Here's a hot take that's really more of a lukewarm take: Summer music is the best music. Every summer has its share of great albums to listen to, and I'd hate for anyone to miss them. Just out of the goodness of my heart, here’s a list of this year’s can’t-miss hip-hop albums, as well as some great songs to add to your playlists.
"Black Panther" - Kendrick Lamar, Various Artists
Kendrick Lamar essentially came out with a bonus album along with the movie-inspired "Black Panther: The Album." Lamar executive-produced the album with Top Dawg, aka Anthony Tiffith. He was able to put most of TDE, as well as a few other incredible features, together on the album. The album works fairly well on its own, but in conjunction with the movie, it stands out as an incredible work. Songs like "All The Stars" ft. SZA, "Opps" ft. Vince Staples and Yugen Blakrok and "Paramedic!" ft. SOB X RBE are the some of the best off the album. Other cuts with names like Anderson .Paak, Schoolboy Q and 2 Chainz are also stellar.
"Harder Than Ever" - Lil Baby
Lil Baby’s album "Harder Than Ever" is one of the best so far this year. "Harder Than Ever" features one of the year’s best songs, "Yes Indeed," with a great Drake feature and the stupidly quotable line “Wah, wah, wah, b****, I’m Lil Baby.” The album also has good collaborations with fellow Young Thug protégé Gunna and a solid Lil Uzi Vert feature. Fair warning, I will call anything with Lil Uzi on it incredible.
"Kids See Ghosts" - Self-titled
As I’m writing this, "Kids See Ghosts" has only been out for two days, but I figure I’ve already listened to this 23-minute gem no less than 20 times. Despite my worry after "Ye," Kanye West and Kid Cudi have delivered an album that would have lived up to the hype had they released it ten years ago in their primes. The album features artwork from Takashi Murakami, the artist that did "Graduation" cover. Because of the album's compact length, all seven songs hit hard. "Feel The Love" and "Reborn" are personal favorites of mine, but I’ve had the whole album on repeat since it dropped.
"Care For Me" - Saba
"Care For Me," Chicago rapper Saba’s second album, has been one of the best all-around projects to come out this year so far. Saba displays his incredible storytelling across the full album, but especially on the track "PROM/KING." He also shows off his talent for a catchy song and hook on "LOGOUT", which features a good Chance the Rapper verse, too.
"Invasion of Privacy" - Cardi B
Cardi B’s debut, "Invasion of Privacy", is filled with songs that will be on repeat until it gets cold this fall. The highlights of the album are the two singles that Cardi had out before the album’s release, "Bodak Yellow" and "Bartier Cardi ft. 21 Savage", but the rest of the project doesn’t disappoint. The album has cuts like "Drip ft. Migos" and "Bickenhead" which stand out among the rest to me, and "I Like It" also came out with a music video at the end of May. While it’s not my favorite on the album, I expect to hear it everywhere for the foreseeable future.
"Praise The Lord (Da Shine)" - A$AP Rocky
"Praise The Lord (Da Shine)" is probably the best song off of A$AP Rocky’s album, which unfortunately got overshadowed by the Drake/Pusha T beef on its release. This song, like the album, shouldn’t be overlooked. The song features some great bars from Rocky and a hard hitting beat that pairs so perfectly with grime artist Skepta’s hook that it just sticks in your head.
"Shoota" - Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of an Uzi stan, but I did check with some other people to make sure that it’s not just me and this song really is that good. It seems like every time Lil Uzi and Playboi Carti link up we get some gold out of it, and "Shoota" is no exception. Uzi brings an incredible feature verse to start the song, and Carti finishes it in his almost minimalist style over a beat so hypnotic that you can just leave the song on repeat.
"Bubblin’" - Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak may be the most under-appreciated talent of this generation. His single, "Bubblin'", which will hopefully have an album following it later this year, just goes to prove .Paak’s rapping chops. He delivers a pair of crazy-good verses and a hook that captures the up-tempo vibe of the song perfectly. It isn’t out as I’m writing this, but stay on the lookout for an album from Anderson .Paak, because I have no doubt it will be one of the best of the year.
"Nice For What" - Drake
Drake may have suffered in the Pusha T beef, but that doesn’t loosen his grip on the charts. "Nice For What" is still an absolute hit from Drake, just like "God’s Plan" at the beginning of this year. The infectious song, which features Murda Beatz production and a bounce breakdown towards the end, just brings a smile to your face. What more can you ask for in a summer hit?
"Lucid Dreams" - Juice WRLD
Trap crooner Juice WRLD delivered his album this May with the standout song, "Lucid Dreams". For those unacquainted with Juice WRLD’s style, think Post Malone with a little bit more trap and a little more emo. That essence of Post Malone has me thinking that "Lucid Dreams" will likely do really well this summer if it catches on any more than it already has. Juice WRLD’s album, "Goodbye & Good Riddance", certainly features some misses in its long track listing, but "Lucid Dreams" has some staying power. Don’t be surprised to hear another Juice WRLD song or two this summer.