40 Best Rap Albums of 2017

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

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Kodak Black, 'Painting Pictures'
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26. Future, 'Future'27/40

27. Kodak Black, 'Painting Pictures'

Though Kodak Black is certainly problematic – the 20-year-old Florida rapper has pleaded no contest to arrests for robbery and battery, and he's been indicted this year on charges of sexual assault against a teenage girl – he's also a talent with a hit single and a compelling album. Painting Pictures is a wild ride through the contradictory psyche of a self-destructive young man who is experienced beyond his years. Whether he's talking about the power dynamics of street life ("U Ain't Never") or making a vulnerable romantic plea ("Save You"), Kodak's passion always comes with a dash of poison. On "Side Nigga" he is the other man, begging for a commitment from an older woman who won't leave her boyfriend. But it's on his biggest hit, "Tunnel Vision" (which went to Number Six on the Hot 100), that Kodak's dilemma gets its most powerful depiction. As he raps, hums and spits in a circular, sing-song flow over somber Chilean guitar and pan flute, you feel the toxic mix of paranoia, expectation and disappointment swirling in his mind. T.A.

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