Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2017 (Battle 5): Big K.R.I.T. vs. J.I.D.

We have our opinions on the best albums of 2017, but rather than simply list them, we thought it would be more interesting to hear what you, the readers, believe is the Best Rap Album of 2017. With that in mind, we decided to make our Best Rap Albums Of 2017 list a living breathing conversation, that would ultimately lead to you, the readers, choosing which album is the best of the year. Over the course of the next several days, we will pit albums against one another, battle style, and the winners will be determined by your votes.

We’ve chosen 15 albums that we think represented the best Hip-Hop of 2017. Inevitably, we left off some LPs that you believe should be included, so, last week, we also a had a wildcard round (with a write-in option) where readers picked the album they believed most deserved a spot on the list. That distinction went to Big K.R.I.T., whose 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, rounds out the top 16. See below for the full list.

Now, the bracket-style competition among the final 16 albums in consideration has begun. Each day, albums are facing off against one another. In each case, voting closes after 24 hours. We are going from the Sweet Sixteen to the Elite Eight to the Final Four to the Championship Finals, with one album emerging as the victor. In the first four battles, Sean Price’s Imperius Rex, Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom, Joey Bada$$’ All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ and Logic’s Everybody emerged victorious. Today’s battle pits the wild-card winner Big K.R.I.T. and his 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time against J.I.D and The Never Story.

Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time

Two of 2017’s more memorable Rap narratives urge listeners to trust the process and invest in themselves. Big K.R.I.T. transitioned from a major label rapper with back-to-back Top 5 album appearances to a creative who admittedly emptied his savings to make 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time. Now, more than any point in his career, the music is all his—and he’s generous about giving it out. Krizzle’s first album in three years acts as a double serving of more soul food. A conceptual visionary since his breakthrough mixtapes, this 2LP carefully separates the custom cars, table dances, and nights out from the reflective, exposed, and sometimes tortured soul across its two discs. The Big K.R.I.T. side of the double album is a celebration. He’s throwing “Confetti,” toasting and boasting, all while honoring Juvenile, UGK, Dungeon Family, and Bone Thugs. The heavier half of the 22 songs come on side 2. On the Justin Scott disc “Keep The devil Off” is a fervid charge against negativity, told with Southern Gothic imagery at an intersection of Rap, Gospel, and Funk. “The Price Of Fame” unpacks the disillusion the MC/producer has felt, and the toll a public career has taken on his joy. This gets followed by another lucid soliloquy in “Drinking Sessions.” K.R.I.T.’s Multi Alumni movement makes sense for an artist who spits as well as he makes beats. This double album is multi-faceted too in its refined ability to make a section for those nights out, and provide another for those examinations within. – Jake Paine

J.I.D. – The Never Story

The Never Story is what happens when self-assurance, hunger, and preparation meet opportunity. The glistening confidence of the 27-year-old J.I.D. is unmistakable throughout the 39-minute project, his first since joining J. Cole’s Dreamville label at the top of the year. So much so, that after a harmonious intro track, the first Rap lyrics emitted on the album are: “Anybody can see the kid got it.” The East-Atlanta native’s gumption forms upon a foundation of resourcefulness that he covers throughout The Never Story. With a nasal pitch and a profound grasp of rhyme schemes, J.I.D. transparently navigates getting kicked off his college football team and out of school (“General”), to rapping about his lamentable upbringing on the album’s powerhouse single (“NEVER”), to the ceaseless grind for funds (“EdEddnEddy”). Ultimately, it’s J.I.D.’s familiarly with life’s peril and his resilience in the face of it, that has him playing with house money in the game of Rap. A swift yet complete listen, The Never Story is a fearless lyrical tornado that sweeps through in mighty fashion, leaving no doubt whatsoever that the Spillage Village co-founder is a certified force to be reckoned with and that the kid does, in fact, got it. – Michael Blair

Released: March 10, 2017
Label: Dreamville/Interscope Records
Guests: EARTHGANG, Mereba, 6LACK
Producers: J. Cole, Sean McVerry, Latrell James, Oz the Additive, Christo, Childish Major, Hollywood JB, Tha Officialz, SMKA, The Imaginary Kids

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