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50 Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2016

2016 has been a year of revelations and reminders for the world of hip-hop, and pretty much all of them are streamable.

At the top of the year, we got our first revelation in Kevin Gates, whose remarkably well-rounded album Islah put him in the category of platinum-selling superstar without the help of any features. That same month, the pristine rawness of Kendrick Lamar‘s untitled unmastered. reminded fans why he sits atop the rap game, while teaching everyone that his throwaways are damn-near the makings of a classic album.

Of course, those artists were far from being the only ones to showcase their irrepressible talent to the world of hip-hop. Former XXL Freshman Travis Scott reminded fans that he’s here to stay with Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, a dark and glossy follow-up to his debut album, Rodeo. Lil Yachty‘s palpably vibrant project Lil Boat solidified his status as a rising star, while probably helping him land in a Sprite commercial with LeBron James.

Meanwhile, the dominant Drake continued his interminable winning streak with Views, which was streamed on Spotify more than 3 billion times this year. It also went quadruple platinum. Chance The Rapper reminded folks that he’s both the present and future of hip-hop with Coloring Book, a mixtape that was so well-received it snagged a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.

The year has had no shortage of top-notch albums, EPs and mixtapes, and today, we’re taking a look at the best from the last 12 months of transformation and unparalleled success. Here are the 50 Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2016, in no particular order.

Words by C. Vernon Coleman II, Eli Schwadron, Emmanuel Maduakolam, Georgette Cline, Max Weinstein, Peter A. Berry, Preezy, Roger Krastz, Sidney Madden and Ted Simmons

Check out XXL's 2016 Year in Review

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