With the seemingly nonstop rush of new music constantly being released on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, and Soundcloud, it can feel like some truly fantastic, underground hip-hop slips through the cracks. After all with big names like The Carters, Kanye West, and Drake taking up all the air in just the month of June, the middle class of rap seems easy to overlook in the constant effort to stay aware of what else is new.
That means that some real gems can get ignored. With all the new music coming out all the time, who can keep up right? Fortunately, in our modern era of streaming and digital releases, its easier than ever to revisit and get caught up with the rap music you may have missed in the rush, from boom-bap, backpack rap to transcendent, prolific, new wave trap. Here are just a few of the albums from this year that deserve a listen alongside all the top-heavy releases.
Black Thought, 9th Wonder & The Soul Council — Streams Of Thought, Vol. 1 (Jamla)
The news that the iconic MC would be pairing with the gifted producer for a full, five-song EP set the internet abuzz with interest. After all, Black Thought is one of hip-hop’s premier rappers, but over the past few high-concept releases from The Roots, we’ve never really gotten to hear him cut loose lyrically, the way he did with his viral freestyle. Fortunately, that’s exactly what he’s done here, over razor-edged funk samples from 9th Wonder and his crew of Jamla producers. The feather in the EP’s cap is the aptly titled “Dostoevsky,” where Thought and guest rapper Rapsody wax philosophical in dense, metaphor-laden verses that require multiple listens and plenty of annotation to break down each jewel that’s dropped.