The most slept-on Hip-Hop and R&B artists of 2017


Five slept-on hip-hop and R&B artists of 2017
Left to right: Joey Bada$$, Tyler the Creator, Victor Oladipo, Smino, Jidenna. (Getty Images)

2017 was a major year for Hip-Hop and R&B! Kendrick delivered anther classic with DAMN. Jay-Z became the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall-of-Fame, and he dropped another legendary project with album No. 13, 4:44. Beyoncé gave birth to two twins, and SZA's debut album, CTRL, became an anthem. Yes, the whole album was an anthem. She didn't play.

We got to see the rise of Cardi B, who rocked the sound charts for months with her No. 1 single, "Bodak Yellow." We witnessed the rise and fall of Everyday Struggles's Joe Budden. The Migos became the poster child(ren) of Hip-Hop. Rihanna slayed everyone with the release of her beauty line, Fenty. R&B saw a renaissance, with artists like the aforementioned SZA, Daniel Caeser, Miguel, H.E.R., H.I.M., Khalid, and Kelela releasing unreal projects. We also saw Chance The Rapper become both Santa Claus and the people's champ.

So many victories for the world's most popular genre is a great thing; however, it also means that there were many artists who didn't get as much love, because of other artists sweeping the headlines. As 2017 comes to close, I want to make sure I give love to the following five artists, who flew under the radar this past year:

All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ - Joey Bada$$

Joey Bada$$' 2017 album, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, was criminally slept on. Unfortunately for the youngin from the Big Apple, his album was overshadowed by Kendrick's, Damn, which released a week after Joey's. All-Amerikkjan Bada$$ wasn't as consistent with sharp lyricism and punchlines, as we've grown accustomed to hearing Joey on his Pro-Era tapes or his 2016 album, B4.Da.$$.

I applaud Joey, however, for attempting to change his style and slightly adapt to mainstream listeners. While most Joey fans love his grungy New York persona on his track, I think we can all appreciate his lyrical genius, smooth beat selection, and all-around artistic intuition he displayed on All-American Bada$$. Here's "Temptation," one of my faves from the album:

Flower Boy - Tyler The Creator

Now I won't lie to you, I've never been a huge Tyler The Creator fan. I've always recognized his talent as an MC, and respected his artistic approach to his music, but even more so, I greatly appreciated him as an entertainer. To put it lightly, the last thing I was expecting in the middle of a hot and dry July was a Tyler The Creator album that would dry up water wells and lead me on a march to find the nearest water oasis.

Ok, ok, I'm wildin' (a lil bit), but Tyler really did his thing on his album. It was soulful, it had meaning, it was different. Tyler took the time to craft a story — his story — and it may have been his best work yet. Here's Tyler with, "Who Dat Boy," where he emulates much of his old flow, but equips it with tighter wordplay and storytelling:

Songs for You - Victor Oladipo

While we were all sleeping, Victor Oladipo — YES, THAT VICTOR OLADIPO — shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, released the R&B throwback album that you never knew you needed, until now. Or rather, you knew you needed it, but you grew comfortable with the lack of old-school R&B. It's OK, it happens to the best of us. I'm just as guilty as the rest of y'all.

I want you to close your eyes (hang with me here), and think back to the last true R&B album that you've listened to. I'm talking soul-quenching, heart-pumping, memories-racing, feel-good vibes. The type of R&B sound that makes you want to propose to the partner of your dreams. It's been a minute, huh? Victor Oladipo's Songs for You is right on time to fill that void. Here's his single, "Unfollow," featuring Eric Bellinger:

blkswn - Smino

I've had Smino's blkswn (black swan) for the last month or so, which I must add is LATE, because Smino's debut album released back in March. The album is 18 tracks of feel good vibes. I honestly don't think there is a one throwaway track in this album. Smino rapped and sang his life out, and it showed. Perhaps it didn't get as much love is it could because 2017 saw a resurgence in R&B and Neo-Soul with artists like, SZA, H.E.R., and Miguel dominating the headlines.

I highly recommend you check this album out or you'll be upset you missed out on the wave. About a month ago, Smino released this music video for his single, "Anita Remix," feature T-Pain, for what could be in contention for feel-good song of the year:

The Chief - Jidenna

The Chief by Jidenna was an excellent album. The Classic man has had a busy year, which saw him star in two premier shows, Luke Cage (Netflix) and Insecure (HBO). He still found a way to sneak into the studio despite his acting ventures, and thank the lord he did. Presumed by many to be a one-hit wonder, Jidenna's debut album quieted all doubts, as he channeled his inner griot, recounting stories of his family history, his upbringing, and love.

Born in Wisconsin to a Nigerian father and American mother, Jidenna combines traditional African sounds in several songs, making sure you didn't forget his African roots. Moreover, he fused together various elements from R&B, Hip-Hop, Electro, and Afro-beats to make the masterpiece. The album not only revealed Jidenna's strong African ties (he spent part of his childhood living in Nigeria), but also a mastery of his vocals and story-telling. There are many songs to choose to highlight this, but here's a song you can play at your New Year's Eve party, "Little Bit More." Enjoy:

2017 was an amazing year for music, so before the midnight hour hits on Sunday, make sure to give a toast to all the dope artists who pushed the culture, and pray for more amazing songs in 2018. Much love, Jeff.

Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis is a Twin Cities native by way of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Outside of writing about Hip-Hop for The Current, he's the Host of Maintainin' & Co-host of the NBA podcast, The Come Up. Got a suggestion or wanna leave a comment? Follow him on Twitter, @JeffEmbiid.


Joey Bada$$ - official site

Tyler the Creator - Twitter

Victor Oladipo - official site

Smino - official Polydor Records site

Jidenna - official site

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