11 Best Rap Albums of June 2021
So much rap music comes out all the time, and especially with frequent surprise releases, it can be hard to keep track of it all. So, as a way to help keep up with all of it, here’s a roundup of the 11 rap albums from June 2021 that stood out to us most. We also probably still missed or haven't spent enough time with some great June rap albums that aren't on this list. What were some of your favorites of last month? Let us know in the comments, and read on for the list (unranked, in no particular order).
Tyler, the Creator - Call Me If You Get Lost
Tyler, the Creator is back with a new album, and it takes the melodic experimentation of IGOR to new places while also bringing back Tyler, the Rapper. You can read my first-impressions review of the album here.
Lil Baby & Lil Durk - The Voice of the Heroes
Quality Control/Wolfpack Global/Motown/Alamo
Lil Baby and Lil Durk are two of the biggest melodic sing-rappers around, and they've been frequent collaborators for a while, so it only makes sense that they put their heads together for a joint album. The Voice of the Heroes doesn't feel as monumental as either rapper's solo albums, but it reminds you that they know how to write enjoyable songs that sound effortless, and they've got enough chemistry to last for the album's 18 songs, even if it can feel a little long at times. Still, whatever gripes you may have about the album, it's hard to deny that Baby and Durk are two of the most talented voices in mainstream rap right now. Inevitably, moments of greatness shine through.
Polo G - Hall of Fame
Polo G may still be an unknown name to those who don't keep up with the fast-moving rap mainstream, but the 22-year-old, Chicago-bred rapper already feels like a vet. Hall of Fame is his third album in as many years, following his instant-breakthrough 2019 debut Die A Legend and 2020's The GOAT, and it's also his first album since his single "Rapstar" sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks straight. He'd been on the rise since day one, but Polo G wasn't really a rap star until "Rapstar," so even though Hall of Fame is Polo's third album, it's likely gonna be an introduction for many. It arrives with more eyes on Polo G than ever, and it delivers. As Polo promised in recent interviews, Hall of Fame has a little something for everyone. It's loaded with the kinds of somber, melancholic sing-rap songs that have become Polo G's trademark, but it's also got some more traditionally hard rap songs (like recent single "GNF [OKOKOK]" and "Clueless" which features the late Pop Smoke), danceable pop ("For the Love of New York" with Nicki Minaj), and more. And there are way more big-name guests on Hall of Fame than any previous Polo G album -- not just Nicki Minaj and Pop Smoke but also DaBaby, Rod Wave, Roddy Ricch, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, G Herbo, Lil Durk, and more -- and the guests only add to the album; they never over-crowd it or take away from Polo G's own distinct style. There's a nice amount of variety in the production too, with plenty of songs fueled by atmospheric electronics and a handful of others fueled by gently-plucked guitars. At a glance, Hall of Fame looks and sounds like a typical radio-rap album, but the deeper you dig, the more it feels like a Chicago drill version of intimate bedroom pop. It's a mournful, personal album with a lot of depth to it.
Backxwash - I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses
Ugly Hag Records
The highly prolific and fast-rising Canadian artist Backxwash follows her Polaris Prize-winning 2020 album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It with I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses, and the new album might be even more intense and confrontational than its predecessor. The album blurs the lines between rap, industrial, extreme metal and more, and it features a dream pop hook from Sad13, and it manages to seamlessly fuse elements of rap and rock without ever being "rap rock." It's easy to compare it to things like Death Grips and Yeezus and clipping (whose producers contributed to this album), but Backxwash is also a huge fan of bands like Liturgy and Code Orange, and not only did two Code Orange members contribute to this LP, but this is music that would appeal to fans of those bands too. It's also a little bit like a rap version of Lingua Ignota; both artists make music inspired by pain and they sound like they're either suffering from or inflicting pain while recording it. (When a fan tweeted out the idea of them collaborating, Backxwash said "I would love to get her on the next one!!!" and Lingua added, "We are gonna make something happen I feel it in me bones.") It's abrasive, visceral music and it leaves an impact that lingers even after the record stops.
MIKE - Disco!
Since 2017, MIKE's released at least one project a year and he just gets better and better with each one. On Disco!, he doesn't stray too far from his now-trademark style -- a hazy collage of samples (here entirely self-produced under his DJ Blackpower guise) and stream-of-consciousness rapping -- he just continues to hone in on what makes him one of the kings of NYC's underground, experimental rap scene. As a producer, MIKE's done some of his finest work yet on Disco!, and he continues to grow as a rapper as well. MIKE's subtle delivery can appear monotone at first, but it's actually full of personality, especially on Disco!, which is one of his warmest and brightest albums yet. It's still too psychedelic to ever qualify as party music, but it's fun music, and you can tell MIKE had fun making it; sometimes, you can almost hear him laughing and smiling in the vocal booth. Still, it's just as dense as his previous albums and still not "accessible" in the traditional sense. As ever, MIKE makes music for outsiders, and he remains increasingly good at it.
Bfb Da Packman - Fat N****s Need Love Too
The Lunch Crew Company
Bfb Da Packman was raised in Flint, Michigan, though he now lives in Houston, and he's spent the past couple years establishing himself as one of the most ridiculous, unforgettable, and funny voices to come out of the thriving Michigan rap scene. Following buzzed-about singles like "Free Joe Exotic," "Honey Pack," and "Fun Time," Packman now releases his proper debut album, featuring those songs and 15 other tracks. The album has guest appearances from fellow Michigan rappers like Sada Baby, Payroll Giovanni, and DDG (the latter of whom is on a newer remix of "Honey Pack," which also features Atlanta's Lil Yachty, who also put out his own mixtape showcasing the Michigan scene this year), as well as other big names like Wiz Khalifa, Coi Leray, Benny the Butcher, and Zack Fox. A few of them manage to steal the show (Benny, Coi, Sada), but for the most part it's all ears on Packman, who proves he can sound as outrageous as he did on "Free Joe Exotic" for the length of an entire album. As you'd expect if you heard the singles, Packman spends a lot of the album just seeing how ridiculous his punchlines can be, but he also gets serious, talking about the Flint water crisis and making political references multiple times. It's a good mix, and it suggests that Packman should have no trouble escaping whatever anyone tries to pigeonhole him into.
Sleepy Hallow - Still Sleep?
Sleepy Hallow emerged out of the Brooklyn drill scene as a frequent collaborator of one of the scene's leaders, Sheff G, and he continues to carve out his own lane. Picking up where last year's Sleepy For President left off, Still Sleep? largely eschews the tough sounds of Brooklyn drill in favor of something softer and more melodic. There's a song that prominently samples TLC's "No Scrubs" (called "Scrub"), and it's not the only song that finds Sleepy Hallow crooning over clean, gentle guitar. He's got some harder stuff on there too, but the soft songs are his secret weapons.
Mykki Blanco - Broken Dreams & Beauty Sleep
The progression and evolution of Mykki Blanco's career has been fascinating. They emerged in the early 2010s as part of the short-lived but widely-influential cloud rap subgenre, and they helped pave the way for a growing queer presence within the genre. At one point, they considered retirement, but instead went on to release their first full-length album, Mykki, in 2016. Mykki has popped up here and there since the release of that album, but they never actually got around to releasing a new project until now, five years later, with Broken Dreams & Beauty Sleep. The album was almost entirely produced by FaltyDl, an underground New York electronic musician whose own career took off around the same time as Mykki's, with some additional production from Hudson Mohawke and Physical Therapy. It also features some of the biggest guests to ever appear on a Mykki Blanco project: Blood Orange, Jamila Woods, Kari Faux, Big Freedia. And not unlike Blood Orange -- or recent albums from Tyler, the Creator and Solange -- Broken Dreams is a genre-blurring mix of rap, pop, R&B, funk, soul, electronics, psychedelia, and more. Sometimes it's warm and organic; other times it sounds built for the dance clubs that FaltyDL frequents. Sometimes it's fueled by lush singing, and other times by cold, hard rapping. It's a true post-genre experiment, and it's one that yields thrilling results and leaves you wanting more.
Blu & Sirplus - For Sale EP
Last year, West Coast rapper Blu released his third album with frequent collaborator Exile, the 20-song double album Miles. Blu is usually at his best with Exile on the beat, but today he just dropped a new EP entirely produced by one of Exile's protégés, Sirplus, and he's captured lightning in a bottle on this one too. "Sirplus is my guy," said Blu. "He is the newest member of the Dirty Science crew, and I could tell he had talent and skill. I knew I had to work with him." Sirplus' production is soulful and kinetic and maximalist, and Blu sounds fired-up over every single beat Sirplus gives him. It's a quick EP, and it very much leaves you wanting more. Guest appearances come from Nolan The Ninja, Johaz of Dag Savage, Scienze, Noveliss, PCH, ADaD, Sidewaalk Kal, Cashus King, and Eloh Kush.
Your Old Droog - TIME
Mongoloid Banks/Nature Sounds
The extremely prolific New York rapper Your Old Droog already released two albums with Tha God Fahim this year, and here's yet another new 15-song LP, with guest appearances by the late MF DOOM, Aesop Rock, Blu, Mick Jenkins, Wiki, and Elzhi; and production from Edan, Quelle Chris, Budgie, Awhlee, 88 Keys, and more. It's not easy to keep up with all the music he puts out, but it's worth hearing each new project; his '90s-styles bars always deliver.
Evidence - Unlearning Vol. 1
Underground rap veteran (and Dilated Peoples member) Evidence has returned with a new solo album, Unlearning Vol. 1. It finds Evidence in fine form, and it's loaded with awesome guest appearances, from Boldy James, Conway The Machine, Navy Blue, Fly Anakin, and Murkage Dave, plus production from The Alchemist, Animoss, V Don, Daringer, Nottz, Khrysis, Evidence himself, and others.
Duwap Kaine - After The Storm
HRSMN - The Last Ride
Rome Streetz & ANKHLEJOHN - Genesis 1:27
Bobby Sessions - Manifest
Gucci Mane - Ice Daddy
YN Jay - Coochie Chronicles
For more new rap, listen below or subscribe to a playlist of 37 rap songs we like from June 2021.