The joy of owning a vinyl record usually lies within the rhythmic crackle, the warm analog sound, the mixed beats and synths, and the iconic album artwork. The experience is amplified for hip-hop fans because rappers tend to spit fire with each verse. From genre-defining classics to underground gems, each album offers a distinct flavour.
But with countless classic and contemporary releases vying for your turntable, choosing the right albums can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Just like you would check online casino reviews before you visit one, buy a tech product, or subscribe to something new, here are some brief reviews of the top ten vinyl hip-hop/rap album releases worth buying and listening to.
2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)
Probably the best in J. Cole’s magnificent discography, 2014 Forest Hills Drive explores his journey from a young dreamer to a successful artist. His storytelling ability shines through on the album. Tracks like “03′ Adolescence” and “Wet Dreamz” are vivid narratives that draw listeners into his experiences.
This masterpiece has aged like fine wine, boasting a significant replay value, making it his best release. Cole himself said the album is a classic, and his favourite song off the album is, you guessed it, “Love Yourz”. Invest in this vinyl and unlock a new dimension of the music.
To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
This modern masterpiece by Kendrick Lamar explores social issues and personal struggles. The album isn’t just an album, it is a cultural phenomenon that demands active listening to comprehend the meaning behind Kendrick’s mastery of lyrics, seamless flow, and ability to tell a story.
The vinyl format enhances the complex instrumentation and powerful emotion. Don’t we all get goosebumps when hearing the powerful “Mortal Man” monologue followed by the infectious grooves of “King Kunta”?
Run The Jewels 3 (2016)
Run the Jewels’ third album is a hard-hitting and politically charged masterpiece. It does boast exceptional flows and bars on some of its tracks. El-P’s dark production and Killer Mike’s razor-sharp lyrics tackle social injustice, police brutality, and economic inequality.
Get your RTJ3 vinyl now and enjoy a carefully crafted rap manifesto that rallies the troops, holds all accountable, and topples oppression!
Migos’ CULTURE is a trap masterpiece that helped popularize the genre. The album features smooth, catchy beats and Migos’ signature triplet flow. Songs like “Bad and Boujee” featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “T- Shirt”, and “Slippery” with Gucci Mane turned out to be generational influencers. CULTURE is a guaranteed party starter and a must-have vinyl for trap music fans.
Invasion of Privacy (2018)
Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy, was quite a success cementing her place as one of the queens of hip-hop. The album features catchy singles like “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It,” as well as pensive tracks that showcase Cardi B’s rapping skills and personality.
This Grammy-winning album is a genre-bending masterpiece. Rightly so, it seamlessly blends hip-hop, soul, R&B, and some elements of rock. Tyler The Creator carefully crafts witty lyrics exploring love, heartbreak, and self-discovery themes. The album’s unique soundscapes and catchy melodies make it a true audio treat, especially on vinyl.
Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon (2020)
This posthumous release from the late Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke feels like conversing with the creator of “The Woo”. The album blends drill and melodic rap with infectious hooks and Pop Smoke’s distinctive raspy vocals, leaving a lasting impression.
The album received a lot of positive buzz, especially during the Covid pandemic. It has slowly evolved into a great listen and a testament to Pop Smoke’s potential and enduring legacy.
Without exploring Ye’s impact on the hip-hop world, this list wouldn’t be complete. His tenth studio Album, which drew inspiration from his late mom, is a masterpiece that marked a shift in his sound. It methodically incorporates gospel influences and experimental elements alongside traditional hip-hop.
This mixed bag of exploration pushed boundaries and proved that Kanye still got it in the game. The album featured renowned guest artists, including Jay-Z, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Lil Baby, Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Shenseea, and Playboi Carti.
Heroes & Villains (2022)
Enough of the rappers and singers. It’s time for the producers to blast the speakers! Acclaimed producer Metro Boomin takes center stage on “Heroes & Villains”, showcasing his diverse production skills.
He assembled the hip-hop Avengers, including Future, Young Thug, Travis Scott, and more for the masterpiece. The album seamlessly blends trap, pop, and R&B, leaving you wanting more of the “Metro Boomin want some more!” It ended 2023 at the top.
Talk of albums with replay value, and Utopia tops the list. Utopia isn’t just selling well physically, it’s also streaming strong, rivalling heavy hitters like Drake’s “For All The Dogs”.
We have big names like Beyoncé on “Delresto (Echoes)” and Drake on “Meltdown”, with SZA and Future appearing on the trance-inducing “Telekinesis”. La Flame delves into personal themes and reflections on fame, relationships, and life experiences in the album. Travis’s fans worldwide can get their hands on the standard black vinyl and immerse themselves in the vibrant world he creates.