10 Best Rap Albums of 2016

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The Best Rap Albums of 2016

Skepta
BBK

With the year halfway over, let's look back and reflect on the best rap albums of 2016 so far. Cue up your favorite streaming service, and get ready for some summer hip-hop bliss. Dive in.

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Domo Genesis - Genesis

Domo Genesis

Odd Future's resident weed man is finding new ways to alter his reality. On Genesis, Domo makes a point to show his progression. While he's still delightfully lighting one every now and then, he's also searching far and wide for his soul. Over murky beats and killer samples, Domo delivers biographical verses about his family, his autistic brother, and his evolving friendships. And after the downtrodden soul searching of the first half comes the intriguing night-out anthem, like the Anderson .Paak-assisted "Dapper."

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Future - EVOL

Future EVOL

"My left and right hand Robert Horry."

EVOL is distinct yet familiar. How many different ways can you rap about sippin' lean? How many different ways can you brag about poppin' pills? How many different ways can you rap about poppin' tags? 

It hews to the formula Future has perfected over the past two years: a small cast of inner-circle producers (Metro Boomin, Southside), a brief run time (39 minutes), and a lone guest artist to shake things up (The Weeknd).

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Young Thug - I'm Up

Young Thug - I'm Up

“Only thing more important than money is family.”

In which Young Thug finally comes into his own. On the 9-song special, I’m Up, Thug is primarily focused on friendship and family. “Stop all the killing, and let's go get it,” Thug pleads on the album. Later on, he stresses the importance of loyalty, while doting on his girl. How grown and sexy of him?

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The Best Rap Albums of 2016 - Kanye West - The Life of Pablo

The Life of Pablo

"I just copped a jet to fly over personal debt."

The Life of Pablo is Kanye West's living expression of art. It morphed and evolved several times after its release. The ideas are impressive, too. Who else would think to combine a Chance the Rapper verse, a Kirk Franklin spoken word performance, a choir and a 4 year-old preacher? Who would dare have Nina Simone back up Rihanna?

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Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered

Kendrick Lamar - Untitled Unmastered
TDE

"Get God on the phone."

Untitled Unmastered came out of nowhere. Just when you wondered how Kendrick Lamar would follow-up an album as significant and triumphant as To Pimp a Butterfly, he popped up with eight new tracks, each with a powerful message.

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Kevin Gates - Islah

Kevin Gates - Islah
Atlantic/Bread Winners' Association

Kevin Gates' Luca Brasi series was a revelation. Since 2007, the Baton Rouge rapper has been working catchy hooks and 2Pac-style verses when he should have been a newbie toiling in the underground. Islah is the product of years of dedication. It's less sinister but more confident. Less experimental, more focused. Islah is packed full with memorable singles: "Really Really," "La Familia," and the unforgettable "2 Phones."

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Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

 "I don't make songs for free; I make 'em for freedom"

I felt dirty after listening to Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book. It's the same type of dirtiness you feel after devouring a big serving of dessert, the crumbs tiptoeing on your lips. As dirty as I felt after I downloaded and Surf. I felt dirty because Coloring Book filled me with joy and I didn't even have to pay for it. So dirty, in fact, that I launched a new tab, typed chanceraps.com and copped a new "3" tee to atone for my sins. And you should, too.

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Aesop Rock - The Impossible Kid

Aesop Rock - The Impossible Kid
Rhymesayers

Aesop Rock has always been an underrated talent. He's also one of the game's most consistent voices. His self-produced seventh album, The Impossible Kid, was largely recorded in a barn. It's a thrilling, visceral window to the mind of one of rap's most remarkable visionaries. In between reflective tracks like "Lotta Years" and "Rings," we get Rock's powerful appreciation for abstract, cryptic imagery. What's beautiful about The Impossible Kid is that someone who has long been known for his loquacious lyrics has merged his dexterity with hook-driven songs that showcase his growth as a songwriter.

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Skepta - Konnichiwa

Skepta - Konnichiwa

Konnichiwa is not the hit-packed fourth album of a grime savant. It's not the nakedly honest, tantalizingly brazen capstone to a crucial career. It's not the urgent, defiant sneer of an underdog putting an entire genre on his shoulders. It's not the transatlantic hunger of a renaissance whose genius instincts stomp all two-tone beats. No. Nothing to see here.

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Elzhi - Lead Poison

Elzhi - Lead Poison

He's never going to top the Billboard Hot 100. He'll probably never headline the Grammys or record a career-changing single with Beyonce. But Lead Poison reinforces Elzhi's status as one of the all-time great lyricists. Lead Poison, with its intricate headphone lyrical clinic, is a triumph for Elzhi and the forgotten art of emceeing.

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Your Citation
Adaso, Henry. "10 Best Rap Albums of 2016." ThoughtCo, Jul. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-rap-albums-of-2016-4050569. Adaso, Henry. (2017, July 17). 10 Best Rap Albums of 2016. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-rap-albums-of-2016-4050569 Adaso, Henry. "10 Best Rap Albums of 2016." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-rap-albums-of-2016-4050569 (accessed November 19, 2017).