40 Best Rap Albums of 2017

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

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Jonwayne, 'Rap Album Two'
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35. Jonwayne, 'Rap Album Two'35/40

35. Jonwayne, 'Rap Album Two'

Rap Album Two is a major leap forward for Jonwayne, a Los Angeles beat scene veteran who has long insisted his lyrical talents are equivalent to his top-shelf production skills. But it took bottoming out and going to rehab to add a deeper honesty and meaning to his clever cipher raps. In haunting, spiritual terms, he discusses his emergence from an alcoholic abyss. With introspective, deadpan approach, he gives tracks like "Human Condition" and "City Lights" a melancholic yearning. He pushes aside an ex-friend on "Paper" with hurtful gibes; even jokey moments like "Live from the Fuck You" have a cutting quality. In short, Rap Album Two is the work of a "man who has traveled through these sands in the hourglass." And while Jonwayne's seriousness can be suffocating, it feels necessary to understand his working class hip-hop struggle. M.R.

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