20 of the Best Hip-Hop Deep Cuts of 2017
When it comes to sales, an album can live or die by the singles that it yields. But classic LPs are often defined by the songs that aren't pushed and marketed for mainstream consumption. Those are the deep cuts, the beloved golden nuggets of an album that allow you to press play on track one and let the project bump all the way through.
If an album is a burger and the singles are the meat, the toppings and condiments are the deep cuts. To put it bluntly, without deep cuts, it's really not good at all. This year there were a plethora of good albums and lots of tracks to consume. It seemed like every Thursday night, there were at least five projects on the way from anticipated artists.
What exactly makes for a great deep cut? It's hard to say. Sometimes it's used as an opportunity to explore new sounds, flows and/or melodies. Sometimes it's the street narrative that doesn't contain a hook but delivers in vivid wordplay and grittiness. Often time deep cuts are better than singles, and you're left scratching your head, wondering, "Who A&R'ed this?"
There were plenty of outstanding deep cuts this year—tracks that received no push, no single art, no video, but hit the soul and ears just as hard. This list showcases 20 of the best ones—by artists ranging from 2 Chainz to Action Bronson—to which the XXL staff really gravitated. Long live the deep cut!