25 of the Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2017 (So Far)
Don’t look now, but we’re already halfway through 2017, a year that’s seen dope projects from rap game legends and rising newcomers. These releases have been all over the map in terms of substance, aesthetic and sound—literally and figuratively.
At the top of the year, Migos solidified their superstar status with Culture, a tour de force of cohesion and melody that makes hitmaking feel like it’s second nature to the Atlanta trio. A bit later on, we got Future’s self-titled album, a project similarly rife with bangers. “Draco” is a trap fan’s Candy Land, and “Mask Off” might be the song of the winter, spring and this summer.
A short while later, we got a gift from Detroit in the form of My Moment, Tee Grizzley’s stunningly authentic debut mixtape. After putting the rap game on notice with “First Day Out”—a track JAY-Z himself called the best song out—Grizzley showcased some nimble flows and an impressive all-around song-making ability throughout the rest of his project, showing everyone he’s far from a one-hit wonder.
Taking things up top to New York City is Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$, who tackled the turbulent political climate of today with his impressively rapped All Amerikkkan Bada$$. His single “Land of the Free” is one of our top 25 hip-hop songs of 2017 so far.
Keeping things in Brooklyn is none other than Hov himself, who surprised everyone with his 4:44 album. While a collection of interesting ads around the country and the Roc Nation boss’ status as a rap legend guaranteed hype for the project, the rapper’s bare honesty and production from No I.D. made it a great album.
Drake has been playing in a different bracket for years now, and his “playlist” More Life pushed his quantifiable success to cartoonishly high levels. The project broke Spotify’s one-day streaming record when it dropped back in March, earning 76,355,041 streams in 24 hours. At this point, is this guy even capable of losing?
Of course, we’d be remiss to forget DAMN., Kendrick Lamar’s universally acclaimed follow-up to 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly. At one point, literally every song on K. Dot’s latest project landed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Every. Single. One. DAMN.
When you add in 2 Chainz’s epic Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, Rick Ross’ ultra-cinematic Rather You Than Me, Kodak Black's effortlessly raw Painting Pictures and Vince Staples’ fearlessly inventive Big Fish Theory, you’re looking at a collection of 2017 releases that are as stellar as they are diverse. Today, XXL takes a look at 25 of the best projects released in 2017 (so far). Check out our picks for yourself in the gallery above.—Peter A. Berry
Words by Emmanuel Maduakolam, Georgette Cline, Max Weinstein, Peter A. Berry, Preezy, Roger Krastz and Sidney Madden.