40 Best Rap Albums of 2017

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

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Meek Mill, 'Wins and Losses'
37. Meek Mill, 'Wins and Losses'37/40

37. Meek Mill, 'Wins and Losses'

Meek Mill's third major-label album opens with motivational speaker Eric Thomas declaring that, when it comes to dreams, you have to "see it when no one else sees it ... feel it when it's not tangible." It's an apt message for a particularly bleak chapter of Meek's life – he was released from house arrest in 2016, he broke up with Nicki Minaj in January of 2017 and now he's locked up again due to a disputed probation violation. 

Unsurprisingly, Wins and Losses brims with psychic pain, brightened only by tiny bits of pride that he's achieved a certain level of fame and financial security. "Fuck That Check Up" and "Ball Player" bang hard, but can't erase the dark reality contained in cold-eyed tracks like "Heavy Heart," "Young Black America" or "We Ball." Meek remains haunted by his past and this recent controversial incarceration – he was arrested, then cleared, yet still went to jail for violating parole – smacks his fans in the face with the harsh truth that maybe Meek's lyrical paranoia is justified. It's a unique album, uneasily freighted with dread. After chasing and reaching his rap dream, Meek realizes that success can't save him. It might be his most important statement yet. B.Y.

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