[By Brian Last]

In a year that saw the all-mighty Kanye cancel the second leg of his Saint Pablo Tour and where Mos Def retired and was detained in South Africa for an unrecognized passport, the world of hip hop desperately needed some positive press. Here are some lads doing good work:

1)    Chance the Rapper
In an unprecedented move, the Chicago-based rapper proved his appreciation to fans by buying back over 2,000 overpriced tickets from scalpers to resell them to his fans at a reasonable price. Coupled with raving reviews for his album, Colouring Book, I’d say Chance had a good year.

2)    Kendrick Lamar
When To Pimp a Butterfly was released eight days ahead of schedule it was unclear whether it was a ploy or a mix-up and it appears history repeated itself. The politically-charged songs on Untitled Unmastered set social media ablaze. It was the strategic element of surprise that made this album release a hit. Lamar did not need advertising because of the free publicity received through fans and the media.

3)    Childish Gambino
With the role of Lando Calrissian under his belt and now the hit show, Atlanta, Gambino dropped the album “Awaken, My Love” on Dec. 2. The tech-savvy execution of this album release made it a PR win. Following years of radio silence in the Twittersphere, Gambino debuted his own app called Pharos Earth. With the app, fans could get tickets to three performances at Joshua Tree in California and watch performances of select tracks off the album.

4)    A Tribe Called Quest
The seminal rap group had not put out an album since disbanding in 1998. Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, the group felt they had something to say. Their new album, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service, was recorded in secret and featured the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Elton John and Kanye West. The album, released in November, came eight months after the untimely passing of band member Malik Taylor earlier in the year. In the face of tragedy, Tribe got to go out the way they came in; on a positive note filled with love and brotherhood.

(Photo by Brian Last)