I'm still new-ish to rap. Outside of the super-popular stuff, my knowledge and understanding of rap music was really, really, really low until about 10 years ago. Even today, I tend to like stuff a little more off the beaten path; it took until this past summer for me to "get" Kendrick Lamar, for example, even though I gravitated to an act like Atmosphere rather easily.
It was probably when "Sculpting With Fire" dropped at some point late last year that I realized this would be something truly special. The song doesn't adhere to any real expectations, which sets itself up as a truly disorienting listen out of context. In context of an album with some truly incredible sampling and memorable verses throughout, peppered with a number of shorter vignette songs to ease the transition? This sat near the top of my list for a while before the last month or so - the whole thing is near flawless whether with the uplifting opener "Okay," the aggressive "Talk Talk," or the sneaky favorite "In My Head."
This is not my favorite rap album of the year - that comes tomorrow. But was this probably the most important rap album of my year? Absolutely.
Songs of Note: "Okay," "In My Head," "Talk Talk," "Holding My Breath," "Sculpting With Fire"