2021 has been one of the best years in hip hop in recent memory.
Tyler, The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost was a moment: His performance of “Lumberjack” at the BET Awards 2021 — vintage aquamarine Maybach and all — was an instant classic that complimented the project’s genius.
Similarly, the entire hiphop field has been producing quality music. Between Vince Staples’ eponymous album, Isaiah Rashad’s sophomore effort and Lil Durk’s and Lil Baby’s The Voice of the Heros, it’s safe to say the lockdown last year put artists in their creative bag.
With big names like Nas, Big Sean, J. Cole and Kanye having already dropped and the expectation of Kendrick Lamar to follow, however, it’s easy to gloss over other albums equally noteworthy.
So, with the BET Hip Hop Awards underway, here’s a look at the albums and names you might have overlooked.
Off The Yak - Young M.A
Released May 21, Off The Yak, is Young M.A’s second official studio album following her debut, Herstory In The Making, in 2019.
The 11-track album echoes the same brown liquor-fueled vibes of her past work, with features from Rubi Rose on “Don Diva” and the Fivio Foreign on “Hello Baby” as standouts.
Make sure you don’t miss out.
Orange Print - Larry June
Larry June might not be on significant playlist circulations, laughing it up on late night television programs or plastered on billboards, but the 30-year-old San Francisco native is genuinely an underground gem with 19 underground projects and counting under his belt.
His latest, Orange Print, released June 11, is a smooth, groovy studio album offering free game on living your life best. With a pace and flow similar to south California rapper Dom Kennedy, Larry lays inspirational tracks like “Intercepted” featuring Money Man and “Wait on Me", that’s perfect for riding with your top down on a summer evening.
The Life of Pi'erre 5 - Pi'erre Bourne
“Yo! Yo Pi'erre, you wanna come out here?” has become one of the most iconic producer tags of all time.
As a former engineer for Epic Records and producer whose claim to fame was crafting hits for artists like 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, and Young Nudy, among others, it may be hard to see the 28-year old as a solo act, but he’s got the sauce and a dope album to show for it.
Released June 11, The Life of Pi’erre 5 is the fifth installment of the South Carolina native’s long-running ‘The Life of’ series.
Much like its predecessors, TLOP5 shows off Pi’erre’s knack for innovative production, with patterned melodies, 808s and synths you simply will not hear elsewhere. The album also shows Pi’erre’s ability to find pockets and flows with songs like “Couch.”
Pray for Haiti - Mach-Hommy
It’s not a crime to have not heard of Mach-Hommy. Since self-releasing his opus, Haitian Body Odor (HBO), in 2016, you can count on one hand how many interviews the Haitian transplant has done.
But don’t get it twisted. Mach-Hommy’s stamped.
Drake wasn’t shy about posting the Haitian rapper’s latest album on his story when it dropped and JAY-Z previously co-signed Mach-Hommy by releasing his Hard Lemonade project exclusively on TIDAL in August 2020.
With a style that heavily emphasizes lyrics and storytelling, Mach-Hommy’s music, as old-school hip-hop would say, “restores that feeling” to hip-hop and Pray for Haiti is no different.
Released May 21 and exclusively produced by Griselda’s Westside Gunn, the Newark rapper beats selection elicits a foggy, film-room, noir-like feel, offering a bird-eyes view of luxurious brunches (“Au Revoir”), bloodshed (“Folie Á Deux”), the story of his heritage (“Kriminel”)