The 40 Best Rap Albums Of 2017

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Streaming changed things. 2017 was the year that rap once again reaffirmed its stranglehold on the collective imagination of America’s youth. Like the moment when Billboard first started using Soundscan and inadvertently proved the massive popularity of N.W.A, the streaming services of the world showed just how powerful this music remains. Rap dominated streaming charts. More »

Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? Isn’t Like Any Festival You’ll See In The USA

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These days, whenever all the big-name American festivals start to announce their lineups for the year, there’s inevitably a certain, noticeable same-ness. It’s a consequence of those festivals becoming more popular than at their inception, with festival-going becoming an overall more mainstream activity in America; it’s a consequence of the music industry’s contractions and … More »

Q&A: Princess Nokia On 1992 Deluxe, Working With Film, And The Power Of Reinvention

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“Hello, baby, how are you doing,” Princess Nokia greets me on the phone. Her voice is tender and genuine. She has been touring for the last year and a half and remains ridiculously busy, but in this rare free moment she’s chatting about 1992 Deluxe, Rough Trade’s expanded re-release of last year’s breakout mixtape 1992. More »

Princess Nokia sets up Hurricane Maria disaster relief fund, shares double video

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First thing I’d like to mention: true to form, America’s president is continuing the country’s rich legacy of providing terrible disaster relief, not to mention other shit that’s playing no small role in his reluctance to, you know, help American citizens. That said, luckily we have people like Destiny Frasqueri a.k.a. Princess Nokia, who has set up a Puerto Rico disaster relief fund. Donate here. And if you have the capital, don’t hesitate to check out other ways you can help.

Next thing, Princess Nokia has dropped a double video for “Bart Simpson” and “Green Line,” two tracks off last year’s wonderful 1992. Ever since I found this gem a couple years back, Princess Nokia has never disappointed, and this is no different. Watch the video below.

Finally, as we recently reported, Princess Nokia is going on tour (see dates below) and has released a deluxe edition of 1992 via Rough Trade Records. It includes eight new remastered tracks and is out November 10 on CD/vinyl. In the meantime, stream/purchase the digital version here.

Tour Dates:

09.28.17 – Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
09.29.17 – Brooklyn, NY – Villain
10.10.17 – Zargoza, ES – Sala Lopez
10.11.17 – Madrid, ES – Sala Mon Live
10.12.17 – Barcelona, ES – Razzmatazz
10.13.17 – Sevilla, ES – Monkey Week Festival
10.15.17 – Atlanta, GA – Afropunk Festival Atlanta
10.31.17 – Athens, GR – Gagarin
11.01.17 – Lausanne, CH – Le Romandie
11.03.17 – Liverpool, UK – Liverpool Music Week
11.04.17 – Paris, FR – Pitchfork Music Festival
11.06.17 – Brussels, BE – Botanique
11.07.17 – Stockholm, SE – Kraken
11.09.17 – Amsterdam, NL – Melkweg
11.10.17 – London, UK – Brixton Electric
11.11.17 – Aarhaus, BE – Voxhall
11.16.17 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze
11.18.17 – Philadelphia, PA – Coda
11.22.17 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile (2 shows)
11.23.17 – Vancouver, BC – Celebrities (2 shows)
11.24.17 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater
12.29.17 – Kaiwaka, NZ – Northern Bass Festival
12.30.17 – Lardner, AU – Beyond The Valley Festival
12.31.17 – Claremont, AU – Origin NYE
01.01.18 – Sydney, AU – Field Day Festival

1992 Deluxe tracklist:

01. Bart Simpson
02. Tomboy
03. Kitana
04. Brujas
05. Mine
06. Excellent
07. Saggy Denim ft. Wiki
08. Green Line
09. ABCs of New York *
10. Goth Kid *
11. Receipts *
12. G.O.A.T. *
13. Brick City *
14. Flava *
15. Different *
16. Chinese Slippers *

* deluxe-edition bonus tracks

Princess Nokia – “Bart Simpson / Green Line” Video

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Princess Nokia recently re-released her 2016 mixtape 1992 (under the name 1992 Deluxe) with a bunch of extra tracks, and today she’s shared a joint video for two songs from it, “Bart Simpson” and “Green Line.” The video places Nokia back in high school, where she reenacts feeling ostracized and finding a community of people … More »

Princess Nokia heroically cancels out 2017 by announcing 1992 Deluxe, shares North American tour dates

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Princess Nokia has long flitted like a Metallic Butterfly, refusing your attempts at categorization. Her Instagram is the photojournal of a sprite in constant motion, always exploring, never content to present in any particular way for too long. Throughout, she comes across as someone thrilled to be alive, here and now; and as such, it’s easy to root for her continued success.

And successful she’s been, to a degree, that success must have surprised even her. Berlin, where I live, is not generally a city enamored with hip-hop. In fact, I haven’t heard one of my friends get excited about the upcoming Vince Staples show. (I am though!) Yet when Princess Nokia came here to perform in April, it was the hottest ticket it town. It couldn’t be bought. (I tried!) Now, I can only imagine what kind of communitas was felt there in the audience that night. What’s clear, though, is that everyone — including us — feels empowered by this tiny Afro-Nuyorican’s body-positive messages.

Capitalizing on this widespread love for her and her hyper-confident, boisterous raps, she recently took to her Twitter to announce that Rough Trade will be releasing 1992 Deluxe on September 8. It features all the original 1992 tracks remastered, plus eight new ones, including newest single “G.O.A.T.” Stream it, then check out Princess Nokia’s upcoming North American tour dates down below.

Princess Nokia upcoming tour dates:

08.24.17 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
08.26.17 – Brooklyn, NY – Afropunk Festival
08.28.17 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
09.06.17 – Ljubljana, SI – Kino Siska
09.06.17 – Pula, HR – Outlook Festival
09.06.17 – Los Angeles, CA – Day N Night Festival
09.06.17 – Berlin, DE – Huxleys
09.14.17 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega
09.15.17 – Oslo, NO – Parkteatret
09.17.17 – Shanghai, CN – Concrete and Grass
10.10.17 – Zargoza, ES – Sala Lopez
10.11.17 – Madrid, ES – Sala Mon Live
10.12.17 – Barcelona, ES – Razzmatazz
10.13.17 – Sevilla, ES – Monkey Week Festival
10.15.17 – Atlanta, GA – Afropunk Festival Atlanta
10.31.17 – Athens, GR – Gagarin
11.01.17 – Lausanne, CH – Le Romandie
11.03.17 – Liverpool, UK – Liverpool Music Week
11.04.17 – Paris, FR – Pitchfork Music Festival
11.06.17 – Brussels, BE – Botanique
11.07.17 – Stockholm, SE – Kraken
11.09.17 – Amsterdam, NL – Melkweg
11.10.17 – London, UK – Brixton Electric
11.11.17 – Aarhaus, BE – Voxhall
11.16.17 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze
11.18.17 – Philadelphia, PA – Coda
11.22.17 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile (2 shows)
11.23.17 – Vancouver, BC – Celebrities (2 shows)
11.24.17 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater
12.29.17 – Kaiwaka, NZ – Northern Bass Festival
12.30.17 – Lardner, AU – Beyond The Valley Festival
12.31.17 – Claremont, AU – Origin NYE
01.01.18 – Sydney, AU – Field Day Festival

Maybe You’ll Miss Z-Ro After He’s Gone

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The voice is a lonely foghorn, a miles-deep burned-out baritone moan that seems to radiate the wisdom of hard-earned experience. It’s a beautiful voice, melodious and passionate and capable of bluesy catharsis or gospel-style uplift. And here’s what the owner of that voice uses it to express, over and over: “How y’all doing, but fuck … More »

Princess Nokia premieres new song “G.O.A.T.” with new music video (I promise I won’t spoil anything!!!)

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Concept cars, flat bill hats, gliding sub bass lines: it must be summer, and it must be a new Princess Nokia video!

That’s right, pool-partiers: with record temperatures across the country and wildfire warnings lighting up the Doppler radar like a Christmas tree, Princess Nokia still felt the need to turn up the heat by dropping a new music video for a song she’s calling “G.O.A.T.” Something about the swag with which she carries herself in the video tells me the title may stand for “greatest of all time,” but you can judge for yourself after you watch the video below.

Context-wise, Remember last year when Princess Nokia deigned to grace her kingdom with a mixtape titled 1992? I know I do, because: 1) it landed on our Favorite Rap Mixtapes column, our third-quarter favorites list, and our big Favorite Music Releases of 2017 feature (at #21), and 2) I was counting 100 emojis in my sleep for months. Well, this new jam is a lot like that, except this time it’s just the one song/music video combo. But c’mon, she’s royalty! She’s got other things to do!

Luckily, one of those “other things to do” includes being out on tour until October — which, if I know anything about album cycles, likely means more music from her is coming soon! Wait…what’s that? It’s called the “Princess Nokia 1992 Deluxe Summer Tour 2017”? Well, shit. Oh well, check out the live dates below the “G.O.A.T.” video anyway, but maybe check your local humidity levels before you get out there, so you’ll know how many of those little handheld misting fans and novelty beer hats to bring with you.

Princess Nokia surveys her domain 2017:

06.29.17 – Roskilde, DK – Roskilde Festival
06.30.17 – Toulouse, FR – Les Siestes Festival
07.01.17 – Tilburg, ND – Woo Hah Festival
07.02.17 – Brussels, BE – Couleurs Cafe
07.06.17 – Novi Sad, RS – Exit Festival
07.07.17 – Krakow, PL – Nowa Muzyka Festival
07.08.17 -Trencin, SK – Pahoda Festival
07.08.17 – Prague, CZ – Creepy Teepee
07.09.17 – Liege, BE – Les Ardentes Festival
07.12.17 – New York, NY – Central Park Summerstage
07.14.17 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge [Sold Out]
07.21.17 – San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine
07.22.17 – Los Angeles, CA – FYF
07.28.17 – Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground [Early]
07.28.17 – Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground [Late] [Sold Out]
08.11.17 – Malmo, SE – Malmo Festival
08.12.17 – London, UK – Sunfall Festival
08.13.17 – Helsinki, FN – Flow Festival
08.26.17 – Brooklyn, NY – Afropunk Festival
08.28.17 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
08.24.17 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
09.03.17 – Sao Paolo, BR – MIS Conference
09.06.17 – Ljubljana, RS – Kino Siska
09.07.17 – Pula, HR – Outlook Festival
09.10.17 – Los Angeles, CA – Day N Night
09.12.17 – Berlin, DE – Huxleys
09.14.17 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega
09.15.17 – Oslo, NO – Ingerbrigt
09.16.17 – Rotterdam, NL – BIRD
09.28.17 – Lawrence, KS – Granada Theatre
09.29.17 – Brooklyn, NY – Villain
10.10.17 – Zargoza, ES – Sala Lopez
10.11.17 – Madrid, ES – Ocho y Medio Club
10.12.17 – Barcelona, ES – Razzmatazz
10.13.17 – Seville, ES – Monkey Week
10.15.17 – Atlanta, GA – Afropunk Festival

Watch: Princess Nokia – “Kitana”

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Okay, fcuk Donald Trump to death 6.5 million times. The future is SO blessed to be graced with the younger ladies of this Earth. I can’t vouch for anywhere else, but from Princess Nokia’s hood currently, and these girls are THE BEST. And this exactly the reason “Kitana” has been my alarm since September. Having worked at a school in Harlem for a minute now, I’ve seen such matriarchal comradery that I’m delighted to see where the women of the world take humanity to the next level. It’s like: dudes have pretty much reached max capacity. Please stop.

I also like how true-to-life “Kitana” is visually; some lil sis showed me and the receptionist a video of two gals fighting at a basketball court up-up town, and the receptionist took me into the library and asked, “I need to know how to tell this child she smells.” Respectfully, she grabbed the kid a new shirt, some pads, and spray deodorant, closed the door, and I heard a muffled, “Don’t use too much of this.” For real, I’m dying to listen to Princess Nokia’s first full-length.

Column: Favorite Rap Mixtapes of September 2016

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With a daunting cascade of releases spewing from the likes of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, it can be difficult to keep up with the overbearing yet increasingly vital mixtape game. In this column, we aim to immerse ourselves in this hyper-prolific world and share our favorite releases each month. The focus will primarily be on rap mixtapes — loosely defined here as free (or sometimes free-to-stream) digital releases — but we’ll keep things loose enough to branch out if/when we feel it necessary. (Check out last month’s installment here.)


Adamn Killa + DP Beats – Mr. 650


Cushioning the sturdy drill delivery of his native Chicago with the same thermal bundle of fleece-lined synth drones and reverb insulation employed by Swedish tourmates/collaborators Yung Lean and Bladee, Adamn Killa’s Mr. 650 mixtape is a transatlantic affair. Longtime Chief Keef affiliate DP Beats is brought along for the voyage, packing a briefcase with 14 fittingly oceanic instrumentals that loft Adamn’s buoyant bars like gently rolling waves. Theirs is a chemistry not unlike the ionic bond that seamlessy fuses 21 Savage’s stoic stanzas with Metro Boomin’s ethereal soundscapes. Syllabically frugal, Adamn whispers gravelly hooks as if to avoid fracturing the delicate, wafer-thin arrangements provided by his producer. Mr. 650 is too tight, too catchy to work as an incidental study soundtrack, but it isn’t quite suited for backseat slam-dance sessions either. It cruises down its own lane late at night, watching Arby’s signs and blurred taillights pass by. It’s lowkey heat.


Children of the Corner – Standing in the Corner


Even from a geometric perspective, corners are intriguing objects — things happen in corners. You would know as much if you had spent some nights in a big city’s intersection. Then again, nothing approximates the feeling of complete stasis as a summer afternoon hanging out with your buddies in a suburban bend. Such a paradoxical relationship with time is central to Children of the Corner’s Standing in the Corner mixtape. While proudly rooted in the act’s native Crown Heights, from a chronological angle, the tape is a collection of songs unbound to a specific period yet with the discernible core of a rich soulfulness that manages to accommodate chopped-up experiments, superfly impulses, the deep flow you’d expect in a 1990s East Coast album, the ice cool soundtracks of Lalo Schiffrin, some late-2000s indie, and its 1980s-cassette aspirations, even a warped salsa signposting Children of the Corner’s nuyorican heritage. Come to think of it, precisely the things one would hear and grow to love if they got his sentimental education from the transistors blasting in a Brooklynite corner. Evoking that experience is Standing in the Corner’s biggest triumph.


DJ Surrup – #BarcelonaBrazy3


It’s safe to say that #BarcelonaBrazy3 is not like the other mixtapes on this list. In fact, it has much more in common with the compilations you’ll find in the Mix Tapes section of this website. So why is it here? Because despite DJ Surrup’s insistence that “Hip Hop is on the backburner this time,” in his hands, even transitions from New Order’s “Lonesome Tonight” to Hole’s “Violet” to She Wants Revenge’s “Tear You Apart” somehow come off as unapologetically fresh hip-hop fundamentals. Maybe it’s the beatmatching that’s so masterful it plays like chord theory, or maybe it’s an eclectic ear that empowers him to blend “Passing Me By” with 90s house without it sounding like Girl Talk gimmickry, but whatever it is, you’ll find cause to let this 56:40 continuous mix loop. One more thing: BB3 isn’t the only DJ Surrup mixtape that could’ve justifiably made this list; his Konnichiwa (Slowed + Throwed Remix) is not only arguably better than the original, but also reaffirms that Surrup is one of the most innovative and talented Screw-sciples doing it.


Ralo – Diary Of The Streets II


Ralo is a rising street rapper from Atlanta who has a couple claims to fame: his rapping voice is really, really high, maybe even higher than frequent collaborator Young Thug, and he grew up in the same East Atlanta neighborhood that gave the world Future and Young Scooter. On the second installment of his Diary Of The Streets series, Ralo lets his world-weary old soul shine through, even while he’s spitting hacked-up, doubled-down flows. In that sense, he splits the difference between Young Scooter’s dead-earnest and plainspoken street stories and Thugger’s manic flows. Tracks like Chophouse-produced “Showers In The Dark” and “This One For” showcase an artist who, like Kevin Gates, is willing to draw closer to the story of his own failures even while he’s bragging, and in doing so makes for a much more compelling listen.


Ras G – Azla Sounds Volume 1


Azla Sounds Volume 1 is a beat tape by L.A. producer Ras G, made for a South Central L.A. vegan Ethiopian restaurant called Azla Vegan. The track “sïddïst” ends with a sample of founder Nesanet Abegaze speaking earnestly, with the familiar note of well-intentioned evangelism, about the restorative value of the food she serves. Like good food, Ras G’s music isn’t particularly fixated on any one texture, balancing piquancy with dull embrace. An adventure in nutrition, with a hint of cosmopolitan curiosity. Informed by cultural links to Ethiopia transcending the culinary ones, all of the beats on Azla Sounds flip, in a few inventive ways, Ethio-jazz and some traditional Ethiopian songs. “Flipping,” in this case, really means illuminating source materials as if elaborating on their undisclosed possibilities. Footwork resonances are strong on the aforementioned “sïddïst” as well as “sïmmïint,” while tracks like “hulätt,” “sost,” and “aratt” are built on the hazy sort of repetition that wouldn’t sound out of place on a BBF sequel. Tracks like “and” and “zät’äñ” incorporate longer samples, making this feel more like a mixtape, but in each case honoring an underheard classic in the proper way. Stick with Ras until “assïira sost” and he’ll hit you with (spoiler) the best “I Love Kanye” remix to date (/spoiler), and if you want more after that, here is an article documenting famous Ethio-jazz samples throughout hip-hop. This tape is surely one of the best executed efforts in that tradition.

Azla Sounds Volume 1 by Ras G by Azla Vegan x Ras G

Azla Sounds Volume 1 by Ras G by Azla Vegan x Ras G


Young Dolph – Rich Crack Baby


Young Dolph’s streak as one of the year’s most consistent rappers continues on Rich Crack Baby, yet another tenacious entry in his catalog that broadens his sonic boundaries in tandem. Dolph’s approach has always walked the line between laid-back and urgent, transitioning from one disposition to the other on any given string of syllables; it’s a flow that makes lines like “My OGs keep on telling me young nigga just stay focused, remember I used to pull up with 60 pounds in the FOCUS” resonate elements of blunt disclosure and whimsical wordplay alike. The latter notion is expanded upon by the addition of 2 Chainz’s witty lyrical gymnastics on “What Yo Life Like,” and while Dolph isn’t in dire need of outside pressure to keep his audible finesse engaging, he seems to be tacitly eyeing audiences beyond his devoted mixtape congregation in the long-run. It’s therefore intriguing to hear not only his companion in 2016 tease out a bit of eccentricity, but also a living legend in Gucci Mane push him into club territory on “Strippa” and T.I. appearing for tropical-tinged experimentation on “Foreva.” Sure, these sonic auditions aren’t nearly as polished as the colossal slabs of trap-rap that comprise King of Memphis or as potent en masse as the hyperconcentrated Bossed Up, but thrilling signs of progress they remain. Even if Dolph eventually proves to not be suited for quasi-crossover material in glossier settings, cuts like “Want It All” and the 21 Savage-assisted “150” assure he still has more than enough of his usual street-sourced sauce to spare on Rich Crack Baby.


Princess Nokia – 1992


Princess Nokia (a.k.a. Destiny Frasqueri) remains one of New York’s/rap’s best with 1992. The power and prowess that screams through the speakers on “Tomboy” or “Kitana” flick on the *I’m bout to mob* switch that few can reach, but Nokia’s wall-shaking boom pumps up the same blood that studies have concluded is best during the verses of Crime Mob’s Princess and Diamond on “Knuck If You Buck.” Even when 1992 slows down its blunt force energy on the latter half, Nokia remains in a haze of direct positivity exalted in self-confidence for her and anyone in need.


âtƒ – secret places


The can of Hawaiian Punch sweats into your palm. The sip leaves a tinny aftertaste. Bring secret places along for the ride on journeys to the cosmos’ public swimming pool like a couple 12-packs in your Rubbermaid cooler. Muzak drifts into the aether. The chlorinated water levitates a good six inches above the bottom of the pool’s tile surface, which will never be touched by a swimmer’s wondering toe. âtƒ is Vince Offer to these samples, man. Slap Chop ‘em up. Juice ‘em and ShamWow the surface. Leave ‘em on the countertop — dried, smoked, and seasoned. Ship ‘em into cyberspace. Fall asleep in the folding chair.

secret places by âtƒ

secret places by âtƒ


Zeroh – 0 Emissions 4


If you haven’t been following the 0 Emissions mixtape series by Los Angeles-based Afrofuturist Zeroh, I blame myself. To be fair, I was late on these tapes too. And now, as I sit here listening to the fourth installment (almost a full month after its release), something keeps making me want to call it an “odds-and-ends” tape, but let’s chalk that up to untrained ears more than anything. Earlier today, I was thinking about how when one does something so great that it’s never been seen before, its initial spectators tend to devalue it, whether out of discombobulation or sheer ignorance of the creator’s process. Whenever ingenuity is executed effortlessly, it’s mistaken for simple trickery. This is that shit.

0 EMISSIONS 4 by zeroh

0 EMISSIONS 4 by zeroh