2/3rds into the year already. It feels like last week when I wrote my albums for the first third of the year, but here goes my second entry to the list. I’d argue and say more music dropped in the first part of the year, but there were still so many albums I had to go through to comprise this list, so I hope you will agree with my selections. Get ready for a couple surprise entries, but I’m sure most people will agree with my number 1.
10. YOUNG NUDY – SLIMEBALL 3
Within the last month, Young Nudy has gone from an artist who I’d listen to every now and again, to an artist that I listen to religiously everyday before work. I don’t know if it’s his beat selections, or if it’s his raw and rough flow, but there’s something about this guy’s sound that just draws me in completely.
I had eagerly awaited the release of this tape, especially because it had been pushed back, and boy, did it not disappoint. I was disappointed to not hear a lot of Pierre beats, because Nudy+Pierre is one of the best rapper/producer duos about, but despite that, he still maintained his reputation of one of the best beat choosers around with this one. SB3 is full of dirty and grimey trap, with an arrogant and confident twist that makes it stick in your head after the first listen, and I absolutely loved it.
9. LIL BABY – HARDER THAN EVER
It was a toss up between this and Yung Bleu’s tape, but I think when you consider the amount of hits on this tape, it would be a travesty to not include it. I think this is the tape that took Lil Baby from a ‘promising’ artist, to being an ‘established’ artist, in his own right.
Everyone draws comparisons between Lil Baby and Gunna, and before Yosemite dropped, I actually saw the tide tip in Baby’s favour. When you listen to Harder than Ever, you can understand why people would come to such a conclusion. Lil Baby comes sooo different to other artists, and to think he hasn’t been rapping for over 2 years. This tape had an embarrassment of hits on it; Cash, Bank, Yes Indeed, Life Goes On, just to name a few. For a debut studio album, Lil Baby smashed it, and showed why he is going to be one of the biggest names in hip hop very soon.
8. YSL – SLIME LANGUAGE
Note how I credited YSL the label for this project, and not just Young Thug. I think a lot of us were under a wrong perception that this was a Young Thug solo project, but alas, we were wrong. This was a collaborative tape. And it was beautiful.
I don’t know why the reaction for Slime Language was kinda cold, because I absolutely loved it. I mean, we got another Thug, Lil Baby and Gunna classic in Chanel (Go Get It),(which is better than Oh Okay btw), we got more quotable Thuggery fuckery, and we got to hear more of his sisters, and for the first time, his girlfriend on a track. What more can you actually ask for? I think this was a tape for the real Thugger fans, and as I classify myself as just that, this tape sits comfortably in my top 10.
7. PLAYBOI CARTI – DIE LIT
Die Lit took a bit longer than I expected to grow on me. The first couple listens didn’t really do it for me, and I felt underwhelmed, especially because of how good Playboi Carti (the tape) was. I felt like he had set such a high standard, and he had just missed the mark.
But then I listened to it again about 2 months later, and I swear, it wasn’t the same album. Tunes that hadn’t done it for me before, were becoming my favourite tunes on the album i.e Old Money. The beats were more bassy. Carti’s playful and babyish vocals on tracks like Flatbed Freestyle had suddenly turned into Beethoven-esque symphonies. And then hearing him perform half the album at Wireless back in July just put the icing on the cake for me, with this album. There’s too much fire on this album for me not to include it, so it goes at number 7.
6. HEADIE ONE – THE ONE TWO
Another tape that grew on me after first listen. I was worried it was going to be another case of ‘2nd tape syndrome’ (I know he had several tapes out before, but it’s his 2nd tape since he’s been popping). By now, it should be known not to trust my first listen, and to get back to me after 2/3 listens, because it took those listens for me to start loving this tape.
Everyone knows Headie One is one of the best artists London has to offer, and this tape showed a progression in his craft. He wasn’t making ordinary drill songs; he was delving into further genres, with different cadences and flows. It was an impressive effort from a man who is growing to better with each and every song he puts out. Can’t wait for the One Two Three!
5. SABA – CARE FOR ME
Considering Saba was an artist I hadn’t previously heard of, I was really, really impressed by this album. I had heard good reviews about him, but I’ve known not to trust a lot of people’s music opinions, because they tend to just be so wayward. But this time, the people finally came right with an artist.
I loved the earthy sound of the album; it had such a original and simplistic style to it, that just drew me in from the first song. He combines a very savvy lyrical ability, with a nice flow, and the production of his songs was great too. Can’t wait to listen to this artist more in the future.
4. DRAKE – SCORPION
He’s the biggest rapper in the world for a reason. The buzz surrounding Scorpion’s release was something we don’t see often, and I personally couldn’t wait to hear it.
The makeup of the album summed up why Drake is in the position he is in; challenge-worthy hits, soft R&B ballads, lyrical sonnets, and hard hitting bangers. He knows what consumers are eating up now, and he capitalises on it. Hats off to him.
Most songs had great replay value, and didn’t fall into the trap of sounding overly repetitive. I can’t forgive him for choosing a washed Michael Jackson verse for Don’t Matter to Me though.
3. SAHBABII – SQUIDTASTIC
I know this album only dropped like 3 days ago, but there was no way I couldn’t put it on this list. I already knew Sahbabii was special, but Squidtastic was absolutely fantastic.
I don’t know why Sahbabii’s name isn’t mentioned in the same light as Gunna and Lil Baby, because if we’re being honest, he’s better than Baby. From SANDAS to now, he hasn’t brought out one dead track, and he comes with such a weird and unorthodox style, that you can’t help but just want to listen to him more and more.
Squidtastic was 34 mins of pure genius. SANDAS showed a wackier and raw side to the artist, but Squidtastic displayed a maturity and honing of his musical prowess, and this led to some crazy music. Boyfriend, Squidrific, Anime World; too many hits to name. Just pips Scorpion because of its originality.
2. THE INTERNET – HIVE MIND
These guys are something else. They’re one of the most talented bands around, and each album they put out is full to the brim of outstanding music. I was ITCHING for a new project by the collective (their last album came out a long 3 years ago) after hearing Syd, Steve Lacy and Matt Martians’ solo projects, and it was beautiful to hear that they had not lost their touch as a group at all.
This album was going to be number 1 on this list up until a couple weeks ago. My new number is….
1. TRAVIS SCOTT – ASTROWORLD
I didn’t want to be a typical music blogger and put this album number 1, but I’d be straight hating if I didn’t. What an album this was, man. I’ve been seeing Travis Scott’s fanbase begging and pleading for Astroworld for like 2 years now, and I honestly didn’t think it was ever gonna come out. But from the features, the production, everything, this album was sensational.
I can’t even begin to think of what the best song on the album is, because there’s too many contenders. Most would say Yosemite or Sicko Mode, but with each listen, your opinion changes again and again. I think most people would agree that this has been one of, if not the, album of the year so far, and it deserves its place at number 1 on my list.
1. Blood Orange – Negro Swan
2. Buddy – Harlon & Alondra
3. Trippie Redd – Life’s a Trip
4. Yung Bleu – Bleu Vandross
5. Jacquees – 4275
6. Lancey Foux – Pink II
7. Johnny Cinco – I Swear 2