Micro-Chopping 2017: 110 Great Songs From The Past Year

A s I compiled the end of 2017 Micro-Chop playlist, it occurred to me that the discussion about rap/beats/instrumental music in 2017 felt unnecessarily negative at times.

Micro-Chopping 2017 — a 110-track selection of great songs from the past year.

In a year where David Banner released his long-anticipated God Box, SZA proved her Ctrl debut was well worth the wait, Raekwon and Wu-Tang both had strong full-length projects, Rapsody earned a Grammy nomination for her critically acclaimed Lalia’s Wisdom, Jay and Kendrick impressed us with their latest efforts, and Fat Beats, Redef Records, and Street Corner Music continued to drop quality instrumental projects at a rate that was difficult to keep up with, a lot of people seemed overly-fixated on what they considered wrong with rap music and hip-hop culture.

Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but I’m pretty tired of the whole real vs. not real rap/hip-hop debate. Rap records have been around for damn near forty years at this point. The music and culture has evolved and changed in so many ways over the years, it’s difficult to even quantify what constitutes “real” anymore. And even if you don’t consider a single album that dropped this year “real”, it has never been easier to share worthy music from the past and help people rediscover it. In short, I think people need to spend more time championing the music they love and less time ripping apart the stuff they don’t. I didn’t see quite enough championing and would like to see more in 2018.

I’m not too interested in writing the next think piece hating on mumble rap or talking how the beat scene/instrumental music is over-saturated. It’s not my place to make my personal likes and dislikes the end all and be all for everyone else. It’s my job to talk about music that I think is worthy of your attention. And in 2017, I found an endless abundance of music that excited me.

“In short, I think people need to spend more time championing the music they love and less time ripping apart the stuff they don’t.”
Official music video for SZA’s “Drew Barrymore”.

I learned about so many new cities and scenes and labels that crank out one quality project after another. And I was amazed at how many artists empowered themselves by putting out their own projects without stressing label support. When there’s so much good music to chose from in a given year that making a 110-track playlist doesn’t even really scratch the surface, you can’t help but feel optimistic about the future.

Having said all of this, my end of the year list isn’t designed to be anything definitive. I realize there are some major releases from this year that didn’t make the cut — at some point I had to stop adding material. Though there are some very well-known songs here, I compiled this list to highlight some great releases that might’ve flown under your radar.

The parameters here were pretty loose. Some of the material on here, like Thes One’s “San Francisco Knights”, Curren$ey’s “The Day”, Super Star and Rhyme Valore’s “MC Hustler”, and Danger Doom’s “Mad Nice” all came out many years ago — but they were re-released last year in some form. I really like these songs so I decided to include them.

Official music video for Evidence’s “Jim Dean”.

Since this playlist clocks in at just over six hours, I assume you’ll have to listen to it in smaller sections. I highly suggest marking some of your favorite tracks and making a point to check out the rest of the artist’s catalog. This process of discovery is fun and I often do this myself while listening to other people’s playlists. Whether you only like a handful of songs or all 110, I hope the playlist helps you discover some new music you love.

On the first day of 2018, I’m looking forward to spending another year telling compelling stories about the music I love. I have no doubt the rappers and producers I admire will keep cranking out quality releases. I hope you’ll continue reading and listening.

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