2017 is over. I’ve listened to a lot of great music this year, and it’s been one of the best years for some time, music-wise. Having to cut down my favourite albums to just 10 was difficult, but here they are:
10. CHE – BURIES
Considering I had never heard of CHE before this year, for him to make one of my top 10 favourite albums this year must have meant the album was impressive. And impressive it was. A debut tape which has put him as one of the most promising R&B prospects to come out this year, and has gathered him attention from established artists already within the game. I think it was just the complete diverse range of music that the album contained; it had R&B obviously, but there was hip hop, there was dancehall, there was everything. SoundCloud is really the plug when finding out new artists, and I have to thank the app for allowing me to find this album, because it was so good.
9. CUT OF CLOTH – ALEXANDRIA
One of my favourite artists here, and it was so good to hear last year that she was releasing an album. The fact that the album exceeded my expectations made it even better for me. It contained songs that had been on some of her previous projects e.g. Complement, but she tweaked and improved the songs before adding them. The new songs that were on the project were so good too. 16 songs of R&B genius, and I’m surprised that she hasn’t entered, or creeped towards the mainstream. I think it’s probably down to her limited amount of releases (she only releases only 1 project per year), but I think her next album will definitely turn some heads.
This was also a great album, because it was just her. Besides the song Problem, which had already been released on her previous EP, Promise, none of the songs had features. It helped me appreciate her even more as an artist, and I loved it. I had the privilege to interview Alexandria last month, and listening to her speak helped me deep and appreciate the album more, so it definitely goes into my top 10.
8. WINTERTIME – WINTERTIME
This album isn’t for everyone. This list isn’t necessarily the BEST albums released this year, it’s a list of the albums I enjoyed the MOST. Wintertime is an enigma. He has such a strong underground following, and so many bangers to his name, that he should arguably be enjoying the same status as artists like Smokepurpp, or Uno The Activist. Coming from Florida, he’s plugged in with other fellow underground artists, and he also even has a joint project with Lil Yachty. It’s like all the opportunities for him to blow up are there, but he doesn’t want to take them. He stresses in so many songs that he doesn’t care about the interviews or the fame, he just wants the money. How you meant to make money if you’re not taking music seriously? This album helped me understand how good he was.
I’ve been a Wintertime fan for about a year now. I think the first song of his I heard was Rochelle Aytes, which, by the way, deserves a Grammy. I hadn’t heard anyone like him before; if I was to describe Wintertime’s music, I’d describe it as trancelike. His voice is very monotonic, so much so that his flow is almost trancelike. I wasn’t 100% convinced at first, but the more I listened to him, the more I liked his stuff. His ‘I Know What You Did Last Winter’ EP completely swung the pendulum for me. I was now officially a Wintertime fan. But this album here just took the cake. His woozy and slurry flow sounds so hard on beats; his sound is so unique. I don’t think there’s anyone who can say that Wintertime bit their flow, because this sort of flow is actually unheard of. The beats on the album are supersonic, and although the tape only lasts 24 minutes, it consisted of some of my favourite songs this year.
Wintertime’s currently on a ‘hiatus’, and I hope he comes back in 2018 even bigger and better, because he really could go far in this game.
7. DANIEL CAESAR – FREUDIAN
Normally, I don’t pay attention to people on Twitter’s music opinions. Majority of people either have dead music taste, or they’re just sheeps. Maybe that’s why it took me a bit longer than it should have to take in Daniel Caesar’s music, because I expected him to be another overhyped artist. Thank God I did, because he’s super talented, and this was one of the best albums released this year in any genre, hands down.
It only contains 10 songs, but he packed more into these 10, than other artists could have packed into 20. Most people would put Get You into their top R&B songs for the year, but the album gave us so much more than that. Songs like Best Part, and Blessed, were truly masterpieces, and deserve the same appreciation that Get You has got. It’s no surprise at all that this album has been nominated for the best R&B album at the Grammys, because it is honestly that good. With the emphasis we put on the beat now, artists can almost get away with not having the best vocals, but Daniel Caesar’s classical vocals, and his lo-fi beats allow you to fully take him in as an artist. The gospel samples, the synthy ballads, and the soulful vibe to the album makes this one of my favourite R&B albums of recent years.
6. SYD – FIN
It’s always good to see group artists branch out into solo ventures, and try to ply their trade on an individual basis. Not that Syd needed to prove that she could do it on her own, but releasing her own solo album was a better idea than not doing it. This album allowed me to take in the transition of her sound from the Internet’s Feel Good tape, until now.
Whereas Feel Good has a much more acoustic and funky vibe, this album contains her dabbling with 808s, and shows a much more brash Syd. I hadn’t heard Syd spraying bars like this before, and it was as shocking, as it was wavey. I mean, listen to tracks like Nothin to Somethin. This isn’t your typical R&B. It’s like lustful rap. But of course, she didn’t stray too far from her melodic roots, and provided her usual great vocals on slower and more chilled beats, such as Smile More. I think what made this album stick in my head was just how much I didn’t expect it to sound like this. Artists should never be afraid to change their sound, and Syd did just that in this album. A great album.
5. PLAYBOI CARTI – PLAYBOI CARTI
I didn’t think it was going to happen, but Playboi Carti actually dropped his long awaited mixtape. It seemed like he revelled in being a tease and a troll, but he knew that for his career to move forward, he was going to have to release a body of work. Well, in his debut mixtape, he released a very good project, and definitely turned many heads.
Playboi Carti is the biggest rapper to come from the Soundcloud generation to date, so the pressure was on for him to provide a very good mixtape, and he did not disappoint. Yes, most people will refer to Magnolia as the best track on the tape, but it actually isn’t. My personal favourite from the track was Yah Mean, and I’m sure other people would say wokeuplikethis* An album where people debate endlessly about what the best song from the tape is is always going to be a great one, so that is testament to how good Playboi Carti was. A good debut tape, and one of my top albums of the year.
4. 21 SAVAGE – ISSA ALBUM
This album got 21 some well deserved attention. The jury was out on him sort of, because even though most people, like myself, greatly enjoyed his Savage Mode mixtape, I’m sure a lot of people thought after, ‘what now?’. What else could he potentially release? Even I feared this. But Issa Album firmly shut down those critics and those worries, because he topped every project he’s ever released with this one.
So many bangers. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t worry about from a 21 Savage tape, it’s if there will be standout bangers that you can take from it. Savage Mode had X and No Heart, but Issa Album has even more. Bad Business, Baby Girl, Bank Account, Whole Lot, FaceTime; the list goes on and on. But despite just having hard hitting, 808 pumping bangers, it also had other types of hits. Look at tunes like Special and FaceTime. When had you ever heard 21 sing on a track, before listening to these songs? It showed a maturity in his rapping ability, and it also showed how versatile he is. But beyond anything, this album, and 2017 as a whole, has showed the haters that 21 actually has bars. He can’t go bar for bar with a Jay Z or a Kendrick, but compared to the echelon of new wave artists he belongs to, his bars exceed the majority of them.
I think 2017 has been the best year of 21’s career so far, because not only did he release this great album, he fully entered the mainstream circle of hip hop. His joint tape with Offset further consolidated this, and I hope 2018 will bring new successes for him.
3. FUTURE – HNDRXX
Hate him or love him, Future will go down as a legend. His portfolio of albums and tapes is unmatched by any other trap artist in my opinion. Gucci Mane, Migos, Young Thug…I don’t think any of them can hold a candle to Future’s discography. Saying that, HNDRXX may just top the lot though.
Future was the first artist to have two albums debut at number 1 in consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200. I don’t think people fully took in how crazy of an achievement that was. Bearing in mind that the promotion and announcements of the album was very short-lived, to release two in such a short space of time, and for them to both do so well commercially, is a testament to Future’s status. I liked FUTURE, but I wasn’t a massive fan. I didn’t even think Mask Off was the best song from that tape; I was surprised that it was that song that blew up out of all the songs from the album. But HNDRXX exceeds FUTURE in every department. It was more cohesive, and had much more replay value. It’s almost as if FUTURE was the prototype for HNDRXX.
HNDRXX was different to any Future project I’ve ever heard. We all know Future makes hits in his sleep, but this song showed a maturity in Future’s music. Not to say it was immature before, but it didn’t contain songs with little value, like FUTURE did. What I mean by that is that FUTURE contained songs that you’ve heard Future make 100 times before; HNDRXX had some completely new and unique Future that was never before heard. When have you ever heard Future make a song like Incredible? Even his live performance of the song on Jimmy Kimmel; that was borderline angelic. It contained a much more emotional Future, who almost seemed to be reeling from the losses of his baby mum, Ciara. Songs like Use Me and Turn on Me connoted an image of pain and regret from Future Hendrix. I said ages ago that hood rappers say their realest stuff when it’s about a woman, and Future does exactly that here. Also, the album contains Future spraying bars like I had never heard before, and that was so good to hear, because I was starting to grow tired of the same old ‘ Future is mumble rap and has no bars’ argument. The last track on the album, Sorry; 7 mins of pure genius. When will your favourite ever?
2. GUNNA – DRIP SEASON 2
I’ve said hundreds of times before, on this blog, and to my friends too, how Gunna is probably my favourite artist in the whole world right now. If you want to know why, then listen to Drip Season 2.
The first time I came across Gunna was on Young Thug’s track, Floyd Mayweather. Admittedly, I didn’t pay his verse much attention, as I was so excited at the prospect of hearing Travis Scott, Gucci Mane and Thugga on a tune together. I was still impressed by the verse nonetheless, but I left it at that. It was only this year that I started to pay attention to Gunna’s music, and I still pinch myself to this day of not jumping on earlier. Gunna is in his own lane, and no one can try tell me otherwise. Absolutely every song on this album is above 7/10. If I had to choose my favourites, it would be Belly of the Beast, YSL and Secure the Vibe. Belly of the Beast especially, because it was the first solo Gunna song I ever heard, and it was what inspired me to listen to the rest of the tape.
Why I have put this album so high up on my list is simply because of the way it made me feel when I first listened to it. Every album on the list had me bopping my head, but Drip Season 2 had the most wheel-ups. Like, this is a 51 minute tape, but I think it took me around 2 hours to finish. It took me almost an hour to even get past track 5! It’s apparent from my previous posts, that I love melodies. It’s such a key part of R&B, and I love the way its being implemented into hip hop music more and more. Gunna is one of the kings of melodic rap, and was one of the reasons why I favour it so much now.
The features, in Playboi Carti, Hoodrich Pablo, Young Thug, Shad da God, Duke, Offset and Nechie are representative of the true Atlanta vibe and feel to it. This is a mixtape full of designer and aesthetics, and was truly one of the most enjoyable mixtapes released this year.
1. MIGOS – CULTURE
This album will go down as a classic, I’m telling you. A lot of people will disagree, but a lot will agree. The amount of bangers on Culture is an absolute joke. As in,everyone knows Migos know how to make bangers, but this album had even the most conservative hip hop fans bopping their head. After I listened to Bad and Boujee for the first time in August 2016, I said to myself that, ‘this is a new Migos’. As in, Bad and Boujee was a banger that I had never heard from Migos before. If you compare this to classic Migos hits,such as Bando or Hannah Montana, you can truly see the progression in ability and prowess of Migos both as a unit, and individually.
After Bad and Boujee, I didn’t know how it was going to get any banger, because that song is one of the best songs in the last 10 years, sorry not sorry. Then Culture dropped, and I was dumbfounded. From the 14th second of the intro, to the last second of Out Yo Way, everything banged. The beats, the flows, the bars, the features, everything. I don’t even think they knew that Culture was going to have the impact it did, because it will really go down in history. I doubt Migos ever thought they’d be nominated for a Grammy, but Culture has brought that. I doubt Migos ever thought they’d be nominated for 2 Grammys, but Bad and Boujee brought that. The argument and thought that Migos wouldn’t last is a 4 year old adage, and is something I truly never believed. I think after this album, even the haters had to admit that it was a lie. Migos were here.
I honestly can’t decide what my favourite song from it is, because it’s actually impossible. But all I know is that I can’t remember enjoying an album as much as I enjoyed Culture, and it is because of this why I rate it as my album of the year.
Honourable mentions to: Brent Faiyaz – Sonder Son, Sabrina Claudio – About Time, K Trap – Last Whip, Young Thug – Beautiful Thugger Girls, J Hus – Common Sense, Shy Glizzy – Quiet Storm and 88GLAM – 88GLAM
Thanks for reading!