Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2017 (Battle 1): Sean Price vs. Wu-Tang Clan

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.I.T., whose 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, rounds out the top 16. See below for the full list.

Now, it’s time to commence the bracket-style competition among the final 16 albums in consideration. Each day, albums will face off against one another. In each case, voting will close after 24 hours. We will go from the Sweet Sixteen to the Elite Eight to the Final Four to the Championship Finals, with one album emerging as the victor. The first battle is between Sean Price’s Imperius Rex and Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues.

Sean Price – Imperius Rex

Imperius Rex is everything Heads already loved about Sean Price, and then some. Featuring vocals from those closest to the late MC, the album has as much heart as it does hard bars. Sean’s daughter opens the LP, which also includes rhymes from wife Bernadette. Heltah Skeltah partner Rock and much of the Boot Camp Clik represent lovely for the family affair, as well. The album stands in line with the rest of his catalog, characterized by aggressive raps with cutting humor. As always, Big Ruck bashes the soft Rap ethos with witty punchlines, unorthodox rhyme patterns, and his effortless flow (“Rap Professor”). These qualities are pronounced over cohesive beats from a cast of producers, and an impressive list of guests pay tribute to their fallen peer, too. “Clans & Cliks” fuses Wu-Tang Clan with Boot Camp, while super-villain DOOM and Sean offer their best collabo in “Negus.” Imperius Rex stands as both a touching farewell to one of Rap’s ultimate comeback players, and as a testament to P’s consistency. Sounding as if entirely recorded before his passing, the level of effort and care put into it are apparent, as is an element of crew love for a true original. – Elvin Sabla

Released: August 8, 2017
Label: Ruck Down Records/Duck Down Music
Guests: DOOM, Prodigy, Method Man, Raekwon, Buckshot, Smif-n-Wessun, Inspectah Deck, Rock, Styles P, Freeway, Bernadette Price, Shaun Price, Ruste Juxx, Rim P, Junior Reid, Ike Eyez, Vic Spencer, Foul Monday
Producers: Crummiebeats, Alchemist, Nottz, Harry Fraud, Stu Bangas, Marco Polo, DJ Skizz, 4th Disciple, Dan The Man, Marlon Colimon

Wu-Tang Clan – The Saga Continues

As the commotion surrounding Wu-Tang’s sole-copy sixth album subsides, the Clan steps forth with their best effort in years. This advance comes with shifts. Longtime affiliate Mathematics, using the same Ensoniq ASR 10 responsible for Wu’s earliest hits, replaces RZA at the boards (with The Abbott’s blessing and input). U-God sits out for the effort (amid an internal legal battle), while GZA swings through for the briefest of check-ins. Those are the facts, but they are far from excuses. The music itself tells a much happier tale. Extended family member Redman substitutes onto the field in Golden Arms’ place with highly capable hands on two exceptional singles (“People Say” and “Lesson Learn’d”), plus a chorus on “Hood Go Bang.” Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Raekwon, RZA, as well as Cappadonna hold court and hold the fort. Method Man, 11 years removed from his last true solo LP, is the one who puts this project on his back to steal the show. The Saga Continues ignores some of the self-contained rigidity of Clan albums while doubling down on the ruggedness. The Wu spirit is alive, and the bond is palpable after 25 years. A lawsuit, a pharma-bro, and a production shift cannot and will not hold back this collective. The Killa Bees can still sting on the mic, perhaps leaving their best mark since 2001’s Iron Flag.  – Bandini

Released: October 13
Label: 36 Chambers, LLC / eOne
Guests: Redman, Sean Price, Killah Priest, Chris Rivers, Streetlife, R-Mean, Hue Hef, Swnkah, Mzee Jones, Steven Latorre.
Producer: Mathematics

Here is the full list of Ambrosia For Heads’ Best Rap Albums of 2017 (in alphabetical order):

Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
Big Sean – I Decided
Brother Ali – All The Beauty In This Whole Life
CyHi The Prynce – No Dope On Sundays
Drake – More Life
J.I.D. – The Never Story
JAY-Z – 4:44
Joey Bada$$ – All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Logic – Everybody
Oddisee – The Iceberg
Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Sean Price – Imperius Rex
Talib Kweil – Radio Silence
Vic Mensa – The Autobiography
Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues