Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2017 (Battle 6): Brother Ali vs. Oddisee

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 last battle, Big K.R.I.T.’s 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time joined Sean Price’s Imperius RexRapsody’s Laila’s WisdomJoey Bada$$’ All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ and Logic’s Everybody  in heading to the next round. Today’s battle pits Brother Ali’s All The Beauty In This Whole Life against Oddisee’s The Iceberg.

Brother Ali – All The Beauty In This Whole Life

From the intro “Pen To Paper,” Brother Ali’s All The Beauty In This Whole Life immediately catches listeners up after a four-year hiatus. The Twin Cities-based MC has made the kind of subversive Hip-Hop that’s landed him on watch-lists and cost him sponsorships. This is the same music that’s earned him cult praise. However, his soulful sixth album is a plea for love, optimism, and empowerment. “The Bitten Apple” bravely tackles porn addiction from both sides of the screen. Meanwhile “Dear Black Son” transforms a heartbreaking and disturbing conversation happening at many American tables, and transforms it into public art. Known to be a battle-ready, headstrong MC, Ali Newman harnesses his conviction for compassion in a new way. As a man, Brother Ali’s verses tell listeners how he’s been ostracized and profiled. As an MC, this Rhymesayer has admitted that he’s felt marginalized. Through all of that undeserved push-back, the melodic and fiery MC sees a better tomorrow. This album is a sincere reality check and a pick-me-up through some challenging times. – Jake Paine

Released: May 5, 2017
Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Guests: Amir Sulaiman, Sa-Roc, deM atlaS, Idris Phillips
Producer: Ant

Oddisee – The Iceberg

Oddisee follows up benchmark LP The Good Fight with another album smack dab in the American zeitgeist. The Iceberg finds MC/producer/musician Amir Mohamed el Khalifa looking within and outwardly for inspiration. The artist of Sudanese-Muslim descent provides moving accounts of the xenophobia and racism he felt long before Trump was elected (“NNGE”) and the pressures of measuring up to immigrant parents’ expectations while in a non-traditional career (“Rain Dance”). The listener gets to know Oddisee at a “Digging Deep” level, without the artist always focusing just on himself. He uses stories, both true and illustrative to enhance his seamless narrative. This album’s introspective themes balance with rich instrumentation and lush arrangements. The mind of the Diamond District co-founder is complex and so is his sound. Oddisee never stops rapping but created an album that somehow transcends genre. The Iceberg is a Hip-Hop mass that melts away to reveal rich layers of of Jazz, Soul, and splashes of House. From one of the genre’s most self-contained and low-key artists this body of work is tenacious, widely accessible, and ageless. This beautiful listen is by one, for all. – Jake Paine

Released: February 24, 2017
Label: Mellow Music Group
Producer: (self)
Guests: Toine, Olivier St. Louis

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