Our 2021 Annual Report continues with our list of the year’s top 10 overlooked rap albums. As 2021 winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2021. You can find it all in one place here.
With the colossal amount of rap music that drops every single day of the year, it’s impossible to keep track of new hip-hop releases — let alone listen to them all. Here at Consequence, we’ve kept our favorite albums tucked in our back pockets all year for that very reason.
Containing the records we kept going back to long after their release dates, this list is meant to highlight projects that likely flew under the radar for the average fan. It’s tailor-made for that one friend who is constantly complaining about the state of rap music today. Drop it into the group chat and prove they’re just not looking in the right places.
Because there’s no shortage of fresh new acts and veterans alike who prove every day that hip-hop is only limited by the imagination and creativity of artists who come from all different kinds of backgrounds.
These are the best rap albums you may have missed in 2021, in alphabetical order.
— Eddie Fu
New Music Editor
Curren$y – Matching Rolexes
Curren$y is the hardest working man in hip-hop. We’re highlighting just one of the handful of albums he released this year. So why Matching Rolexes over the others? It’s the marriage of Curren$y and Kino Beats. One listen to “Yacht Notice,” and it’s clear Kino brings something different out of the New Orleans rapper.
Other than that, this isn’t touching any new territory for Spitta Andretti. He’s a lifestyle rapper putting his talents over lavish beats that fit the subject matter to a tee. The only question is whether he drops another project by the time this publishes and challenges this album’s position. — Marcus Shorter | Listen on Apple Music
DijahSB – Head Above the Waters
The best hip-hop bucks the system, whatever the system is at the time, and rebels. DijahSB’s Head Above the Waters paints a picture of a rebel with a cause, as they refuse labels or boxes, while detailing the struggles to get to this moment in time. Even when they’re being clever and nonchalant, DijahSB’s words hint at trials and tribulations we may never know.
Head Above is put together so well that we don’t need to know the ins and outs to empathize. The project is for anyone trying to survive, which, at last check, is pretty much all of us. There’s no better album to summarize 2021; a year where we were all just trying to stay afloat. DijahSB feels us and they have the cure for what ails us. — M.S.| Listen on Apple Music
Ka – A Martyr’s Reward
When’s the last time you took a trip to Brooklyn? Not important. All you need to know is the gentrified borough you hear about isn’t the one Ka inhabits. The Brownsville representer’s latest, A Martyr’s Reward, sounds like a Blaxploitation flick with a rapper attached — not in subject matter, but the actual music. Soulful while sparse, with nary a drum on any of its 13 songs, Ka’s laidback flow finds a home.
Ka’s gift is his observational eye, effortlessly putting words together to describe his neighborhood, family, childhood, Black history, and the violence that informs it all. Continuing his run of underappreciated and undervalued gems, if this is your first time hearing Ka’s name, A Martyr’s Reward is the perfect opportunity to give his music a listen. — M.S. | Listen on Apple Music
Mach-Hommy – Balens Cho (Hot Candles)
Mach Hommy’s whole thing is mystery. Balens Cho isn’t what one expects after earlier releases like Pray for Haiti (one of the best albums of 2021), as it’s less autobiographical and more about Mach remaking the world into a better place. “Self Luh” is a message we all need, and it doesn’t come off as corny or forced because the album builds to the moment.
Mach relays things he’s seen or wisdom given to him from others, and presses upon the importance of spreading that information. There’s an “each one, teach one” vibe, but steeped in East Coast beats and never forces itself upon the listener. It’s just Mach showing there’s not much he can’t do when it comes to music. — M.S. | Listen on Apple Music