It’s been a pretty busy month for music, especially if you’re a hip hop fan. There were a lot of good albums that didn’t make the “best albums” list, such as Travis Scott’s Birds In The Trap and Ras Kass’ Intellectual Property. Also, Zach de la Rocha came out of nowhere with his first single in years, Radiohead released a new song that’s not on their most recent album, The Weeknd dropped two new pop singles, The Cool Kids reunited, and Meek Mill got his ass handed to him on another rap beef. None of this takes into account the various albums that dropped in the past 3 days, some of which will probably make next month’s list once I give them a proper listen.
For now, here are the 5 best albums that dropped this month.
Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine
(Album Of The Month)
If six years ago someone would have told me that I would enjoy a love album by Mac Miller, I would have laughed in their face. But here we are, and The Divine Feminine is one of Mac’s best projects to date. Mac’s not exactly invoking complex thoughts in his lyrics, the entire album relies on playful lust filled metaphors. Lines such as “I opened up your legs and go straight for your heart” are far from subtle. But it’s not the overall feel of the album that makes The Divine Feminine so smooth. The album’s production is superb with blends of Alt R&B and new school Hip Hop Jazz through out. The album’s lead single, Dang!, features Anderson .Paak and much like everything else he’s touched in 2016 is nothing short of gold. At only 10 tracks, Mac leaves the fillers on the cutting room floor and makes sure that every track is well worth a listen.
Stand out tracks: Dang!, Stay, We
Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me
Gainsville’s hardcore punk rockers return with their 7th album, Shape Shift With Me. Their last album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, brought them back a bit to original punk sound that they had deviated from and brings out their harder tracks in years. While that album was Laura Jane Grace’s triumphant coming out party after revealing herself as transgender in 2012, Shape Shift With Me is much more personal as she deals with heartbreak and relationships as a trans woman. They still manage to drop a few poppier tracks such as their single Crash, but most of the albums highlights bring a harder exterior that they haven’t displayed musically in a few albums. Norse Truth borders between rapping and spoken word over a pulsating bass line that brings out Grace’s anger in her growls. Shape Shift With Me has enough variety of material that will interest both old and new fans of Against Me!
Stand out tracks: 333, Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be, Norse Truth
Mick Jenkins – The Healing Component
I’ve been following Mick Jenkins’ career since The Water[s], and I can say that there’s not a lot of rappers that can provide the amount of depth this man has. But his two previous releases are but a shallow pool compared to The Healing Component. Let me say that this album is not easily accessible for the average listener, as it takes (at least for me) repeated listens to truly grasp the album as a whole. The overall theme of the album is love and religion, but Jenkins weaves in and out and spits lyrics that will go over a lot of peoples heads for over an hour. The entire album is practically poetry with complex flows. But it’s not only Mick that makes this album special, the production gives the listener countless layers to listen through. The Healing Component is mostly on a chilled out jazz vibe but it also has Mick at his most experimental. I can’t say this is Mick Jenkins’ best album but he does keep growing as an artist and at the end fans of previous albums will love this one just as much.
Stand out tracks: The Healing Component, Plugged, Communicate
Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
After dropping his acclaimed Cilvia Demo, fans have been waiting for new Isaiah material for over two years. In the meantime, the Chatanooga rapper has been dealing with addiction issues which led to the delay of his debut album, but these struggles also made The Sun’s Tirade what it is. Stuck In The Mud reflects back on his addiction and family separation, with Isaiah proclaiming he’s “grown and defenseless, long for my sister”; the second half of the song turns into a murky, screwed up instrumental where Isaiah repeatedly says “Pop a xanny, make your problems go away”. It’s not all negativity, Isaiah give his appreciation to the rap game on 4r Da Squaw, where he’s thankful for being able to pay his bills and take care of his son. Isaiah has an impressive ability to switch up and manipulate his flow, making every track stand out from the last. The album has a few guests which help Isaiah, but none match Kendrick Lamar’s show stealing verse on Wat’s Wrong, which might be the album’s best track. The Sun’s Tirade shows Isaiah’s maturity, growth, and willingness to overcome his addiction to serve a greater purpose.
Stand out tracks: 4r Da Squaw, Stuck In The Mud, Wat’s Wrong
St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Sea Of Noise
Soul music never died, and it’s as present as it ever was nowadays with a good amount of great bands that bring back the timeless sound. Sea of Noise takes a step forward and expands on their debut with lead singer Paul Janeway sounding as confident as ever. After a short gospel-like intro, the album takes off with the funky Flow With It. Tears In The Diamond finds Janeway invoking his inner Al Green in one of the finest vocal performances in the album. Janeway is not the only highlight of the album, as his band provides tight backdrops that effortlessly weave in gospel, soul, R&B, and funk. Sea of Noise proves that St. Paul & The Broken Bones will continue to be a staple of a new generation of talented soul musicians.
Stand out tracks: Flow With It, I’ll Be Your Woman, Tears In The Diamond