Mac’s Elite Eight: Overlooked Mixtapes/Albums of 2016

Beats boomin, bass knocking, and party rocking tapes that stuck to my ear and should stick to yours for this year.

Another music year has come to a close and 2016 was full of outstanding moments filled with blockbuster releases, untimely swan songs, and under-the-radar highlights that bubbled fiercely as time went on. While it look like the Beyonces, Chance The Rappers, Kanye Wests, and Aubreys will be taking a number of year-end awards and praise, there’s a number of mixtapes and albums that are lost in the pile of releases. These won’t be considered the absolute best out of the pack, but these eight bodies of work happen to be some of my favorites from this year that I highly recommend:

Dae Dae & London On Da Track — The DefAnition

Dae Dae is the best young rapper out of Atlanta that gets overlooked often. Signed with 300 Entertainment, he broke through on the Billboard charts earlier in the year with “What U Mean? (Aye Aye Aye)” and delivered with a solid 4 Reasons mixtape. Still, many looked at the blue-braided artist as a one-hit wonder in the making only for him to prove them wrong once again with his latest effort, The DefAnition. Produced entirely by London On Da Track — who is responsible for most of Young Thug’s successful singles — the mixtape showcases the rapidly growing versatility of making neck-breaking hits and catchy hooks. “Woke Up”, “Dead Ass Wrong”, and “Don’t You Change” are primed to heat up the airwaves as London also assists Dae Dae with his most exhilarating beats since Rich Gang: The Tour, Vol. 1. This is a project going out of your way to check out.

Joey Purp — iiiDrops

Chance The Rapper may have the following and critical acclaim that overshadow his SaveMoney peers, but it is clear that none of them are fazed by it. If anything, they bring on the challenge of making music that fits the reputation on their brand and no one did it better than Joey Purp. He may not get as much recognition as Chance and Vic Mensa, but he definitely much his presence felt with his latest full-length. iiiDrops is a statement that punches in the gut harder and paints a darker picture that illuminates on Coloring Book. Looking death in the face (“Morning Sex”, “Cornerstore”), coming out as a survivor through the harsh terrain (“Winner’s Circle”), and finding enough time to celebrate (“Girls@”), this tape was a sleeper that stands tall for the SaveMoney collective.

Kamaiyah — A Good Night In The Ghetto

There have been a wave a great female emcees that have flooded all throughout 2016, but none of have been as vibrant as Oakland’s Kamaiyah. With a voice that harkens back to late 90s Hot Boyz and Boosie and a hyphy mentality of Mac Dre and E-40, A Good Night In The Ghetto slaps through with feel-good tunes that serve as a route of escape through the tough times. Whether it is through poverty, dumb men that tend to get played, or losing loved ones, Kamaiyah has something to for everyone that can swerve and vibe to.

Payroll Giovanni & Cardo — Big Bossin, Vol.1

My personal favorite record of the summer, Detroit’s Payroll Giovanni and Dallas’ Cardo connect to make an album fitting for the West Coast flavor. With the beautiful 808 Cowbells and G-Funk-inspired samples of Cardo’s production, Payroll zips through with money-making quotables and kingpin tales. The music is phenomenal, the raps are great, and the feeling it generates is something you should expect during a sunny day riding in the city. He’s not shy of getting into great stories of paranoia (“Day In The Life”) and balling with your right-hand man (“Empire”). It only makes you want more from a duo that have it down easy.

Jace — The Jace Tape

A few years back, Two9 made enough noise to be signed to Mike Will’s Eardrummers label. Since then, they haven’t made many waves in either Atlanta or on the charts, leaving much to be desired with Mike Will being a manager sans Rae Sremmurd. It didn’t deter them as much as member Jace struck out solo with a solid release that got him a lot of attention. His Jace Tape set him apart, with smooth production from Don Cannon and Childish Major to complement with lipsy flow. Tracks like “Call Log”, “Designer Drugs”, and “Jesse Owens” are definite picks to get constant rotations.

Noname — Telefone

SaveMoney affiliate and poet Nomame made waves on her verse for “Lost” on Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap and since then been building her reputation as one of Chicago’s brightest talents. She finally released her full-length Telelfone to great acclaim and deservedly so. “Diddy Bop” brings a nostalgic feel of the playground while the “Freedom” interlude will settle you down calmly into the Earth.

6LACK — FREE6LACK

If you look at Spillage Village’s 6LACK without a microscope lens, you might cast him aside with all the other cloud R&B acts that have exploded onto the scene. But unlike the dorkiness of Cryson Tiller or absurdity of PartyNextDoor, 6LACK comes correct of spitting hard truths over hazy production. FREE6LACK is an impressive debut for the Atlanta artist, who’s album is bubbling slowly but surely onto the charts. The addictive “PRBLMS” has made a mark on Billboard once before and is destined to grow even further, as the album plays on relationships that the emoji era can relate to. It’s far from empty, weight-lifting tunes of love like “Free” and “Getting Old” shows more than meets the eye.

Jamila Woods — HEAVN

While folks were going crazy for Solange’s A Seat At The Table for being the album that expresses black womanhood, Jamila Woods did that just a few short months prior with HEAVN. The songstress’ voice bellows in almost Erykah Badu-fashion, plucking the strings of the heart with a childlike demeanor. “VRY BLK” plays on the clapping game “Mary Mack” from her days as kid in Chicago and the title-track lifts The Roots’ Dilla cover of “Eve” for a soul-soaking number. It is an album of strength, triumph, and beauty that embellishes the already wonderful essence of blackness.

Honorable Mention: Jacquees — Mood, Westside Gunn — FlyGod/Hitler Wear Hermes 4, Ye Ali — Traphouse Jodeci, Dame D.O.L.L.A. — The Letter O, Cousin Stizz — MONDA

Like what you read? Give Chris McManus a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.