I started this tradition back in 2009 with the top 9 albums of that year. Every year since then I have had to add an album to this list.
I listened to a couple albums a lot this year that didn’t make the list because they were actually released at the end of last year and I just wasn’t aware of them at the time.
I love these year end lists because it is a great way to discover music that you might otherwise not stumble upon. So take in my list and let me know if I have slept on anything you think I should check out.
17. Brother Ali – All The Beauty In This Whole Life
I love Brother Ali. This isn’t his best album, in my humble opinion but it still works. Brother Ali has a great voice and you can always feel his passion for the music.
16. Chan Hays – Here
This is the debut project from Chan Hays. He enlists the help of some heavyweights to provide the lyrics over his dope production. Edo.G. Erick Sermon, Saukrates, Ghettosock, Ras Kass, Pharoah Monche, Skyzoo, Homeboy Sandman and more sound great over his beats.
15. Primal Winds – T Dot Stand Up
I featured on of the tracks from this album on my special appearance for the Gripple Effect Mixshow. I love being able to beat juggle one of their songs that pays tribute to hip-hop DJs. Primordial Emcee and Iron Wind really impress with the rhymes on this album. And not one to rest on their laurels, they released a second project this year too.
14. The Shield Enforcers – Crash Course
Pro The Leader and Masta Of Ceremoniez are The Shield Enforcers. Backed up by beats from Skarekrow, they enlist the help of Chino XL, Casual, Tash, and Craig G. They even sampled a Beatles song. I’m not sure how they got away with it, but it really works and will have your head nodding for sure.
13. Career Crooks – Good Luck With That
Zilla Rocca and Small Professor join forces to form Career Crooks, a concept album that tells some great stories over the classic boom-bap aesthetic that we all love. There are a couple posse cuts on this project that really stand out as well.
12. Hex One – Words Worth A Thousand Pictures
Words really can paint a picture, and Hex One knows how to deliver lyrics that do just that. The production features plenty of samples from drum breaks to vocals to piano and sax riffs. It bumps and has been in heavy rotation since its release.
11. Es – We Are Only Getting Older
Es reflects on being a grown man in an industry that has always seemed to be focused on youth. He is a proud family man, doesn’t feel the need to use profanity, and crafts songs with meaning. There is a song entitled Hashtag Lyrics matter and you can even order a T-shirt with the saying on it.
10. Apathy and O.C. – Perestroika
Apathy and O.C. make a great team in Perestroika. Their goal was to comment on the cold war being waged on the rap industry. Both Apathy and O.C. rhyme on this album while Apathy also holds down most of the production. But Canada’s own Moss and Illinformed of The Four Owls also contribute tracks.
9. Gensu Dean & Wise Intelligent – Game of Death
Gensu Dean handles the production for Wise Intelligent, who spits real lyrics that will have your head nodding while you actually think about what is said. It’s a dope project from the veteran spitter and production master.
8. Dan-e-o – Dear Hip-Hop: 20 Years Later
Dan-e-o dropped a Canadian hip-hop classic with his song “Dear Hip Hop” twenty years ago. This year, he celebrated that with an anniversary album, a reworking of the track, and he enlists some of the country’s best emcees to help him out including Thrust, Maestro Fresh Wes, Moka Only, Big Kish, Eternia, Nish Raawks, Choclair, Frankenstein, Grimace Love, Mathematik, Fraction, and Cable.
7. Verbal Kent & Superior – Half My Life
Superior provides the beats for Verbal Kent in Half My Life. The title shows how long Verbal Kent has been doing music. He has paid his dues and it is clear to see that he is a veteran in the game.
6. PMD – Business Mentality
P.M.D. continues to produce amazing hip-hop music decades after his debut with the legendary group, E.P.M.D. This project features production by PMD, Agallah, and Snowgoons and even includes a guest appearance from Erick Sermon. And that is just a teaser because they will be reuniting with a new project dropping next year.
5. LS Camp – Back To The Basics (The Boom Bap)
This album lives up to its title. It feels like a throwback to the old school, boom bap aesthetic that made me fall in love with hip-hop with the first place. The group is comprised of emcee / producer D*Rock aka The Heatmizer, Mike Malik, and DJ Boomer.
4. DJ Format and Abdominal – Still Hungry
DJ Format’s uptempo boom bap fit Abdominal’s lyrics, flow, and delivery perfectly. This is a great project that was followed up by a remixed album later in the year. Surprisingly both albums are amazing.
3. Amerigo Gazaway – A Common Wonder
Amerigo Gazaway took Common tracks and verses, mashed them up with the smooth sounds of Stevie Wonder and created a project that is truly remarkable. It feels like these two artists collaborated on these tracks. They feel smooth and organic. I absolutely love this album.
2. Blu and Exile – In the Beginning: Before the Heavens
Ten years after their iconic album, Blu and Exile release a companion album with tracks that were recorded in 2007 and didn’t make the album. These aren’t throwaway tracks either. It’s hard to imagine why these songs weren’t released before now.
1. Koss – Born to Live
DJ Koss enlisted some heavyweights to provide the lyrics over his boom-bap production. The project features Torae, Masta Ace, Large Pro, Craig G, Marley Marl, Blaq Poet, J-Live, Keith Murray, Ruste Juxx and K-Def. Every single track on this project bangs. It definitely deserves top billing this year.
Did I Miss Anything?
What are your favourite albums of 2017? Please leave a comment below or hit me up on social media. Happy New Year!