Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2017 (The Final 4): Kendrick Lamar vs. Joey Bada$$

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Hi. We recently created AFH TV, Ambrosia For Heads’ streaming video service, because we believe real Hip-Hop deserves its own dedicated TV home, but we need your help to make it great. Please subscribe to AFH TV. It is only $1.99/month or $12/year, and already features some amazing content, but the best is yet to come. Thank you for all of your support.

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.

After the tournament began with 16 albums, only four remain: Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Big K.R.I.T.’s 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time , Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom and Joey Bada$$’s All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$. In the first semi-final contest, Big K.R.I.T.’s 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time and Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom are facing off, with Big K.R.I.T. currently holding a 17% lead. Now, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. takes on Joey Bada$$’ All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$. Which is the better album?

Both polls close at 12pm EST on January 1.

Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

To this point, Kendrick Lamar’s career has been a prototype for realizing one’s own magnitude and handling it with the utmost care. K-Dot knows he’s the certified Top Dawg in Rap, is fully cognizant of the weight of his words, and doesn’t take his reach lightly. He can single-handedly sway culture, and his mighty composure, paired with the self-applied pressure to manufacture a certain altitude of music that aligns with his vision of progress, is unparalleled. That’s what makes him King Kendrick. He sits alone on the throne, and DAMN. is our gratifying introduction to a disrobed and accessible royal. While DAMN. is brimming with spiritual layers, conflict, and imperfection, the social commentary is a bit mitigated in comparison to good kid, m.A.A.d city, and especially To Pimp A Butterfly, instead emphasizing a more sonically mellisonant experience. While boundaries are non-existent within Kendrick’s conceptions, and in this instance as an album that has relevance played both forwards and in reverse, DAMN. is his most classicist approach to Rap music. Authenticity is the foundation upon which DAMN. was built. Whether he’s elaborating on his insecurities (“PRIDE”), his heritage (“DNA”), feeling isolated (“FEEL”), the juxtaposition of libido and affection on adjacent tracks (“LUST” & “LOVE”), political and religious climates (“XXX”), or his his own accomplishments (“HUMBLE” & “GOD”), it’s his humanity that stays rooted throughout. DAMN. reveals Kendrick’s grand ambition in seeking out the parallels and contradictions of emotion and sorting through the sense of it all, a perpetual exploration that we all undergo. The album allures, evokes feeling, and reminds us that it’s not just Kendrick Lamar’s story, it’s all of ours. — Michael Blair

Released: April 14, 2017
Label: Top Dawg/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records
Guests: Rihanna, Zacari, U2
Producers: Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, 9th Wonder, Alchemist, Tae Beast, Terrace Martin, Bekon, BadBadNotGood, Cardo, DJ Dahi, Mike Will Made It, Sounwave, Greg Kurstin, James Blake, Ricci Riera, Kuk Harrell, Steve Lacy, Pluss, Teddy Walton, Yung Exclusive

Joey Bada$$ – ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$

Released on “4/7” as a sign of respect to the late Capital STEEZ, Joey Bada$$’ ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ overflows with references to his late Pro Era partner. Joey’s second studio album marches towards the future, while acknowledging the past. Take for instance the Boot Camp vibe of “Ring The Alarm” with Pro Era’s Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight, as well as Flatbush Zombies’ Meechy Darko. The mixtape-era cypher traditions carry on, in bigger studios with polished production. Joey apparently upped his involvement in the musical direction of the record, providing input to song arrangements. This level of authorship shows, even with a changing cast of producers. The music on A.A.B. is orchestral and intricate, shifting as it does from the charged-up ScHoolboy Q-assist on “Rockabye Baby,” to Joey’s most mainstream touchstone, “Devastated.” The Brooklyn MC raises the stakes in sound and message on his second LP. “Land Of The Free” sees Joey Bada$$ turn up the intensity while evoking his experience as “a Black spade spawn out the nebula.” At the top of the decade, Joey and STEEZ were skateboarding teens out to be heard in their New York City. In 2017, this star MC is rapping right in the face of “AmeriKKKa.” – Madeleine Byrne

Released: April 7, 2017
Label:
Pro Era/Cinematic Music Group
Guests: J. Cole, ScHoolboy Q, Styles P, Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution and Meechy Darko, Chronixx,
Producers: DJ Khalil, Kirk Knight, Statik Selektah, Like, Powers Pleasant, Chuck Strangers, 1-900, Jake Bowman

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