The 10 Best Rap Albums Of 2021 So Far

As 2021 quickly approaches its midpoint, it is tradition to evaluate the year’s best Hip-Hop albums—so far. So on the latest episode of Ambrosia For Heads‘ What’s The Headline podcast, we did just that.

As we did in deciding the best albums of 2020, the AFH team uses the platform to publicly discuss the best (embedded as video and audio below). In doing so, we debate their merits and agree on a definitive 10. Over 14 albums are presented and celebrated, including their themes, key tracks, guests, producers, and staying power. We also discuss our extensive weekly listening habits and how the taste reflected in these lists can sometimes challenge the historical coverage on Ambrosia For Heads.

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This list includes surprise collaboration albums, sequels, formal debut LPs, and even an upcoming album that we have had the opportunity to hear. What’s The Headline also revisits a 2020 album that has proven its power more than six months later.

Here are the 10 best Rap albums of 2021, so far (listed chronologically, according to release date—with the time codes posted):

Madlib – Sound Ancestors (22:00)

Benny The Butcher & Harry Fraud – The Plugs I Met 2 (15:30)

Armand Hammer & Alchemist – Haram (1:44:20)

Conway The Machine – La Maquina (58:36)

Khrysis – The Hour of Khrysis (34:20)

J. Cole – The Off-Season (48:40)

DMX – Exodus (1:11:11)

Skyzoo – All The Brilliant Things (1:18:50)

Your Old Droog – TIME (1:26:27)

Evidence – Unlearning, Vol. 1 (49:05)

Ambrosia For Heads readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline podcast. Additionally, What’s The Headline has recent interviews with Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Mobb Deep’s Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe—who detailed photographing the 1995 Source Awards—and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available wherever you stream your pods.

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#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads’ official playlist, featuring selections from all of the albums selected as well as those mentioned in the discussion: