40 Best Rap Albums of 2017

Migos, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and more of the year in rhymes

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21 Savage, 'Issa Album'
29. 21 Savage, 'Issa Album'29/40

29. 21 Savage, 'Issa Album'

Atlanta's 21 Savage burst on the scene a couple of years ago as a sexy sociopath with a syrup-y drawl, playing out deadpan horror-movie scenes over intoxicatingly spooky low-end beats from go-to producer Metro Boomin. His debut major-label album cracks the shades on his sound, welcoming non-ATL producers (DJ Mustard, Jake One, "Magnolia" mastermind Pi'erre Bourne), but remains grim and trimmed of excess. "Dead People," a taut collaboration between Jake One and Southside, has a minimal boom that's both mechanical and warm, as 21 muses cleverly over the losses and gains he's experienced via the title's multiple meanings. Thematically, he's still issuing non-stop threats, but now it's to defend his money or newly notorious name, and at times, his voice bounces with newfound verve ("Famous," "Numb," "Bad Business"). But the definitive step forward is smash single "Bank Account," produced with a bare-bones delicacy by 21 himself, and featuring one of the year's most infectious choruses, comparing his millions to the number of shooters he's got protecting him. B.S.

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