Boy what a year. A lot to be ashamed and enraged about if you’re an American citizen, but thankfully it’s gone by incredibly fast. Anywho, 2017 saw the triumphant return of LEXSaysListen. For those who may be new to the site or may just have not picked up on it, this page is dedicated to spotlighting Hip Hop projects (and occasional singles) that have been released for free (or name your price) download by the artists themselves. In a year full of multiple releases every week, there is a ton of music to keep up with. Among the multitudes of projects, it’s easy to look back and realize you may have missed a few. That said, your man LEX for you covered with 10 you can catch up on right now for the small fee of the time it takes to download them.
A couple of really basic ground rules I took into account for this list. First off, I’m only posting releases that are still available for free d/l as of today. Some projects I’ve posted throughout the year are either no longer available or no longer free. Each of these alley oop passes can be caught mid air and slammed right now. Also, I decided not to categorize these by project type. You will see Albums, EP’s and Mixtapes sprinkled throughout this list. I’m simply posting the best (IMO) free Hip Hop that’s out there. I considered leaving this post til the very end of the year because if December is anything like November was, there will be some legit contenders for this list. Disclaimer: I’m reserving the opportunity to revise this list sometime after X-Mas (since so many people get in the giving spirit during the holidays).
With no further adieu, I present my Top 10 Freeleases of 2017.
DJ Prince Paul – The Redux (Album)
If there is anything I geeked out over in 2017, it was this album. Prince Paul is one of those names that doesn’t get brought up nearly as often as is should but when id does, pay attention. There is no real order on my Top 10 Freeleases of 2017 List, but if there was, this would be my #1. Technically this album was supposed to drop in 2006 and got shelved so making a 2006 album my top choice for 2017 almost feels wrong.. Almost. This without questions was the most pleasant surprise that dropped according to my fandom. Unreleased De La Soul, Guru, MF Doom, Masta Ace, Freddie Foxxx, RZa, need I really go on? Grab this shit E-Me-Jit-Lee.
Hus Kingpin x Big Ghost Ltd. – Cocaine Beach (Album)
What can I say about this album that conveys the message Hus and Coke Biceps were trying to get across? I’ve never tried Cocaine so saying it is the musical equivalent to a quick bump would be without merit.. but if I had to guess I’d say this is more of a line. While I personally don’t share an affinity for the nose candy, I most certainly have the itch for incredibly dope production and rhymes. This is one of those projects where the physicals got released overseas and I had to cop that. Make sure if you haven’t heard this, you go ahead and do yourself the solid with the free digital. This is also in my Top 10 for paid releases. As good as you think it might be, it’s better.
Showbiz & A.G. Take It Back (EP)
Two of The Bronx’s most influential and talented Hip Hop artists got together to release another one of my favorite (free or not free) releases of the year. Ever since the re-surge of energy in excellence hit the Diggin in the Crates crew with the unveiling of D.I.T.C. Studios, the crew has been on a tear with the O.G.’s and newcomers (Motif Alumni, David Bars, etc.) alike. This project was released for free digital download then released physically with a few additional tracks. They have showed no signs of slowing up and this album is as refreshing as a new Show and A album sounds.
O.C. – Same Moon Same Sun (Album)
Longevity and consistency are 2 things that can go gravely undervalued. I can’t think of a better personification of these traits in a Hip Hop artist than with O.C. It seems like O is simply one of those safe bet artists. The right mixture of smooth but never soft. This album is a solid contribution to an already stellar catalog. One of my all time favorite MCs. D.I.T.C. Studios took the same approach with the release of this album. A couple of bonus joints were added to the physical release.
Conway – Reject on Steroids (Mixtape)
Griselda Records shocked the world when they announced their signing to Shady. Many fans had mixed opinions on what would become of their productivity and sound. Thankfully, the unification of the under and overworld powerhouses proved to strengthen some alliances with artists like Green Lantern and Royce the 5’9. While they slowed up a little at the start and we continue to wait for GOAT (now slated for a X-mas release), GxFR toured and put out 4 mixtapes (2 of which have seen Vinyl releases and all have been pressed on CD) and another HWH. As a fan, I don’t see anything to complain about thusfar. Conway’s first release in the Steroids series had him flexing on some known tracks but primarily going in over original production from in-house producer Daringer. Between this release and More Steroids, expect GOAT to be stellar.
Killah Priest x 4th Disciple – Don’t Sit on the Speakers Vol. 1 (Mixtape)
Hark, an actual mixtape! With cuts and blends and breakbeats and drops and uptempo rapping and features from heavyweights in the Wu camp.. this shit is simply a fun listen from a couple of very talented individuals. Wu fans rejoice!
SmooVth x Giallo Point – Medellin (Cassette Tape Release)
Who I would consider the starting 2 Guard for the Winners, SmooVth simply does not miss. The lyrical marksman returns after the release of one of my favorites last year in SS996J. This time he brought along UK producer and fellow Winners crew member Giallo Point to man the boards and boy does he deliver. Many of the usual suspects are featured for what turns out to be a luxury ride through the tough streets of Medellin on a dark night. This album is also for sale but was released for free digital d/l when the cassette version dropped. Pick this up!
Benny x DJ Green Lantern – Butcher On Steroids (Mixtape)
If you’ve made it this far down the list, you may be seeing some recurring themes… D.I.T.C., The Winners, Griselda… hey, I like what I like. That said, November was a strong month for Free releases. Scram Jones and Ransom just barely missed the cut despite dropping excellent EPs. Benny did not miss the cut. Benny never misses. While I’ve seen some refer to his subject matter as generic, the Butcher has always managed to add a very human element to the hustler’s musical point of view. His delivery and wordplay puts him up there with the most talented in the biz if you ask me. I’d be excited to hear Benny after pretty much anyone in a cipher. This mixtape goes like a cipher in the yard. Street shit at it’s absolute finest.
Kesper – Beautifully Ugly (Album)
One thing that can be dangerous and staggering to the progression of any artform in entertainment is Nepotism. Kesper is my family. This man has helped me hand out care packages to the homeless with his son in the dead of winter. I would go down fighting alongside this brother cause he’s a good dude. All of that out the way, if I didn’t know Kesper from a hole in the wall, he’d still be one of my favorite rappers. His sound is essentially what growing up on the border of Jackson Heights was to me. He embodies the sound of that cold winter night blunt cipher in the schoolyard in the snow. You don’t have to take my word for it. But if you value my word and could go for that sound, I implore you to give this album a run.
Daniel Son x Giallo Point – Remo Gaggi (Album)
Hear in the U.S., underground heads sleep on International rap something terrible. There are so many talented brothers and sisters all over the Word creating music that embodies everything this artform was created to represent. Daniel Son and Giallo Point are 2 of the purveyors of that fact. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, MC Daniel Son goes the fuck in. Dude has a brash delivery and flow that places him directly in some of the better circles within modern rap. Giallo Point makes his second appearance on the list with another really well produced album. If you are a fan of dope beats and rhymes, there is no reason to not check for this album. Also released free digitally by the excellent German label Fxck Rxp who is selling the physical cassette.
Be on the lookout for a potential December addition to this list.