In many ways, the year 2021 is remembered as one of the most devastating in rap history. Our capacity for mourning seems to outstrip our sense of loss over the last 12 months. The news of hip-poet hop's laureate, MF Doom, passing away before the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve last year shook the world like a shock wave. Rap, on the other hand, is a genre founded on resiliency, and in 2021, the genre's biggest performers, as well as a slew of fascinating newcomers, found new methods to balance joy and suffering, the prevailing emotional pendulum in the epidemic period.
With Montero, a rich and personal album that also sees the "Old Town Road" star genuinely rapping — like, rapping, rapping — while managing to imbue his delivery with the whimsical delight of golden-age dance music, Lil Nas X laid to rest any devotion to genre or form stubborn rap purists had. Little Simz's extremely personal I Might Be Introvert, in which she seamlessly transitions from contemplating her own trauma to flexing at a party, was a standout. Call Me if You Get Lost finds Tyler, the Creator finally acknowledging his own grandeur, resulting in his best album to date.
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