From the Sound of the Underground to the Top of the Billboard Charts, Audible Treats Clients Made Waves in 2021
Please Consider These Excellent Albums For Your Year-End Lists
Audible Treats clients made a major impact on the year, climbing Billboard charts and flooding the streets with exciting sounds. We saw great albums come from all over the map, from the tropical climes of Puerto Rico, to the permanently gray skies of Michigan, to the trenches of Fayetteville, NC. No list of significant 2021 albums would be complete without the ones listed here.
Check below for a list of releases that made our year a bit brighter, and don’t miss the very bottom, where you will find some upcoming albums due to release soon that are more than strong enough to make waves in the year’s final months.
The Audible Treats Team: Michelle, Gavin, Dan, Erin, Kerry, Kevin, Destiny, Myles, T’Keyah, Clara, Greta, Andrew, and Frank
Complex named SoulFly the 7th best album of 2021 so far, raving “lots of rappers can make you want to stunt with them. Seldom can they make you pray for their souls.” Later in the year, Rod revitalized the project with 7 new songs on the Deluxe version, adding a collaboration with Lil Durk, and returning the album to #3 on the Billboard 200. In the second half of 2021, Rod Wave took SoulFly on tour, his shows transforming into sessions of “Rod Wave Karaoke,” as they screamed his deeply personal lyrics back at him.
Paying tribute to his late grandfather, who owned a gas station on the titular 167 highway near Farru’s hometown of Bayamón, Puerto Rico, the new album is Farru’s most personal project to date, as he reclaims his family legacy and indulges his love for all kinds of music. The album features experimentation with electronic music on songs like the global hit “PEPAS” and Alice Deejay-interpolating “El Incomprendido,” dabbles into regional genres like regional Mexican corridos and Dominican dembow, and hard-nosed reggaeton bangers like “La Cucaracha” ft. fellow Bayamón native Ñengo Flow.
Upon its release in October 2021, LA 167 unseated Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG on the top of the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, establishing Farruko’s rarified status in the Latin Music scene, and peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200, marking his biggest crossover success to date. The 25-track epic was one of the Latin music events of the year, and a fitting crowning achievement for one of the biggest stars in any genre who is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Morray’s debut album Street Sermons managed to match even those elevated expectations, peaking at #41 on the Billboard 200 and landing Morray at #1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart. Street Sermons taps into the spiritual uplift and church-trained singing that makes Morray’s brand of hip-hop so unique, taking unflinching looks at the Fayetteville native’s youthful struggles and indiscretions and examining his motivations to succeed. Home to highlights like “Can’t Use Me” and “Trenches,” the project contains universal truths about the tragedies and triumphs of growing up in the hood, filtered through Morray’s experience as a neighborhood kid made good.
Earning praise from Complex, who listed Street Sermons as the tenth best album of the first half of 2020, and winning a lifelong fan in fellow Fayetteville native J. Cole, who recruited Morray to sing the chorus of his #2 Billboard Hot 100 hit “m y l i f e” and took him on tour, Street Sermons is an auspicious start to an extremely promising career. Morray, with his honest lyricism and special singing voice, will be a fixture in the game for a long time.
The sequel to 2019’s Dum And Dummer, D&D2 peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200 and featured highlight tracks like the ice cold “Penguins,” the open-and-shut “Case Closed,” and the soulful, organ-drenched “Aspen.” Blessed with production from Bandplay, Sosa808, DJ Squeeky, and others, the album is a luxurious and fun-filled trip through the sounds of Memphis, guided by two cousins and close friends who work best when competing with one another over who can flex the hardest.
The album is home to red hot viral hits like “Free Joe Exotic” ft. Sada Baby and “Honey Pack,” later remixed by Lil Yachty and DDG, and makes way for new collaborations with Benny The Butcher, comedian Zack Fox, and guest verse goddess Coi Leray, who helped “Ocean Prime” become the former mailman’s latest viral hit (nearly 7 million Spotify streams, nearly 450k video creations on TikTok). With Fat N****s Need Love Too, Packman properly introduces himself–he’s not merely an eccentric or colorful figure, but one of the best bar-for-bar emcees in the game today.
Acclaimed by Stereogum, who called the album “grimy and guttural, with a punch-you-in-the-jaw directness and a deep snarl,” Pressure rolls out the red carpet for a series of guests from the Lone Star State, including, Erica Banks, Queendom Come, and OMB Bloodbath, a group of Houston and Dallas rappers giving the co-sign to the talented Beaumont native. The album received further praise from Pitchfork, who named it one of the overlooked albums of Spring 2021, and Passion Of The Weiss, who praised Jade saying “anyone and anything that stands in her way will likely be steamrolled.”
Pressure was a powerful introductory statement from a fearless emcee, who just might be the next big rap star from the Lone Star State.
Released in September, Rich Off Pints 2 is the purest distillation of the Drank God’s appeal. The tape reverberates with the sounds of the Detroit scene that Vezzo helped develop, with ominous piano loops, bouncing 808s, and rattling hi-hats setting the scene for Vezzo’s tales of his illicit past. The album features guest spots from Future, Moneybagg Yo, RMR, Rio Da Yung OG, and more, and earned positive press from DJ Booth, HYPEBEAST, Complex, REVOLT, and many others. A celebration and distillation of what makes Detroit rap special, Rich Off Pints 2 doubles as a coronation for Vezzo, the consummate hustler who is conquering the music game his own way.
With an appearance from Curren$y’s kindred spirit Larry June, Collection Agency finds the New Orleans native in his bag, spinning witticisms about his life of luxury and painting pictures with his detailed description. The album features production from Harry Fraud, Dj.fresh, Trauma Tone, and more, who create a smooth and sumptuous sonic palette that borrows from ’80s electrofunk and quiet storm R&B. Though it can be easy to overlook a single project in Spitta’s vast ouevre, don’t sleep on Collection Agency, a vibey and lyrical 10-piece that stands up to anything in his discography.
The new 23-track tape is home to several new songs by Lil Durk, plus posthumous appearances from King Von, emotionally impactful turns from Booka600, snarling street missives from Memo600, and contributions from fellow OTF signees like Timo, Doodie Lo, JusBlow600, THF Zoo, and C3. In addition to OTF’s talented roster, Loyal Bros welcomes several high profile guests, including Lil Uzi Vert (who connects with Memo600 for the standout track “Let It Blow,” Durk’s frequent collaborator Tee Grizzley (who has his own solo track on the project), and street rap riser EST Gee.
Debuting at #12 on the US Billboard 200 chart, earning 28,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, and hosting Lil Durk’s Hot 100 hit “Hellcats & Trackhawks” (#69 peak), the fourth OTF compilation tape established the collective as one of the hottest artist-led labels in the game.
The album was home to “Outside,” a collaboration with fellow Dallas native OG Bobby Billions that doubled as a tribute to the late rapper. The Deluxe edition of the project included a verse from rising rapper Morray, who counts Mo3 as one of his favorite artists of all time.
With its country-fried anthems and boundless street wisdom, Shottaz 4Eva fits seamlessly into Mo3’s too short discography. Though it might not be his final posthumous album, it serves equally well as a testament to Mo3’s singular talent and a monument to what we lost when his life was cut short.
H2K benefits from Lonnie’s spectacular ear for beats, each of which slyly subverts the kinetic, piano-heavy Detroit sound that he helped popularize with BandGang. Songs like “Where’s Marshall” boast familiar samples, while other tracks get their power from unconventional instrumentation, such as “Gnarley” with its snaking guitar and cinematic flutes. The 6 Mile native puts his stamp on each track with his signature sneering flow, dipping in and out of time as he elastically spits his highly-specific flexes. Hard 2 Kill is notable in Lonnie’s discography because it expands the artist’s horizon far beyond The Mitten, welcoming guests like OhGeesy, EST Gee, Young Nudy, and BIG30 to pay their respects.
Acclaimed by Pitchfork, Stereogum, and more, H2K is one of the most essential Detroit projects of the year, and establishes Lonnie as one of the most inventive practitioners of his hometown’s en vogue sound.
Created in collaboration with executive producer and engineer Daniel Hartzog, RONALD transports Chase’s lilting melodies into a sparkling, atmospheric sonic realm. Almost entirely free from explicit lyrics, RONALD was created with the masses in mind. Chase hoped that the album would help his fans confront their demons with positivity–to embrace their feelings, instead of succumbing to them, and to come out the other side happier. The album benefits from Chase’s innate instincts for hooks and his lyricism, which is alternately playful and profound, and helped him build a big audience on SoundCloud when he was just 17.
A monument to the artist’s influence and singular point-of-view, the RONALD album doesn’t wallow in tragedy or despair, but lights a path forward for those dealing with internal strife.
The project is home to innovative production from the likes of ENRGY and Marc Boomin, whose wavy melodies and in-the-red 808s define the Flint sound. The Coochie Man’s first project for Alamo Records is a creative high water mark for the Alamo Records signee, refining his winning formula and adding experimental touches, including auto-tuned flows on highlights like the single “Ashtray.“ Home to other highlights like “Triple S” (Remix), the ebullient “Summer Time,” and the breakout hit “Coochie” ft. Louie Ray, Coochie Chronicles establishes YN Jay as more than just one of rap’s most colorful characters–he’s one of the most creative artists.
With production from an A-List of sound architects including Tennessee legends Tay Keith (Memphis), Juicy J (Memphis), and Bandplay (Nashville), plus heavy-hitters from across the rap spectrum like Sosa 808, Budda Bless, and more, the upcoming tape finds the 24-year-old artist refining his style, unleashing tighter flows, delivering cleverer punchlines, and giving even fewer f*cks. Like always, the upcoming project finds Key Glock shouldering the full track load without any features. Yellow Tape 2 arrives on November 5th via Paper Route EMPIRE.
With his upcoming album Ethereal, $NOT is aiming for another high water mark. The recently released tracklist reveals the breadth of the melodic and curmudgeonly rapper’s sphere of influences, ranging from stars like A$AP Rocky to underground heroes like Kevin Abstract. Expect Ethereal to arrive in the coming weeks, and don’t be surprised if it’s one of your favorite albums of the year.