Mixtape: F.N.O. (Failures No Option)
Producer: Tha Jerm

Sometimes, a writer can capture a rapper's style so perfectly that it sticks with you for years. This is the case with writer Kelefa Sanneh's description of Lloyd Banks, in a 2004 New York Times piece describing the rapper's "felonious purr." It's an apt description for the rapper's velvety delivery, in which threats float forward as if part of the atmosphere.

This tape is, straight up, front-to-back, one of the most underrated released this year. In the twilight of his career, assisted primarily by frequent beatmaker Doe Pesci, Banks is putting together verses that form perfect shapes like clouds of dirty smoke, unfurling as if they already existed in formation and merely needed his voice to bring them to life.