Saturday, March 2, 2019

2017 - Present

Before I begin, I wanna give a shoutout to the homie Anon for his recent response to my "What's Good!!" post from 2/2/19. Not only was it appreciated of course, but he suggested I do a post about recent albums I've listened to, plus those I have added to my collection as well; I'm going to do just that (with the amount of time I have on my hands as of this post), going back to 2017 till present day 2019. This will not be a return to regular posting on the blog, however, I have no problem with the creation of this post for ol' times sake. So, without further ado, in my Das EFX voice, "here we go!" (And for the record, I'm starting with 2017 because, before my 2/2/19 post, that was the last one on the blog prior to the start of '18.)


We start '17 with an album that fell so far under the proverbial radar it's not even funny. I'll mention this again in a bit, but Big Boi's 3rd album would be one of the last (of a few) CDs I would purchase from Best Buy. Coming about 4 years after the "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors" album, which I didn't care that much for, I was looking forward to this one and I liked it a lot. What surprised me a bit was that some of the cats I know who like Big Boi on the solo tip either didn't bother to check this one out or they did and weren't impressed. Either way, this one received 4 stars from me.

Big K.R.I.T.'s "4eva Is a Mighty Long Time" was very good overall, and even though I'm usually a sucker for double albums, I found myself growing a little tired when I got to the second disc. Don't get me wrong, I like K.R.I.T., but when he keeps his creativity to a single disc setting, he more than excels.

I was glad that Jay-Z's 13th studio album was released on CD, because for a moment I thought it was only going to be exclusive to Tidal; I also recall a time when an album from Jay was a big thing in hip hop, but as is this case for the last 5 years or so, certain albums enjoy one week of hype and discussion, and after that, they fall by the wayside. I copped this from Best Buy on the day of its release, and that was the only time I've bumped it since. I gave it 4 stars; I may revisit it at some point, but not any time soon. He was credited as making a comeback of sorts, but unless something changes, this may very well be the last (unofficial) solo album from Jay.

Like the majority of his albums after 2002's "The Eminem Show", the 9th studio album from Eminem received mixed feedback across the board, but when I first checked it out via Spotify, I liked what I heard, which led to me copping this (and Rick Ross' "Rather You Than Me") from Best Buy, and it was these two albums which ended up being the last two CDs I bought from the respective store. Continuing on, when I bumped the album the second time, I still liked what I heard, giving it 4 stars in the process. It's not a classic or anything, but it showed an evolved Eminem. If anyone went into this album expecting something from Em circa 1999-2002, you would've been disappointed. I still recommend the album.

Rick Ross delivered an album that was better than 2015's "Black Market" and in a way, that's not saying too much, 3 stars. It was typical Ross across the board, with the highlight of the album being the Nas assisted "Powers That Be"; the chemistry those two men have continues to amaze me.

Raekwon stepped things up after the forgetten but decent "Fly International Luxurious Art" album in 2015. Although this album received probably the same attention as that album did, which was very little, Rae came with what you would expect from him at this point in his career, especially on "Marvin" featuring CeeLo Green. Hopefully, we'll still get "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. III." 4 stars for "The Wild."

 With a respectable number of guest appearances and dope production supplied by MoSS, the legendary Kool G Rap returned to the scene and dropped his best work since "The Giancana Story." About 4 stars for this (that may change).

The late Sean Price's 5th and final studio album was my pick for the best album of 2017. Much like G Rap's "Return Of The Don" album, "Imperius Rex" featured dope lyrics, production, and guest appearances, another clear cut example of what this underrated MC was capable of. 4.5 stars. RIP.

Even though it took MAD time, this was the solo album I've been patiently waiting for from the other half of Heltah Skeltah, Rock. As an album and a tribute to Sean P, this was exceptionally dope, plus I also liked the fact that his and Sean P's album had BCC/Wu collaborations, which may have been very late, but these ears were appreciative. 4 stars.

Talib Kweli and Styles P had very good chemistry throughout this EP, and I hope they do more collaborations in the future. This is one of those EPs that leave you wanting more material. About 4 stars.

Don't let the cover fool you, this album was not the return of the 1993 Snoop. After the forgotten "Coolaid" album from 2016, Snoop came through with a more than acceptable 15th studio album. It didn't break any new ground, but it's another worthy addition to his discography. 3.5 stars.

Backed by some tight production thanks to DJ Premier and Brenk Sinatra, West Coast OG MC Eiht sounded as good and energetic as ever on this album. Two of the memorable highlights here were the Lady of Rage assisted "Heart Cold" and "Medicate" featuring Xzibit. 4-4.5 stars.

I do recall checking this out on Spotify, however, I was likely consumed with other things at the time, so I'll be revisiting this at some point.

Coming a few months after the collaboration album with Styles P, Kweli dropped this one, apparently something he had been working on since 2016. It was another high quality effort from Kweli, and in addition to that, I gotta mention "Chips" featuring Waka Flocka Flame. Now, longtime readers of my blog know that I've never been a fan of this guy, but the verse he dropped on this song was actually quite good; just thought I'd mention that. 4 stars.

This one fell under the radar quite a bit, but I will be adding this 4 star companion piece to my collection before 2019 ends.

A Fabolous and Jadakiss collaboration album would've been a big deal in a different era; However, what should've been one of 2017's best albums was decent at best. I'm a long time fan of both men, as well as most of the artists on this list, but the issues I had were the timing and the production; again, it fell so far under the proverbial radar in 2017 that it was not a good year for such a project to drop; lyrically, Fab and Jada still had some goods to bring to the table, but when you think of the producers they linked up with for their respective solo albums, the production should've been slammin' on this album, but it ended up being disappointing.


Before I talk about last year, I wanna share something right quick. Out of sheer curiousity, I checked out Cardi B's "Invasion of Privacy." I don't know what I was expecting going into it, and even though I didn't finish the album, I wasn't surprised one bit with the content. Honestly, it was merely ok for what it was I guess, but I didn't see what all the hype was about. She's easy on these eyes, no question about that, but musically I'm not impressed and her behavior all but confirms she's no role model. Now let's move on shall we.

Now, you should know that a new Nas album is a big, personal event for me, along with ready and willing to give it the "best album of the year" treatment before I even take the plastic off, lol. In the case of this "Nasir" album, or should I say EP, I thought it was decent, but Nas is definitely capable of more. Don't get me wrong, he still has something to say and does it eloquently, but something was missing. In addition, between 2004-2009, a Kanye West produced Nas album would've been major news in the hip hop world, complete with loads of hype and anticipation, but in this instance, it was just another album to most people; I'm still waiting for the next "proper" Nas album. 3.5 stars.

As something of a follow up to the "Revival" album, Em returned to the scene with another very good, 4 star album. I checked this out via Spotify, liked it on the first listen; then I ordered the CD (along with the next one I'll be talking about) and still liked it on the second listen. I also want to mention that he had nothing to apologize for as it relates to the "Revival" album.

Funny story: I was on the iTunes site and just happened to run across this album; I had no idea Bun B was dropping a new album. Via Spotify, I checked this out around the same time as Em's "Kamikaze" and I liked what I heard. Bun is continuing to carry on the UGK legacy, as trill as ever, and the album was world's better than "Trill OG: The Epilogue" from 2013. 4 stars.

Skyzoo has dropped some quality albums for quite some time now and this one was no exception. 4 stars.

If there's an MC who clearly still has it at this point in his career, Masta Ace is it. His concept-driven albums are still excellent, finding new and creative ways to entertain the listeners. And speaking of entertaining, Ace excelled tremendously over the dope production of Marco Polo. "A Breukelen Story" is another 4.5 star album in Ace's discography.

Apathy hasn't disappointed me yet with his solo work, and 2018's "The Widow's Son" was simply another showcase of his sharp lyrics over equally sharp production. And one thing "Stomp Rappers" (also featuring M.O.P.) did was make me hope for another Celph Titled album. Probably 4 stars, but that rating may change.

The last time I bought a Phonte album was "Charity Starts At Home", which was one of the more memorable recommendations I was given a few years back. "No News Is Good News" really impressed me, and when you think about the mainstream side of hip hop right now, even as you read this, Phonte's album is almost a breath of fresh, musical air in an era of mumble rap and nonsense. 4 stars.

I think it's safe to say that the underrated Apollo Brown and his production brings out the best in the artist he works with. Joell Ortiz lyrically fired on all cylinders on this album, also succeeding in making me hope for another Slaughterhouse album. 4.5 stars.

Before finally getting around to checking this out, I was a bit surprised to see the mixed feedback to this album, especially compared to its 2014 predecessor. When I finally checked it out, my immediate thoughts were 1) It clearly was not better than "PRhyme", 2) The first half was fire, but the quality dipped a bit in the second half, and 3) I wouldn't mind the release of "PRhyme 3." 3.5-4 stars.

Royce da 5'9 dropped two albums in one year, with "PRhyme 2" being the other. I expected this one to be one of his more personal albums; either I didn't get that or I need to revisit it. All things considered, 2018 was quite the year for Royce and I'm sure he has more lyrics to go. 4 stars.

I preordered this one, plus I received a signed poster by Ghostface himself. A couple of days after it arrived in the mail, I had it in the ride; it was decent, but I don't see myself bumping it again any time soon to be honest with you. I know there's a new Czarface album with Ghost that dropped a few weeks ago as of this post, and even though I plan to add it to my collection, I'm still awaiting his album with MF Doom, "Supreme Clientele 2" and the "Blue & Cream" album. 3 stars.

I bet even the most hardcore Ice Cube fan had no idea this dropped on December 7th of 2018. Cube still has something to say in vintage Cube fashion, especially when touching on issues affecting our country today. This album represents his best work since "Laugh Now, Cry Later." 3.5 stars.

And speaking of 2019.....

By the time you read this, the new album from Smif N Wessun will be part of my collection. Not only did 9th Wonder and the Soul Council bring the goods behind the boards, but Tek and Steele still sound good, not aging at all. I strongly recommend this joint, especially to long time fans of the BCC. 4 stars.

And loyal reader, there you have it. It was fun putting this together to show everyone what current year releases I checked out and/or added to my collection; I still keep the classics bumping, which will never change, but rest assured, even with my busy schedule and the pursuit of a political career, hip hop remains in my blood and I continue to support artists I've been listening to for years. Will there be another post? Only time will tell. Thanks for reading!!

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