35. SCARFACE-Deeply Rooted
It might seem strange to use the word “mature” to describe a rapper who continues at the age of 45 to tell war stories about dealing drugs, but that’s how this album feels. It’s not reveling in the life, it’s looking back at it without nostalgia, reverence, or false bravado. Being a gangsta is part of his history, and he’s still haunted by it, because there are some parts of our past we can’t move on from.
34. JEFF the Brotherhood-Global Chakra Rhythms
They’re indie again! I’ve loved this band a long time, and I was happy for them when they got their major lable deal—even if I thought their output became pretty generic.
Well, if you felt like I did, this album will blow your mind and rock your chakras.
Be warned: It’s a double-album of instrumentals, it’s extremely fuzzy, and by the time you’re done listening you’ll either be exhausted or stoned. Or both.
33. TUT-Preacher’s Son
I was makin’ pyramids outta Lego. This appeals to nerds, hip hop fans—it should appeal to everyone. A tremendous debut mixtape from a Tennessee rapper who needs to be heard. Easily one of the best mixtapes I’ve heard in years.
32. PHOEBE RYAN-Ignition/Do You (R. Kelly/Miguel)
31. TALIB KWELI AND 9TH WONDER-Indie 500
Socially conscious. Pro-woman. Not a drop of misogyny or homophobia. Smart. This is the rap album Bernie Sanders voters. The beats are the best stuff 9th Wonder has created since his days in Little Brother, and every single lyricist on this spits fire.