10 Best Hip-Hop Albums Of 2016 (So Far)

2015 was an outstanding year for the genre. Can 2016 live-up to the hype?

Kanye West The Life Of Pablo
Good/Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella

As we edge closer to 2016’s midpoint, what better time to take a look at some of the standout releases that have made this another enjoyable and entertaining year in the hip-hop pantheon.

2015 was a banner year for the genre. Comfortably raps strongest of the 2010s, we’ll be talking about the likes of Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and Vince Staples’ “Summertime ‘06” for decades to come.

This year hasn’t quite produced on on such a level, but there’s still plenty of time, particularly with new releases from the likes of Run the Jewels, Tech N9ne, and Pusha T on the horizon.

From superstar celebrities to underground kings, lavish major-label albums to zero-budget mixtapes, here are the 10 best rap records of 2016 so far.

10. Kanye West - "The Life Of Pablo"

Kanye West The Life Of Pablo
Good/Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella

Yes, Kanye West is obnoxious. You can decide whether that hinders your enjoyment of his music or not, and yes, it’s entirely possible that his outrageous media persona now overshadows the reason we know him in the first place: his music.

Regardless, “The Life of Pablo” is a clear step forward from 2013’s “Yeezus”. Messier than a night on the lash with Pete Doherty, there are times when “TLoP” is chaotic, vulgar, and downright shambolic.

At it’s best, however, this album is quite brilliant. “Real Friends” and the Madlib-produced “No More Parties in L.A.” stand with the very best of Kanye’s discography. The gospel-infused “Ultralight Beam” opens TLoP with a groundswell of sunshine and positivity, while the Weeknd-assisted “FML” is bleak, raw, and compelling.

The inconsistencies are what let it down. “Facts” is particularly egregious: in perhaps the most unoriginal, trend-hopping track of his career, Yeezy sounds like he’s trying to go with the flow, rather than set it.

Take “Pablo” for what it is, separate the highs from the lows, accept that he’s never going to make another “College Dropout” and you’ll find an enjoyable record.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for eight years and is currently WhatCulture's Wrestling Channel Manager. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.