40 Best Rap Albums of 2017

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

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Vic Mensa, 'The Autobiography'
36. Vic Mensa, The Autobiography36/40

36. Vic Mensa, 'The Autobiography'

After years of cultivated yet deserved hype built off promising mixtapes and EPs, a florid personality, notable political activism and a Jay-Z co-sign, Vic Mensa arrives with his ambitiously named major-label debut, featuring an extensive, varied roster of friends and influences, including Weezer, Syd, Pharrell, Chief Keef, The-Dream, Saul Williams and executive producer/Kanye whisperer No ID. Following in the path of Chance the Rapper, the MC wants to uplift damn near everybody – his Chicago home, family, label (Roc Nation), etc. – but with a told-you-so edge ("Tootin' my own horn like Coltrane"). Rapping, singing, chanting and emoting like a punk-rock striver, Mensa creates strikingly detailed big-screen confessionals over beats that synthesize his past explorations with trap, rap-rock, EDM and pop. The result is a winningly conscious free-for-all, with the would-be star sincerely sprawling toward his truth. B.S.

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