Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2017 (Battle 2): Rapsody vs. Vic Mensa

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, 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. The first battle was between Sean Price’s Imperius Rex and Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues, with Sean P’s album currently holding a 59% to 41% lead. Today’s battle pits Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom against her fellow Roc Nation member Vic Mensa’s The Autobiography.

Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom

As the adage goes, you are the company you keep. Aligning yourself with the proper team is vital, and a mutual vision of greatness between teammates is an indestructible power. Rapsody is a modern day musical model of fusing indisputable skill with an optimal circle of collaborators, and Laila’s Wisdom is the magnificent product of every moving part along the way. Make no mistake though, Rapsody’s intellect and lyrical dexterity are the captains of this ascending spaceship. The North Carolina MC covers subjects ranging from the confidence in her own abilities (“Power”), to the importance of men facing their emotions (“Chrome (Like Ooh)”), digesting her family’s pain and being a hopeful example for them (“Ridin”), her self-image (“Black & Ugly”), and the key to unlocking her love (“Knock On My Door”). She showcases a powerful voice laced with awareness and compassion, gracefully leaving it up to the listener to digest the wisdom presented. While Rapsody humbly tends to credit others with the knowledge gained, if the following lyric from “Nobody” can be an example, it would benefit us all to embrace what Marlanna Evans is saying: “Nobody knows if tomorrow is promised, live like it’s your last.” – Michael Blair

Released: September 22, 2017
Label: Jamla Records/Roc Nation
Guests: Kendrick Lamar, Lance Skiiiwalker, Anderson .Paak, Black Thought, Moonchild, BJ the Chicago Kid, Busta Rhymes, Musiq Soulchild, Gwen Bunn, Terrace Martin, Amber Navran
Producers: 9th Wonder, Nottz, Khrysis, Ka$h Don’t Make Beats, Eric G.

Vic Mensa – The Autobiography

Much of Vic Mensa’s major label LP debut The Autobiography is a wilful gestalt of musical genres: Arena Rock, Trap, Rap, and Soul. A straightforward Hip-Hop album this is not. See how the record highlights Mensa’s talent as a vocalist as much as an MC. Nor is this project modest in its ambitions. The blurring of genres is just one part of this. But, such boldness is something to celebrate. Particularly impressive is “Heaven On Earth,” a song that takes on the perspective of Mensa, his murdered friend, and then his friend’s killer. Interestingly, for an artist known for his progressive politics, The Autobiography doesn’t dwell on social issues. One track name-checks James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” but the explicitly political “We Could Be Free” is as much a plea for increased self-knowledge as a call to arms. This LP lives in a young-but-wise man’s world. Thematically, with its focus on first love, “Coffee & Cigarettes,” tells the story of the 17-year-old girl who broke Vic’s heart and how this has shaped his relationships since. The LP makes repeated references to ambition and focuses on teenage misdeeds such as hustling on the streets of the South Side. What shines through is an artist able to present deeply soulful music, while also demonstrating remarkable versatility and self-confidence.  – Madeleine Byrne

Released: July 28, 2017
Roc Nation/Capitol Records
Guests: Pusha T, Weezer, Syd, The-Dream, Chief Keef, Joey Purp, Pharrell Williams, Saul Williams, Ty Dolla $ign
Producers: (self), No I.D., Pharrell Williams, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, 1500 Or Nothin, DJ Dahi, Mike Dean, Om’Mas Keith, Papi Beatz, Smoko Ono, Carter Lang, Kosine