Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2017 (Battle 3): Talib Kweli vs. Joey Bada$$

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 two battles, Sean Price’s Imperius Rex and Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom emerged victorious. Today’s battle pits Talib Kweli’s Radio Silence against Joey Bada$$’ All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$.

Talib Kweli – Radio Silence

Talib Kweli is one of the few in Hip-Hop who can successfully involve Waka Flocka Flame (see: Trap-infused “Chips”) and Robert Glasper (see: the Roy Ayers-esque “Write At Home”) side by side on the same cohesive album. That’s what he’s done with Radio Silence. Kweli’s high-energy style and curiosity shine on his eighth solo outing. His bars still cut to hard issues, just like his crisp delivery does to beats. “All Of Us” begins with audio recorded at a Ferguson political rally. This song, one of the LP’s best, includes a standout verse from Jay Electronica, with both MCs providing an update on race relations supported by swooning vocals by long-time Kweli collaborator Yummy Bingham. The range of this record is kaleidoscopic, spanning love songs (“The One I Love,” featuring BJ The Chicago Kid), current news and social issues (“She’s My Hero”), and plenty more that escape easy categorization (“Traveling Light”). Even with its extensive guest-list, Radio Silence turns up the volume on the lyrical gifts and knack for album-making that defined Talib Kweli’s achievement in the first 10 years of his career. This album stands as perhaps his most ambitious, complete, and satisfying work to date. – Madeleine Byrne

Released: November 17, 2017
Javotti Media / 3D
Guests: Rick Ross, Jay Electronica, Waka Flocka Flame, Bilal, Robert Glasper, Anderson .Paak, BJ The Chicago Kid, Datcha, Bilal, Amber Coffman, Myka 9, Yummy Bingham
Producers: The Alchemist, Oh No, KAYTRANADA, Samuel Truth, Robert Glasper, J. Rhodes, J. LBS, Mr. Carmack, Abjo, Quincey Tones, Lord Quest


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
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

Stay up to date on the daily results.