40 Best Rap Albums of 2016

Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Danny Brown and more in the year in rhymes

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YG, 'Still Brazy'

9. YG, 'Still Brazy'

YG's greatest strength is his directness. The Compton native doesn't cloak his message in metaphor and he is not given to elaborate wordplay. He is, however, great at getting his point across. "Fuck Donald Trump" isn't a very sophisticated or nuanced critique and it doesn't need to be – it's still popular music's most anthemic and galvanizing statement of dissent in 2016. YG's "call it like I see it" approach and a sound steeped in the funk- and synthesizer-slap traditions of Southern California are the defining characteristics of his sophomore album, Still Brazy. On "The Police Get Away With Murder" YG rails against racist law enforcement, on "Black & Brown" he and Chicano rapper Sad Boy Loko bridge the gap between their communities, and on "Gimme Got Shot" he makes it clear that envy could be hazardous to one's health. But for all the chest-puffing, YG still admits to feeling the sting of betrayal ("Who Shot Me") and the weight of paranoia ("Still Brazy"). The serviceable MC who gave us the happy-go-lucky "Toot It and Boot It" in 2010 has evolved into the type of gangsta rapper who can deliver both the personal and the political without breaking character or having it feel contrived. Ice Cube would be proud. T.A.

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