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2017 was the year of the rap collab album - for better and for worse

Ralph Bristout

 // Dec 31, 2017

For as much as there were noteworthy albums, 2017 was also an open sesame to rap collaborative releases.

It was a little over a week when Travis Scott and Quavo unleashed their long-awaited joint album, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. Just two weeks prior, Big Sean and Metro Boomin released their own, Double or Nothing. And that's just two of several collaborative albums to flood the market this year, thus making 2017 the year of the rap collab album.

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Whether it was major A-listers or newcomers, 2017 was the year of rap collab albums and for the past 12 months, it proved to be quite the lucrative marketing tool. No different from traditional single-artist releases, these projects often featured big production, big name guest spots, and posthaste announcements. Rarely accompanied by a music video or tour, they arrived in all flavors and drew enough excitement to make big splashes throughout 2017.

In October, Metro Boomin, who has also had quite the prolific year, dropped the aptly-titled Without Warning, a collaborative effort with 21 Savage and Offset, on Halloween. In its first week, the joint album sold 53,000 units and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart without much major label promotion. Just two weeks earlier, Future and Young Thug's SUPER SLIMEY did the same, landing at No. 2 with an impressive 75,000 copies sold. The 13-song collaboration arrived out of the sky without a big budget push or lead single, and featured production from Southside, Mike WiLL Made It, and more. While the sales figures may fall in comparison to the top-sellers of the year, these releases added stock to the artists behind them.

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On Black Friday, Fabolous and Jadakiss cashed in on the holiday weekend with Friday on Elm Street. At 12 tracks, the soulful and hard-boiled collaborative LP debuted in the top 10 with 33,000 copies sold. Numbers aside, the album gave Fab his first top ten album debut in eight years, following the release of Loso's Way. For Jada, the rapper earned his fifth consecutive top ten album release. As for the previously mentioned albums, SUPER SLIMEY gave Young Thug his highest first week sales, while Future picked up his third top selling album of the entire year. Without Warning co-headliner Offset spawned a viral hit with "Ric Flair Drip," a song that continues to burn up the charts, cracking the top 50 of the Hot 100 and top 20 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The record is also just one of many Metro Boomin-laced tracks to flood the Hot 100.

Since the top of the year, the St. Louis native left a footprint on more than several songs throughout the year. In November, Forbes reported that he produced 10 percent of the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of November 11. The go-to hitmaker has also been a staple in the slew of rap collab albums this year, debuting on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart on four different occasions with albums for Gucci Mane (Droptopwop), 21 Savage and Offset (Without Warning), Nav (Perfect Timing) with Nav, and Big Sean (Double or Nothing).

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Other than the aforementioned projects above, this year also welcomed solid collab projects from Fat Joe and Remy Ma (Plato O Plomo), Kodak Black and Plies ( F.E.M.A.), as well as Lil Durk and Tee Grizzley (Bloodas). Styles P and Talib Kweli delivered underground magic with The Seven, while _Blu and Exile whetted appetites with In the Beginning: Before the Heavens. As if all of that wasn't enough, the world also witnessed T-Pain and Lil Wayne's long lost T-Wayne album see the light of day.

But with this uptick, you have to wonder how it'll advance in 2018. Like most things, excess typically leaves room for redundancy. The rapid output this year was exciting, but that was on a pure surface level. When the debris cleared, after the numerous album drops, not many possessed the unfading power of projects like What a Time to Be Alive and Watch The Throne. Once upon a time ago, the idea of JAY Z and Kanye West joining forces for one whole project seemed very much mythical. But when they did, the result was an album for the ages. These days, artists seem to be joining forces for the sake of making a quick buck rather than putting a whole effort toward creating crystalized moments. No matter what side of the coin you're on, the collab trend is still a gift and curse.

Still, while there are grumblings about what was actually good or could stand the test of time, the aftermath of these releases has created a level of excitement for the approaching year.

So as the tail end of 2017 draws near, we welcome more rap collab albums in 2018 with the hope that quality outweighs the quantity. In an era where hip-hop now owns the ear of the general population, this uptick can transition into some game-changing moments in the new year. Who knows, maybe even a Kendrick and Cole album? What a time to be a hip-hop fan.

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