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list Oct 8 2021 Written by

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July – December)

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Elsewhere on this site, you can find a list of what we think are the best Hip Hop albums of 2021. This Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July – December) list is a selection of Hip Hop albums released in the second half of the year that (in some cases just barely) missed the cut. All kinds of Hip Hop styles on this list: some of these 2021 honorable mentions are traditional boom-bap, some neo-boom-bap/rap-noir, some alternative/experimental, some more mainstream-sounding – whatever category-label you can stick on any particular project, all albums here deserve attention for some reason.

Because our list with the best Hip Hop albums of 2021 and this list with the year’s honorable mentions are both works in progress, some of these honorable mentions might yet make the ‘best of’ list. In any case, all the albums listed here are well-worth checking out – peruse this list at your leisure, and no doubt you will discover a couple of Hip Hop projects JUST for you, albums you otherwise might have missed out on.

So here it is, in release date order: the best Hip Hop albums of 2021 – the honorable mentions (July – December).

Also read: The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 & Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (January – June)

Eddie Kaine & Big Ghost Ltd - A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Any project that has Big Ghost Ltd’s name on it, is a must-listen at this point – his involvement is a guarantee for quality. Eddie Kaine is an exciting new voice from Bed Stuy Brooklyn, who has dropped a couple of great projects since his debut LP Akura that dropped in 2019. Big Ghost Ltd’s on A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is dope as f, and Eddie Kaine’s cutthroat bars are sharp and entertaining, as are the guest bars from the likes of Skyzoo, Ty Farris, UFO Fev, Ea$y Money, Rim, and Vic Spencer. This is one of the many excellent projects to come out of the NYC underground this year.

Release date: October 8, 2021. 

Tech N9ne - ASIN9NE

ASIN9NE is Kansas City phenomenon Tech N9Ne’s 23rd full-length album (counting the 8 albums in his collab series). It’s a solid Tech N9ne project, but not his best. Anghellic (2001), Everready (The Religion) (2006), K.O.D. (2009), All 6’s And 7’s (2011), and Something Else (2013) are our favorite Tech N9ne albums, and ASIN9NE is not on par with those five. Like for last year’s ENTERFEAR, Tech N9ne recruited way too many artists for features on ASIN9NE which gives it kind of a collaboration/compilation album type feel – there are guests on all but three of the seventeen songs. Their contributions are hit-or-miss and bring down the album a couple of notches – more Tech N9ne and fewer guests would have been better. That said, the album is enjoyable and entertaining enough – with the typical bombastic Tech N9ne instrumentals and lots of signature rapid-fire rhymes. Tech N9ne fans will be well pleased with ASIN9NE, Tech N9ne noobs should start with the five classics mentioned and circle back to this one later.

Release date: October 8, 2021.

Declaime - The Last Stand

Oxnard rapper Declaime’s music has always been an acquired taste, and The Last Stand is no different. The Last Stand is a long album filled with left-field funk-oriented Hip Hop beats and entertaining bars from Declaime and guests like Georgia Anne Muldrow, Steve Spacek, LaToiya Williams, Josef Leimberg, Ayun Bassa, Braxton Cook, Jamila Woods, and Mereba. Not for everybody, but those who’ve been rocking with Declaime for the last 20 years will know not to miss out on The Last Stand.

Release date: October 8, 2021.

Bronze Nazareth & Roc Marciano - Ekphrasis

With Bronze Nazareth’s fourth solo project Ekphrasis produced mostly by Roc Marciano, we see the Detroit native present marquee braggadocio and storytelling over jazz & soul-infused production. Roc Marci’s instrumentals are as pleasing as ever, and Bronze Nazareth’s pen game is sharp. The features list is impressive too, with Skyzoo, Termanology, Brizz Rawsteen, Kevlaar 7, Fashawn, Lord Jessiah, Killah Priest, and Boldy James – but at a mere 31 minutes and with just 9 ‘real’ songs, Ekphrasis is too short to really pack a punch or to make a lasting impression. Fans of either artist will no doubt love Ekphrasis, though.

Release date: October 8, 2021. 

BodyBagBen & J Scienide - Enough To Plague A Saint

Washington DC’s J Scienide hooked up with Oxnard, California’s BodyBagBen for Enough To Plague A Saint, a strong collaboration with deliciously dirty and dusty boom-bap beats, sharp cuts & scratches, and confident rhyming. Rome Streetz, Wordsworth, Ill Conscious, Napoleon Da Legend, and Rasheed Chappell help round out what is one of the finest underground Hip Hop projects of the year.

Release date: October 8, 2021.

Lute - Gold Mouf

With Gold Mouf, Lute drops a typical Dreamville album: slick and polished contemporary Hip Hop with lots of mainstream sensibilities, that’s also kind of boring at the same time. For a pop-rap album, Gold Mouf is not bad at all, though – we like Gold Mouf better than The Off-Season, J Cole’s last album, just to make a Dreamville comparison. Lute is a talented lyricist and Little Brother’s influences can be felt – Rapper Big Pooh served as executive producer, and Phonte sequenced the album. Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte make an appearance too: on “Amen”, one of the stand-out tracks on Gold Mouf. “Birdsong” (with JID & Saba) is the best song on the album, but overall the whole LP is pretty consistent. Lute is an artist to keep an eye on.

Release date: October 4, 2021. 

Guy Grams & The Prxspect - War Medals

Solid underground Hip Hop from Baltimore emcee Guy Grams. War Medals is fully produced by Australia’s The Prxspect, who cooked up a batch of dark and moody boom-bap instrumentals for Guy Grams’ raw street bars to shine. Guest like  Raf Almighty, Jay Royale, FullScale, DJ Grazzhoppa, J Scienide, Jamil Honesty, Mickey Diamond, and Pro Dillinger help round out what is an enjoyable project, one that will most likely get lost in the stack of dozens upon dozens of similar projects that drop these days.

Release date: October 1, 2021. 

Blizzard The Mad scientist - Duel With Death

Detroit producer/emcee Blizzard has been making a name for himself in the underground with his drum-heavy, grimy boom-bap sound. Blizzard‘s new album Duel With Death will appeal to fans of the Griselda sound and to Hip Hop traditionalists too. Duel With Death features guest rhymes from Aztek The Barfly, Ty Farris, Guilty Simpson, Finale, Kid Vishis, Spoda, A Minus, Isaac Castor, Ketch P, Jypsy, Miz Korona, Crimson Alchemist, Fatt Father, Marv Won, Big Herk, and many more.

Release date: September 27, 2021.

Hus Kingpin - The Firm

Hus Kingpin’s second full-length release of the year is not as good as his January release Portishus is, but it is solid all the way through.

Release date: September 27, 2021.

D Smoke - War & Wonders

Inglewood, Los Angeles artist D Smoke (winner of Netflix’s Hip Hop competition series Rhythm & Flow in 2019) dropped his breakthrough album Black Habits a little over a year ago to widespread acclaim, so expectations for this follow-up were pretty high. D Smoke delivers on all fronts. Lots of people deride D Smoke, calling him a Kendrick Lamar-light or something – but that’s bs. D Smoke is his own man, who happens to make music with some of the same kind of sensibilities that can be found in Kendrick Lamar’s music. If War & Wonders would have had Kendrick Lamar’s name on the cover lots of critics and fans would be tripping over each other to proclaim it AOTY, just because it’s King Kenny. The album has D Smoke’s name on the cover though, so it will get less spotlight. For us, it has a little too much mainstream tendencies to call it a favorite, but there’s no denying the strength of War & Wonders. Personal and contemplative content, complemented by well-crafted jazzy instrumentals –War & Wonders is a strong album.

Release date: September 24, 2021. 

El Da Sensei & Jake Palumbo - Solving Cases

Solving Cases is the slow-cooked, long-awaited collaborative LP from New Jersey mainstay and one-half of the legendary Artifacts crew El Da Sensei, and Brooklyn-by-way-of-Tennessee producer/emcee Jake Palumbo (whose credits behind the boards include Black Moon, Ras Kass, Smif-N-Wessun & Roc Marciano amongst a lengthy list of others). Copping Solving Cases is a no-brainer if top-level throwback boom-bap is your kind of Hip Hop – dope beats and rhymes, what more do you want?

Release date: September 24, 2021. 

Dark Lo & Havoc - Extreme Measures

Hard-as-nails in every aspect, this collaboration between Philadelphia emcee Dark Lo and Mobb Deep’s Havoc is as dark as it gets. Sinister beats and bars make for one of the most hardcore albums you will hear this year.

Release date: September 24, 2021. 

Eternia & Rel McCoy - FREE

“Eternia & Rel McCoy’s debut collaborative album, ‘FREE’ is a liberating ‘beauty from ashes’ sonic journey from two of Canada’s Hip Hop greats. The album represents a grand comeback for Eternia, who in 2010 released the Juno Award-nominated At Last with producer MoSS on Fat Beats Records. Transformative events changed her life since that release, including personal triumphs (starting a family) coinciding with personal struggles (mental/physical health) and artistic struggles (this project was rebooted), all while navigating a global pandemic and the isolation that ensues. FREE is born of these experiences as she partners with Rel McCoy, a Juno Award-winning producer she compliments heavily for providing the incredible soundscapes on the record, as well as contributing a few vocal appearances.”

FREE is a strong album with smooth boom-bap beats complemented by meaningful content, great flows, and tasteful hooks from Eternia and guests like Mr. Lif (her husband), Shad, and Wordsworth (among others).

Release date: September 24, 2021.

The Grouch & Eligh - What Would Love Do

West Coast veteran underground artists The Grouch and Eligh are founding members of the Living Legends collective, and regular collaborators as a duo too. Since the mid-1990s they’ve released a lot of music individually and collectively, What Would Love Do is the duo’s latest collaborative full-length project. As with most of the music from The Grouch and Eligh, What Would Love Do is for a niche audience – longtime followers will no doubt love this one, but it will probably escape the notice of most other Hip Hop listeners. But even if you never picked up on the music of The Grouch and/or Eligh, you could do worse than give What Would Love Do a listen. What you will get is a smooth and mature album: old-fashioned backpacker Hip Hop vibes combined with some quirky elements typical for the styles of these two artists and reminiscent of left-field artists like Homeboy Sandman and Open Mike Eagle.

Release date: September 24, 2021. 

The Bad Seed - Alpha

Alpha is prolific Brooklyn veteran rapper The Bad Seed’s third full-length of the year. As always he comes with hard-hitting beats over dark beats laced with creative sampling. Guests like Sadat X, Jamil Honesty, Guilty Simpson, Ruste Juxx, AMXXR, Yogi, Boopee, and Honey Dinero add extra flavor on what is a project well worth checking out.

Release date: September 17, 2021. 

Cymarshall Law - I Still Love H​.​E​.​R.

Cymarshall Law is a New Jersey-based and England-born emcee of Jamaican descent who came up as one part of Power Man & Iron Fist (with the late Pumpkinhead) in the early aughts, and who dropped a bunch of decent solo projects since then. I Still Love H​.​E​.​R. is his 11th album and one of his best.  The title song – Cymarshall Law’s version of Common’s 1994 classic – is the obvious centerpiece of the album, but the rest of the project is solid through and through as well. With its 90s-centric beats and flows, this is an album that should appeal to fans of that Golden Age sound in particular.

Release date: September 13, 2021. 

Gift Of Gab - Finding Inspiration Somehow

Gift of Gab’s Finding Inspiration Somehow is a great posthumous album, following his untimely passing at age 50 due to long-standing kidney failure in June of this year. As one half of trailblazing Sacramento duo Blackalicious, Gift Of Gab debuted in 1999 with the low-key classic Nia – one of the best Hip Hop albums released in 1999 and one of our favorite Hip Hop albums of all time. Since then, with his Blackalicious work, his solo projects, and his guest appearances on other people’s songs, Gift Of Gab positioned himself as one of the finest lyricists to ever do it – thanks to his intricate use of vocabulary, and his top-tier rhymes skills with complex internal rhyme schemes, rapid-fire raps, and tongue-twisting verses.

Like more of Hip Hop best lyricists Gift Of Gab never really got the wider recognition he deserved, probably because his content and his style were too complex and too advanced for the bubblegum-rap consuming masses to comprehend. 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up (2004) remains Gift Of Gab’s best solo album, but with Finding Inspiration Somehow Gift Of Gab goes out on a high note. The album sounds fully realized and not cobbled together like so many other posthumous releases. The album contains plenty of stand-outs with songs such as and “Going Farther”, “The Gentrification Song”, “You Gon’ Make It In The End”, “Vice Grip”, and “The Idea of America”. The hooks are kind of weak here and there and the instrumentals sometimes are not on par with Gift Of Gab’s rhyming – but overall Finding Inspiration Somehow is a dope release, a bittersweet swansong for one of the most underrated emcees Hip Hop has ever known.

Release date: September 10, 2021.

Lord Juco - Raised Right

Canadian indie underground artist Lord Juco continues his hot streak with the banging Raised Right, with guest spots from Vinnie Paz, Falcon Outlaw, Blckwndr, and Unorthodox

Release date: September 10, 2021.

Common - A Beautiful Revolution (Рt 2)

Resurrection (1994), One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997), Like Water For Chocolate (2000), Be (2005), Black America Again (2016) – no shortage of classic albums in Common’s catalog. His output since Black America Again is not up to par with his best work though. Let Love (2019) and A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 1) (2020) both were solid pieces of music, just missing that little extra something to elevate them to the next level. A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 2) continues in the same vein. The upbeat live jazz vibes crafted by Karriem Riggins (and others) are nice and Common’s uplifting and forward-looking content is strong enough, but the album also feels light-weight and meandering – kind of forgettable. That said: a new Common release is always an event, and there are enough high points here for A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 2) to deserve your time and attention. Best songs: the bluesy “Poetry” and “When We Move”, with a killer verse from the unbeatable Black Thought.

Release date: September 10, 2021. 

Zaza God - OMNI POTENT

Lots of this type of project out these days, but Zaza God’s OMNI POTENT is one of the best of its kind this year. Fans of the Griselda sound and of ominous dirty boom-bap beats and uncompromising bars will love OMNI POTENT. 

Release date: September 10, 2021. 

Bizzy Bone - War Of Roses

It’s hard to keep up with the solo releases of Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony members. War Of The Roses is Bizzy Bone’s third album in as many years, and it’s pretty solid – on par with Carbon Monoxide (2019). Consistent production and the typical BTNH lyrical acrobatics – War of Roses is a must for BTNH at the very least.

Release date: September 10, 2021. 

ethemadassassin & Seven Da Pantha - Carter N Newton: The Field Report

Carter N Newton: The Field Report is a collaborative project from North Carolina-based underground Hip Hop titans ethemadassassin and Seven Da Pantha, with beats from Polish producer Slidebeatz. Drawing inspiration from Capone N Noreaga’s 1997 debut The War Report, the two MCs combine their respective aliases (Seven Da Pantha as “Young Bunchy Carter,” and ethemadassassin as “Gram Newton”) to form their version of “CNN”. Content-wise The Field Report is nowhere near as hard-nosed as Capone N Noreaga’s classic, but the attitude is there, and Slidebeatz’s beats are suitably atmospheric. Carter N Newton: The Field Report is a strong project.

Release date: September 10, 2021.

Wishmaster & Illinformed - Cold Harbour Tales

British producer Illinformed can always be relied on to come up with dope boom-bap beats, and Cold Harbour Tales from Bristol rapper Wishmaster he delivers as always. These instrumentals bang and the lyrical content from Wishmaster and guests like Leaf Dog, BVA, Smellington Piff, Verb T, and Datkid (among many others) is solid as f too.

Release date: September 10, 2021.

Kinetic 9 & BoFaatBeatz - Roll Dolo

Kinetic 9, formerly known as Berretta 9, is a member of Wu affiliate crew Killarmy. BoFaatBeatz is a German producer whose fingerprints are on a lot of dope 90s-centric projects these days. Roll Dolo is no different: this is a solid boom-bap project with some fire beats and hard-ass bars from Kinetic 9 and guests such as Killarmy, Heaven Razah, Shogun Assasin, and Taiyamo Denku (among others).

Release date: September 6, 2021.

EvillDewer - ANOMIA

ANOMIA by producer EvillDewer is one of the weirdest and most unique albums you’ll hear this year. ANOMIA is a delicious presentation of experimental psychedelic instrumentals, with vocals from underground spitters like SPNDA, Bloo, Chris Crack, Koncept Jackson, Vic Spencer, AJ Suede, Rome Streetz, and Estee Nack on about half of the tracks. “Espiritismo” featuring Rome Streetz, Chris Crack, and Estee Nack is a stand-out, but the strength of this project is its consistency and its ability to captivate from beginning to end thanks to the hypnotic dream-like soundscapes it is composed of. ANOMIA is a slow burner, an album that gets better with each repeated listen. Don’t sleep on ANOMIA.

Release date: September 4, 2021. 

Bread Of Kaliwild - A Breath Of Fresh Air

Solid grown-man rap from Los Angeles veteran Bread of Kaliwild. Positive, uplifting bars from Bread and guests like Lord Jamar, Sadat X, Big Shug, and Planet Asia (and others), and quality instrumentals crafted by Nottz, Noah Ayala, and Therealasethic – this is an album that’s worth your attention.

Release date: September 3, 2021.

Stezo - The Last Dance

With its upbeat production, feel-good rhymes, and sincere love of the culture, The Last Dance is a tribute to Hip Hop as much as it is to the life and legacy of Stēzo. The rap icon tragically passed away in 2020 at the young age of 51, but his love for the culture lives on through this new project. It was produced and compiled by his best friend, Chris Lowe, who’s also a deejay, producer, and integral part of Connecticut’s Hip Hop scene. Appearances by icons like Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Edo G, Craig G, Masta Ace, Kangol Kid, Grand Puba, Chubb Rock, Special Ed, Pete Rock, DJ Cool V, and the late Biz Markie make for a fun album that’s a must for all old heads at least.

Release date: September 3, 2021. 

Substance810 & Onaje Jordan – A Righteous Offering

Onaje Jordan’s production is solid as always, and there’s nothing wrong with Substance810’s bars either. We prefer Substance810’s January release Making Waves over this one and The Hanging Gardens (his April collabo with British producer Hobgoblin) is better too – but all in all A Righteous Offering is another strong Substance810 offering – his third of the year.

Release date: September 3, 2021. 

Damu The Fudgemunk – Conversation Peace

On the same day mainstream darling Drake released his latest super-boring album with much hype and publicity, a way superior piece of music like Damu The Fudgemunk’s Conversation Peace dropped with virtually no fanfare. No mistake though – Drake’s music doesn’t deserve to stand in the shadow of that of Damu The Fudgemunk’s – one of the most underappreciated producers in the game. Conversation Peace is a beautiful presentation of mature Hip Hop – stylistic and pure. Dope boom-bap beats complemented by rhymes from veteran emcees like Blu, Raw Poetic, Nitty Scott, and Insight – this is our kind of Hip Hop.

Release date: September 3, 2021.

Wildelux & Macapella - Hard Knocks

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Hard Knocks is the second full-length project between Bronx-born Japan-based rapper Wildelux and Scottish producer Macapella. This album is the follow-up to their 2011 release The Masterplan. With the Certified Craftsmen LP, Wildelux (as one-half of Certified Craftsmen, a collaboration with Dutch DJ/producer Propo’88) already had one of the best ‘traditional’ boom-bap records of 2021. With Hard Knocks he proves once again he is a Hip Hop purist, coming with strong content and 90s-centric flows, helped this time around by atmospheric production from Macapella.

Release date: September 1, 2021.

Sean Rose - The Bloomprint

The Bloomprint is a nice surprise from Las Vegas-based rapper Sean Rose. Smooth instrumentals and vocals – this project combines mainstream and underground sensibilities in equal measures, making for a listen that should appeal to most Hip Hop listeners. Great cover art too.

Release date; August 30, 2021. 

Dead Monarchs & Tragedy Khadafi - Tabula Rasa

Some good ol’ NYC boom-bap from veteran emcee Tragedy Khadafi, this time around a collaboration with production duo Stricknine and Dontez (from Kings Konekted) as Dead Monarchs. The beats are dope and the bars are top-notch too – not a surprise knowing Tragedy Khadafi’s pedigree and that of guests like M.O.P, Blaq Poet, KRS-One, A.G., Shabaam Sahdeeq, Kool G Rap, Eto, Ras Kass, and Sean Price.

Release date: August 27, 2021. 

Westside Gunn - Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely, Adolf (Side A)

Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely, Adolf (Side A) is Griselda boss Westside Gunn’s eighth mixtape in his Hitler Wears Hermes series, the first half of a doubleheader. The beats crafted by Camoflauge Monk, Conductor Williams, and Denny Laflare are dope, there’s never been anything wrong with WSG’s ear for beats. This tape is very feature-heavy: there is more room on this project for guest rappers than there is for WSG himself. A good thing as far as we are concerned, we just can’t get with WSG’s kiddie voice and his annoying adlibs (although he thankfully takes it easy with them here). Anyway, appearances by AA Rashid, Stove God Cooks, Mach-Hommy, Rome Streetz, Jadakiss, Boldy James, Sauce Walka, Lil Wayne, Conway the Machine, and Benny the Butcher are mostly great and they relegate WSG to a supporting role on his own project. Content-wise there’s nothing we haven’t heard before from Westside Gunn and company, but as always the street bars entertain. Conway and Benny never disappoint, Boldy James, Mach Hommy, and Stove God Cooks (on five tracks no less) deliver the goods and Rome Streetz bodies everyone as usual.

Overall, Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely, Adolf (Side A) is another solid WSG outing, with that typical Griselda essence. Nothing new, just Westside Gunn doing what he does best.

Release date: August 27, 2021. 

Taiyamo Denku & BoFaatBeatz - Collabzilla

Taiyamo Denku and BoFaatBeatz’s latest project Collabzilla is not quite as strong as last year’s Kollab Kong (which had a guest roster that was even more stacked), but it is still worth your while. Snoop Dogg, Kool G Rap, Joell Ortiz, KRS-One, Keith Murray, Jadakiss, Dinco D (Leaders Of The New School), Reef The Lost Cauze, Rambunxious, Pep Love, Serum, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Rockness Monsta, Blaq Poet, Napoleon Da Legend, and Sa-Roc make appearances. Especially KRS-One, Kool G Rap, Joell Ortiz, and Sa-Roc kill it, but some of the others phoned it in. Overall a solid beats & bars fest though.

Release date: August 27, 2021.

Ramson Badbonez - Lead By Example

Ramson Badbonez is a long-time fixture in British underground Hip Hop, with a bunch of solid projects on his name. For Lead By Example, he put down the microphone for the production booth for the first time – to take care of the vocals he recruited a host of rappers from both sides of the Atlantic – names like Ruste Juxx, Blacastan, Moka Only, Dizzy Dustin, Recognize Ali, and Skyzoo most prominent among them. As is common these days, the best 90s-centric boom-bap comes from the UK, Lead By Example is just one of the exponents of that trend. Dope beats and bars, plus some sharp cuts and scratches – this is a GREAT project.

Release date: August 27, 2021. 

THE GRIM SL3EPER & Vagabond From Beyond - Doom Bap

Doom Bap is a solid presentation of underground Hip Hop with grimy bars from Vagabond From Beyond and haunting boom-bap production by THE GRIM SL3EPER. Another dope release from New Jersey-based Cocareef Records – a label to watch.

Release date: August 27, 2021.

Savage Messiah & IDE - Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design is a posthumous album from Savage Messiah from Brooklyn, NY, a former member of Scienz Of Life. He passed away in 2019. This is the first in a series of releases with unreleased Savage Messiah music, and it’s a good thing it’s not shelved forever. Intelligent Design offers close to an hour of solid instrumentals and dope rhymes from Savage Messiah, who is reminiscent of Ghostface Killah in his flow and delivery. Fans of music from the Wu-Tang Clan and the extended Wu-Tang family will no doubt enjoy Intelligent Design.

Release date: August 20, 2021.

Termanology & Amadeus - 360

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Beats and bars. 360 is a solid little project with 90-centric boom-bap beats, and hard-nosed rhymes from Termanology and renowned spitters such as Smif-N-Wessun, M.O.P., Sheek Louch, Lil Fame, Ras Kass, Skyzoo, Chris Rivers, and Nems (among others).

Release date: August 18, 2021.

ANKHLEJOHN - As A Man Thinketh

As A Man Thinketh is not ANKHLEJOHN’s best project (2018’s Van Ghost is hard to top), but it is another super solid effort from the Washington DC native. Griselda-style rap-noir type production and unapologetic in-your-face bars is what we came to expect from ANKHLEJOHN, and that’s exactly what we get here.

Release date: August 16, 2021. 

TekForce - Child Of The '80s

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

This fourth studio album from Dallas-based artist TekForce is clearly inspired by the early 80s sounds of bass-heavy 808’s and synth-heavy electronic Hip Hop, popularized by acts like Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force and Whodini. This is not just a simple throwback record attempting to copy what came before though, there’s something wholly unique to what TekForce did here. Plenty of nostalgic vibes sure, but at the same time a contemporary sense too – Child Of The ’80s is an album unlike any other you will hear this year, and it deserves a listen for that reason alone. We love Child Of The ’80s.

Release date: August 14, 2021. 

Tanya Morgan - Don & Von

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Tanya Morgan is a duo consisting of William Donald “Donwill” Freeman and Devon “Von Pea” Callender. Donwill is from Cincinnati, Ohio, while Von Pea is from Brooklyn, New York. Don & Von is their fifth full-length album. The 12-track album tackles a wide range of topics including their tenure in the game, police brutality, and being Black in America. Don & Von features guest vocals by Jack Davey, Kooley High, MoRuf, Nappy Nina & Rob Cave and boasts production by Von Pea and Donwill themselves (among others).

Moonlighting (2006), Brooklynati (2009), Rubber Souls (2013), and YGWY$4 (2017) all are strong albums, and with Don & Von the duo continues their streak of excellence. They each have been responsible for a string of dope EP’s and solo releases too – it really is a shame so many Hip Hop listeners are still sleeping on Tanya Morgan. Soulful and intelligent – this is quality Hip Hop.

Release date: August 13, 2021.

Da Flyy Hooligan & Teslas Ghost - Flyyghost

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Flyyghost is one of the many excellent Hip Hop albums to come out of the UK this year. Beautiful haunting beats crafted by Teslas Ghost, and dope bars from Da Flyy Hooligan: Flyyghost = British underground Hip Hop at its finest.

Release date: August 13, 2021.

Agallah - High Level Art

High Level Art is a double LP from prolific veteran NYC producer/emcee Agallah Don Bishop – his best and most consistent record in a long while, despite its length. Dope east coast boom-bap production and strong bars from Agallah and high profile guests such as Kool Keith, Vinnie Paz, Recognize Ali, EPMD, Layzie Bone, and Termanology (among others).

Release date: August 10, 2021.

Abstract Mindstate - Dreams Still Inspire

Daphne ‘E.P Da Hellcat’ Mitchell and Greg ‘Olskool Ice-Gre’ Lewis founded Abstract Mindstate in Mississippi in the late ’90s, before eventually returning to their native Chicago. Dreams Still Inspire is the return of the cult Hip Hop duo, their first release since the mid-2000s. The duo is best remembered for working with Kanye West just as his career was taking off, Abstract Mindstate was a major influence for Kanye in developing his sound and artistic vision.

For Dreams Still Inspire the duo benefits from Kanye West’s production chops – this project has some of the best Kanye instrumentals of the past decade. Dreams Still Inspire is a great little throwback project, grown-people Hip Hop at its finest. Songs like “Social Media”, “Expository Mode”, “My Reality”, and especially “Elevation” are among the best songs you will hear anywhere this year. The biggest knock against the project is its brevity – at barely over 30 minutes and with an intro and 3 interludes/skits Dreams Still Inspire just isn’t substantial enough. Here’s to hoping Abstract Mindstate and Kanye West will follow up on Dreams Still Inspire with a proper full-length soon.

Release date: August 6, 2021.

Uncommon Nasa - Only Child

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Only Child is Uncommon Nasa’s sixth studio album, and it rivals New York Telephone (2014) for the title of his best album to date. This one has strong echoes of billy woods, owing to the album’s quirky production choices and to Uncommon Nasa’s billy woods-like flow and delivery. Uncommon Nasa’s content is deep and personal, with strong storytelling centered around his upbringing as an only child. Only Child starts strong with “Quark Strangeness In The Hour Of Chaos”, and stays consistent throughout, with other stand-outs including tracks such as “Only Child”, “Brooklyn Soup”, “Vincent Crane”, and “The Ballad of Metal Mike”. At 32 minutes, Only Child is on the short side – but that’s a minor complaint. This is a great project, well worth checking out.

Release date: August 6, 2021.

Creatures Of Habit - Parasites Paradise

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Parasites Paradise is a 14-track album from Creatures Of Habit, a trio consisting of Eric the Red, Sean Peng, Illinformed. The album is entirely produced by Illinformed and features BVA, Datkid, DJ Kopfschuss, Jack Jetson, Leaf Dog & Pertrelli. Lots of quality Hip Hop coming out of the UK these days, Parasites Paradise is no exception. Fresh 90s-centric boom-bap beats and entertaining wordplay – this album is a must for Hip Hop traditionalists.

Release date: August 6, 2021.

M.A.V.& Swab - A Luxury You Can't Afford

For A Luxury You Can’t Afford prolific Rochester, New York emcee M.A.V. teamed up with Danish DJ/producer Swab. For us, M.A.V’s best 2021 release is Angelz & Demonz 3, his collabo with British producer Hobgoblin – but A Luxury You Can’t Afford comes close enough. Atmospheric instrumentals crafted by Swab serve as perfect backdrops for M.A.V’s hard-nosed bars – this is a project you will not regret checking out, especially those into Griselda-style underground Hip Hop better not sleep on this one.

Release date: August 5, 2021.

ANKHLEJOHN, Da$H & LOOK DAMIEN! - Honey Sweeter Than Blood

ANKHLEJOHN can always be relied on to come with some grimy underground sh, and this collaboration with Da$h and producer LOOK DAMIEN! is exactly what we expect from him. ANKHLEJOHN’s 2018 collabo with Big Ghost Ltd Van Ghost remains his best work to date, but Honey Sweeter Than Blood is pretty good too – top-segment Griselda-type Hip Hop.

Release date: July 30, 2021.

Zilla Rocca - Vegas Vic

Featuring beats from Disco Vietnam, Darko the Super, The Expert, and Small Professor, and with appearances by regular collaborators like Curly Castro and Prem Rock (among others), Vegas Vic is a solid boom-bap record, with dope instrumentals and entertaining bars from start to finish.

Release date: July 30, 2021.

Recognize Ali - Recognize Tha Light

In 2020 prolific emcee Recognize Ali released three outstanding full-lengths – Duelling Experts (as Duelling Experts, with Verbal Kent), the boom-bap banger Guerilla Dynasty, a collaborative project with producer Stu Bangas, and Recognition, a solo project and the best of three. In 2021, Recognize Ali doesn’t let up. Following the excellent Season Of The Se7en album with Wu-Tang-affiliate Bronze Nazareth, Recognize Tha Light is his second full-length album of the year, and it’s another great project. Recognize Ali has bars for days, and the production is on point. Lots of dope tracks on this one, a couple of our absolute favorites are “Heaven Is The Place” and “Knowledge Wisdom Understanding” – great songs composed of dope bars, atmospheric instrumentation, and sharp cuts (by Tone Spliff): our kind of Hip Hop.

Release date: July 30, 2021.

Dave East & Harry Fraud - HOFFA

Dave East’s official debut studio album Surival (2019) was kind of a disappointmentHOFFA is better – tighter and more focused. It does lose some steam towards the end with a couple of weaker ‘mainstream’-sounding songs in the second half of the tracklist, but overall Harry Fraud’s production brings out the best in Dave East. His tenth mixtape Kairi Chanel (2016) still is his best work – along with Beloved (2018), his underrated collaborative album with Styles P – but HOFFA comes close enough.

Release date: July 30, 2021. 

DJ Muggs & Hologram - American Cheese

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Hologram (fka Jay Steele) is Meyhem Lauren’s younger brother, and American Cheese is his official debut album. Nothing wrong with Hologram’s songwriting and lyrical performances here, but it’s DJ Muggs’ production that elevates this project above average – he crafted a varied selection of captivating cinematic instrumentals that allow Hologram’s hard street bars to shine, along with those of guests such as Meyhem Lauren and Action Bronson.

Release date: July 30, 2021. 

729 - 729

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

729 is a duo from Birmingham, Alabama, consisting of emcee OZU and producer Erthling. 729 is their sophomore album, a pretty awesome celebration of the Birmingham Hip Hop scene – with lots of guest appearances of local talent. Erthling beats are great and OZU and all guests come with hot bars. This is a dope project.

Release date: July 29, 2021.

Vic Spencer & Mil Beats - Brainstem Factory

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Brainstem Factory is prolific Chicago-based emcee Vic Spencer’s third full-length release of the year, this time around a collaboration with Paris-born, Brussels-based producer Mil Beats. Mil Beats crafted brooding and menacing boom-bap beats to suit Vic Spencer’s hard-hitting bars. Some dexterous scratching adds extra flavor, giving this project a distinctive 90s feel while being firmly rooted in the 2020s at the same time. Psychological Cheat Sheet 2 is our favorite 2021 Vic Spencer album, Brainstem Factory is a close second.

Release date: July 23, 2021.

Napoleon Da Legend & Nejma Nefertiti - Alter Ego

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

After a series of heavy-hitting collaborations, Napoleon Da Legend and Nejma Nefertiti have come together for a joint full-length album: Alter Ego. Napoleon Da Legend rarely disappoints, and Nejma Nefertiti is a great emcee too – plus they have great chemistry. The beats could have been better here and there, and a little more substance to the tracklist would have been welcome – but overall Alter Ego is a project well worth checking out.

Release date: July 23, 2021.

Rigz - Wake Ups

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Rochester emcee Rigz (from Da Cloth) continues his upward trajectory with his sophomore solo album Wake Ups. His solo debut Substance Abuse (2020) was dope enough, this one is even better – with atmospheric beats from start to finish and with dope bars from Rigz and guests emcees Mooch, Times Change, Illanoise, Rob Gates, Ransom, MAV, and Symph.

Release date: July 23, 2021. 

King Magnetic - Everything's A Gamble 4

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

At 6’9/400+ pounds, King Magnetic arguably is the “biggest rapper alive”. Everything’s A Gamble 4 is another solid solo release from the former AOTP rapper: traditional boom-bap beats and entertaining bars, also from guest emcees Ruste Juxx, Celph Tilted, and Sean Price.

Release date: July 23, 2021. 

John Jigg$ & K-Sluggah - Twin Cannons 2

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

NY emcee John Jigg$ teamed up with producer K Sluggah for the collaborative project Twin Cannons 2: Mollan Vibes. Solid beats and bars all-around – at a mere 30 minutes, the album is on the short side though. 

Release date: July 21, 2021

Andy Cooper - Hot Off The Chopping Block

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Andy Cooper has made a name for himself as one-third of Ugly Duckling (alongside Dizzy Dustin and Young Einstein) with a bunch of dope albums since their debut in the mid-90s. Hot Off The Chopping Block comes on the heels of Andy Cooper’s 2020 solo release L.I.S.T.E.N. (Lyrical Innovation Supplying The Ear’s Need), and it is more of the same – a good thing in this case. With its funky boom-bap instrumentals and Cooper’s throwback rap flow, Hot Off The Chopping Block is old school in spirit – but it never sounds dated or derivative, thanks to the fresh musicality Andy Copper injects in his beats and rhymes. At a mere 30 minutes, this project is kind of lightweight – but even so, this is a must-listen for fans of traditional-sounding Hip Hop in general and of course for Ugly Duckling fans in particular.

Release date: July 16, 2021. 

Montener The Menace - Anyone Home?

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Anyone Home? is the follow-up to British emcee Montener The Menace’s I Have A Hidden Hobby (2020) and is comprised of 14 strong tracks featuring an ensemble of legendary figures from both the US and UK Hip Hop scenes with appearances by Masta Ace, Rah Digga, Craig G, Keith Murray, Edo. G, Micall Parknsun, Cracker John, AG, and Guilty Simpson, among others. Production is handled by such heavyweights as Domingo, Roccwell, Keynotez and all cuts are provided by the unbeatable JabbaThaKut.

With Anyone Home? Montener improves on the messy I Have A Hidden Hobby by toning down on the features and being more consistent musically. Also, Montener’s lyricism is more focused here – he demonstrates great diversity throughout by touching on some difficult subjects such as suicide, mental health, and parenthood not forgetting his more traditional upbeat content. Fans of traditional sounding Hip Hop will want to pick up Anyone Home?.

Release date: July 14, 2021. 

Lee Scott & Hyroglifics - [gate clicks shut]

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

For [gate clicks shut] British rapper Lee Scott teamed up with drum-n-bass producer Hyroglific, together they have forged an album that sounds like it could have been stashed away in the vault of some semi-obscure New York underground rap label circa 1998, only to surface now. This is a pretty great album, one you will not regret checking out.

Release date: July 14, 2021. 

Canibus & Jaximus - Microphone Land

Microphone Land is a collaborative album by Jaximus Prime and legendary lyricist Canibus. The album holds 14 tracks and plays for 51 minutes with guest appearances from Havoc, Keith Murray, Jik, Phaze, King Friday, Ra the Sun God, and X-Flame. Canibus already had one of our favorite albums of this year with The Last Ride (as part of HRSMN, with Kurupt, Killah Priest & Ras Kass) – and while Microphone Land is not on par with The Last Ride it doesn’t really disappoint either, even if it is brought down some by unremarkable production and a couple of throwaway tracks. Due to underpromotion Microphone Land will most likely fly under most rap listeners’ radars, Canibus fans will know not to miss out on it though.

Release date: July 11, 2021. 

Rejjie Snow - Baw Baw Black Sheep

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Baw Baw Black Sheep is Irish rapper Rejjie Snow’s second full-length studio album, following his debut Dear Annie (2018). On Baw Baw Black Sheep Snow manages to fluidly blend Hip Hop with genres such as R&B, dubstep, and jazz – the result is an upbeat album that’s impossible not to love. Guest vocalists such as Cam O’Bi, Snoh Aalegra, grouptherapy, J. Ivy, King Starlight, Tinashe, Rhea, Dee Lilly add extra flavor, as does the late great MF DOOM who makes a bittersweet posthumous appearance on “Cookie Chips”, one of the stand-out songs. Built to feel like a short film through music (according to Snow himself aiming to match the kaleidoscopic verve of Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory), Baw Baw Black Sheep is playful, optimistic, and laidback – an album to lose yourself in for its 40-minute duration and come out feeling good at the end.

Release date: July 9, 2021. 

Diamond Lung - Jeweler's Loop

Bay Area Hip Hop duo Diamond Lung – producer Brycon and emcee Lightbulb – dropped a dope little project with Jeweler’s Loop. Brycon cooked up a solid batch of dusty boom-bap beats, laced with soulful samples and complemented by entertaining bars from Lightbulb. Their collaborative debut album When Did Everybody Learn To Fly? (2017) was pretty great, and this sophomore effort is a must-listen too.

Release date: July 9, 2021. 

Styles P - Ghosting

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Just like his LOX partner Jadakiss, Styles P never really succeeded in releasing a solo project befitting his status as an elite lyricist. And although not bad at all, Ghosting isn’t that project either. As always a couple of the songs on a Styles P album are brought down by weak or annoying hooks, funny enough Jadakiss always had the same problem. The production on Ghosting is kind of unremarkable too, but there are some bangers on here nevertheless – also because there’s nothing wrong with Styles P’s lyricism. All in all, this is a solid enough project – just not as good as a Styles P release should be.

Release date: July 9, 2021.

Taiyamo Denku & Bofaatbeatz - Hip Hop Or Death

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021 – The Honorable Mentions (July - December)

Hip Hop Or Death is the third recent collaborative album by prolific Milwaukee emcee Taiyamo Denku and German producer Bofaatbeatz, and it arguably is the best of the three. Dope beats and killer bars from Taiyamo and a bunch of high-profile guests like Eto, A.G., Ras Kass, Fashawn, Jaz-O, Cambatta, Blaq Poet, Onyx, and Artifacts (among others). Hip Hop Or Death offers over one hour of quality underground Hip Hop – don’t sleep.

Release date: July 8, 2021. 

Juga-Naut & Giallo Point - Smoke Filled Room

Smoke Filled Room is British duo Juga-Naut & Giallo Point’s second collaborative album. The title of the album comes from seeing the music world as a smoke-filled room, during a time of crisis in 2020/2021 the smoke cleared, the veil drops, and most things are not what they appear to be on the shallow and fragile surface. The title track also pays homage to the Jazz greats of the Blue Note era. Jugz & Giallo have truly gelled, the production and rhymes are like water, and the landscape walked throughout the album is vast and very different with every track. Hard beats and bars, catchy choruses, the intricate wordplay is introspective, critical, funny, braggadocio, and studded with social and cultural commentary.

Release date: July 5, 2021.

Dizzy Dustin - Where Do I Go From Here?

Long Beach’s Dizzy Dustin is a founder and 1/3 of the group Ugly Duckling (with Young Einstein and Andy Cooper). Ugly Duckling is one of our favorite true school West Coast crews, along with acts like Jurassic 5, People Under The Stairs, and Dilated Peoples. For Where Do I Go From Here? Dizzy Dustin teamed up with producer Pandamonium to create over an hour of melodic 90s-centric boom-bap, with an excellent selection of samples, well-places cuts & scratches, and dope bars from Dizzy and guests like Masta Ace, Slaine, Rakaa Iriscience, Akil The MC, LMNO, Ryu, and Imani. Where Do I Go From Here? is our kind of album, and if you’re a regular visitor of this site it’s probably your kind of album too.

Release date: July 4, 2021. 

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