Best Of 2017 in Hip-Hop, Part II: Top 10 Critically Reviewed Hip-Hop Albums (Includes UK Artists)

Posted by Billyjam, December 14, 2017 05:30am | Post a Comment
Best Of 2017 in Hip-Hop, Part II: Top 10 Critically Reviewed Hip-Hop Albums
Stormzy Gang Signs & a Prayer
#10  Stormzy  Gang Signs & Prayer (Merky Records) 

This second installment in the Amoeblog Best Of 2017 in Hip-Hop series is top ten album list of the highest critically reviewed albums in 2017. Based off a Metacritic study that ranked albums culled from a sampling of critical reviews of varying numbers, the reviews' with rating systems aggregated and ranked in order. Since the critical reviews were both UK and US based, many of the albums are British hip-hop releases that most in the US slept on. The list goes in reverse countdown from ten to number one with #10 Stormzy been one of four UK artists that made this list and is one of two that could be filed under "grime" as well as"hip-hop." Talented 24 year old South London Stormzy enjoyed a most rewarding 2017. Released in late February, his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer would become both a critical and commercial hit. In the UK it topped the UK Albums Chart and in so doing became the first grime album to ever do so. That's not the first time the artist of Ghanaian descent made history. Two years ago his track ‘WickedSkengMan Part 4’ made history by becoming the first freestyle to break the UK charts. On his debut album track "Cigarettes and Cush"  Stormzy collaborated with Californian vocalist Kehlani.  UK music magazine NME gave a five star rating. Metacritic's study of reviewers resulted in an aggregate score of 82 (out of 100).


Roc Marciano Rosebudd's Revenge
#9   Roc Marciano  Rosebudd's Revenge (Marci Enterprises)

Dropping on April 7th this fourth studio album from Roc Marciano, Rosebudd's Revenge earned the Long Island, NY talent a Metacritic determined average score of 83 (out of 100). These included Pitchfork who rated it 8.0 (out of 10) lauding the album for making, "the case for Marciano as a vicious, creative, and vastly underrated MC." Rosebudd's Revenge select album guests included Jake Palumbo and Knowledge The Pirate who make appearances on four of the album's 15 tracks. In July, just three months after this album, Marciano dropped the album Sabbath on Hardtimes Records: his collaboration with Herman Munsin,


Jay-Z 4:44
#8  Jay-Z  4:44 (Roc Nation)   

On a sampling of 28 different critical reviews, Metacritic's aggregate score of Jay-Z's album 4:44 (Roc Nation) resulted in an 83 out of 100 rating. His thirteenth studio album, following a poorly received previous album, 4:44 was an honest soul bearing piece of art and a return to form for the artist. As well as a critical favorite, the album was also a success commercially. Officially physically released for sale on July 7, 2017 (when it arrived into Amoeba) the album had been unveiled a week earlier via (Jay-Z's) Tidal streaming company as well as via Sprint, following a profitable cosign deal he shrewdly inked with the corporation. That combined exposure of 4:44 resulted in the RIAA registering it platinum status two days in advance of its actual (traditional) "street date."


#7  Young Thug  Beautiful Thugger Girls (Atlantic)

Officially dubbed a "mixtape" Young Thug's B was released by Atlantic Records in mid June to overwhelmingly glowing reviews, earning it a Metacritic score of 84. XXL, who gave it 4 out of 5, 
called it the artist's "best" album while Pitchfork, who gave it 8 out of 10, praised it for being a, "most compelling experiment in pop.....[that] strips away all the clutter, leaving his best-developed melodies and most evocative songwriting to date." In 2017 Young Thug also released a vinyl version of his 2016 album Jeffrey LP


#6  Loyle Carner Yesterday's Gone (AMF/Virgin/EMI)

Yesterday's Gone is the acclaimed debut album by UK emcee Loyle Carner that was released back in January but has made waves all year since, especially in its native Britain. The album, that got a Metacritic rating of 84, got chosen by critics at The Independent as the best album of 2017, out of all genres! In addition to praising the album's pitch-perfect 90's NY hip-hop styled production courtesy of Rebel Cleff, the British newspaper called, "Yesterday’s Gone an outstanding debut by one of the UK’s finest young talents – an album you find yourself returning to again and again."

#5  Wiley  Godfather (Wiley Music/Warner)

Another British top ten entrant that could be filed under grime, Wiley killed it in 2017 with the longtime artist's critically acclaimed album Godfather that earned him a Metacritic aggregate score of 84 out of 100. Reportedly the final solo album from the UK grime star who has been putting it down for two decades, Godfather that featured guest spots from many new gen grime starts, won wide approval back in his native UK. British newspaper The Observer who rated it an 80 wrote "Wiley is back, and with a banger. There’s no dud on this rattling tour de force."  


#4 Tyler, The Creator  Flower Boy (Columbia / Legacy)

Tyler, The Creator won praise all over (an 84 aggregate score via Metacritic) for his July 2017 album Flower Boy (aka Scum Fuck Flower Boy Explicit CD version) which last week got released in vinyl format on Flower Boy 2LP. "Immaculately produced, beat-heavy, lyrically brilliant album sure doesn’t seem to be pulling any punches when Tyler repeatedly raps about his constant state of loneliness and boredom....without any apologies. He’s as formidable as ever," is an excerpt from the Amoeba review of the album from the envelope pushing Odd Future member: a opinion in keeping with the general critical feedback that the album rightfully received.

#3  J Hus  Common Sense  (Black Butter / SONY)

UK rapper J Hus, who built a rep for drawing from such musical elements as  grime, reggae dancehall,  and Afrobeat, extends that range even further with more American popular rap stylized sounds on his universally praised (85 rating) studio debut album Common Sense, released on Black Butter via SONY.


#2 Vince Staples  Big Fish Theory (ARTium / Blacksmith / Def Jam)

Just as his 2015 debut studio album Summertime ’06 (with its Joy Division inspired cover art) was an across the board critical fave, with a Metacritic score of 87 out of 100, so too did Vince Staples follow up summer 2017 release, Big Fish Theory, instantly become another favorite with critics. In fact the more experimental and electronic sounding album would rate even higher. A study of 25 different reviews of the Compton CA’s  sophomore album resulted in an aggregate score of 89. Entertainment Weekly rated it “A-“ and praised its “incisive lyrics and beats that spurn current trends for a set that sounds unlike anything else in hip-hop right now,” while Pitchfork rated it 8.7 calling its overall sound (from a myriad of contributing producers) a “natural progression” while “Big Fish Theory, peers into the fishbowl of the fragile rap ecosystem and considers how “rappers are perceived and perceive themselves.” Rappers who guested on Staples’ album included Kendrick Lamar, Juicy J, Ty Dolla Sign and ASAP Rocky.


#1  Kendrick Lamar DAMN! (Aftermath)

Released on April 14th, Kendrick Lamar's fourth studio album DAMN! did not disappoint as the long anticipated follow up to the widely beloved LA artist's 2015's critically and commercially acclaimed To Pimp A Butterfly (also avail on LP/vinyl).  Similarly DAMN! scored high marks with fans and critics alike, even though musically it was a bit of a departure from his last album. A study of 39 reviews of DAMN! resulted in an aggregate score of 95 out of 100. In comparison to Butterfly's more traditionally rooted sound and vibe, DAMN! is sonically more contemporary hip-hop sounding with production contributors including The AlchemistMike Will Make ItCardo, BADBADNOTGOODJames Blake (who also contributes writing to "ELEMENT."), Teddy Walton, Terrace Martin, and of former collaborator Mark "Sounwave" Spears.. Sounwave, who co-produced on Butterfly, was responsible for production on eight of DAMN's fourteen tracks.

Relevant Tags

Merky Records (1), Best Of 2017 (19), Gang Signs & Prayer (1), Jay-z (30), Best Of 2017 In Hip-hop (3), Young Thug (6), Stormzy (3)