DHH Picks – Top 10 Albums Of The Year (International)

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What a year it has been for Hip-Hop culture worldwide. We witnessed some amazing moments and experienced even better stories through songs all year long. Classic albums were dropped month after month keeping our tastes alive and well in the music we all know and love. Some great ideas and concepts had been served on a silver plate to us and boy were we hungry for more.

To add to the festivities, Hip-Hop even became the most listened to genre of music in the world. This just goes on to show that Hip-Hop is evolving now more than ever and the direction that it is heading towards is previously unprecedented. There are schools of hip-hop running simultaneously in harmony with each other. The internet has made it much more easier to find and absorb the vibes that so many great artists of our times put out there for us.

At DHH – Hip-Hop is literally our religion. We love the culture as much if not more than anyone out there experiencing their way through the music. This was the year that some artists leveled up and gave us some really unexpected moments in music. As far as albums go, some of the best artists in Hip-Hop today dropped jewels that concept-wise as well as execution wise would easily become the best pieces of art that they have created. A year also filled with come-ups and comebacks.

In case you missed some of the best hip hop albums of this year, sit back and relax. We got you on this one. We at DHH have compiled a list of all the best of the best albums that dropped this year. Now before we get into further discussions about the best albums, what we do wanna put out there first and foremost is that this is just a list of albums that we personally thought deserved to be on this list. Music is subject to the preference of the people. You can always let us know which artist you think should have (or shouldn’t have) been on the list and feel free to share with us your top 10 Albums of the year.

That being said, let’s get into the list and celebrate the top shelf of music releases that this year has given us. Let us know how many of these yall have heard or not and what your thoughts are about the following albums. This is the DHH official Top 10 Albums of the year! (Note that these albums are not listed in descending order unless mentioned otherwise in description).

1) Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

If it weren’t for Jay-Z’s latest album – 4:44 – this would have easily been the album of the year. Now we have 2 top contenders, and that’s saying something. Kendrick has been pushing the culture to greater heights with each album that he drops and DAMN was no different from any other move he has made till date. Anything this man touches turns to gold, even platinum. We honestly don’t know where to place this album even in his own catalog. Of course Good Kidd Maad City & To Pimp A Butterfly will always be the top 2 (depending on who you ask) albums till date by the genius. But there now opens a debate on whether or not this tops Section 80. And we are more than satisfied with not knowing that answer.

This album has a bit of everything, the drama, the impact, the replay value, and all of Kendricks signature styles. Jam-packed with powerful collaborations and not to mention some of the best visuals that have dropped this year for Hip-Hop music, this album pushed itself so far ahead of the noise it definitely makes it to the top of the list for many Hip-Hop enthusiasts around the world. The production keeps this album fresh on each revisit and combined with the lethal flows and lyrics that Kendrick has to offer, this will definitely be on repeat on and off a lot of playlists rest assured.

Some notable tracks are DNA, Element, Loyalty (ft. Rihanna), Humble, Love (ft. Zacari), XXX (feat. U2), Fear and God. These tracks don’t necessarily stand out because the other tracks are just as great but they definitely have you playing these on repeat a whole lot more. Also this is almost 80% of the album and now you know why.

2) CyHi The Prince – No Dope On Sundays

Comeback of the year. We finally got what we wanted for years and this album broke through those expectations to the moon. CyHi The Prince is a force to be reckoned with in the emceeing world and not only did he prove his might on this album, he showed the world how lethal he is with the pen game (if you didn’t know already) throughout this album. No Dope On Sundays takes some time to grow on you through the listens.

But after 2-3 good listens, the beauty of this album really starts to shine. The album is filled with the wisdom and experience that CyHi has to offer. We literally see the world through his eyes. And experience the world with the same views, whether we have lived the same lives or not. CyHi manages to put you at the driver’s seat as he dictates stories through the world that he has seen, lived through and observed. It is a mature, gritty and beautiful narrative as only CyHi can provide.

Ears have literally been blessed. The concepts in this album are as important to address as they are to narrate. The wit and truth flowing throughout makes this a beautiful experience. Songs that share verses by artistes like Pusha-T, Travis Scott, Schoolboy Q, 2Chainz and Kanye West among a lot of others adds supreme value to this grand piece of art. A truly classic album for the ages.

3) Big Sean – I Decided

Big Sean is one of, if not the most underrated artists that continues to bless us year in year out. This year he dropped two great projects, both of which have good replay value. “I Decided” was dropped in January and instantly got the recognition that it needed. Big Sean is a catalyst to the culture and his style and skills are on par with any other top emcee out there. The fact that he has been looked over by some as a commercially great emcee is beyond us.

This album sees Big Sean walking us through his private thoughts presented in a manner that few even think about. From the very first song, we see him talking about his own light. The light that emanates from within oneself. This album is a confidence booster, a motivator and an inspiration to the creators. It is a lesson being delivered in parts by Big Sean. As well as a friendly reminder that he is a top caliber emcee in today’s times. Songs like Light, Bounce Back, Moves, Jump Out The Window, Stick To the Plan, Sacrifices and Bigger Than Me are some of the most uniquely crafted songs in the album.


4) Migos – Culture

In this time and age of Hip-Hop, where “mumble rap” took centre stage among a lot of other sounds in the genre, Migos took a direction that combined both worlds and gave us one of the most impactful and influential albums of this year. Culture definitely lived up to its name. A fresh new sound that catapulted the trio to everlasting superstardom – Culture is packed with some crazy minimal (but bass and quality heavy) beats with some of the best books we’ve heard in a while. All 3 of them do a great job in ensuring the album stops being monotonous track after track.

Culture definitely shines and has its moments throughout the listen and just the sync between the trio itself gives us a great idea of the work put in to create this one of a kind album. Tracks like Culture, T-Shirt, Bad And Boujee, Get Right Witcha, Brown Paper Bag, Big On Big, Out Your Way among others make you wanna keep playing them back to back and you catch up on the rest of the tracklist in the process. One of the best albums to flex with if you’re in the vibe to flex on em. The lifestyle, the hustle and the come up was real as it gets with Migos and they’re definitely here to stay.

This was also the year that Migos and another Hip-Hop trio – Flatbush Zombies launched their collaboration with Adidas. The Adidas Propheres are some of the best looking shoes put there right now. This move just drew comparisons and throwbacks to when Run EMF was rocking the culture with their infamous Adidas superstars. Migos have come a long way and we’ve already got glimpses into Culture 2 and it sounds just as great as the first! Here’s to bumping the Culture 2 in 2018, in the mean time we can all bump the first because it stays fresh.

5) Jay-Z – 4:44

Hip-Hop royalty gave us a classic once again. This is what grown man Hip-Hop sounds like. If mumble rap never came to surface. And if emcees got more mature in the way they sounded and wrote and designed songs, we definitely hope that this was what the soundscape of Hip-Hop would be like. This album has been the most entertaining one of 2017 in our opinion. Amidst all the controversy, the rumors and the mystique that usually surrounds the Carters, Jay-Z stands up to the tested times like the man he is built to be.

The whole tracklist is studded with some of the best lyrics, Jay’s signature styles and not to mention the unique productions that Jay is so akin to rap on. Jay owns up the mistakes that he has made. He publicly apologizes to Beyoncé in the album on the title track. We literally cannot choose what track we like best from this range of tracks. The vibes, the art of storytelling, the swagger that surrounds the man as he speaks. This album also surely ranks high on the best Jay-Z albums of all time list.

Just the facts; this album went platinum in 5 days. Jay-Z got inducted into the song writers hall of fame this year too. And he gracefully accepted the award in true fashion by shouting out a long, long list of the emcees that have come before him and inspired him and also giving props to some of the new age emcees too. Besides that, he has dropped videos for almost all tracks on the album. Three of these videos were dropped back to back in the last week of December. The videos are filled with backstories and storytelling in their own manner.

Many albums will come close to the craftsmanship that this album has put forward on display. This is how legends set themselves apart from the rest. Jay has once again proved he is a giant amongst men. Album of the year? Probably. You decide.

6) Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy

Next up we have Tyler The Creator on one of his most personal albums yet – Flower Boy. Promoted as “Scum F**k Flower Boy”, the album is a mirror to Tyler and his whole, honest truth about himself. The vibes and the essence that takes hold of you on the album are those of clarity and honesty. Flower Boy is a journey inward towards Tyler’s reality of life. The life that he is just waking up to and confessing about. At least that’s what he wants us to think.

This album has subtle hints everywhere about his sexual orientation and it really puts him in a spot where we interpret that he has “lead women on” to believing that he is straight. This displaces his homophibic image snd puts him on the confrontational side where we grow more questions than answers. And though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it would be a coming out party riddled with doubts, anger and frustration for Tyler himself.

Besides this, the album has top notch production and ensures clarity on each track. The songs are not as disorderly and distorting as Tyler’s previous attempts. A great album after a few tries, and that’s more than we could have asked for. Following the drop of Tyler’s 2015 release “Cherry Bomb”, this album takes it two steps up and finally gives us the Tyler that we needed. There is a dichotomy to this album. Though we do see an evolved, mature Tyler, he also let’s us remember the crazy nut head that he has always been.

The sheer creativity of this record is what places it in the best albums of 2017 and of course in the best albums by Tyler The Creator himself. With features from Lil Wayne, Asap Rocky, Jaden Smith, and Frank Ocean to name a few, it is a guaranteed win and you can rest assured that you will not be left bored on multiple runs of this album.

7) Logic – Everybody

What a great year it has been for Logic. 2017 was nothing less than magical for the emcee who got two Grammy nominations (Best Rap Song and Best Music Video) for his single “1-800-273-8255”. He also got to perform at the VMAS along with collaborator Khalid.

It’s always great to see an amazing emcee get the recognition that he deserves. Logic has been on the grind for a while now and to finally see the effort come to fruition inspirational for emcees around the world. The album concept for “Everybody” so unique, so distinct that it won’t be wrong to say nobody has thought of that before. Neil DeGrasse Tyson features as God on the album and voices you through the journey that logic creates through it.

The album is filled with amazing song writing it is melodic, it is dramatic, overall just a whole lot of fun. Through the sounds coming out of this album Logic discusses the inward self and the outer self. He talks about the afterlife, the universe as well as how hatred and negativity surrounds us from the inside. He also addresses racism issues that have haunted him since his childhood. The album is beautifully crafted, though there might be a feeling of what could have been better, but all that takes a back seat once you get into the full flow of listening to Everybody. It also features a secret J Cole verse and the songs are just out of this world (sometimes literally).

There is a lot going on in this album but it is worth the time. It might not be the best Logic album out there but it is 100% high on the list. This is one album that you have to listen to to be a part of and enjoy to the fullest. So hit that play button as soon as possible if you haven’t heard the album already.

8) Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom

Come up squad! Rapsody completely renewed herself and gave us her best album to date – Laila’s Wisdom. A Grammy nominee, the album took the Hip-Hop world by storm. The come up was intense with Rapsody, as she climbed the ladder to success this year willfully and through sheer skill and hard work. We are all witnesses to the power of Hip-Hop, the people even started turning heads to the “new queen” of Hip-Hop. The album initially drew response being called the female “To Pimp A Butterfly” until executive producer 9th Wonder shut em down on Twitter and it didn’t take long for the beauty of the album to be completely absorbed by the Hip-Hop enthusiasts worldwide.

Rapsody is one of the great lyricists in Hip-Hop and this album just establishes this fact further. With some grand appearances and moments from featured artists like Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, Black Thought, BJ the Chicago Kid and many more – Laila’s Wisdom set itself a class apart from the competition. And we’re all just extremely happy about the album gaining the recognition it so truly deserves. Intro to outro, the track list is a journey that Rapsody beautifully paints with clever metaphors, supreme execution, and stunning wit. Soulful and expressive, this album is an experience to go through time and again.

9) Stormzy – Gang Signs And Prayer

Next up and straight out of (dare we say it),  the best Hip Hop scenes in the western world, the UK grime scene has given rise to the prodigy it so truly deserved (amongst other legends). Stormzy is a living, breathing Rap beast. The undertones of Gang Signs And Prayer are those of peace, love and unity, but make no doubt that the album is as raw and gritty as it gets. There are the up moments, the down moments and the truly noteworthy inspirational moments in this album. GSAP is an album that will not be forgotten by UK Hip-Hop fans worldwide anytime soon.

Stormzy is on a rampage with this album showing the world the power of just him making his music to live the life that he has dreamt of living while telling the tales of the surroundings he has been a part of. It is an honest and majestic album. He sets the record straight from track one, aptly titled “First Things First” and continues to relentlessly drop heavy bars on songs like Cold, Bad Boys, Big For Your Boots, 100 bags, and Shut up. The story of the gangster and the gentleman. He reflects on his spiritual side through songs like Blinded By Your Grace (1 & 2) and Lay Me Bare. The rest of the album is to kick back and chill with the vibes.

A perfectly timed album and the scene absorbed every last bit of this masterpiece. Give this album your time if you haven’t heard it already. Get ready for a great ride while bumping this as it will get you feeling all kinds of ways about how fresh the music sounds. Just brilliant poetry in motion.

10) Joyner Lucas – 508-507-2209

Last but never the least in this list is Mr. Come Up himself – Joyner Lucas. This year has been on track for many artists and Joyner just gave all of them a run for their money. Every time he gets on other people’s tracks, he’s just going to murder that beat. This year besides the album, he has dropped 4 fire jewels on other artists tracks and just broke the internet with all 4 of them. Add the recent “I’m Not Racist” video that just spun into the viral web within hours of release and you have someone who is playing the game with ease.

Now, coming to the album. Where do we even start with this one. The Storytelling is so intense and interestingly created. New artists nowadays have two options, one would be to go the mumble rap route and create hits and bangers to get the audience attention. The other is to do something so unique that it instantly catches the eye. This album had the latter and also gave us bangers within it. Joyner is an artiste to watch out for. The sheer amount of creativity and effort he is putting in to revive the artform. If anyone’s saving Hip-Hop today, it’s gotta be Joyner Lucas.

Check this album out if you intend to hear a new upcoming artist who is completely killing it right now. This is a breath of fresh air to the culture. And while you’re at it, do check his videos out for more creative content.

Honorable Mentions:

1) A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – The Bigger Artist

This album was on our playlist on replay for weeks. If any album was fire emojis, this had to be it start to end. This album is definitely fresh. It’s just kinda unfortunate to see that it got a little overlooked by other releases. But we at Dhh got this one on lock. Some mega collaborations for A Boogie on this. Names like Chris Brown, Trey Song, and Kodak Black all come up on the listing and do their thing impeccably.

The best thing about the album is how simple it is to vibe to it and enjoy it. It is direct and minimal. It’s got all the essentials in place and surprises us consistently. Definitely a great album this year, here’s hoping for more like these in the years that follow.

2) Jaden Smith – SYRE

Jaden Smith is an icon living. No two ways about it. Born to Hip-Hop / Hollywood royalty, there really isn’t any need that he should be pushing himself. But SYRE shuts all the noise and doubts and presents itself as a rejuvenating sound to the Hip-Hop world. Jaden Smith has outdone himself on this album. The concepts and execution is simply amazing.

Spearheading his own label “Misfits” Jaden Smith has set the bar way high for any recruits. There’s so much depth in the album along with the way that he has shaped the album to life. He doesn’t need to talk about the hood life or be anything that he isn’t. In fact he pushes his own stories with ease. And at various moments in the album we watch the genius of the man himself get through on the mic.

A truly creative experience, this album sets the tone for what we hope are many more such albums in Jadens career. The new fresh prince of Hip-Hop is here to stay and they call him SYRE.

3) Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

Disclaimer: This album is completely subject to audience preference. If you like it you will like it, if not, well maybe try again on another release. What we loved about the album is the subtlety with which it handles issues of suppression. The album title is a reminder of the large displacement (and destruction of the projects) of the people that lived in the south side Chicago area “Robert Taylor Homes”.

Open Mike Eagle brings to life this tragedy through sheer imagination. And also executes brilliant poetry and creatively expresses the different struggles that plagued communities like these during those times in America. Get your lyrics on screen and get ready to analyze this album track for track. Simply because it has a lot to say under the style that OME raps through. It is also a soothing, healing and at times reminding album. A harsh truth covered with beautiful pain. Simply genius.

Got any other albums that you feel could fit in on this list? Tell us all your top picks for the year in the comments below!