While this year hasn’t been spectacular with project releases, there always will be gems that go under the radar of most listeners. Here are 8 different projects released so far in 2021 that you may have missed and are worth your time to check out.
Onyx, Onyx 4 Life
Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr are definitely past their prime in terms of mainstream appeal, but their style of loud and aggressive rapping that they helped pioneer will always be seen in the current mainstream. This project, released in early April, hasn’t strayed away from that style they were known for. The production strays from a normal loud style to give more of an emphasis on the duo’s performance more than loud beats, and makes for a quality listen.
Best tracks: “Ahhh Year”, “Demon Time”, “Ha Ha Ha”
Ransom, Crime Scenes
Releasing in the first week of January, Ransom added to his solid discography full of coke rap tracks. Most likely, you’ve seen Ransom on Griselda projects or the recent Lloyd Banks project, having played a big part on songs he was featured on. Ransom’s skill comes in the form of his pen where he constantly drops hard bars to accompany amazing production that keeps you entertained constantly. It’s a quality project that deserves a chance, especially due to it being so short.
Best tracks: “25th Hour”, “Uncut Gems”, “The Rite”
Talib Kweli & Diamond D, Gotham
Having not released any project for 4 years, Talib Kweli returned earlier this year with 3 singles, including a song featuring Busta Rhymes, to lead up to his release in April. Gotham is an album filled with strong lyricism and thought provoking bars, which makes sense for Talib Kweli who has done such stuff quite often through Instagram. Even if you don’t find yourself agreeing with what Talib might say, it’s worth a chance due to the masterful production skills of Diamond D, giving an unmatched atmosphere for each song.
Best tracks: “The Quiet One”, “On Mamas”, “Attention Span”
West Coast banger after banger is shown off on the debut album of ALLBLACK, with such big names featuring like Vince Staples, Sada Baby, E-40, G-Eazy and Guapdad 4000 to name a few. Fans of artists such as YG can find extreme enjoyment in this album, being similar in style to being a true west coast album. Modernizing and putting his own spin on it, ALLBLACK did a great job with this project and deserves more plays than what it has.
Best tracks: “Life of a P”, “We Straight”, “P’s & Q’s 2”
Jasiah has built up a reputation for being a talented shout rapper with a great flow to match, and on this project consisting of some of his best songs, Jasiah does amazing simply put. Most of these songs come from 2020 singles he had already released or hadn’t been on streaming before this time, but the 3 new songs added alongside the already outstanding songs, give another layer of enjoyment, including features from Rico Nasty and TheHxliday. Jasiah outdid himself with all these songs and paired them up to make one of the better projects of the year, even if not a true project.
Best tracks: “In N Out”, “Spit”, “Surfs Up”
Jim Jones & Harry Fraud, The Fraud Department
Jim Jones, an artist who has been around for a very long time now, has seen more eyes looking his way due to features on Slime Language 2 (Deluxe), and The Plugs I Met 2. But when he dropped his first single for the project, “Bada Bing” featuring French Montana, Jim Jones was setting up one of the best underground projects of the year, especially thanks to one of the MVP’s of the year, Harry Fraud. If you want a longer coke rap album that’s quality all the way through, Jim Jones has that for you.
Best tracks: “The People”, “Say a Prayer”, “Three Cuts”
Kevin Gates, Only the Generals Part II
After not dropping any album in 2020, Kevin lost some of his mainstream appeal, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost any of his quality. Being an unique trap artist who focuses on his lyrics just as much on enjoyability in the sound, he does a great job at managing both to make a solid project. If you just need a fun project to enjoy 40 minutes of your life, then this project can do that.
Best tracks: “Fairytale”, “Yes Lawd”, “Raw U Out”
Erick the Architect, Future Proof EP
Hopefully the first of all 3 solo projects from Flatbush Zombies, this is a great start off for all of them and especially Erick. The EP covers a lot of ground and strays away from the normal Flatbush style of hardcore New York rap, to a more spacey and relaxing style. But you would be lying to say it doesn’t work amazingly for Erick. It just adds onto the hype of the solo albums these guys are going to drop and this is a great start to it all.
Best tracks: “I Can’t Lose”, “WTF”, “Let It Go”
Written by Joey Valcarcel