A list ranking anything to do with Hip-Hop typically results in irrationally impassioned arguments (just ask the consistently controversial Brian “B. Dot” Miller). Regarding this list, all smoke can be directed toward Austin Williams, VIBE’s Senior Music Editor who ultimately chose the order in which these projects appear.
Before things heat up, though, let’s make one thing clear: The following rankings were deeply considered by someone who’s made a living off his critical opinion for the better part of a decade, but like all others you’ll read this time of year, they truly do not matter. The debates, the grandstanding, the indignant campaigning on behalf of your faves and ours; that’s all in good fun, but none of it is remotely important.
What is important about this list is it’s a celebration of the music that got us through another pandemic year that could have ended us all. If you’re a true music-lover, chances are at some point you enjoyed many of the 21 albums and EPs included below. Don’t worry about whether we crowned the one you enjoyed the most.
If the softer sides of Folarin II and Montero appealed to you as much as they appealed to R&B Reporter Mya Abraham, dig into the blurbs she wrote instead of fussing over which came first. If Westside Gunn’s HWH8 moved you the way it moved Editor-in-Chief Datwon Thomas, tag them both on Twitter and show some love. Whether it’s Hip-Hop Reporter Preezy Brown’s praise for Bo Jackson, Executive Editor Christine Imarenezor’s case for Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, or Staff Writer DeMicia Inman’s affection for Planet Her, these are authoritative opinions, but first and foremost they’re picks of passion. Don’t let yours make you look like an a**hole.
Here’s VIBE’s list of the 21 best Hip-Hop albums of 2021.