We don’t always get to enjoy the same caliber of rap music every year that we got to in 2017. Music is an ever-evolving art form and rap music is a prime example of how much one genre can change in a year. The Top 10 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2017 were a tough pick since there were so many to choose from. My hope for you is that you’ll see at least one of your favorites here but also that you walk away having discovered a new artist or album to listen to. 

Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2017 -The Top 10 You Have to Listen To

Picking which project will make the list is a hard decision to make, but the ones that did make it are based on several different criteria: 

  • Replay value
  • Quality from start to finish
  • Production
  • Content variety
  • Personal preference

Let’s take a look at the musical excellence we got to enjoy this past year. 

10. Without Warning by 21 Savage, Offset & Metro Boomin

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

21 Savage teamed up with crowd favorites, producer Metro Boomin and Offset to create the quintessential joint project of this year. Metro’s production often features a smooth, subtle, melodic touch to his 808-heavy beats (that can sound even better with a nice portable amp).

21 Savage flows calmly over extremely evocative beats spitting hardcore lines at you that rarely let up. Offset (of Migos) stands out in the area of giving you ultra catchy flow patterns to nod along to. Overall, Without Warning will give you the perfect soundtrack for your workout, joy-ride, commute, or just listening for the sake of listening. 

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Without Warning for fans of 21 Savage’s past projects, Migos, Gucci Mane, Jeezy, and Metro Boomin’s signature production. 

9. Deadstar by Smokepurpp

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

Smokepurpp has been on the come up for some time now and you might’ve heard him featured on a Lil Pump track or two. Deadstar is his first official full-length release and after a listen or two you’ll be able to hear some progression and added attention to detail.

Overall, it’s a pretty hyped up, feel-good piece of work that features an 18-song tracklist. Some of the other artists featured include Yo Gotti, Travis Scott, Chief Keef, and longtime collaborator Lil Pump. 

You can expect to hear extra loud, thumping bass that reverberates around in your skull even after the songs end. Instead of taking the more traditional lyrical approach, Smokepurrp accents the instrumentals with his Floridian slang and infectious flows that force you to listen. Deadstar is far from mumble rap and the more I listen to it, the better it gets.

In the lower half of this tape, you’ll hear more melodic-driven tracks that might get stuck in your head. It sounds like a good portion of these songs were written specifically to allow fans at his live shows to sing along within seconds of hearing the song (although most already have them memorized). 

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Deadstar for fans of Lil Pump, Gucci Mane, Fat Nick, and XXXtentacion. 

8. Nu Religion: Hyena by THEY.

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

THEY. is a group that features two different artists: Dante Jones and Drew Love. These days, it becomes hard to divide music by specific, hard-cut genres. Ultimately Nu Religion: Hyena is a genre fusion of what sounds like rap-driven R&B.

At certain points on Nu Religion, the vocal delivery resembles the more typical rap lyric delivery. That style is eclipsed by the super-catchy, melodic singing that alternates back and forth over the 14 masterfully-crafted instrumentals. 

You’ll hear Clams Casino-esque production qualities and spacey melodies that will boost your mood and leave you feeling that serotonin drip we all love as music enthusiasts. Overall, it’s a great way to spend 45 minutes of your life (hopefully more if you like it). 


Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Nu Religion: Hyena for fans of GoldLink, The Underachievers, Mick Jenkins, and The Weeknd. 

7. Big Fish Theory by Vince Staples

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

Vince Staples is one of those artists that puts something different out every time. On Big Fish Theory, his choice of production might be surprising. Producers such as Flume, Jimmy Edgar, Sophie, and Christian Rich (associates of Pharrell) all contributed to creating a diverse, but cohesive body of work.

The choice to use his voice over the instrumentals featured might’ve seemed odd at first, but once you listen you’ll see the vision behind doing so.

Big Fish Theory is yet another example of the magic that can happen when artists aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone and experiment to further contribute to an evolution of sound. 

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Big Fish Theory for fans of Ab-Soul, A$ton Matthews, Earl Sweatshirt, and Schoolboy Q. If you collect vinyl, take a look at the full track listing and LP here. 

6. Gems From The Equinox by Meyhem Lauren

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

Meyhem Lauren has been making ultra-smooth, ultra-lyrical music since his debut solo effort titled Self Induced Illness. The music featured on Gems From The Equinox will make you feel like you’re actually in New York.

The musical poetry flowing effortlessly over the laid-back, but powerful instrumentals will inspire you to get up and pursue whatever it is that you’ve been putting off (for reasons of procrastination or otherwise).

From start to finish, you can expect to hear a wide range of topical content presented in a way that’s undeniably authoritative and concise.  

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Gems From The Equinox for fans of Raekwon, Action Bronson (friend and longtime collaborator), Heavy Metal Kings, Sean Price, and Big K.R.I.T. Do you collect vinyl? Take a look at the full track listing and LP here. 

5. Ashes N Dust by Trizz

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

Trizz has collaborated with artists from Strange Music, Brainsick, and horrorcore veteran Brotha Lynch Hung (among others). Ashes N Dust was released in December (the same day as Eminem’s Revival) and G-Eazy’s The Beautiful & Damned.

Despite sharing release dates with one of the top-selling rap acts of all time, Trizz’s album stuck out as one of the best from this year.

If you love West Coast rap with the classic-sounding instrumental production and a modernized twist, you’ll love Ashes N Dust. Throughout the duration of this project, you’ll hear a different perspective on a wide range of topics. The King Iso-featured track is one of my personal top ten songs of 2017. 

Ashes N Dust is a journey into Southern California’s Inland Empire. You’ll be able to see the palm trees and visit for a peek into the world of Trizz’s upbringing. To fully capture the essence of the vibe, it’s a good idea to have a good pair of headphones to block out the noise, and isolate the good music. 

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Ashes N Dust for fans of YG, Tech N9ne, Brotha Lynch Hung, Problem, and King Iso.

4. Black God White Devil by Heavy Metal Kings

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

Heavy Metal Kings is a rap duo consisting of Ill Bill and Vinnie Paz (of Jedi Mind Tricks). On Black God White Devil, both lyricists exhibit their inclination towards extra heavy, rhyme-laced, and sometimes “conspiracy-theory” studded content.

Black God White Devil features production from a wide array of producers, some of which include Apathy, Sunday, Vic Grimes, and Giallo Point. 

You can expect to hear mind-stimulating topical content that almost makes you obligated to pay attention to the music and the music alone. I would recommend listening to this body of work the way that most artists intend you to.

If you want to grasp the concept, it’ll be tough if you only use this as background music. Overall, Black God White Devil is a veteran display of some of the best elements of hardcore rap music. When you press play, be prepared for the unapologetic onslaught of lyricism. 

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Black God White Devil for fans of Jedi Mind Tricks, Run The Jewels, Sean Price, La Coka Nostra, and Wu Tang Clan. 

3. Karma by Dave East

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

New York native Dave East released Karma on November 24. This release came shortly after his Debut release titled Paranoia: A True Story. Karma is a full body of work that really showcases his lyrical talent and musical growth. Karma features strong production from 808 Mafia, Malley Raw, and Black Metaphor. 

The bass is heavy throughout the album and is best heard with a quality pair of headphones (adding an amp takes it to the next level). There’s different elements of this genre throughout the tape that even more peripheral fans can enjoy.

Overall, Dave East gave us more than enough music to last until his next release and Karma will stay in heavy rotation until that time comes. 

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend Karma for fans of Nas, RTJ, Schoolboy Q, and Kendrick Lamar. 

2. The Beautiful & Damned by G-Eazy

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

The Beautiful & Damned is G-Eazy’s 4th official full-length release. The Bay Area-native goes back and forth describing the “Gemini Complex” he identifies with throughout The Beautiful & Damned and makes reference to some of his older work.

The ups and downs of being immersed in the music industry seem to be a common theme that serves as the undercurrent of many artist’s music and he’s no exception. 

Overall, you’ll hear about a wide range of topics spanning addiction, the music industry, the come-up, and how growing up in Oakland shaped his personality and music. This one was also released the same day as Eminem’s Revival and far surpassed my personal expectations. 

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend The Beautiful & Damned for fans of IamSu, Big Sean, Too $hort, and Mistah F.A.B. 

1. RTJ 3 by Run The Jewels

Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017

RTJ 3 got it’s physical release at the top of the year (January 13) and was released at the very end of 2016 (digitally) but since it was such a good album (and they gave it out for free), I decided to include it at the number one spot on this list. Run The Jewels have been making waves since their inception. RTJ 3 is no exception.

You can expect to hear music topically centered on their perspective of the current political/cultural climate in America. Both Killer Mike and El-P each bring their own set of skills to the equation.

El-P supplies the instrumentals and long-form, tongue-twisting rhyme schemes. Killer Mike brings the political commentary, Atlanta cultural perspective, and impressively intricate flow patterns. It’s hard to say who outperforms who because as they’re going back and forth, line for line, it’s a pretty evenly-matched competitive landscape. RTJ 3 has politically-charged songs, upbeat party songs, offers perspective on life and death, and much more

Here’s a video that’ll give you a good idea of what to expect from RTJ 3:

Who Is This Recommended For?

I would recommend RTJ 3 for fans of past Run The Jewels releases, El-P solo projects/production, Killer Mike solo projects/collaborations, Rage Against The Machine, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar. If you collect vinyl, I’d recommend using this link to see the full track listing and LP in our vinyl section.

Which One Was YOUR Favorite?

I’m curious to see what projects you think should’ve made the Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2017 list. Which one from this Top 10 was your personal favorite? Why?

Feel free to share this list with your friends and other rap fans you know too, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the article! 

Thanks for stopping by and tuning in!

Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves. 

2 thoughts on “Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2017 – The Top 10 You Have To Listen To”

  1. Dope review Dom, im based in the UK so i don’t always get to listen to some of the less commercial hip hop artists overseas but its great you got some less known gems in here. I defo agree with Run the Jewels Album it’s sonically very well made and hasn’t conformed to the popular mumble rap that’s very popular right now. Whats your predictions for 2018?

    1. Thanks Deano, I appreciate it. 🙂 

      I hear you, sometimes certain albums aren’t released on the same day worldwide. With so many new artists constantly pumping out new music, it can be overwhelming to keep up with. 

      Run The Jewels has been making waves for a while now and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere anytime soon! I agree, everything from the production to the lyrical content and delivery is on point. 

      As for 2018, it’s still too early to say for sure but I would make the bet that at least one of the albums fully produced by Kanye will end up near the top. (Some of those including Kids See Ghosts, Nasir by Nas, Ye by Kanye, and Daytona from Pusha T.)

      This year there has already been a few that look like some great prospects, but we will have to wait and see. We will definitely be putting a Best Hip Hop Albums of 2018 list together in the future, so keep an eye out. 🙂

      Thanks for tuning in to check out the Best Hip Hop Albums of 2017, hope to see you here again!

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