Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2017 (Battle 7): JAY-Z vs. CyHi The Prynce

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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 Friday’s battle (December 22), 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. Yesterday’s match-up (December 23) between Brother Ali’s All The Beauty In This Whole Life and Oddisee’s The Iceberg remains too close to call, but the poll closes at 5pm.Today’s battle pits Brother Ali’s All The Beauty In This Whole Life against Oddisee’s The Iceberg. Today’s battle is a square-off between JAY-Z’s 4:44 and CyHi The Prynce’s No Dope On Sundays.

JAY-Z – 4:44

The line between JAY-Z the rapper and JAY-Z the mogul has seemed blurry for some time now. Hova has evolved into a corporate visionary in front of his admirers’ eyes with one of the richest portfolios, both in business and music catalog. The natural progression from lyricist to capitalist, for one as ambitious as JAY-Z, was inevitable. As focus shifts, unavoidably so does the product. Facing mixed reviews in recent years, a majority of JAY-Z’s enthusiasts seemed willing to chalk it up to simply that: A busy Jay. Even so, his layups are grander than most MC’s slam dunks. Here’s the thing though: A G.O.A.T.’s burning desire is to remain a G.O.A.T., in all facets. To a man with the World at his fingertips, there is no price on pride. Hov apparently heard the criticism and knew his musical legacy wasn’t complete. The mastery of words for a sensei of his stature never diminishes. Enter 4:44. Honest, personal, anguished, vulnerable, forthright, and sincere. This is the only Shawn Carter that made musical sense at this point in his career. It had to be all or nothing with the Maybach curtains fully drawn back. And boy did Jay deliver, plus some. Hov commences the entirely No-I.D.-produced album by admitting infidelity (“Kill JAY Z”), presenting racism in a new way (“The Story of O.J.”), and eventually reminiscing on his younger days in the projects (“Marcy Me”), and finally, his hopes for the future (“Legacy”). The line between JAY-Z the Hall Of Fame songwriter, and JAY-Z the enterprise was entirely unblurred for this much-needed chapter, and music is infinitely better because of it. — Michael Blair

Released: June 30, 2017
Label: Roc Nation
Guests: Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, Damian Marley, Gloria Carter
Producers: (self), No-I.D., James Blake, Dominic Maker

CyHi The Prynce – No Dope On Sundays

A dream realized is a powerful thing. A dream realized, yet neglected, is often paralyzing. Whether self-inflicted or out of the creator’s control, when aspirations fall on deaf ears, convincing oneself that prosperity is inaccessible is the easy route to ride. Musically, CyHi The Prynce was the epitome of a frustrated inventor, readily equipped with the tools but seemingly no platform on which to construct. Instead of relinquishing though, patience and preparedness took precedence, and No Dope On Sundays is the focused culmination of a polished MC finally preaching his gospel. The Stone Mountain, Georgia native utilizes the album title as a foundation for the stories told throughout it, seamlessly balancing his roots selling drugs (“Amen”) and trapping (“Get Yo Money”) with his spiritual maturation, preaching that even if you do dirt six days a week, pause one day to reflect and grow. Enlisting some grand features in Kanye West, Pusha T, ScHoolboy Q, and 2 Chainz, CyHi shines as the refined street parson. Clerical collar on display and rich in conviction, Cydel Young leads listeners on a divine journey through the concrete jungles and eventually into self-realization (“Closer”). While Nas rapped it 18 years ago, the following lyrics ring true nearly two decades later in both CyHi’s pilgrimage and within the influence of No Dope On Sundays: Much success to you even if you wish me the opposite, sooner or later, we’ll all see who the prophet is.” – Michael Blair

Released: November 17, 2017
Label: G.O.O.D. Music/Sony Records
Guests: Kanye West, Pusha T, ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Estelle, Jagged Edge, Ernestine Johnson, BJ The Chicago Kid, Travi$ Scott
Producers: The Olympicks, Edsclusive, Mark Byrd, Brandon Black, Lex Luger, Novel, Shawty Redd, HighDefRazjah, Young Love, Syk Sense, OZ, Anthony Kilhoffer, Nate & Charity, ThankGod4Cody, Free P, S1, Epikh Pro, Fr23sh, Jaggerwerks, Katherine Mills, Josh Simons, Charlie Heat

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