Let’s get the obvious out of the way: coronavirus sucks.
The world feels like it’s falling apart, tensions are the boiling point, and culture—outside of the news—seems to have ground to a halt.
There are no sports to watch, no big movies to see, and depending on where you are, you can’t even go outside.
So, what do you do to pass the time?
You listen to music.
And believe us when we say, you haven’t listened to music until you’ve heard it after taking CBD.
Here are the 7 best “new-classic” hip-hop albums to check out on CBD.
What the heck is a “New-Classic?”
If the classic hip-hop albums were all from the 90s, the new classics would be the 2000s up. I’m a 90s baby which means I came of age in the post-Gangsta, post-mixtape era of lifestyle rap, where figures like Drake and Kanye ruled the land.
For the sake of this list, we’re going to define “New-Classic” as any rap album or mixtape released after the decline of Lil Wayne’s infamous mixtape run; 2008 after No Ceilings.
For those unfamiliar with CBD, allow us to enlighten you. CBD (the abbreviation for the natural substance, Cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive substance in marijuana smoke that provides much of the physiological benefits of weed smoke.
Those relaxed muscles?
That clear sense of focus?
The sudden relief from stress and anxiety?
Suffice it to say, there are few better natural—non-toxic and non-psychoactive—substances that give the body AND mind the same level of relief and relaxation CBD does—putting you in the perfect state to enjoy some good music.
Today, you can consume CBD as a gummy, drink it as an oil, or vape it as a liquid—and thankfully, there are a lot of CBD vape juice flavors that are actually quite good.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get started…
7. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – Drake (2015)
I don’t care if this is the album that exposed Drake’s ghostwriter.
You take that up with Meek Mill.
The reason this album is so important is that it marked a significant shift in Drake’s production and his on-record persona. If Nothing Was the Same was Drake’s Graduation—an overstuffed album brimming with hits—If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was the crystallization of Drake’s turn from recently-anointed King of Mainstream Rap, to its jaded and resentful despot.
In a time where mainstream acts wouldn’t be caught dead releasing a mixtape, Drake dropped a BANGER overnight, without notice, and in the middle of winter with beats just as cold.
With production that felt both experimental and vicious, Drake lambasted his opponents, closed his circle, and produced some of the most electrically charged hits of his career, solidifying his position as hip-hop’s worthy, and endearing dictator.
6. Savage Mode – 21 Savage (2016)
Remember when I mentioned that lifestyle-rappers like Drake and Kanye were ruling the landscape in a post-gangsta rap, post-mixtape era?
Yeah, 21 Savage came in and ended that with his critically acclaimed EP, Savage Mode.
In what felt like a breath of fresh air, 21 Savage with his iconic southern-drawl took the narrative perspective back from the socially-conscious, club-friendly, and Macklemore-esque back to that hardcore street sh*t.
There hadn’t been a rapper that authentically real since DMX, and his ascendence into the mainstream talking about violence, drug dealing, and generally being with the sh*ts was exactly the shift in rap that many fans had been longing for.
5. Flower Boy – Tyler, the Creator (2017)
In arguably Tyler, the Creator’s best—and most important work—Flower Boy was a remarkable evolution in his sound and the inclusivity within the halls of rap.
Noteworthy for its softer sounds and more melodic tones, the album showed a growing maturity for the artist, establishing itself as a far cry from his previous work.
In one album, Tyler went from the rap Bart Simpson to its misunderstood Andy Warhol, painting a picture of loneliness, longing, and isolation when coming to terms with one’s identity.
At a time when no mainstream male rapper artist would willingly acknowledge they were gay, Tyler—the omnipresent troll and cut-up—stepped forward in one of the most courageous acts in hip-hop since Frank Ocean’s debut album statement.
This is a watershed moment for hip hop, defying the previous conventions of masculinity and to bring rap fans the world over a story they’d never heard before.
And one beautifully delivered.
4. The Yellow Album – Dom Kennedy (2012)
Many could make the argument that Dom Kennedy is a pretty simple rapper.
He’s got a basic, chant-like flow. His lyrics aren’t particularly deep or noteworthy. And his persona is more friendly everyman than icon.
But let’s be clear, Dom Kennedy has the hits.
In his seminal work—The Yellow Album—Dom Kennedy found a sound that could only exist in that moment. A vibey, airy, silent hit album that was the perfect accompaniment to any house party or social.
Put on We Ball at your next dinner party and wait for the heads to bob.
3. The Covert Coup – Curren$y
In another lowkey entry, The Covert Coup by rapper, Curren$y is one of the best rap/producer collaborations since MF Doom and Madlib’s Madvillainy.
With dark, airy synths and production samples as obscure as songs from Full Metal Alchemist, producer, Alchemist, delivered a perfect lineup of instrumentals for the king of underground southern weed rap, Curren$y to capitalize on.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special mention to the song Scottie Pippens which has one of the HARDEST verses you’ll ever hear from a young Freddie Gibbs.
Check it out.
2. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
Do I really need to explain why Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece, To Pimp a Butterfly, which saw collaborators from everyone from Thundercat, Bilal, and Snoop, let alone some of the finest wordplay, vocal performances, and flows ever heard of in rap?
I didn’t think so.
1. Life of Pablo – Kanye West (2016)
Yes, I know even saying the name “Kanye” three times these days is like summoning Beetle Juice, but you can’t deny the man makes good music.
In one of his most sonically diverse albums since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye’s Life of Pablo explores the trappings of fame in only a way Kanye can.
And bonus, he introduced the world to “Panda” and I would argue, brought acts like Chance the Rapper into the mainstream.
Throughout the Life of Pablo, Kanye brings an exquisite blend of maximalism on songs like Father Stretch My Hand (Part I) with a subtle minimalism a la 30 Hours.
This album was an incredible reminder that Kanye could still shift the sound of hip hop on a whim.
And for that, we thank him.
Want to add a few albums to the list? Let us know in the comments below what we missed.