So far, 2021 has blessed hip-hop fans with some great projects this year. But in order for it to be a great year for music, the summer albums have to be something special. I think we got that this summer, so here is a rundown of some of the albums that caught my ear this summer.

The Big Ones

DONDA by Kanye West

From the beef with Drake to the several album reveal concerts, the DONDA rollout was nothing short of entertaining. Up to the end, I was chomping at the bit to hear what Kanye had for fans after he locked himself inside the Mercedes Benz Stadium to finish the project. Although it wasn’t his best work, it was worth the wait. I listened to the album maybe four or five times while I was working at camp with my friends, and I have to say each listen gave me a new appreciation for the tracklist. I will admit that the album has its ups and downs, but those ups are astronomically high. Songs like “Off the Grid”, “Hurricane”, “Moon”, and “Believe What I Say”, are all 10/10s for all I’m concerned about. The production, lyrics, and content of the album speak to the meaning it had to Kanye, even if it was rushed 

Certified Lover Boy by Drake

I will admit that in the DONDA versus CLB beef, I rank CLB higher. Although DONDA has the higher highs, it also had the lower lows. On the other hand, CLB was consistently pretty good all the way through and sounded more put together than DONDA. As someone from Toronto, I was so eager for this album to dropWhen it did, I rushed to get through the tracklist and then went back and listened again and again. There are some pretty great songs such as the intro, “Champagne Poetry”, with its groovy love bass line or “Way 2 Sexy”, featuring future and Young Thug, which gets me fired up every time I listen. Even “Pipe Down”, about Drake’s past flings and the mellower “Fair Trade”, are great listens as well. Overall, it was about as pouty and sad boyish I’d expect from Drake at this point, but he still does it so well that it’s always worth listening through.

Call Me if You Get Lost by Tyler the Creator

In my mind Call Me if You Get Lost is just another trophy to Tyler’s collection. Shifting his sound back to his Cherry Bomb days but with a new aesthetic and vibe, he managed to kill it again. I remember forcing my friends to stay over later just so we could listen through the album together and it was wonderful. Each one of the features slides in perfectly, like 42 Dugg on “LEMONHEAD”, NBA Youngboy on “WUSYANAME”, or even DJ Drama and his callouts all over the album. After two incredibly introspective albums in Flowerboy and IGOR, it was nice to hear Tyler having fun with his own Gangsta Grillz tape and reflecting on all the success he’s had in the last few years. Just like after Tyler’s project, I am just more and more excited for the next, and can’t wait to see where he’ll go next.

Culture III by Migos

Again, I was disappointed with the newest release from Migos. After the absolute masterpiece that was the original Culture album and the bloated flop of Culture II, I was hoping Migos would be back to their best. But I was wrong. The tracklist is loaded with filler but to their credit a few songs such as “Avalanche”, “Modern Day”, and “Why Not”, were enjoyable listens. Overall, it wasn’t the best album considering what the Migos are capable of and with their contemporaries outshining them on their projects this summer.

My Favourites

The Life of P’ierre 5 by P’ierre Bourne

Most people might know P’ierre from his iconic producer tag on songs like “Magnolia”, “GUMMO”, “Wokeuplikethis*”, and “EA”, but he has also been grinding as a solo artist since the beginning as well. I first got hooked on his solo work with The Life of Pierre 4 which just floated all the way through and is probably one of my favourite albums of the last five years. So, you can imagine how excited I was when TLOP5 was announced. Again, each track on the album floats effortlessly into each other for a great listening experience especially with P’ierre’s trademark trippy style of production. My favourites from the album have got to be “42”, with its high energy synths and catchy hook, “Retroville”, about young love and loss. and “4U”, which just leaves me floating every time I listen to it.

It’s Remble by Remble

Out of all the artists on this list, Remble honestly surprised me the most. Following the success of his song, “Gordon R Freestyle”, on TikTok, I thought he was destined to be another TikTok one and done. However, after listening through the album he’s here to stay. With a distinct voice and a smooth West coast flow, Remble slides through each track talking about his life growing up in Los Angeles. My favourite tracks from the album are “Book Bag”, featuring BlueBucksClan and “Ruth’s Chris Freestyle”, featuring Drakeo the Ruler.

The House is Burning by Isaiah Rashad

Just like CLB and DONDA, this was another album I had been waiting a long time for. I can remember sitting in my grade 11 bio class when my friend was begging me to listen to The Sun’s Tirade. Now fast forward five years later and I finally get to listen to another Isaiah Rashad album. The album was much more fun in my opinion than its predecessor with more features, bouncier production, and a less serious vibe. Based on the behind-the-scenes I’ve seen and heard from the album, it seems like Isaiah thought the same way in his approach. Although, in my opinion, the album won’t be as highly regarded as The Sun’s Tirade down the road, it was still nice to hear new Isaiah material.  

Vince Staples by Vince Staples

Vince Staples and Kenny Beats teamed up again after their 2018 collaboration tape FM! to great results. While FM! is a breezier, up-beat, radio show-inspired album, the self-titled ep sounds much more mellow, somewhat dreary at times. Kenny sets the vibe with his melody choices which float and blend with Vince’s flows, while his drums continue to hit as hard as they always seem to. 

We Love You Tecca 2 by Lil Tecca 

Lil Tecca has always surprised me with some of the music he has put out. Before he blew up with Ransom, songs like Molly Girl and Memories in My Head were favourites of mine and when I heard he was dropping a new album I was genuinely excited to give it a listen. Although, the tracklist is pretty bloated there are still some really standout songs on the project. Firstly, “REPEAT IT”, featuring Gunna is an upbeat, fast-paced song that just keeps building momentum through the whole song, with its crazy bounce and skittish plucks and keys in the melody. “NEVER LEFT”, is also another standout that caught my ear as a classic Tecca-type song. But the real surprise on the album was “CHOPPA SHOOT THE LOUDEST”, featuring, Trippie Redd and Chief Keef. This song hits so different. With its EDM-inspired melodies, grand sound, and excellent verses from each artist, it’s easily the best song on the project.

BIRTHDAY MIX 6 by Lil Yachty

I only found out about this EP from Lil Yachty’s IG story but I’m glad I gave it a listen. With only nine tracks, it’s fairly short.  I think the songs Yachty put out were super fun to listen to and had a nice variety to them. For example, “Virgo World”, featuring Lil Tecca has a different sound to “Three Six Talk”, featuring DC2Trill and Draft Day which has a different sound to Lexy Sove. It didn’t have much depth to it, but the surprise EP was a nice way to round out the summer of big releases for me.

Luka Troncic by Baby tron

Baby tron, my favourite artist of the year, did not disappoint when I listened through this album. Even though the tracklist is fairly long with 24 songs, I found that every week I would add new songs to my playlists. With Babytron’s hilarious punchlines and fun beats, it wasn’t that surprising that he became my favourite artist this year. My favourites are definitely “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy”, featuring Since99, “Just in Case” which uses a classic Jaheim RnB beat with some Detroit flavour, “The Office”, where Babytron takes on The Office theme song, and “Million Dollar Thoughts”, which is a mellower track but still has a fun bouncy beat. Overall, the project has me really excited for Babytron’s next album Bin Reaper 2 coming out on Halloween.

Honourable Mentions

I may not have given these albums the best listen but some of the tracks of these really impressed me.

Montero by Lil Nas Ex
  • Industry Baby featuring Jack Harlow
  • One of Me featuring Elton John
Faith by Pop Smoke
  • Brush Em featuring Rah Swish
The Melodic Blue by Baby Keem
  • Vent
  • Durag activity featuring Travis Scott
Sometimes I Might Be An Introvert by Lil Simz
  • Woman featuring Cleo Sol
Haitian Boy Kodak by Kodak Black
  • Z Look Jamaican
The Fool by Bladee 
  • Hotel Breakfast
25 by G Herbo
  • T.O.P. featuring 21 Savage
Bigger Than Life or Death by EST Gee
  • 5500 Degrees featuring 42 Dugg, Rylo and Lil Baby
 A Trip at Night by Trippie Redd
  • Holy Smokes featuring Lil Uzi Vert
  • MP5 featuring SoFaygo
  • Super Cell
Most Improved Player by Trdee
  • Dudley Boys featuring Baby tron




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