This weekend is Christmas and, if you're like us, you spent a little more on Black Friday this year than you originally anticipated. You also just paid your monthly credit card bill and forgot how many non-Black Friday purchases fell on that too. Given that Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music subscriptions, for whatever reason, still cost money, it seems the options for new music that fits our budget perfectly (ie. Free) is becoming less-and-less of a common occurrence.
But fear not, your Secret Santas here at the Weekly have assembled our favorite free hip-hop projects of 2016. That's right, free. No subscriptions, no hidden fees, no cell phone purchase required. This are some stellar albums and mixtapes that are not to be missed, especially during that long holiday traveling.
Here's 2016's best free hip-hop.
Metasota – #RUMDMT
Minnesota had a huge year for hip-hop in 2016, and one of the strongest releases was Metasota’s #RUMDMT. Running a full gamut of emotions and perspectives with an unflinching clarity, the content of #RUMDMT captures the full scope of 2016. An album of the moment that happens to also have an instant timelessness, you have the adrenaline amping “Lake 80s” on the same project as the cathartic emotive “All I Know.”
NoName – Telefone
Chicago’s NoName capped off a stellar 2016 last weekend making her national television debut alongside Chance the Rapper on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. In addition to being hand-selected by Lauryn Hill to open on her most recent tour, NoName’s greatest accomplishment is the excellent Telefone. A free project whose delays just made the final result all the more satisfying, tracks like “Ditty Bop” and “Casket Pretty” show how potent the storytelling of vivid wordplay can be.
Eli Black – Ego Trip
With one of the strongest buzzes in all of New York City, you’ve probably been impressed by Eli Black’s freestyling on Huffington Post’s Black Voices or winning a fresh pair of Yeezys over at Complex a few months back. One of the resident MCs of Legendary Cyphers, whose every-Friady Union Square exercise in lyricism has become NYC’s hip-hop mothership, Black’s proven to be just as powerful in the booth with Ego Trip. Conjuring the essence of the 90s without a redundant nostalgia, Ego Trip has something for any generation of east coast hip-hop fan.
Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman – Lice Two: Still Buggin’
Just as Ice Cube once held Halloween as the holiday where he could be counted on to drop something heavy, two of the most respected names in indie-rap have teamed up once again to establish their dominance over Thanksgiving. Aesop Rock (Rhymesayers) and Homeboy Sandman (Stones Throw) unleashed Lice Two: Still Buggin’ to properly score our Black Friday madness. While both Aes and Boysand released great albums this year, the serious tones of their solo projects was balanced out by the sheer fun of a second Lice Capades.
Sa-Roc – MetaMorpheus Mixtape
If the five track EP that Chicago MC Sa-Rock dropped on Rhymesayers just wasn’t enough, play catch-up with her on the free MetaMorpheus mixtape. A career-retrospective release, it’s a finely selected showcase of how Sa-Roc’s become one of the most reliable names in midwest hip-hop. Once you hear her more than do justice to DJ Premier’s “Ten Crack Commandments” beat on “DC X Brooklyn,” you realize what a talent you have in your ears.