The Boom Bap and Acid Rap 2016 Year End Awards, Pt. 7

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

THE SHORTLIST:

  • A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – WE GOT IT FROM HERE… THANK YOU 4 YOUR SERVICE
  • KENDRICK LAMAR – UNTITLED UNMASTERED
  • TRAVIS SCOTT – BIRDS IN THE TRAP SING McKNIGHT
  • ANDERSON .PAAK – MALIBU
  • SKEPTA – KONNICHIWA
  • DANNY BROWN – ATROCITY EXHIBITION
  • KEVIN GATES – ISLAH
  • YG – STILL BRAZY

THE WINNER:

  • TRAVIS SCOTT – BIRDS IN THE TRAP SING McKNIGHTtravis-scott

If you listen to only eight albums this year, make it these ones. Every single one of them is a masterpiece in its own right. YG remained the flag-bearer of modern West Coast gangster rap. Skepta crossed the pond with the very British Konnichiwa. Kendrick Lamar managed to get into the conversation by putting out a collection of leftovers from his previous two albums. A Tribe Called Quest surprised everyone by recreating their signature sound in 2016. Danny Brown gave a perfectly gritty account of his drug abuse and mental health over cluttered, biting beats on Atrocity Exhibition. Anderson .Paak properly introduced himself to the world stage after featuring heavily on Dr. Dre’s Compton the year previously with an album that infused countless genres. Kevin Gates went from internet darling to outselling Adele in first week sales.

Despite all this, Travis Scott let his ambition carry him to putting out the greatest album of ate, with fourteen excellent tracks. A star-studded supporting cast including Andre 3000, The Weeknd, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar and Bryson Tiller helped BITTSM overcome all its competition this year. Peaking at number one in the Billboard 200, Scott became an icon with this album.

SIDENOTE:

ferg

The worst hip-hop album this year goes to A$AP Ferg with Always Strive and Prosper. I’m not sure if it’s just because he’s frequently seen beside the most charismatic man in hip-hop, A$AP Rocky but Ferg is probably the least cool rapper there is. Despite being woefully lame, Ferg’s music is usually pretty good. His 2013 debut album Trap Lord was critically acclaimed and was admittedly excellent. However, this year, Ferg’s music seems to have caught up with his personality. Always Strive and Prosper comes off like it’s confused and directionless and may have driven off some of the fans he won with Trap Lord. Apart from New Level which was brilliant (wholly thanks to Future), nothing here stands out at all. Sure, the production values are high and he has some high-profile features but the lostness and distractedness of it all just makes it unlistenable.

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A Year to Remember’s Greatest Albums: Pusha T

Darkness Before Dawn: The Prelude – Pusha T (GOOD Music, Def Jam) – December 2015

Intended to serve as a prelude for the GOOD Music president’s third studio album, Darkness Before Dawn has set the bar excitingly high for the long-awaited King Push, due in spring of this year. For a start, the first single released in anticipation of the album, Untouchable heavily samples The Notorious B.I.G.’s iconic guest verse on Pudgee’s 1995 Think Big. In this verse, Biggie claims to be lyrically “untouchable, uncrushable”, which is clearly a recurring theme for Pusha on this project where he is consistently in a very self-appreciative mood.

The Metro Boomin-produced intro to the album sets the signature shady tone which Pusha T has utilised all through his solo career. Happily, this is followed up on in the majority of the next nine tracks.

One of my favourite tracks on the album is Crutches, Crosses, Caskets. A few curious lines (“Old n****s slapping young n****s, ha imagine that, where you from n****?”) on this song allude to the alleged Drake and Diddy altercation at a nightclub in December 2014. This is made more intriguing by the fact Diddy has production credit on this song. Pusha has cited this song as his favourite on the project, understandably.

Despite other masterful performances, the standout track must be M.P.A., an acronym for Money, Pussy, Alcohol, featuring his frequent collaborator and GOOD Music associate – check out New God Flow, Mercy, Runaway and So Appalled – Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and The-Dream. Sounding reminiscent of Blame Game by Kanye from his critically acclaimed (and one of my personal favourite) album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, M.P.A. has a star-filled feel about it that makes you sit up and take notice. And in the current era, a lot of hip-hop, although being good, doesn’t do this.

The Virginia-born and raised coke merchant continues to flow slickly over luxury beats crafted by top-tier producers such as Timbaland, Boi-1da, J Cole and Q-Tip. This album has a grandeur about it, polished to the point of excellence.

Pusha has a rare gift of being able to elaborate his grim images to the point where you finish listening to one of his projects and feel like a character from The Wire. The dictionary definition of ‘prelude’ is an event serving as an introduction to something more important. If that can’t sell Pusha T’s next album to you, nothing will.

#BBAR