2017 Respect My Region Hip-Hop Awards
Every year, hip-hop continues to accelerate at a fantastic rate. 2016 saw major releases from nearly every marquee artist, which potentially could have created somewhat of an off year for 2017, but it did not disappoint. Not only did 2K17 see releases from it’s giants like Drake, Future, Kendrick, J. Cole and Jay Z, it also gave us a new crop of artists to be excited about.
What’s to be most proud of this year, is the fact that hip-hop has finally eclipsed all other categories as the most popular genre of music in the country. There were a ton of great great albums, songs, videos, groups and producers. Here are the picks for of those categories for RMR’s best of hip-hop awards.
Song of the Year
Cardi B, Bodak Yellow
Many wrote off Cardi as a musician as they believed her television and Instagram success overshadowed her musical talent. But Cardi had quite the rise of a year. From goofy and lovable stripper on Instagram, to all-around pop culture entertainer. The personality that many have grown to know and love is on full display in this Kodak Black “No Flockin” inspired track, as she details getting a bag to fix her teeth and proudly being able to pay her mama’s bills.
2. XO TOUR Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert
3. HUMBLE. – Kendrick Lamar
4. Unforgettable – French Montana feat. Swae Lee
5. Magnolia – Playboi Carti
Music Video of the Year
The lead single off DAMN. sent shockwaves through the hip-hop world as Kendrick delivered not only video of the year, but what could have arguably been song of of the year. The intensity of the song lies in his delivery as he perfectly matches his urgent flow with Mike Will Made-It’s head-knocking beat. The Benny Boom visual gives us a deeper look inside Kendrick’s head as the Compton native swaggily details being the realest after all.
2. Story of O.J. – Jay Z
3. Tunnel Vision – Kodak Black
4. Bodak Yellow – Cardi B
5. Perplexing Pegasus – Rae Sremmurd
Producer of the Year
The Atlanta super producer has been responsible for helping shape the sound of many hip-hop artists. The list includes Future, Young Thug, 21 Savage, Migos, Gucci Mane, Big Sean and more. Not only did Metro give us the biggest song of 2016/2017 in Migos’ “Bad and Boujee,” at one point in 2017, Metro was responsible for producing 10% of the Billboard’s Hot 100 list. His heavy hitting bass and undeniable melodies are part of what gave fuel to hip-hop’s success in 2017. Oh yeah, and who can forget the best producer tag in all of hip-hop? If you don’t know it, Metro probably doesn’t trust you.
2. Mike Will Made It
4. DJ Mustard
5. Jake One
2017 showed us that the Atlanta trio have perfectly honed in their craft, delivering their patented triplet flow and newly charged ad-libs as one cohesive sound. Even without the groups best produced song till date in “Bad and Boujee,” the Culture album is full of bangers front-to-back with features from all the right artists. The album gave us tracks such as “T-Shirt,” “Slippery,” “Deadz,” and “Big On Big,” They’ve also helped give fellow Atlanta native Gucci Mane one of his biggest records since his release from jail with “I Get The Bag,” While Quavo has undoubtedly been the star of the group, Offset and Takeoff have begun to come into their own roles as well.
2. Ayo & Teo
3. A Tribe Called Quest
Best Female Artist
The New York native who was previously most famous for her IG videos and her time spent on VH1’s Love & Hip-Hop, blasted on to the music scene this year with her #1 charting single “Bodak Yellow.” In addition to the success of her #1 record, constant rumors of beef with fellow female MC Nicki Minaj and her new relationship with Migos group member, Offset, really thrusted her into the spotlight.
2. Nicki Minaj
3. Remy Ma
Best Male Artist
Out of all the nominees of this year, Kung Fu Kenny displayed the most important piece an artist can give its listeners – growth. To this date, it seems as though Kendrick has always made agenda albums that are primarily meant for his die-hard listeners. Good Kid M.A.A.D City, To Pimp A Butterfly, Untitled Unmastered – that changed this year with DAMN. The ideas he presented in his music essentially stayed the same, but DAMN. gave us a more polished, mature and perfected Kendrick. His radio singles had staying power and his album presented no skippable tracks. Kendrick once again set the bar very high for himself and his competition.
3. Jay Z
4. Big Sean
5. J. Cole
Jay Z, The Story of O.J.
The lead single off his 13th studio album touches on the issues of today and sheds some light on the experience of being black in America no matter what your status.
“Light n*gga, dark n*gga, faux n*gga, real n*gga, rich n*gga, poor n*gga, house n*gga, field n*gga…still n*gga.”
The title of the song is also a reference to former NFL running back O.J. Simpson who was acquitted of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson. As Jay Z explained in an interview earlier this year, the story is about culture and having a plan in place to push society forward. He explains that everyone makes money and loses money, but the goal is to find a focus where he and others can transform their wealth into something bigger than themselves.
Album of the Year
Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
Kendrick’s fourth (or third) studio album is overwhelmingly his best project till date. As the cover art would suggest, Kendrick looked & sounded possessed as he continued to prove why he is arguably the king of his sport. DAMN. turned not so avid listeners of Kendrick into full-fledged fans. It was bolstered down by powerful radio singles and several very well done music videos – one of which starred Hollywood actor Don Cheadle in “DNA.”
DAMN. provided turn up, bragging, introspectiveness, it gave love/relationships, it gave motivation, it gave real life stories and it gave listeners a chance to truly speculate. Is there two albums? Is it meant to be played forwards? Is it meant to be played backwards? Should certain songs be played in reverse? When an album is constructed as immaculately as DAMN., it will stir up these types of conversations. And how could we forget the record going platinum the first week of its release?
2. I Decided – Big Sean
3. More Life – Drake
4. 4:44 – Jay Z
5. Culture – Migos
Best New Artist
Lil Uzi Vert
While Uzi is not entirely new on the scene, 2017 was definitely his year. The rapper spent a good part of his year touring the nation, running away from massive crowds of people and stage diving at unthinkable heights. The genre bending rapper has exceeded expectations since gracing XXL’s 2016 Freshman Cover.
Uzi not only gave one of the marquee verses from 2016/2017’s biggest song on “Bad and Boujee,” he delivered his biggest single to date with “XO Tour Llif3,” which went triple platinum. He also landed himself a #1 album spot on the Billboard 200 with Luv Is Rage 2. 2017 proved that Lil Uzi Vert is here to stay.
2. Chance The Rapper
3. Cardi B
4. 21 Savage