The 2021 year-end retrospective features 20 of the best projects to make the cut this year. Selected from a cache of top tier releases, this retrospective is hard-hitting, experimental and just plain ill. Join me in revisiting standouts from Wiki, Terry Presume, Navy Blue, Eddie Kaine, Moor Mother and Pink Siifu.
Other artists on this year’s shortlist include Homeboy Sandman, DøøF, Spectacular Diagnostics, L’Orange x Namir Blade and Lord JaH-Monte Ogbon. Let’s get into it.
Wiki – Half God
Wiki raps with a chip on his shoulder across the length of the divinely ordered and insightful third studio album Half God produced entirely by Navy Blue.
Eddie Kaine – A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Eddie Kaine‘s elite storytelling makes A Tree Grows In Brooklyn a gigantic win for Bed-Stuy and BigGhostLtd.
Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air
High vibrational transmissions tuned to the future intersect with haunting rhythm on Moor Mother’s acclaimed Black Encyclopedia of the Air.
Patrick Paige II – If I Fail Are We Still Cool?
Patrick Paige II dives deep into the subject of self-improvement on the soulful and introspective album If I Fail Are We Still Cool?
Pink Siifu – GUMBO’!
Pink Siifu enters another dimension entirely on the stacked, experimental homage to his musical origins titled GUMBO’!
AKAI SOLO x Navy Blue – True Sky
Following Song Of Sage: Post Panic, Navy Blue teams with AKAI Solo to deliver a future classic that establishes the pair as unassuming underground kings.
Aesop Rock x Blockhead – Garbology
Celebrated veterans Aesop Rock & Blockhead push the limits of lyricism and imagination in rap through the societal analysis of Garbology.
Lord JaH-Monte Ogbon – TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
Lord JaH-Monte Ogbon solidifies his place as a distinct voice amongst rap’s rising class of spitters with the airtight lyrical demonstration of TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE.
Armand Hammer x The Alchemist – Haram
Armand Hammer explores the forbidden across their ominous and spiritually charged fifth album Haram produced by The Alchemist.
Career Crooks – Never at Peace
Small Professor and Zilla Rocca combine as Career Crooks to deliver a collection of rock-solid beats and rhymes titled Never at Peace.
DøøF – NCL-DøøFus 2 : SWAMP PHONK
DøøF digs deep to deliver a biting testimony over sinister beats on the blues-inflected standout album NCL-DøøFus 2 : SWAMP PHONK.
YUNGMORPHEUS x Eyedress – Affable With Pointed Teeth
YUNGMORPHEUS marries intricate storytelling with painstakingly crafted instrumentals produced by Eyedress on their collaborative album Affable With Pointed Teeth.
Terry Presume – What Box?
Terry Presume is enigmatic, introspective, and impossible to pin down across the length of the gravity-defying and emotionally dense album What Box?
Nappy Nina x JWords – Double Down
Nappy Nina delivers a clinic in cadence and candid lyricism on the synth-heavy collaborative album Double Down produced entirely by JWords.
JIGSAW PAUL – Turnbuckle Tales
JIGSAW PAUL is brash and omnipresent in his return to the mic on the quirky, sub-busting rap narrative titled Turnbuckle Tales.
Homeboy Sandman – Anjelitu
Homeboy Sandman explores opposite ends of his own identity on the deeply personal outing Anjelitu produced entirely by Aesop Rock.
J.U.S – GoFundMe Corvette
J.U.S. caps a year of standouts for Bruiser Brigade Records by applying charismatic delivery, frank observation, and biting humor to daily shenanigans on GoFundMe Corvette.
Spectacular Diagnostics – Ancient Methods
Spectacular Diagnostics constructs new worlds on the long-simmered and seamless follow-up to Natural Mechanics titled Ancient Methods.
L’Orange x Namir Blade – Imaginary Everything
L’Orange and Namir Blade are visionary, effervescent, and free across the length of their psych-tinged collaborative album Imaginary Everything.
Lukah – When The Black Hand Touches You
LUKAH takes his foot off the brake and applies it to the neck on the partially self-produced album When The Black Hand Touches You featuring additional production from Livin and Cities Aviv.
Graphic: @popephoenix for Okayplayer
Karas Lamb writes and digs for tunes you haven’t heard yet. She wants to listen to your music. Follow her on Twitter @karaslamb.
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