The  Blocland Department of Hip-Hop  has enjoyed many shrimp-fueled late nights bumpin’ this year’s freshest albums, mixtapes, “playlists,” etc. While 2017 has failed to give us a true “classic,” a whole crop of fresh faces have impressed with debuts that confidently embrace both the sounds of the past and promise a thrilling future for the genre. Here are five of our favorites so far…

 

Artist: BROCKHAMPTON

Location: Los Angeles

Album: SATURATION

A bunch of young creatives meet online through Kanye West fan forums and decide to move into a house together to pursue their artistic ambitions? No, I ain’t talkin’ bout the origins of Blocland; it’s how we ended up with this fabulous debut from alt-rap collective BROCKHAMPTON.

Kevin Abstract is the closest to a “star” in the group, but what’s missing in his solo work is the undeniable joy, craft, and youthful spunk we get from the BROCKHAMPTON collective. From the teeth-gnashing fury of “HEAT” (“I’ll break your neck so you can watch your back” is a pretty kick-ass lyric) to the sincere sweetness of mini-ballad “2PAC“, the instrumentals are dynamic but know when to make room for bars-on-bars-on-bars, like on standout mic-dropper “STAR.” Few collectives have managed a debut like this, where every track feels essential and everyone seems to be operating on the same stratospheric artistic level.

 

Artist: G Perico 

Location: Los Angeles

Album: All Blue

We’re probably not getting a YG album to soundtrack this summer, but G Perico is stepping in (among others) to keep carrying the torch of the G-funk renaissance. Perico plays into the West Coast tradition of gritty autobiographical nuggets played over summery synths and bass as deep as the Pacific (“I’ma take you all around my turf in a day / Show you how I live, bring you where I stay” are the first lyrics on the title track and proper opener). It’s a nearly guest-free affair (Sonny Digital jumps behind the mic for the hook of “Westside Digital“, with a deep gargle that more rappers need to jump on), so Perico’s slick delivery has to carry the day. And for a man with the confidence to rock the Jheri curl, that’s hardly an issue.

 

Artist: J Hus

Location: London

Album: Common Sense

Across the pond, Brits like J Hus are showing up Drake in the hip-hop-crossover game. The 21-year-old takes on the monumental task of incorporating dancehall, Afrobeat, grime, and a little trap, yet nothing about Common Sense comes off as labored or bloated. “Did You See” is an instant classic and dancehall crossover with a sense of effortlessness money can’t buy, while “Clartin” has Hus rapping with vitriol over the sound of grime and trap thrown into a blender. Somehow, even at 17 tracks, it all seems to work.

 

Artist: Wiley

Location: London

Album: Godfather

Seems like a rarity this year, but a long-established hip-hop star released an album that fuckin’ slays. Wiley, a grime legend, is a household name in the U.K. but is somehow still anonymous in the U.S. I guess grime has inexplicably failed to crossover (it is the accents?), but if Americans can’t fuck with “Can’t Go Wrong“, then there is no hope.

 

Artist: Freddie Gibbs

Location: Gary, Indiana

Album: You Only Live 2wice

We’ve already discussed this album in great detail. It’s still very good. Just check out our review from April. I need a nap.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3 (a little bloated but still essential RTJ)

Young Dolph – Gelato & Bulletproof (gritty Southern rap from potential future star)

Mike WiLL Made-It – Ransom 2 (I mean, of course it’s good; Mike Will made it)

Kodak Black – Painting Pictures (polarizing Florida rapper leading the “emo hip-hop” charge)

AD & Sorry Jaynari – Last of the ’80s (Rapper/producer contributing to the G-funk renaissance)

  • lobster man

    Great job man. I’m about a minute into that Brockhampton album and it’s already ridiculous. I’m still holding down that RTJ3 is rap album of the year but that may change by tomorrow.

    • DFrye

      It immediately changed. Wow Big Fish Theory is a stunner.

      Great fucking work Cooooooolin! I have slept on the deep hippity-hops this year. Valuable, this is.

      • Cooolin

        About to give Big Fish Theory my first listen. Ya’ll already have my expectations through the stratosphere.

    • Cooolin

      I think RTJ3 could have used a little trimming but it’ll still be one of my favorite hip-hop albums by year’s end, for sure. And so glad you’re liking Brockhampton … they’re already the Odd Future that never materialized.

  • raptor jesus

    Where are Migos? Colin, you said you were cool with them. WTF Happened?!?!

    • Doris Montgomery

      Really trying to get another suspension

    • Cooolin

      I looooove mi some Migos. But the Department’s intention here was not to highlight the obvious ones like Migos and Kendrick.

  • Doris Montgomery

    Why am I just learning about this now?

  • Blochead4real

    I’d like to think that all the departments at Blocland have the same “No hate-filled monsters” policy.

    • Cooolin

      Well …. SOMETIMES monsters.

  • Caleb Tripp

    Cooolin this is great. Where is your desk again? I never see you at the shrimp cooler.

    • Cooolin

      Unfortunately I’m still on a probationary period where I only get warm shrimp and I have to work from the bathroom. Third stall on the left if you want to say hi.

      • Doris Montgomery

        moving you to the 2nd stall on the left

        • Cooolin

          Is this an upgrade? AM I BEING PROMOTED?!

  • alteph.

    Woah, did I just stumble into some secret haven for regulars of the Stereogum comments section? This feels like an alternate universe or something. Have I even commented enough on Stereogum to be allowed here??

    • alteph.

      PS I won’t tell anyone I promise

      • Doris Montgomery

        Welcome! Blocland is no secret. Please inform your local electrician of our existence.