40 Best Rap Albums of 2017

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

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Don Trip and Starlito, 'Step Brothers Three'
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28. Don Trip & Starlito, 'Step Brothers 3'28/40

28. Don Trip and Starlito, 'Step Brothers Three'

When Tennessee MCs Don Trip and Starlito dropped their acclaimed first Step Brothers mixtape in 2011, it was assumed to be a one-off, just two major-label refugees trading bars and boundless personality. Their second installment in 2013 was just as captivating, emphasizing the duo's pensive side – "Caesar and Brutus," a cinematic tale of betrayal, was an underground hit. Step Brothers Three bridges the best of both worlds. On "Yeah 5x" and "Boomshakalaka," the synergy between their two distinctive voices – Starlito's got a deeper drawl, Trip a nasal rasp – is otherworldly, seemingly anticipating each other in an infinite call-and-response. A complex sort of duality rules their world: sometimes it's hero-villain, but mostly they're two sides of the same troubled coin, drawing parallel lines of ups and downs. The honesty is palpable, and they challenge each other to go deeper, to dig further and leave it all on the track. Don Trip sums up their relationship: "All I know is the truth, and I pour it all in my lines/Looking for more of my kind, Lito was all I could find." B.Y.

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