As we fly past June and continue marching through 2016, the halfway mark gives a chance to reflect back on what has happen so far and give praise to the best music of the year so far. With huge releases from big time stars like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Royce Da 5’9— 2016 has set the mark high for artist and is keeping the hip-hop industry more competitive than ever. This is the top five albums of the year based off of replay ability for me.
The Impossible Kid– Aesop Rock
As Aesop returns with his second album on Rhymesayers Entertainment, The Impossible Kid might be Aesop’s most easily digestible project and takes a deep look into some of the darkest parts of the talented emcees mind. Aesop produced the entire project himself and manages to impress on the production side of things as well. The album acts as a memory book for Aesop and in this book he tells some of the most interesting stories of his life. Singles like “Dorks” and “Blood Sandwich” find Aesop elegantly reflecting back on the memories from the past, and connecting together words in a way that only the literary god Aesop Rock can do. Stream the album below or purchase it here, and keep an eye out for the next release from this living legend of the hip-hop community.
Untitled Unmastered EP– Kendrick Lamar
Proving that even his throw away songs are better than some of the best that other artist put out, Kendrick released his Untitled Unmastered EP on March 4th, 2016. The 8 track EP features unused materials from the time when Lamar was working on his album To Pimp a Butterfly, these recording sessions are also known as the King Kunta sessions. The project features some extremely smooth production and manages to pull a ton of inspiration from old times blues and funk. Lamar showcases his unique versatility and exceptional songwriting throughout and left listeners with even more satisfaction from the talented TDE collective. You can stream the album below or purchase it for download here.
If you haven’t heard of Oddisee yet check him out immediately. With an ear for smooth beats and a consistent flow with a witty vocabulary— he is quickly becoming one of the best lyricist in all of the industry. In his latest release Alwasta EP— Odisee finds himself reflecting back on his surroundings and speaking on the issues of the world. In “Lifiting Shadows” He speaks on the raising tensions in America between Muslims and the rest of the country.
“Since 9/11 it ain’t too clear just who the target is/I love my country, hate its politics.”
To counteract the information packed conscious tracks the EP starts out with, Oddisee reals it back and raps over top a few laid back groove sounds towards the end of the project. He spreads the good vibrations on “Catching Vibes “and plays with the idea of cultural influences and the inescapable fad of drugs and alcohol on “Slow Groove”. You can stream the album below or purchase it for download here.
Layers– Royce Da 5’9
Layers is Royce Da 5’9’s sixth studio album and first since 2011. Keeping busy as member of hip-hop group slaughterhouse as well as a member in the producer and rapper duo PRhyme, Royce is a tireless talent that is staking his name up there with legends of the game. Layers finds Royce diving into some of his most personal details of his life and reflecting back on this with powerful storytelling. This can most easily be heard in the powerful single from the project, “Tabernacle” where Royce details one of the most important days of his entire life. Packing in just as much lyrical content and rhymes as ever, Royce delivers a ripe album full of just about everything a fan of hip-hop could want. In a bar for bar contest Royce runs laps around many of the new generations artist, and this album only further solidifies Royce in a class of his own with the legends of the industry.You can stream the album below or purchase it for download here.
There’s A lot Going On- Vic Mensa
On Vic Mensa’s latest release, There’s a Lot Going on EP, the young emcee pours out his hearts emotions to the world and bares his soul for fans to hear. Whether its addressing important cultural issues like police tension in Chicago or the Flint water crisis, or reflecting back on his own personal issues and demons that he has battled since rising to such success; Vic leaves it all on the tape and makes for a brutally honest Roc Nation debut. The tightrope of sanity and fame is not any easy one to walk and Vic addresses this in depths on the emotionally charged title track “There’s a Lot Going on.” This project does a great job of displaying Vic’s unique versatility and showcases all of the talent that Jay-Z has believed in since signing him to the Roc. You can stream the album below or purchase it for download here.