Once again it’s time for my Annual Best of Top 30 lists. I often get asked how I come up with the lists and what criteria I use to create them.
During the year I receive hundreds of records from each of the 7 genres that I create lists for. There is so much amazing music floating around out there, there simply isn’t enough hours in the day to showcase it all. I try to cover as much as humanly possible but it’s simply not possible for me to get to everything or give each record as much time as I’d love to give them all.
With that being said, my tastes in music as unconventional at best and eclectic at worst. I love the independent spirit of music and find myself much more attracted to underground music than the mainstream stuff that corporate radio pushes.
When choosing the music that makes my year end lists I keep 4 basic rules in mind:
1) No greatest hits, re-issues, live, cover albums or box sets are eligible.
2) A record must contain a minimum of SEVEN songs thus no EP’s qualify.
3) The list is NEVER based on record sales or commercial numbers.
4) Music is Subjective and these are simply MY favorites that have impacted me in personal ways, thus staying on my heavy rotation for the entire year.
Now, let’s get to the fun!
30) Nas – Nasir
The King of NY returns here with a shot of fire that sees him in his finest form in years. Only 7 tunes on here, thus it’s ranking. Here’s to hoping Nas returns in the new year with a full length that builds on this!
29) Ill Conscious – The Prerequisite
Baltimore based rapper that delivers a blazing set of conscious style rhymes that makes ya really think while still delivering massive beats!
28) Tech N9ne – Planet
It’s Tech man! Do I really need to say much more? With a fresh set of some his hardest beats to date, Tech absolutely defies gravity with his rhymes here, leaving your breathless.
27) Token – Between Somewhere
Token started as a viral sensation but has developed into a first rate rhymer here. He’s lost many of the Eminem mannerisms here and had grown into his own style that really works for him.
26) Nine – King
With one of the most unique voices in Hip Hop yet one of the deadliest flows, Nine has teamed up here with Snow Goons to deliver a record that shows exactly why he’s considered a legend!
25) Forever MC & It’s Different – Forever M.C.
With a staggering list of features, this production team has delivered a massive record that is guaranteed to sound amazing in your ride while making heads turn at every glorious beat.
24) Classified – Tomorrow Could Be The Day Things Change
Canadian MC that has long been underrated. One of the reasons that Canada seems to be so far ahead of the curve in creating amazing rap music!
23) Q-Unique – The Mechanic
razor sharp lyricism over thought provoking beats, Q delivers a monstrous set of rhymes that reminds of Vinnie Paz in places and Linken Park in others. Diverse and huge sounding.
22) Mayday! – South of 5th
Strange Music artist return with a reggae infused banger that mixes rasta beats with rapid fire verses layered over the top.
21) Atmosphere – Mi Vida Local
Esoteric rap with psychedelic touches. Slug has his own style that always hit the mark if you’re looking for hip hop that isn’t run of the mill!
20) Odd Squad Family – Against All Odds
Arizona based rap trio comes in with a record that shows there’s no excuses for going after your dreams. I discovered these guys while looking at something else and was blown away by their message. One of the best new discoveries of the past few years!
19) Merkules – Cole
One of the top spitters going right now, Merkules never fails to deliver a breath taking set of tunes that will blast your face off! This is no exception.
18) Apathy – The Widow’s Son
Cerebral rap from the Conneticut rapper that always goes for the juggalar. One of the most underrated rappers in the business, this is proof why Apathy should be considered in the same breath as many of the legends.
17) Upchurch – Supernatural
I know many will question my choice here but I don’t care. I respect the shit out of Upchurch, both as an artist and a person. The dude is one of the realest and hardest workers going right now. Supernatural is a serious banger that easily holds it’s own against just about anything it’s matched against. Anyone that writes this off simply for it’s country influences is missing one hell of a record!
16) Royce Da 5’9″ – Book of Ryan
The only rapper from the Shady camp that I can actually take seriously and the only one that I actually ENJOY listening to. Royce has always spit fire and I consider him far better than his so called boss. I know I’ll catch a ton of hate for saying that…but hey…it is what it is!
15) Jelly Roll & Struggle Jennings – Waylon and Willie III
What do you get when you mix the best so called “White Trash Rapper” with the Grandson of Waylon Jennings? You get a record that mixes country influences with Nashville’s darker, gritty side and will kick your ass from opening to close. Struggle Jennings has grown a ton as a rapper over the past few years and is now of the hungriest rappers out there. Jelly Roll has always been the most slept on dude in the business! What you get here is straight up REALNESS that is both haunting while still being harder than diamond!
14) Pull The Fuckin’ Trigger – Until It’s My Time To Die
Pure NYC style lyrical terrorism in its purest form. Sutter Kane, Donnie Darko, and Appollo Valdez absolutely brutalize everything in their path on here. Absolutely not for the faint of heart!
13) Chris Webby – Wednesday
Fucken Webby man! I’d put Webby up against any rhymer on earth man then stand back and watch him WRECK them! This record has it all and only ranks this far back due to the fact it’s technically a 2017 release! I’m sort of cheating here since he released it in the grey area between the cutoff for submissions for the year and when the new year technically starts. Hands down, any true Hip Hop head needs this record in their collection.
12) Vinnie Paz – The Pain Collector
The hardest cat that Philly has to offer that never fails to spit absolute brutality! It doesn’t matter what you put Vinnie on, it’s gonna steal the show! This is no exception! Pure nastiness layered over some of the darkest beats the mind can conceive!
11) Sevin – Rather Die Than Deny
It’s not often that a Christian rapper registers on my musical radar but Sevin is one bad dude! If you’re looking for music with a postive message while still maintaining that super hard street level style, this is for you! Make no mistake either, this may be Christian Hip Hop but it’s got more talent than 90% of the stuff out today!
10) Jelly Roll – Goodnight Nashville
If you don’t know the name Jelly Roll, then you’re sleeping on one of the most talented dudes in the genre! Jelly is one of the hardest workers going and is constantly grindin to get his music out there. His latest is the perfect combination of trap house rap, street rhymes, and white trash boasting. Throw this one on, crank it up and let the speakers boom!
09) Sadat X & El Da Sensei – XL
Another entry that boasts production from The Snow Goons, it’s a slamming affair in typical Goon Bap fashion that simply can not be ignored. Another one for the true Hip Hop heads!
08) Jarren Benton – Yuck Fou
I was introduced to Jarren’s music from Hopsin. The dude has quickly found his own racket though and goes in hard from beginning to end here.
07) Anerae VeShaughn – The Execution of X-Raided
After 26 years in prison, Anerae is now a free man and leaving the X-Raided persona behind in favor of a more positive outlook on life. Some will want to troll and others will realize that this is a huge sounding record that could easily sit next to any Pac record. I’m excited to hear what will be coming in the future!
06) Damo The Great – Order Out Of Chaos
Detroit area based rapper that produces some of the truest hip hop produced in this state. A long time favorite that never fails to deliver monster tracks that will have you bouncing to them! I could sit here and tell you how great this record is but you need to hear it to really understand!
05) T.O.N.E.-z – Lyrics and Beats
Pure lyricism here, nothing else. He doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel here, he just spits fire track after fire track over slamming beats that showcase his insane wordplay, which is among the absolute best in the genre, bar none! Don’t sleep on this one!
04) Locksmith – Ali
Just listen to the track, “Prison” off this record and you’ll know exactly why this record is ranked where it is. Another lyricist that is absolutely cerebral in his approach to his wordplay, he always delivers a message meant to teach!
03) G-Blakk – Trakk Season, Chapter 1 & 2
I was introduced to Blakk’s music from his first record and have been supporting his music on my radio shows since. I’ve watched him work his ass off to improve his art and become the beast that he is now. He’s used all the adversity that life has thrown his way and turned into fuel to push forward when weaker men would have folded! This double set of records displays his diversity, whether he’s wrapping about his home town, the state of politics in the world, or professional wrestling! Combining old school lyricism with modern twists, he’s the proof that all hope is not lost in the genre!
02) ATG – The Legacy
Lead singer of the band Discrepancies, ATG steps out on his own here for a full on hip hop release that goes straight for the throat and doesn’t let go! Easily the best St. Louis has to offer right now, this is a record that is a must for any true lover of the art form! If you don’t know his name, learn it…you’ll be hearing it a lot in the future!
01) Jedi Mind Tricks – The Bridge and The Abyss
Hands down, my most listened to Hip Hop record this year. Absolute mastery from the camp of Vinnie Paz and Stoupe. The beats here are dark, trippy, and cerebral all at the same time. Vinnie adds his usual dose of verbal napalm that will leave you dizzy from bobbing your head along to these nuclear pieces of art!
In this age of plastic, garbage, throw away mumble rap, this is the REAL deal!