It’s almost the end of 2021 and of course, that means yearly round-ups and Top 10s. Since we’re all about about hip-hop here, we’ve decided to make a 10 must-listen hip-hop albums list but not like any other because this time, we’re focusing on hip-hop albums with badass vinyl records.
If you don’t own a hip-hop album on custom vinyl records, you might go “REALLY?! HIP-HOP VINYL?!” but they exist in abundance and they’re in fact quite awesome. Since the decline of CDs, vinyl is steadily becoming a must for hip-hop artists who want something physical to sell to their fans, especially since there are affordable services for vinyl pressing companies for hip hop musicians like UnifiedMFG.
Here are our top 10 hip-hop albums on vinyl for 2021:
#10 SLEAFORD MODS – ‘SPARE RIBS’
Witty, funny, and upbeat as they make social commentary about apathy, inequality, and hypocrisy, Spare Ribs is the album that can make you bob your head as you release your frustration, especially during the pandemic where economic divide is more apparent.
Commenting on the new album, Jason says, “’Our lives are expendable under most governments, secondary under a system of monetary rule. We are stock if you like, parts on a shelf for the purposes of profit, discarded at any moment if fabricated or non-fabricated crisis threatens productivity.”
#9 KOJAQUE – ‘TOWN’S DEAD’
Town’s Dead is everything you could ask for in a debut album. Kojaque has clearly given it all he’s got, exposing his emotional interior as he raps about love and his ruminations about late-stage capitalism and being “stuck” in Dublin. Definitely something worth having especially if you’re into colored vinyl.
#8 AESOP ROCK X BLOCKHEAD – ‘GARBOLOGY’
Made in the midst of the pandemic where Aesop’s inspiration was almost nil at one point, it’s surprising that this album is one of the best ones he’s released yet. He’s surely got out of the creative block. But maybe it’s also because he finally reunited with his longtime collaborator, Blockhead. Most of the best music by Aesop was produced by Blockhead after all. When two eccentrics join forces, they’re really bound to create art that we can only describe as “something else!” The vinyl artwork surely is a reflection of that.
#7 NAS – ‘KING DISEASE II’
No one who knows hip-hop doesn’t know Nas. He’s a prolific artist with a total of 14 albums since he started his career as “Nasty Nas” in 1989. In 1999, fans started to worry that his career was declining artistically because his albums started to become inconsistent and overtly-commercialized.
King Disease II is all about life, love, and loss. It also proves that Nas remains one of the kings of rap. It debuted at number-three on the US Billboard 200, becoming Nas’s highest-charting album in nine years. And to match the title of his album, he released vinyl in gold.
#6 LIL NAS X – ‘MONTERO’
In 2019, Lil Nas X caught everyone’s attention with his hit single Old Town Road. It was the longest-charting number-one song on Billboard Hot 100. People thought he was just a one-hit wonder but alas, he surprised us all yet again with Montero, which has a different feel than Old Town Road. “Montero” has explicit themes of homosexuality. It’s also reflected in the album artwork of his vinyl, which is a total piece of art. Montero debuted at the top of the Billboard 200. With this album, Lil Nas proved to the world that he wasn’t a star that shone bright and died, he just started.
#5 RAY BLK – ‘ACCESS DENIED’
Access Denied is the much-awaited debut album of Ray Blk (real name Rita Ekwere). It’s fierce and has the wisdom of a woman who’s been through tough times and has come out of it stronger. She’s brazen about how she covers themes about love, romance, and independence. This album is about prioritizing oneself and being badass. If you want something unfiltered and fearless, you gotta have this Access Denied vinyl. Treat it as a therapy as you get bouncing and singing along to the tunes in your living room.
#4 SAULT – ‘NINE’
Sault, the elusive UK band who prefers to remain anonymous but is rumored to consist of Inflo, Cleo Sol, and Eternal Lab Crush Kid Sister, has recently released their fifth album in just two years! The album has a dark, eerie feel to it, with sing-song cadences of children’s rhymes.
As controversial as the band itself, their album release was also elusive—it was available to buy and stream for 99 days only last June. Good thing they released it on vinyl. The album artwork for Nine is as plain as the last albums seven and five.
#3 GHETTS – ‘CONFLICT OF INTEREST’
The vinyl record itself doesn’t call too much attention (it’s just plain black) but it works well with the album artwork. After all, there’s nothing simple about the color black. The minimalist design also matches perfectly with the album. It’s not full of flair, but instead it’s more subtle and mellow. It doesn’t want to shock and call attention…nothing but good music. The album features a whole host of Ghetts’ comrades from across the musical spectrum including Ed Sheeran, Giggs, Emeli Sande, Dave, Hamzaa, Pa Salieu, Skepta , and more.
#2 DAVE – ‘WE’RE ALL ALONE IN THIS TOGETHER’
Dave is probably one of the best rappers in Britain right now and this album is proof of it. We’re All Alone in This Together debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, selling 74,000 units in the first week alone.
The album is a work of art. It’s loaded with social commentary and has themes about mental health and, of course, being black. It opens up with a mild tempo and goes a little more intense in the middle. This kind of album is definitely worth having in the vinyl format. It’s experiential and shouldn’t be consumed like junk food.
#1 LITTLE SIMZ – ‘SOMETIMES I MIGHT BE INTROVERT’
Loaded with angst, fury, and anxiety, this album is the modern experience of being Black and female at this particular point in time. It’s Little Simz’ most ambitious body of work to date. This badass vibe is reflected even in her album art. The vinyl is a combination of bold red and yellow which could indicate the fusion of optimism and rage. Artists nowadays are more bold in releasing vinyl especially because they can easily have short-run vinyl pressing as few as 100 units.