. Tnava– Roll Flee

Kota the Friend – Lawn Chair

Joey Bada$$ feat. Styles P – SUPER PREDATOR

Smino – Spitshine

Blu & Exile – Party of Two

Quelle Chris feat. I, Ced & Mndsgn – Popeye

The Underachievers – Cobra Clutch

Statik Selektah feat. Run The Jewels – Put Jewels On It

Stik Figa feat. Apollo Brown – Holding Back Tears

Armand Hammer – Stole

G Perico – All Blue


Have a great 2018!

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