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list Nov 29 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)

Your Old Droog - Space Bar

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

Not Your Old Droog’s best project of the year (that would be TIME), but Space Bar is solid enough. The great production (completely done by Elaquent) is the best aspect of this little project, which otherwise kind of feels like a YOD quickie.

Release date: November 29, 2021.

Skinny Bonez Tha Godfatha - Mahakala

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

Skinny Bonez Tha Godfatha is a Dutch underground producer/beatmaker and DJ. The Mahakala is a Dharma protector in Buddhism. The Mahakala has a frightening appearance, but means no harm and offers protection. Skinny Bonez Tha Godfatha named his album after the Mahakala since this album is protecting authentic Hip Hop in the underground scene. For Mahakala, the Dutch producer invited an army of underground heavyweights to join him on the mission to keep Hip Hop alive.

Release date: November 27, 2021. 

A.M. Early Morning & Johnny Slash - Nicholson

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

The grimy but chill lo-fi rap sound Chicago emcee A.M. Early Morning brings on his first full-length album titled Nicholson, perfectly gels with the creepy horns, dusty keyboards, heavy bass lines, and thick drums that define the sounds of Long Beach-based producer Johnny Slash. Hard bars and beats – this is a great little album (just too short at a mere 31 minutes).

Release date: November 26, 2021.

Swank & King Draft - Long Story Short

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

Soulful boom-bap beats, melodic hooks, and smooth flows: Swank & King Draft’s Long Story Short is a dope project that deserves attention. Long Story Short was released on 9th Wonder’s Jamla label and boasts production from The Soul Council (9th Wonder, Khrysis, Nottz, Eric G, Kash, Amp, E Jones & Sndtrak) – that should tell you something about the sound and the quality of this album.

Release date: November 26, 2021. 

NapsNdreds - Don't Make Me Famous

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

Some great names came together for this kick-ass NapsNDreds album. Production by the likes of Kno, Buckwild, Stu Bangas, Kev Brown, DJ Revolution, Kyo Itachi (among others), and guest rhymes by Reks, Skyzoo, King Magnetic, and Napoleon Da Legend (among others) – with all the combined talent on deck it’s no surprise this album bangs. Dope 90s-centric beats & scratches, and hard-edged but fun rhymes by NapsN Dreds and his guests. Don’t Make Me Famous is an album that will no doubt appeal to fans of that golden era sound.

Release date: November 26, 2021. 

Layzie Bone & HC The Chemist - Eyez On The Prize

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

After Krayzie Bone with Leaves Of Legends and Bizzy Bone with War Of Roses, Layzie Bone is the third Bone Thugs N Harmony member to come with a long full-length album in 2021. Of the three, this one is our least favorite – but Eyez On The Prize is a solid enough effort that should at least please BNTH fans, and any others who dig mainstream-friendly Hip Hop beats complemented with melodic double-time flows.

Release date: November 26, 2021.

Five Steez & SonoTWS - Quietude

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

Kingston, Jamaica emcee Five Steez linked with São Paolo, Brazil-based SonoTWS for his latest album titled Quietude. During the eleven-track offering, Five Steez gives insight and inspiration, sharing his personal journey, interspersed with street cinema, racial commentary, and romantic tales. The scenes throughout the album are complemented by Sono’s soundscapes that are mostly drenched in soul and jazz but become ominous and urgent when necessary.

Quietude is a smooth and tasteful affair – ‘boom bap with an old soul’, timeless Hip Hop for connoisseurs.

Release date: November 23, 2021.

MexStep - Vivir

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

Vivir is grown-man Hip Hop at its finest. MexStep ((Mexican StepGrandfather; real name Marco Cervantes) is a Ph.D. who teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and who’s responsible for creating some fine Hip Hop too. As one-third of Third Root, he had a top 25 Hip Hop album of 2020 with Passion Of The Poets, and this solo project is a keeper as well – a great follow-up to his last solo album Resistir (2018). Vivir is produced by Adrian Quesada, and his inviting soulful boom-bap instrumentals are a joy to listen to, as are MexStep’s thoughtful bars.

Release date: November 19, 2021. 

N​.​R​.​F​.​S. - N.R.F.S.

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

N.R.F.S. is a collaborative album performed by Neak, Rashid Hadee, F.A.B.L.E., and Since9ine6ix as N.R.F.S. – one of the finest Hip Hop albums to come out of Chicago this year. The beats on N.R.F.S. are tasteful and banging at the same time, and the rhymes are on point too. This is one of the many great Hip Hop albums that will fly under most people’s radars this year – but anyone up for some classy and mature Hip Hop would do well not to sleep on N.R.F.S.

Release date: November 19, 2021.

Napoleon Da Legend & Amerigo Gazaway - The World Changed

The World Changed is Napoleon Da Legend’s best project of the year. Amerigo Gazaway crafted an hour’s worth of melodic boom-bap beats and dope scratch hooks that gel well with Napoleon Da Legend’s conscious rhymes. Awon (on three songs), La Bruja, and Skyzoo show up for some well-placed features – all in all, The World Changed is a mature and well-rounded album that can be counted among the best in Napoleon Da Legend’s extensive catalog.

Release date: November 19, 2021. 

Stu Bangas - Deathwish

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

Stu Bangas is one of our favorite producers of the last 15 years when it comes to raw, hard boom-bap Hip Hop. Deathwish is barely over EP-length, but the little content we get is excellent. Stu Bangas’ production is always on point, this time around the vocalists he recruited to do justice to his beats all deliver. Renowned spitters like Vinnie Paz, Ill Bill, Mr. Lif, Apathy, Hus Kingpin, SmooVth, Lord Goat, Recognize Ali, Blacastan, and Celph Titled make appearances (among others) – so you should know what to expect.

Release date: November 19, 2021.

Dear Derrick - Superthot: Post Deitch Depression / How Do I Bang Boone?

Brooklyn artist Derrick B Harden or Dear Derrick comes with a one-of-a-kind project with Superthot: Post Deitch Depression / How Do I Bang Boone? – in a Hip Hop landscape where lots of artists sound kind of the same, this Dear Derrick album definitely is different. The album deals with serious matters in a conceptual way: “The concept is about the black person being the global prostitute and starting the conversation” according to Derrick. So the content is something to pay attention to, and the beats are adventurous and entertaining too. Derrick employs different styles and flows (on “Do Yourself A Favor” reminiscent of Kool Keith for instance) – which keeps things interesting as well. At well over an hour this is a LONG album, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. Superthot: Post Deitch Depression / How Do I Bang Boone? is a nice surprise, a must-listen if you’re up for something a little different from generic mainstream rap, from all the Griselda-style underground rap albums, or from the same-sounding 90s-centric boom-bap projects that drop these days.

Release date: November 19, 2021. 

Noveliss & Dixon Hill - Book Of Changes

Book Of Changes is a nice little project from Detroit rapper Noveliss (1/4 of the now-defunct Clear Soul Forces crew) and producer Dixon Hill. Smooth, dream-like instrumentals and listen-worthy bars make for a light-yet-filling project that deserves attention.

Release date: November 19, 2021. 

DJ Muggs - Winter 2: Nightmare Before Christmas

Iconic DJ Muggs has released a lot of dope projects in his decades-long career, a lot of dope projects in the last few years alone, even. Winter 2: Nightmare Before Christmas is no exception. These beats are top-notch, in any case. RLX, Roc Marciano, Meyhem Lauren, T.F., Crimeapple, Rigz, Mooch, Ill Bill, and Hologram take care of the vocals here, and some have stronger bars and performances than others – the number of guests on such a short project (just over 30 minutes) hurts the cohesiveness some. A minor quibble though, Winter 2 is a solid enough Muggs project – even if it’s not on par with CARTAGENA (with CRIMEAPPLE) and especially Death & The Magician (with Rome Streetz), which are the best Muggs releases of 2021.

Release date: November 19, 2021.

Max B - Negro Spirituals

Those familiar with Max B will know what to expect: ‘wavy’ beats, melodic hooks, and smooth flows – this is solid, easy-listening, mainstream-friendly Hip Hop music.

Release date: November 19, 2021.

Rasheed Chappell & XP The Marxman - RX

New York-based emcee Rasheed Chappell hooked us with Los Angeles native XP The Marxman for the short but sweet RX. These two underground veterans know what they’re doing – this project is pretty strong. Atmospheric 90s-centric boom-bap beats produced by the likes of Reckonize Real, Slide Beatz, Malcolm Sef, Arkin, Ash Tray Of LA, Ice Rocks, Roc Marciano, Buckwild, Es Ey El, and OCR Beats, and guests appearances from Jay Royale, Illwerd, DJ Eclipse, Oran Juice Jones, Jeanette Berry, Tim Hall, and Yolanda Sargeant make for a thoroughly enjoyable project you will not regret checking out.

Release date: November 17, 2021. 

Wavy Da Ghawd - Ghawds Eden

Wavy Da Gawd comes with a great selection of gritty underground beats for a host of underground spitters to do their thing on – Lord Fury, Eddie Kaine, Rome Streetz, Spoda, Planet Asia, Ty Farris, Lord Juco, Rim, Bub Rock, Emilio Craig, Plex Diamonds, Lenox Hughes, O Dawg, Madhattan, Chyna, Passport Rav, Asun Eastwood, and Ox Omni are here to drop hard bars to go with Wavy’s beats. Nothing to make it stand out from the crowd, but there’s nothing wrong with Ghawds Eden either – this is a solid album.

Release date: November 15, 2021.

Ty Farris - No Cosign Just Cocaine 4

Coming up in Detroit’s cutthroat and competitive battle scene Ty Farris was fast to gain respect and notoriety for his sharp lyrics and clever wordplay. No Cosign Just Cocaine 4 is the fourth part in Farris’ excellent “No Cosign Just Cocaine” series, arguably the best and most fully realized of the four. No Cosign Just Cocaine 4 features guest appearances from Big Twins, Mickey Diamond, Substance 810, Dango Forlaine, UFO Fev, Bub Rock, and Elzhi, and production from Bozack Morris, Wavy Da Ghawd, Black Milk, SeenDaDream, Pa Dre, Big Ghost Ltd, Stu Bangas, Spanish Ran, Finn, The Standouts, Vanderslice, Trox, Nicholas Craven, and Apollo Brown – lots of big names involved with this project.

Ty Farris and company don’t reinvent the wheel with No Cosign Just Cocaine 4, but the Detroit rap-vet has the skill and the confidence to elevate a project like this way above the average Hip Hop release. The beats are dope, and the hard-boiled lyrics are on point – No Cosign Just Cocaine 4 is a must-listen if contemporary boom-bap laced with hard street raps constitutes your brand of Hip Hop.

Release date: November 12, 2021.

Medhane - Do The Math

Do The Math is another interesting Medhane release. Not for everybody, but those familiar with Medhane’s earlier work and those who dig abstract lo-fi jazz-rap will love Do The Math. The album features appearances by Elucid, Navy Blue, Wiki, which should also tell you something of what to expect. Do The Math is a slow-burner that will grow on you with each repeated listen.

Release date: November 12, 2021. 

Kut One - Live Wires 2

Australian producer Kut One can always be relied upon to come up with a varied platter of banging beats and sharp cuts & scratches. Recognize Ali, Jamal Gasol, Rome Streetz, Saipher Soze, Supreme Cerebral, Agallah, O.C., Ruste Juxx, KXNG Crooked, Flashius Clayton, Sadat X, Sleep Sinatra, Ciecmate, Kadeem, Thamson P, and Bigfoot are the emcees that supply the vocals to Kut One’s beats – and even if their contributions are of mixed quality, overall Live Wires 2 is a fun presentation of 90s-centric boom-bap Hip Hop. Forgettable, but enjoyable.

Release date: November 11, 2021.

Emskee & MiLKCRATE - Truth Is Underrated

Best 25 Traditional Boom Bap Albums Of 2021

Emskee (The Good People) teamed up with producer MiLKCRATE for Truth Is Underrated. Those familiar with The Good People and MiLKCRATE will know what to expect. Truth Is Underrated gives us exactly what we want: top-quality 90s-centric boom-bap, with dope rhymes, beats, and scratches. Lots of great traditionalist Hip Hop out these days, Truth Is Underrated is just one of many solid projects in the throwback subgenre this year.

Release date: November 5, 2021.

Funky DL – Beautiful Soul

Funky DL is a legendary emcee/producer emcee from the UK, best known for some iconic jazz-rap albums he is responsible for. Beautiful Soul is his 21st album, this one is more soul-flavored – intended as a homage to the sounds and beauty of 1960s and 1970s soul music. Funky DL’s is production is on point and his lyrics are clever and meaningful – Beautiful Soul is a great project.

Release date: November 5, 2021. 

Recognize Ali - Underground King II

Underground King II is Recognize Ali’s third full-length album of the year. Season Of The Seven (with Bronze Nazareth, released in April) is our favorite of the three, but Recognize Tha Light (released in July) and Underground King II both are strong albums too. With features from Vinnie Paz, Ill Bill, Esoteric, Lord Goat, Agallah, Jamal, Paranoize, Verbal Kent, Tone Spliff, Boob Bronx, Pro Dillinger, Juliette, Apocalypse, N.B.S.,  Swab, DJ Tray, and DJ Grazzhoppa this album is one for fans of uncompromising underground boom-bap.

Release date: November 5, 2021. 

ALXNDRBRWN - Glow Kid

Released on Sage Francis’ Strange Famous Records, Glow Kid is a great little project. ALXNDRBRWN’s atmospheric beats are pretty awesome, and most of the guest rappers (Sage Francis among them of course) deliver. Slightly experimental, but very accesible at the same time – Glow Kid is a project that deserves attention.

Release date: November 5, 2021.

Cult Encounters Co - AllButtonsIn

Cult Encounters Co - AllButtonsIn

Cult Encounters Co. is a Hip Hop collective/label formed in 2015 by rappers Tylr C and $adflckoAllButtonsIn is produced by Cult Encounters Co. producer AllButtonsIn and features guest appearances from El Da Sensei, Craig G, A-F-R-O, Chuck Strangers, K-Rino, Hypesun, Big Sharpm, and Papajayride, and guest production from Chuck Strangers and DMTree. AllButtonsIn offers 45 minutes of top-notch throwback Hip Hop, composed of dope bars and soulful boom-bap beats laced with sharp cuts & scratches. 

Release date: November 5, 2021.

Mick Jenkins - Elephant In The Room

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

Mick Jenkins’ highly anticipated third full-length album Elephant In The Room is a solid effort, but not on par with his The Water[s] mixtape (2014) or his Pieces Of A Man debut LP (2018) – which remain his best works. Elephant In The Room is a smooth piece of music composed of tasteful jazzy tunes, but it’s also a bit monotonous and low in energy. Not a bad album at all, but not as memorable as we had hoped for. The album’s cover art shows exactly what to expect: beautiful, stylistic, and classy music, that’s also kind of grey and beige. A must for Mick Jenkins fans of course, and also people who dig J. Cole’s music will find enough to enjoy here.

Release date: October 29, 2021.

Planet Asia - Rule Of Thirds

Veteran emcee Planet Asia is one of the hardest working men in Hip Hop. He is on everybody’s album as a featured artist, and he steadily keeps dropping projects of his own too. Rules Of Third is kind of a high-profile album in his catalog because it’s only the second project to be released on Dilated Peoples icon Evidence’s new record label Big Picture Recordings. Evidence took care of all of the production on Rule Of Thirds, so there’s no need to question if these beats are dope or not – the instrumentals on Rule Of Thirds are beautifully haunting and atmospheric from start to finish. Planet Asia comes with strong bars, as do guests that include 2021’s hottest rapper Rome Streetz, Milano Constatine, and Evidence, of course. Great beats, great bars – Rule Of Thirds is a great album, the biggest knock against it is that it is too short at a mere 33 minutes.

Release date: October 29, 2021. 

Swamp Thing – World War Swamp

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

“Toronto’s three-headed rap monster, Swamp Thing (Timbuktu, Chokeules, & Savilion), has a ritual of delivering dark, B-movie-inspired, heavy-duty thunderclaps every Halloween. Their newest release titled World War Swamp marks the tenth consecutive year of an October 31st LP release. World War Swamp is the follow-up to last year’s offering, Salty Gator, and much like its predecessor, it slaps enormously. The milestone record was produced by Savilion and was recorded at an isolated cabin in northern Ontario, where the murky trio used their collective sense of impending doom, to guide the project’s direction. World War Swamp is the culmination of a decade’s worth of Swamp Thing. The record features turntablist DJ iRATE, along with an all-star lineup of guest collaborators, including Bazooka Joe, Ghettosocks, More Or Les, Psybo, and Wordburglar.”

Swamp Thing never disappoints – for top-quality 90s-centric boom-bap look no further than World War Swamp.

Release date: October 29, 2021.

Dope D.O.D. & ChuBeats - The Whole Planet Shifted

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

Dutch Hip Hop trio Dope D.O.D.’s (Jay Reaper, Skits Vicious, and producer ChuBeats) latest project The Whole Planet Shifted is composed of some of the grimiest underground sh* t you’ll hear this year, with hard-as-nails bars and dirty boom-bap beats that will blow the bottom out of your speakers. With features from the likes of Smif-N-Wessun, Fredro Starr, Sticky Fingaz, and Thirstin Howl III, (among others), this album is a must for those who can’t get enough of 90s-centric hardcore boom-bap.

Release date: October 29, 2021. 

Vocab Slick - Language

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

Language is a strong album from veteran Bay Area artist Vocab Slick. Smooth beats and potent bars – this is a mature Hip Hop album from an artist who knows what he’s doing.

Release date: October 29, 2021.

Cesar Comanche & Poe Mack - A Promise Not To Sting

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

Cesar Comanche, a co-founder of North Carolina’s critically acclaimed Hip Hop crew The Justus League, teamed up with Virginia-based independent rapper/producer Poe Mack for the outstanding A Promise Not To Sting. The album boasts production from Cesar Comanche himself, along with greats such as 9th Wonder, Khrysis, DJ Flash, DK, J Rawls, and Supastition, and features guest spots from Marcel P Black, Heather Victoria, EA Floe, and Eternal The MC.

A Promise Not To Sting is a price example of what can happen when two veterans get together and get a couple of A-list producers to work with too. Cesar Comanche and Poe Mack go well together, their rhymes are mature and relatable, and the beats are smooth and soothing – this is a great album. Fans of Little Brother will love A Promise Not To Sting. 

Release date: October 27, 2021. 

Nomad Carlos - Element Of Surprize

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

“Fresh off the success of The Council Of The Gods’ latest group album, Trilogy, Kingston’s Nomad Carlos is stepping up with Element of Surprize, an album balancing cinematic tales with emotional confessionals about the struggles and victories of the Tri-State area’s Jamaican diaspora. Throughout the project, the self-proclaimed ‘Half Yankee, Half Yardie’ deftly maneuvers between references to classic videogames and films (“Blood Smoke & Mirrors”, “At Will”, “Rare Breed”) and reflections on the importance and meaning of relationships (“Shanice”, “Reciprocate”) all with an uncut dose of battle-hardened bars tying the record together.

As befitting a lifetime spent between Jamaica and the US east coast, Carlos switches between hard NY spit and fiery patois at the drop of a dime, sometimes mid-bar. This same background informs tracks like “Solace” – a hard look at the sacrifices and setbacks of living between worlds. Elsewhere on “Echo”, intense, cinematic production provides the perfect backdrop for the type of musings on the complexity of 3rd world life rarely heard in Hip Hop. The album’s thoughtful tone culminates on “The Reasoning”, a heartfelt conversation with the ancestors that frames Carlos’ personal struggles as part of a multigenerational quest for a better life.

With production courtesy of a murderer’s row of beatmakers equally indebted to classic Hip Hop and the newest sounds, Element Of Surprize is a supremely confident look at the inner life of a poet, one that will equally enthrall listeners of classic records like The BlueprintHell On Earth and It Was Written and devotees to the newest crime chronicles of Roc Marciano and Griselda.”

Recommended.

Release date: October 27, 2021.

Cult Of The Damned - The Church Of

The Cult Of The Damned’s is a British collective consisting of Barebase, Bill Shakes, Bisk, Black Josh, King Grubb, Lee Scott, Milkavelli, Salar, Sleazy F Baby, and Stinkin Slumrok. The Church Of is their second full-length album, and it features appearances from CLBRKS, Danny Lover, Bang On!, and is produced by Lee Scott, Sniff, Jack Chard, and Bisk. The Church Of is one of the many dope Hip Hop records to emerge from the UK underground this year.

Release date: October 25, 2021.

Al-J & Kane Major - Blak To The Old School

Al-J of Blak Madeen and producer Kane Major revisit our favorite period in Hip Hop with their collaborative Blak To The Old School album. One of our favorite albums released last year was Jorun Bombay and Phill Most Chill’s Jorun PMC, the absolute best Golden Age revivalist boom-bap record of 2020. Blak To The Old School is an album in the same vein, one of the best projects of this particular branch of Hip Hop released in 2021. Just like Jorun PMCBlak To The Old School doesn’t simply sound like it was inspired by 80s Hip Hop, it’s almost like it time-traveled from the 1980s straight to this day and age. The sound is crisp and fresh for 2021 but entirely built on samples and influences from the classic era, and the rhymes are perfect for Kane Major’s production. As far as throwback Hip Hop is concerned, it doesn’t get any better than this – Blak To The Old School is GOLD.

Release date: October 22, 2021. 

Fresh Daily - The Quiet Life 2

Brooklyn-based rapper Fresh Daily’s The Quiet Life 2 is a presentation of smooth and crisp soulful Hip Hop, with appearances by Quelle Chris, Blu, Chris Keys, and Von Pea – among others. The Quiet Life 2 lacks the punch needed to make it to our best of 2021 list, but this is a solid project that deserves attention nevertheless.

Release date: October 22, 2021. 

Mega Ran - Live '95

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

“Mega Ran’s 11th solo full-length album release explores the intrinsic relationship between Hip Hop, basketball, and the inner city cultures that have allowed each to thrive.

“90’s hoops were just as influential as any video game or comic book I picked up,” Ran says. “Now I get to give back.”

Through tracks interspersed with words of wisdom from several Hall-Of-Fame-level former NBA talents and analysts, the Philadelphia-born MC weaves playful innocence with the storytelling and hopefulness that have made his fans proud over the past ten years. The album shines a light on many of the traits required to be a champion… from coaching to hard work, and even a little luck.”

Live ’95 is a delicious album, offering 47 minutes of dope 90s-centric Hip Hop, with slick boom-bap beats and fun rhymes.

Release date: October 22, 2021.

Sean Links, Sibbs Roc & Slang Hugh - Radio Raheem

This collaboration between Sean Links, Sibbs Roc, and Slang Hugh is one of many dope underground Hip Hop releases in October. Radio Raheem sports atmospheric beats, the flows to match them, and the attitude to make it stand out from the crowd enough to give it a listen.

Release date: October 22, 2021. 

Long Story Longer - Long Story Longer

Long Story Longer is the self-titled album from a new supergroup consisting of Ras Kass, Yukmouth (Luniz), D12’s Swifty McVay, and MRK SX. The album’s title is kind of deceptive because this is a short album (barely over half an hour), but the content that’s on offer is solid as f. Dope beats and hard bars from the group members and high profile guests emcees such as Nature, Obie Trice, Kuniva, Guilty Simpson, Planet Asia, Killah Priest, and Bronze Nazareth (among others).

Release date: October 22, 2021. 

People Without Shoes - This Green Thing of Ours

People Without Shoes released his debut single “Green Shoe Laces” in 1994, and in 2021 is still at it. People Without Shoes’ 7th studio album This Green Thing of Ours is completely dedicated to the boom-bap golden age of Hip Hop – a combination of dope lyrics over mesmerizing beats produced by producer/rapper Sean Peng from the UK. Not especially memorable, but Hip Hip traditionalists will no doubt dig this one.

Release date: October 22, 2021.

P Wise - Protégé Of The Streets

Protégé Of The Streets is a solid project from New York rapper P Wise. Nothing to make it really stand out, but his street rhymes are worth listening to, and the beats are tight (Protégé Of The Streets features production from Erick Sermon, Boogeyman, Irie-1, Tudakay, DJ Kanzer, Sabio Beatz, KOBAyASHI, Bishop Beatz, 5ickness, and P Floyd).

Release date: October 22, 2021. 

Scott G - God Too

GOD TOO is the second installation in the “GOD” series, this tape finds Queens emcee Scott Gesus 3 years after the initial release of GOD. Expect more gritty tales of street life and its ups and downs. Scott G shines over production from Iamuzik, Steez Beats, Wavy Da Gawd, Italy’s Clone SF, and more. Another one for fans of that Griselda sound.

Release date: October 22, 2021. 

Neighborhood Creeps – The Pig & The Hyena

Neighborhood Creeps is a duo from Albany, New York. The Pig & The Hyena is a solid project with great energy – dope 90s-centric beats complemented by dark but humorous bars. Not the best rappers you’ve ever heard, but this project is well-worth checking out anyway.

Release date: October 20, 2021. 

Tone Chop & Frost Gamble – One Two

One Two is the follow-up to the veteran duo’s 2019 album One. Based on the ‘one emcee/one producer’ concept, this album boasts only one feature – from the versatile singer/songwriter Stacey James. Clever punchlines, grim realism, and head-nodding beats from start to finish – no ‘fast-forwarding’ required. Fans of that Golden Age sound better not sleep on this one.

Release date: October 19, 2021. 

Maxo Kream - WEIGHT OF THE WORLD

While renowned trap acts like Migos and Young Thug missed the mark with their latest projects, Houston rapper Maxo Kream released the best trap album of 2021 with WEIGHT OF THE WORLD. We liked Brandon Banks (2019) but this is an undeniable step up. WEIGHT OF THE WORLD is a cohesive body of work, with interesting features from artists such as Tyler, The Creator, A$AP Rocky, and Freddie Gibbs (among others). With this album, Maxo Kream once again proves that not all trap sucks.

Release date: October 18, 2021.

LuGhz- Those Who Want Me Dead

Those Who Want Me Dead is the fourth studio album by Queens, NYC rapper LuGhz and it features a host of underground Hip Hop heavyweights on production. Hard bars and hard beats – Those Who Want Me Dead is another one of those excellent underground projects to emerge from New York this year.

Release date: October 15, 2021.

Nolan The Ninja - P.S.

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

P.S. is a solid release from Detroit rapper Nolan The Ninja. More traditional boom-bap oriented than some of his other releases, P.S. works for the most part. Due to its brevity (33 minutes) and the lack of real stand-outs P.S doesn’t make a lasting impression, but it is worth a listen for sure. Key tracks: “carte blanche” and “more rap sh” (with Pep Love).

Release date: October 15, 2021.

Grafh & DJ Shay - Stop Calling Art Content

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

Stop Calling Art Content is a solid collaboration between underground emcee Grafh and Griselda’s DJ Shay (who passed away in 2020). Shay’s moody beats are dope as f, and Grafh comes with strong performances too. Bun B, Styles P, Elcamino, Sheek Louch, Ransom, Benny the Butcher, Heem, Rick Hyde, Cyhi the Prynce, and 3d Na’tee show up to add extra flavor – Stop Calling Art Content is a must for fans of Griselda style underground rap.

Release date: October 15, 2021.

All Hail Y.T. - Player Made

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

Player Made is another solid project from Texas-born Delaware-based artist All Hail Y.T. Player Made is a smooth and laidback listen that kind of sounds like a West Coast summertime album, but it’s straight from Delaware’s underground, with soothing production from Cedar Law$ and additional vocals from the likes of Left Lane Didon, Jay Worthy, Boldy James, Chris Skillz, Anthony Danza, Big Frank, and Young Roddy.

Release date: October 15, 2021. 

Payroll Giovanni - Giovanni's Way

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

Detroit rapper Payroll Giovanni can always be relied upon to come with some chilled-out West Coast type Hip Hop, and Giovanni’s Way is no different. His 2020 collabo with Larry June was fire, this solo project is too. Close to an hour of music to ride to, with stand-outs including tracks like “Ground Up”,  “Turn Into 20”, “Huddle With Bosses”, “Laser Beam”, and “Invested In Rap”.

Release date: October 15, 2021.

Dom Kennedy - From the Westside, With Love Three

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

Los Angeles rapper Dom Kennedy’s From the Westside With Love Three. dropped 10 years after the previous edition in the series, From the Westside with Love II, which was released in June of 2011. The project features production from Hit-Boy, among others, and guest vocals from TeeFlii, Quentin Miller, Bryan Roberts, and others. From the Westside, With Love Three is a smooth listen, but it’s also kind of forgettable. Fans of that West Coast Hip Hop sound will find plenty to enjoy, though.

Release date: October 15, 2021.

Jae Hu$$le & Dan.Akill - Foreign Xchange

Rochester, New York rapper Jae Hu$$le teamed up with French producer Dan.Akill for Foreign Xchange. Plenty of similar (and better) projects out in 2o21, and this one has little to make it stand out from the crowd, but this is a dope project nevertheless. Don’t sleep on Foreign Xchange if that dark underground boom-bap sound is your thing.

Release date: October 15, 2021. 

BigBob & Solomon Childs First Class: The Teachings

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

Producer BigBob supplies a set of dope beats for Wu-Tang affiliate Solomon Childs to shine on – this is his best project to date. Features from Ghostface Killah, Shyheim, 9th Prince, Dom Pachino, Killah Priest,  and Dungeon Masta add extra flavor.

Release date: October 12, 2021.

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

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

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. 

Shad - Tao

Tao is not Shad’s best album, but even a mediocre Shad album is better than the best of a lot of rappers out there. The Kenya-born Canada-based emcee is responsible for a couple of low-key masterpieces – When This Over (2006) and the brilliant The Old Prince (2007) most notably, TSOL (2010) and Flying Colours (2013) are pretty strong too –  Tao in comparison feels a bit lightweight. That’s not to say Tao is a bad album – not at all – but those new to Shad would do better to check for his first albums first. Longtime Shad followers will have picked up this one already, and have found plenty to enjoy.

Release date: October 1, 2021.

Figure of Speech - Figure of Speech?

Figure Of Speech is a Manchester raised, Bristol-based emcee/poet. Read the blurb with Figure Of Speech’s own words about Figure Of Speech?:

“This is an anti-racist album. I started writing it in 2020. It was after I performed one of my poems in reaction to George Floyd’s murder. Motivated by this, Boca 45 and I collaborated, giving voice to my personal experiences and views on racism in Britain and further afield. Fast forward to the completion in 2021, and the saga continues. Further exacerbated by number 10 and its ‘politricks’, people are in denial racism exists. Contrary to this, I am called *oon’ on the (so say) liberal streets of Bristol, people standing up for their basic rights are condemned for playing ‘gesture politics’ and structural racism persists (globally).”

This is an album for the times we live in, with Figure of Speech’s powerful and thought-provoking lyrics set to some idiosyncratic but excellent beats. Figure Of Speech? is one of the most important and best Hip Hop albums released in the UK this year.

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. 

Westside Gunn - Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely Adolf Side B

Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely Adolf Side B serves as the final tape to the Hitler Wears Hermes series. The companion piece to HWH8 Side A features collaborations with Tyler, The Creator, Jay Electronica, 2 Chainz, Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, Mach-Hommy, Stove God Cooks, Larry June, AZ, Armani Caesar Rome Streetz, Jay Worthy, Madlib, The Alchemist, Daringer, Conductor Williams, Jay Versace, DJ Green Lantern, Camouflage Monk and more.

“Imagine adding twenty classic songs to an already classic album,” Westside Gunn said about this project.  “This is ART on another level; and definitely will be one of the greatest projects ever.  Only legends can make a double-album sound this good.”

Griselda head-honcho Westside Gunn has never been a stranger to hyperbole, but this time there’s a little bit of truth to what he said. Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely Adolf Side B is not a classic, but it can be counted among the better half of his work. It’s as good as any other entry in the Hitler Wears Hermes series, and it’s almost on par with FLYGOD and Supreme Blientele. It is better than Side A for sure, Side A was OK but not really special.

Killer beats and killer features – Side B is Westside Gunn at his best, but it has to be said: most of his releases sound kind of the same, and because of his crazy release schedule we are suffering from Westside Gunn fatigue at this point.

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.

Rita J - The High Priestess

Rita J - The High Priestess | Review

The High Priestess album hones in on the core of Chicago-based emcee/songwriter Rita J.’s humanity as she freely speaks on her personal trials and tribulations, offers her candid disposition on societal norms, highlights her newfound spiritual unfolding, and much more. Partnering with Chicago-based emcee/producer Neak, Rita J. develops a superbly soulful jazz-influenced record that exemplifies her modern growth and evolution as an artist. With Chicago-based emcee/producer Rashid Hadee serving as executive producer of The High Priestess, the overall musical landscape is sonically perfected to bring forth the progressive lyrical prowess of Rita J. and the polished retro/live Hip Hop production of Neak.

The High Priestess is a superb record. Rita J. has a great voice and an enjoyable flow, her introspective content is empowering, and Neak’s instrumentals are hard-hitting and super smooth at the same time. “Mad As Hell” and “Bussin’” are two bangers to start things off nicely, and with the exception of an unnecessary album-flow breaking 2-minute interlude in the middle of the tracklist, there are no skippable tracks – with stand-outs including “My King Is…”, “Reality”, “Ai Shadows”, and “Real Men Cry Too”.

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. 

Kanye West – Donda

Kanye West is a fascinating genius and an insufferable idiot in equal measures, and his tenth studio album Donda is the embodiment of his absurdity. At 27 tracks (20 not including intro, interludes, and 4 ‘part 2’ tracks) Donda is a daunting listen, at close to two hours longer than Kanye’s last 3 albums combined. All Kanye albums, especially everything he dropped since his masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), are divisive – and Donda probably will turn out to be the most divisive of them all. The ridiculous and chaotic rollout, the annoying exercises in provocation, and the constant revisions and delays remind a lot of what happened before The Life Of Pablo (2017) was released, an album that collapsed under the weight of expectations but wasn’t half-bad when it was finally actually finished.

Let’s start with the positive: Donda is WAY better than Jesus Is King (2019), the thoroughly disappointing project preceding this one. Donda is a strong work on the nature of faith, healing, and loss – as personal and introspective as one would expect from an album dedicated to and named after Kanye West’s late mother. Yes, Donda is overlong and messy – but there’s an underlying cohesiveness here that turns the bloat into a beautiful sort of mess. Like on all Kanye West albums there are high highs and low lows – but fortunately, on Donda, the highs far outweigh the lows. “Tell A Vision” is the most notable throwaway track (an insult to Pop Smoke’s legacy), but with songs like “Jail”, “God Breathed”, “Off The Grid”, “Hurricane”, “Believe What I Say”, “Keep My Spirit Alive”, “Moon”, “Heaven And Hell”, “Jesus Lord”, “Lord I Need You”, Pure Souls”, and “Jesus Lord Pt 2”,  there are way more winners.

Donda could have done with fewer guest vocalists – the 33(!) artists appearing here collectively get more time on the album than Kanye himself, almost turning the album into a compilation album. Almost, but with his thematic focus, Kanye manages to hold things together in the end. Kanye West has always been a mediocre lyricist at best, but there’s some of his most powerful lyricism in a decade on Donda – mixed with his intolerable self-preoccupation and the inevitable corny Kanye bar here and there of course. Of all the featured artists, Jay Electronica has the best verse (on the stand-out “Jesus Lord”).

Production-wise, Donda is Kanye’s most intricate and exciting project in a decade (even if it is unpolished in places), deftly balancing a healthy amount of gospel music with the bombastic styles of production Kanye is known for. A two-hour album could easily be an exhausting slog, but Donda is not. This is Kanye’s best album since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it will be even better if it gets The Life of Pablo makeover treatment. Kanye stans will call Donda a masterpiece, Kanye haters will say it’s trash. We are not stans and we are not haters – so we can objectively say that while Donda is not a masterpiece like MBDTF is, it certainly is not trash either. Donda is a typical Kanye West album – a mixed bag, with more positives than negatives this time around.

Release date: August 29, 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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