Year-End List: Countdown: 10 Best Rap Albums of 2016
Tribe, Chance, or Kanye? Who earns to honors of best rap album of 2016 from The Musical Hype? Check out our countdown to see who came out on top!
2016 has been considered to be a so-so year for music. Nonetheless, there were plenty of terrific rap albums. Where other genres saw considerable drop-off, the beats and rhymes kept on coming in hip-hop circles. With so many great rap albums, particularly from A Tribe Called Quest, Chance the Rapper, and Kanye West, who earned our nod for best rap album 2016? Check out our countdown to see who came out on top!
First things first, how about some honorable mentions?
Honorable Mentions and (Crème de la Crème)
- De La Soul, And the Anonymous Nobody (“Royalty Capes”)
- D.R.A.M., Big Baby D.R.A.M. (“Broccoli”)
- Dreezy, No Hard Feelings (“Bad B*tch”)
- DJ Khaled, Major Key (“Holy Key”)
- Future, EVOL (“Lil Haiti Baby”)
- Gucci Mane, Everybody Looking (“1st Day Out Tha Feds”)
- Kevin Gates, Islah (“2 Phones”)
- Kid Cudi, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ (“Baptized in Fire”)
- Logic, Bobby Tarantino (“Wrist”)
- Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine (“Dang!”)
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (“Kevin”)
- Rae Sremmurd, Sremmlife 2 (“Black Beatles”)
- Travis Scott, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (“goosebumpz”)
- Watsky, x Infinity (“Stick To Your Guns”)
- YG, Still Brazy (“Who Shot Me?”)
10. Tech N9ne, The Storm
Tech N9ne is an underrated rapper, but he shouldn’t be. He’s a beast when it comes to rapping, crafting music that packs a mighty punch. On his follow up The Calm Before the Storm, appropriately titled The Storm, he raps about being underrated and mischaracterized. The album is divided into three distinct parts: Kingdom, Clown Town, and G. Zone. Three gems shine above the rest: “Sriracha,” “No Gun Control,” and “The Needle.” The Storm is excellent.
Crème de la crème: “Sriracha”
9. Drake, Views
This one’s tough. Arguably, Views is arguably Drake’s weakest album. Even so, Views is by no flop. The biggest rub against this album is that Drake doesn’t necessarily progress forward, opting to maintain the status quo. Is that bad? No. Views is still one of the year’s more interesting albums, and when Drizzy is “on,” he’s clearly “on.” “Hotline Bling” would be sufficient in itself.
Crème de la crème: “Hotline Bling”
8. Danny Brown, Atrocity Exhibition
Midwest, alt-rapper Danny Brown is one of a kind, possessing a distinct set of pipes with a jagged, raw style. Atrocity Exhibition showcases his eccentricity in all its glory. Brown discusses his demons on thrilling opener “Downward Spiral.” The album’s best moment comes on banger “Really Doe,” which assembles an all-star cast of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt. “When it Rain” mixes hardcore, unapologetic rap and the dancefloor. If nothing more, Atrocity Exhibition is among the most interesting albums of the year.
Crème de la crème: “Really Doe”
7. ScHoolboy Q, Blank Face LP
Blank Face LP, the fourth album from ScHoolboy Q, is an ambitious and incredibly moody effort. Albeit polarizing, it’s among the better albums of 2016. The brief “Lord Have Mercy” packs a mean punch – soulful with a bite. The quirk and distinct “THat Part” brings Kanye West along for an exhilarating ride. “Ride Out,” featuring Vince Staples, has commercial appeal as a banger, featuring a hard beat, hellish production, and fiery rhymes. All said and done, Blank Face LP is one of the year’s most intriguing efforts.
Crème de la crème: “That Part”
6. Common, Black America Again
Common is the KING of underrated. Nonetheless, he delivers a tour de force with Black America Again, arguably his best album in years. Black America Again is socially and politically charged affair. The reason why this album is spot-on is because of its relevancy to the times. A number of notable songs grace the effort, including “Home,” which references both the Biblical and black experience. “Pyramids,” another standout, finds Common denouncing empty rap in favor of rap serving a bigger, worldwide purpose.
Crème de la crème: “Pyramids”
5. Kendrick Lamar, Untitled Unmastered
On our mid-year list, Untitled Unmastered sat at no. 4. While it slips a smidge on the year-end rankings, that shouldn’t dissuade against its exceptionalness in the least. Untitled Unmastered is as good as an collection of B-sides gets. While it isn’t on the level of his two studio albums, it’s not that far off. One of the appeals of this album is that every song can be broken down analytically – there is a distinct message.
Crème de la crème: “Untitled 02”
4. J. Cole, 4 Your Eyez Only
[Dreamville / Roc Nation]
A rap album with no guest features? That’s no problem for rap standout J. Cole. On 4 Your Eyez Only, he delivers another award-winning album. 4 Your Eyez Only is a personal, authentic offering that requires a couple of listens to completely sink in. Arguably not his best album, it is his most personal and thoughtful. “Immortal” represents the crème de la crème, where Cole profiles the lot in life for black males (stereotypes). He also pays ode to his wife (“She’s Mine, Pt. 1” and “Foldin Clothes”) and his daughter (“She’s Mine, Pt. 2”).
Crème de la crème: “Immortal”
3. Kanye West, The Life of Pablo
The Life of Pablo gives Kanye West another fine album, if not the crowning achievement of his illustrious career. Even with question marks and an odd rollout for an album that eventually debuted on the Billboard 200 at no. 1, there’s ample praise. Opener “Ultralight Beam,” for example, is easily among the best songs of West’s career. “Famous” (featuring Rihanna) is controversial AF, yet intriguing in spite of that same controversy. There’s also a superstar collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on “No More Parties in LA” that can’t be overlooked.
Crème de la crème: “Ultralight Beam”
2. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
[Chance the Rapper]
“Am I the only nigga still care about mixtapes?” That’s a debatable question from Chance the Rapper. Regardless of the fact that Coloring Book is a mixtape, it’s an exceptional one! Undoubtedly, he is among the rising rappers of 2016. He’s at his best when he’s on a spiritual high, such as “Blessings” and “Finish Line/Drown.” Still, “No Problem” is an undeniable banger, where he is assisted by Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz.
Crème de la crème: “No Problem”
1. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got This…Thank You 4 Your Service
Following an 18-year hiatus, A Tribe Called Quest returned to release their final studio album. We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service is magnificent sixth album by the legendary hip-hop group. Amazingly, they don’t compromise their style, delivering a classic, yet fresh album. Jam-packed with gems, among the elite are opener “The Space Program” (tackles black inequality), “We the People…” (tackles the unrepresented in America), and “Lost Somebody” and “The Donald” (tributes to the late, great Phife Dawg).
Gems: “The Space Program”