It has been five years since the release of the iconic "Good Kid M.A.A.D. City," the debut album of Kendrick Lamar that has gone on to become a classic of the genre. To celebrate the phenomenal album, here are 12 of the best rap albums since 2012.
12. 4 Your Eyez Only, J Cole
Noted for not having any features, 4YEO was truly an underrated album. From religion, to love, to race, J Cole handled the topics with grace and eloquence, expressing his doubts and fears regarding life, among other sentiments. Underrated, especially considering the lack of features.
11. Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper
The mixtape that was integral to establishing Chance as a budding young rap star, this mixtape had a lot going for it, varying in what was discussed seemingly every song; love, the squalor and gun violence of Chicago, and, yes, acid. Fantastic production as well. An intriguing mixtape, to say the least.
10. Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown
Unusual. Erratic. Crazy. Just some of the words you could use to describe this album. Implied cries for help, downward spirals, and general discussions about the state the rapper was in. Combined with some interesting beats (some that stood in contrast to the song), it makes for an interesting listen. REALLY recommend “Really Doe.”
9. Old, Danny Brown
A bit more polished and watered down compared to his previous works, this album registers as a great album due to its portrayals of poverty, society, life in Detroit, and some other miscellaneous things, as well as some fantastic features and smooth production values. Great album.
8. We Got It from Here, Thank You 4 Your Service, A Tribe Called Quest
The timeless Tribe dropped a gem here, incorporating new talking points and issues into their high caliber lyricism and smooth, retro beats and instrumentals, echoing the times at which they were at their peak. Gentrification, racism, the next generation of rappers, the group reunites following the death of the legendary Phife Dawg to create a fantastic album, properly “passing the torch” to that next set of up and coming artists.
7. Cadillactica, Big K.R.I.T.
An unexpected hit, this 2014 album combines both southern/soul-influenced beats with consistently good lyrics. The album could be described as “conservative” relative to the rest of the genre as it is today but approaches contemporary rap with a bit of bravado and anger. K.R.I.T.’s capacity for telling stories manifests itself in tracks like Third Eye. All in all, a great album.
6. Still Brazy, YG
A modern rapper paying homage to one of the movements that help popularized rap, YG combines his own bravado and tales of life on Compton with beats reminiscent of the West Coast rappers of the '90s. Friendship, gangs, politics make appearances throughout. The antithesis of the great Good Kiid Maad City in many ways.
5. Pinata, Freddie Gibbs.
Wow. What an album. Even with the modern production of the legendary Madlib, Gibbs clearly maintains a connection with his hometown Gary, Indiana. The album is full of brutal realism and sincere, scary portrayals of life on the streets. Drugs. Crime. Bravado. Death. All he experienced or participated in as he embarked on his journey to attain success as a rapper. A really enthralling ride from start to finish.
4. DAMN, Kendrick Lamar
The most recent Kendrick Lamar release, it became arguably his most popular work. Pulsating, riveting beats combined with the brazen confidence that comes with being both the self-proclaimed and critically proclaimed king of the game, Kendrick does not disappoint. An album built on juxtapositions, Kendrick goes from love to lust, pride to humility, and so much more. Another gem by K-Dot.
3.Coloring Book, Chance The Rapper
The album that made the mainstream cognizant of the talents of the Chicagoan, this album treads a very, very thin line that stands between the secular and the religious, allowing them both to intermingle in ways unimaginable. The use of gospel choirs reinforces this, as he goes from immersing himself in nostalgia to praising the Lord with the slightest of ease.
2. To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar
Essentially artistic prose that was turned into a rap album. This album was a piece of art. Racism, racial inequality, being black in America, wealth, fame. There was so much discussed. From start to finish, the album takes you on a trip as K Dot expresses his sentiments regarding Americana and the world around him. Combine it with the artwork provided by Thundercat, Pharrell Williams, and Sufjan Stevens on the production end, and it is a special, riveting avant-garde jazz-rap album.
1. Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, Kendrick Lamar
What else? Legendary. Production values that are both reminiscent of the days of 'Pac and Dr. Dre while simultaneously embracing the modern day beats, a riveting album that tells a story of a night gone awry in the worst way. Peer pressure, life in Compton, gang violence, dreams of fame and success while hoping to make it out of the city. A landmark album. One of hip hop's best. What more is there to say about it?