40 Best Rap Albums of 2017

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

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Tyler, the Creator, 'Flower Boy'
33. Tyler, The Creator, 'Flower Boy'33/40

33. Tyler, the Creator, 'Flower Boy'

Seven years ago, when Odd Future mania first swept the Internet, we were collectively transfixed by the crew's gravel-voiced ringleader, Tyler, the Creator. In the years since, Odd Future has disbanded and its members and affiliates have evolved into some of pop music's most important artists (see: Frank Ocean, Syd, Vince Staples). Tyler has evolved too; he's released three increasingly mature albums which have shown him growing as a man and a musician. But Flower Boy is the first true testament to his talent. Sonically and thematically, it's Tyler at his best – as a producer, composer, arranger and songwriter – and at his most sincere. "They said the loudest in the room is weak/That's what they assume, but I disagree/I say the loudest in the room is probably the loneliest in the room," he raps on the two-part stunner, "911/Mr. Lonely," which poignantly asserts the album's recurring theme: the price of success is isolation. He laments absent friends on "Boredom" and longs for a romantic partner on "See You Again," but ironically, Flower Boy reaches great heights because it's such a group effort. Tyler enlists Steve Lacy, Rex Orange County, Anna of the North, Corinne Bailey Rae, Frank Ocean and Estelle, using the array of voices to add texture to already lush instrumental arrangements. T.A.

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