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The F.U.N.K 2017 End Of Year Lists Part 2 - Hip Hop

Strange U
Like metal, it's been a hell of a year for hip hop fans, perhaps one of the best in my 35 years of being a rap fan. In such a year, the usual caveats apply doubly - I will have forgot/missed a ton of stuff and if I forgot YOUR favourite rapper it's probably because I've not heard it - leave me a link in the comments please. A couple of thoughts btw.

Much as a distinction needs drawing 'tween music (which is always fine) and music CULTURE (which is frequently fucked) a distinction needs drawing between hip hop FANS and hip hop LISTENERS. 

As a hip hop fan, digging is an essential prerequisite and a constant activity. The internet has made this an endless task, and a riot of new music has come my way this year via bandcamp, twitter, facebook, and blogs like Suspect Packages. It is endless. It's been an amazing year,

As a hip hop listener you might go on Datpiff/HotNewHipHop every now and then and believe places like Pitchfork/Noisey etc when they tell you what couple of hip hop albums you might need to safely check your eclecticism off for the year. As a hip hop listener you might also moan about autotune and frequently say that rap is 'dying'. You're a fucking idiot but do carry on, whatever gets you thru the night.

As a hip hop fan you're amused by the endless beefs/bullshit of the mainstream but you really couldn't give a fuck either way with most of the bunkum that WorldStar/Bossip rotate. Yes it's tres amusant but if you spend longer than a minute a day digesting this bullshit you're wasting your time.

As a hip hop listener you think any rapper with more than a few thousand youtube hits or twitter followers is a legend/G.O.A.T. You will then read a billion comments under a mediocre mixtape saying that it's 'str8 flame-emoji' and actually believe them. 

As a hip hop fan such debates are utterly pointless cos they take time away from listening to what is NEW - the amount of 'fiyah' comments is actually for you a useful index of exactly what you should be ignoring. 

Crucially in 2018 can hip hop fans PLEEEEAAASE STOP giving a FUCK about what hip hop listeners think? If twats like shit, let that relationship carry on, you really shouldn't give a monkeys. It's fundamentally the passage of money from arsehole to arsehole so who gives a fuck? So in 2018 I don't want to hear any fucker moan about hip hop, or moan about the culture or moan about hip hop 'fans' or moan about autotune, or moan about what rap has 'forgotten'. 

Fundamentally, if you think hip hop is dead, if you can't apprehend that 2017 was a stunning year for rap you have STOPPED LISTENING. Enjoy your smuggery but don't expect hip hop fans to join in with your dilettante dipshittedness. 

Anyhoo, here's what I've dug in hip hop this year incl. a couple of late-breakers from the end of December 2016 that didn't make the cut in last year's round-up. Quotes are from reviews in DJ Magazine and Wire magazine. As with the metal list it's in no order other than alphabetical but IF PUSHED to choose a fave, it'd be Strange U, closely followed by Quelle Chris. 

Alchemist X Mach Hommy 
Brand Name 
 Brand Name' is the latest in a string of 7" vinyl releases appropriately titled 'Craft Singles'. They're all fuego. Get in early."

Disasterpiece EP
(Blah Records)
possibly as far-out fucked as Lee has got since the days of 'Tourettes Camp' . . . monged out on Fentalyn and gurgling gibberish-gospel like they've seen the light in the sirens of the Black Maria that's come to take them away

Die Berlin Dateien
(Village Live Records)

German-language vocals add an abstract narrative that adds to the dreamy dystopian feel over the startling sixteen tracks here. With this, Remulak ‘Ea’srth’ and Gas-Lab’s ‘Fusion’,  Village Live are shaping up to be one of the South Coast’s most intriguing propositions in 2017

Babylon Dead

2000 BD
(Real Life Drama) 
  a hole in the head devoutly to be wished. Thrilling, hostile, dread music

Benny ft. Westside Gunn & Conway
oozing thick analogue-synth lick so damn Radiophonic you can almost hear Delia nodding her head, the beat lunging with Codeine-slowness, Conway absolutely dominating the track - that Buffalo dungeon is getting no less dank.


Fly Shit 
 spice-smokin’ high-rise doom and braggadocio mashed against loops and beats that sit in a unique space between old-skool grit at 16 rpm and nu-skool electronics vandalised to the point of groggy obscurity. Utterly unmissable

Black Josh 

a perfectly self-contained half-hour transmission of  red-eyed radginess in which the contrast ‘tween the speed of thought and the spectral pace of the tracks works a treat. Uneasy listening par-excellence.

Chairman Maf
Alcoholic Soul
11-track suite of lush and gritty hip-hop sampladelic soundscapes, that same rugged-yet-spacey vibe of an Alchemist production

Cheif Keef 
Two Oh One Seven 

resonant with stoned menace. Expansive and cumulatively deranging, Two Zero One Seven is almost like a whole new low-end theory for an ever-darkening reality. Sup deep

Confucious MC
The Artform
(YNR Productions) 

controlled, subtle, absolutely disinterested in the normal notions of identity and intent that hidebound so much UK rap

More Steroids

Westside Gunn
Hitler Wears Hermes V
(both Griselda)
Get everything you can from these psychopaths before bigger labels move in and sanitise them. Essential

Cult Mountain
Brink/Life Is So Hard 
(Cult Mountain)
"The chorus You think I give a fuck? You are sadly mistaken my friend" is one of the catchiest of the summer already. Absolutely fucking essential like EVERYTHING from Cult Mountain. Hoover this up.

Da Flyy Hooligan
Fucc Ya Life Praise Mine EP
(Gourmet Deluxxx)
(22 Entertainment)
  rewinds are essential just to wrap your brain around all the tangents that DFH bullets himself down. A total blast.

Datkid & Bailey Brown 
Teeth Ledger 
(Split Prophets)

It's that PURE... CRUD/ YOU'RE JUST A DIV". Datkid is one of SP’s most compelling bar-spitters and here he hooks up with Bailey Brown who provides gorgeously downered soundscapes thoughout . . . God bless Split Prophets for blessing us with such mayhem so regularly.

(Grand Garden)
cassette only, the kind of crepuscular, odd, time-sig fuckery you suspect Boards Of Canada would make if they were asked to create a hip hop album. You won’t even think about sellotaping over the holes. Superb and stopping the gap until Broke finally release that Deeflux album

(Bullshit Night Records) 

wintry Sun-Ra curlicues and Dilla-touched solar-dust blow through the beats here

Wamp 2 Dem
(No BS Music)
both in sound and narrative this is a dark, unapologetically bleak transmission of dankness, music that puts grey clouds and driving rain into your speaker-space

Happy PPL 
Things To Do IN Happy Land When Ur Dead 
(Cult Mountain) 

Truly menacing, genuinely unsettling, get it down your neck in dribbly lysergic quaffs, you waster

Hus Kingpin 
Cocaine Beach 
further into hardest-core east-coast graininess but with an older sense of gravitas and pacing.Get begging, or get hunting

Ill Move Sporadic X Big Toast 
You Are Not Special 
(Starch Records) 
a verbal showdown with the forces of gentrification and corporatisation stuffed with angry, hysterical rhymes and the kind of off-kilter, weird, raw beat-matrices you might associate with a Hus Kingpin or Westside Gunn. Get the album and go slap a hipster today.

Jam Baxter
Mansion 38
(High Focus) 

pulsates with lysergic neon luridness and simmering tension. Aces all.

Billy Green Is Dead 
(YNR Productions)
heavy lines that seem to blur the line between rapper and street-ranter, prophecy looking out to the horizon and inwards to the encroaching dankness.

Lando Chill
The Boy Who Spoke To The Wind
(Mello Music Group)

miles away from the more immediately accessible oddity of Quelle Chris or Oddissee, Lando Chill is in no mood to crossover . . . seek this out if you want something you've never heard before.

Self Made + Flying 
(Potent Funk) 
 Welcome back nutters.

Lil Simz 
Stillness In Wonderland 
even though the Mercurys and the Brits and the music press continue to pretend like Simz doesn’t exist, ANYONE interested in just how far out and far in British music can be in 2017 should have ‘Stillness’ spot-welded into their systems right now. A masterpiece from one of our most unheralded genii

The Ordinary Man
(Mello Music Group)
the magician eventually becomes disillusioned and bitter, blaming the world for not understanding his greatness.

Micall Parknsun 
Practicing Tag Team Moves 

great to hear Boot’s Dr.Zygote on the mix giving MP’s ever-engrossing flows some real push and power
Must Volkoff 
(Pang Productions)
brings together Australian and UK talent including Jehst, Chester P, Sonnyjim, Kosyne, Micall Parknsun, Confucious MC, Joker Starr under the Pang Productions banner . . . less like a compilation album, more like a single statement of intent. Superb.

Madison Washington
Code Switchin' EP
Facts 7" 
(Def Presse)
tight and heavy modal-jazz grooves akin to a vintage D.I.T.C production, and fascinating whorls of mind-lint from Ameer . . .  the beats hitting those same divine pleasure centers that the Son Of Sam album so thoroughly ravaged this year

Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs
Gems From The Equinox
(Soul Assassins Music)

 this is retro rap. But it’s a divinely addictive retroism, like doom-rock, and sometimes it can sound utterly fkn GLORIOUS. ‘Gems From The Equinox’ being a case in point 

The Mouse Outfit
It's Just Like That ft. Black Josh & TrueMendous
(The Mouse Outfit)
subtle and chilled but also laced with that little edge of tension that stops things being mere headnodic escapism and locates it firmly within the warp and weft of your day.


(SFDB Records)
About Nomad I wish I could tell you more, but even SFDB admit they 'only have an e-mail address' for him and have no idea who he is, or where he's at. It makes for a stealthy yet totally engrossing listen. Welcome back SFDB, we've missed you . . .

The Iceberg 
(Mello Music Group) 

 last year’s utterly divine ‘Alwasta’ set was proof that Brooklyn’s Oddissee was a lot less interested in underground appeal than he was in taking conscious rap overground - ‘The Iceberg’ doesn’t just crossover, it stakes out its own turf.

Open Mike Eagle
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
(Mello Music Group)

the true descendant of DC Basehead - Mike, like MMG, continues to absorb and progress every time he drops. Essential.

Oso X Bis X M-Brucky
Hella Splashings
(Harlem Spartans) 
black'n'white, grainy, rain-lashed

PsybaOptrix X Giallo Point 
Voynich Manuscript 
(Crate Division) 
hip hop accreted with crepuscular detail but not so grimy you can’t still nod your head and bliss out on the kosmische textures

Quelle Chris 
Being You Is Great, I Should Be You More Often
(Mello Music Group) 

one of the most riveting voices and visions in US hip hop this decade. Outsider-music that happens to be hip hop. My US rap album of the year.

Royce Da 5'9"
Bar Exam 4
(NA) I don't care. I can't resist his flow.

Smoovth & Giallo Point 
(LowTech Records) 
Alot of focus on his podna Hus Kingpin this year but lest we forget Smoovth  dropped this absolute gem in 2017 . . . latinate, spooky, delicious cameos throughout

Son Of Sam
Cinder Hill
(Tea Sea Records)
Son Of Sam are a live band who play hip-hop beats and loops, and on their new album 'Cinder Hill' they've created an absolute monster by sending their beats out to likely likeminds and finding a riot of talent to spit bars over their smoking grooves. Strap in cos 'Cinder Hill' is boss.

Strange U 
(High Focus)
thee most sublime album in the entire hip hop universe of 2017 which is some going. Stunning rhymes, astonishing production, my album of the year in ALL genres. By rights, next year's Mercury winner

Tesla's Ghost 
Stretch Lincolns 

what a unique set of textures and topics are touched upon here. . .  an album with no fear of exactly how utterly bizarre much of it sounds. Monstrously affecting, beautiful hip hop music

Verb T & Pitch 92
Good Evening
(High Focus)

Love the downbeat yet propulsive vibe of this — a record that almost seems to put a beer and a spliff in your hand and tells you to sit back and relax.

Ray Vendetta & Giallo Point 
Sins Of The Son
(Prestigious Recordings) 
doesn’t come in as if it’s going to unleash WWIII on your earholes, rather unfolds with subtlety and grace over 14 tracks that collate memoir, flashbacks, introspection and prophesy. Long-awaited and absolutely worth the wait.

Upfront MC 
(Split Prophets) 

Strung-out yet sharp as a Stanley-blade.

Vic Spencer X Big Ghost Ltd
The Ghost Of Living 
Great sonics from Big Ghost, crisp murkage shot through with a real vintage jazzy tone and Vic spends much of the LP infuriating any other rapper within earshot. Cop it as soon as you can.

Billy Woods
Known Unknowns
(Backwoodz Studioz)
Fuck lower-case band/artist names but this is defiantly underground, spontaneous, whacked-out and utterly compelling about the weed-toking fuzzy repetition of all our days


  1. ok this list is gonna keep me busy for fkn aaages
    I'd throw in Milo's "Who Told You To Think??!!" for your consideration

  2. What are your thoughts on JPEGMAFIA?

    1. enjoyed them this year - reviewed them for Wire.

  3. Noticed you'd mentioned Alchemist and Mach-Hommy, but wondered if you'd heard Mach Hommy's album with Knxwledge? One of my records of the year.

    1. Dammit - another one that slipped through the cracks of this old man's memory! Yr right, brilliant album.

  4. We dropped our first waayy back in '06...played catch up in '17...

    ....Start decide...

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  8. Nice list!
    You come across these guys?


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