Back in 2015 I made a list of my favorite albums from that year and it was a great year for music. I began doing the same thing for 2016 but there were far too many albums to choose from and rank fairly, so I did a a list for just half of that year. This time around though, I made a huge effort, for there were too many great albums to come out for me not to post about them, and I came to a wopping FIFTY albums, twice as many as my 2015 list. I put a lot of work into this list, ranking the albums as carefully as possible with no external influences telling me things like, ‘Young Thug had the best album of the year’ (no one actually told me that). I will also be posting a playlist with a song from each one of these albums, but let’s get right to it starting with number fifty:
50. Future, FUTURE/HNDRXX
I wanted to choose just one of these albums for the list. I ended up choosing both purely because of the moment this created. Future drops a self-titled album one week with all Future-like bangers like his hit “Mask Off.” Then just a week later, he drops HNDRXX, a more slowed down, R&B type record with more intricate beats and melodies. These two albums solidify how much of a workhorse Future really is.
49. Jidenna, The Chief
Remember Jidenna? Did you know he put out an album in 2017? Probably not, but this album just squeezed onto my list because I remember when I listened to it, it was something like I had never heard before. It didn’t have his big single, “Classic Man” on the album, but it didn’t need it, because it sounded like he was going for a theme here and that’s what I really appreciate about this album. From the songs to the skits, to the instrumentals and harmonies, The Chief sounds like it’s main inspiration was The Lion King.
48. The xx, I See You
I discovered The xx back in 2012 when they released Coexist, and this discovery was purely from the artwork. Their signature logo for their albums especially is a large X. I remember loving what was their second album and was unaware of their most popular song which is the intro to their first album. This album, however, put them in the pop realm with songs like “Dangerous,” “On Hold,” and my personal favorite, “Say Something Loving,” while still keeping the sentiment of their unique, atmospheric sound.
47. Vic Mensa, The Autobiography
Vic Mensa has transformed exponentially since his mixtape Innanetape came out. He grew out his hair, changed his music style dramatically, and began working closely with Kanye West and eventually signed to Roc Nation. For his debut album, The Autobiography shows different sides of Vic and different music styles as well. For example, he has both Chief Keef and the band Weezer on this album. The fact that this LP was extremely overlooked does not negate Mensa’s talent. He showcases his excellent raps on the first track, “Say I Didn’t, and flexes his singing chops on “We Could Be Free.”
46. Ty Dolla $ign, Beach House 3
This album almost didn’t make the list simply because I almost didn’t listen to it. Though, when I did, I figured it was well deserving. The opening track itself had me locked in as it starts with a smooth acoustic instrumental and Dolla $ign’s impeccable crooning. If you haven’t heard of Ty Dolla $ign, which would be surprising, I highly recommend it for he can really sing his ass off, as well as make great records.
45. Meek Mill, Wins & Losses
This is the first Meek Mill album without the word “Dream” in it, though his brand is still “Dreamchasers.” Philly native Meek Mill has had a rough couple of years, after being ethered by Drake, dumped by Nicki Minaj, and constantly battling legal troubles. His comeback mixtape, Dreamchasers 4 was a hint of how strong Meek would come back from all of this. Wins & Losses showcases your typical Meek Mill sound but he also dabbles in different styles and even sings a little bit. I never gave up on Meek and I was satisfied with this effort from him in 2017. Sidenote: #FREEMEEK.
44. Willow Smith, The 1st
I have been a huge Willow fan ever since she transformed her style of music while still so young. The vast majority know Willow musically from her song “Whip My Hair,” but if you haven’t heard anything of hers since that, you will certainly be in for a surprise. The 1st is Willow’s sophomore follow-up to the complex Ardipithecus, and it is much shorter, stripped down and sophisticated for a 17-year-old Willow. Singing mostly over acoustic guitar driven beats, Willow keeps it simple but beautiful for this LP. I am certainly looking forward to more music as she continues to get older.
43. Lil Uzi Vert, Luv is Rage 2
Never did I think that Lil Uzi Vert would make any of my year-end lists for albums, but sometimes artists will surprise you. Aside from his smash hit “XO TOUR LIF3,” there were actually more than three songs on here that I could play more than once and not get tired of. Uzi is not a wordsmith, but he is a master of melodies, harmonies, hitting those pockets and just full on energy. I haven’t seen him live but I hear he’s had one of the craziest live shows to see recently. If I go to a festival this summer and he’s there, I’ll make sure to go see him.
42. Gorillaz, Humanz
I was very excited when I heard the Gorillaz would be releasing an album in 2017, though the result fell well under par. An album with several interludes that has around 20+ tracks is a bit intimidating to even begin to listen to. Humanz did have a handful of gems and what really made the album is the abundance of features (Vince Staples, DRAM, Kelela, Pusha T, Popcaan, De La Soul Danny Brown, Kali Uchis, Kilo Kish, etc.). Some of my favorite dance tracks from the year appear on this album.
41. Miguel, War & Leisure
Miguel has one of the most unique voices in recent popular music and his style is hard to pin point. It’s easy to categorize him into R&B but he is much more complex than that. War & Leisure has tracks that you can party to, make love to, and even roll up to. It is shorter, more precise and crisp to the ear. Definitely a worth while listen and could have been ranked higher on this list had it been released earlier in the year.
40. Lorde, Melodrama
Lorde’s debut album Pure Heroine won the hearts of millions, especially with her hit song, “Royals.” I personally loved the album along with her style, reminiscent of a Frank Ocean-like pop complex. So why did it take five years for Lorde to release another album? Might as well ask Frank the same thing, but one thing’s for sure is that she matured a lot between Pure Heroine and Melodrama. Her writing and her unique voice definitely makes Lorde enjoyable to listen to.
39. Bryson Tiller, True To Self
His debut mixtape/album, TRAPSOUL went platinum with no features and not many people knew about him including myself. Now Bryson Tiller is a household name in modern R&B and I suppose you could call True To Self Tiller’s debut album. He is very versatile and it is showcased in this album as he croons and raps equally as well with another project all with no features. I believe Bryson Tiller has perfected the style that Drake has tried to emulate (ironically Drake tried to sign Tiller, but he turned it down).
38. XXXTentacion, 17
Call him crazy, problematic, abusive whatever. I don’t know what to call him nor do I care, but this album came straight out of left field based on how I was introduced to XXXTentacion. I thought he was just another one of those rappers like Lil Yachty, Kodak Black and 21 Savage. In a way he might be, but not with 17. With acoustic-driven instrumentals. subtle crooning and short structured songs, 17 is by far one of the most interesting and polarizing listens to come out in 2017. But don’t sleep, the kid can rap too.
37. Ed Sheeran, Divide
Various lists floating around the internet probably have this album ranked way higher than where I have it. Truth is, Ed Sheeran is a great song-writer, vocalist and guitarist and this is a great album, however, preferences have Divide lower on this list only because of it’s replay value. Every song sounds different and has a separate mood to it and I really appreciate that about Sheeran’s work, and if you are a music lover like myself, there’s no reason that he doesn’t deserve the success that he’s recieved thus far.
36. Rick Ross, Rather You Than Me
The big Bawse releases a lot of albums and if you’re a hip-hop fan you’re probably aware of this. Rather You Than Me is probably his best work since Teflon Don (“BMF,” “Aston Martin Music”) in my opinion and his most cohesive. As a rapper, Rick Ross is probably one of the most consistent out and should be in the same conversations as Kanye, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z etc. Speaking of Lil Wayne, he addresses the dispute between him and Birdman on this album, in a FULL SONG. Sounds like Ross had some things to get off his chest with this one. He also always comes through with the most cinematic beat selection, courtesy of the Justice League (production team).
35. Sampha, Process
This was an album that I never expected to come out. I discovered Sampha through the UK electronic producer/DJ, SBTRKT back in 2011 and his voice really stood out to me. Then he started doing work with the likes of Drake, Solange, Frank Ocean and slowly became a household name in R&B. While I always thought his career was going to pan out like Nate Dogg’s (RIP), meaning he would do plenty of features but never put out a solo album, Process is a great testament to Sampha’s pure talent. The emotional “No one Knows Me (Like the Piano),” made this album very critically acclaimed, though my only complaint is that it’s just a little too short.
34. Shaun JaRell, H!pgnosis
My great friend Shaun JaRell came through with his THIRD album in 2017 and this one made the list because it is his most unique and sonically cohesive project thus far. The beats he raps on are damn near radio ready right now, but the content in his lyrics, I personally don’t believe the general public is ready to hear yet. He has utilized this kind of content for years now but I believe with H!pgnosis he got his message across much clearer, though he still may go straight over people’s heads. If you’re wondering why I haven’t pin pointed what his content is about, I suggest you just take a listen.
33. 2 Chainz, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is by far 2 Chainz’ best album he’s released since he changed his name from Tity Boi. I was never much of fan of his but I always loved his humorous wordplay and simple flows which both improved on this album. He has had his hits in the past, but this is probably his only album that can be enjoyed all the way through with no skips (okay maybe a few).
32. Goldlink, At What Cost
I never really followed Goldlink too closely, but I always knew of him through one of my favorite producers, KAYTRANADA. I slept on his first album for reason’s I can’t think of at the moment, but At What Cost got me paying attention. The DC native has a unique rapping voice and accent and is extremely talented when it comes to flows. He even has a platinum single from this album (“Crew”) and he has a song with Jazmine Sullivan which is one of my favorites (which is produced by KAYTRANADA).
31. King Krule, The OOZ
It’s been a long time coming for an album from the unique, red-headed, crooner-guitarist and he delivered with one of his weirdest but most beautiful records depending on your perspective. His voice may turn some off, but the production is what keeps me intrigued. Most of The OOZ is very stripped down, jazzy, electronic and bluesy all in one. It is certainly not a short listen but it provides more songs for the listener to choose their favorites.
30. Kelela, Take Me Apart
I have heard lots of different things about Kelela and they have all been positive things, but then I had to hear for myself. She was featured on Solange’s recent album and the Gorillaz Humanz, and I enjoyed her voice, but then was curious to what she sounded like on her own. Kelela’s style is like a Brandy mixed with FKA Twigs and it is refreshing to say the least in the state that R&B is in today especially for female artists. I didn’t listen to this album too many times, but I thought it was good enough to make the list and could have had a higher ranking had I listened to it more.
29. Eminem, Revival
This album came pretty late in the year and it recieved a ton of criticism as an Eminem album would normaly do. Even a lot of my friends said it was trash. We live in a time where one listen, and most times not even a full listen will, solidify our opinions on something. I wanted to give this album a fair listen, which means more than once and with an open mind. I liked a few things about Revival: the fact that he took a very different approach with his single, “Walk on Water” with Beyoncé, he took a strong political stance and made a song that highlights the awareness of his privilege, and he made songs that are just pure, unapologetic Eminem. Another big take away from this album is that he continues to address his estranged ex-wife, Kim, but this time from a more mature perspective. Don’t be so quick to shut down one of the best rappers of all time.
28. Logic, Everybody
I’ve followed Logic since his Young Sinatra mixtape days and it is crazy to see how big and influential he has gotten since. Everybody was overall a pretty political album in itself but it is also an album that was overshadowed by one of his songs, “1-800-273-8255” (similar to how Childish Gambino’s album Awaken, My Love! was overshadowed by “Redbone”) which is a suicide awareness song. This song is reminiscent of Macklemore’s “Same Love” where he addresses same-sex relationships because these two topics have not been addressed so directly in hip-hop let alone in music. Everybody is probably Logic’s most successful effort thus far as he garnered more commercial success, but if you listen to the whole album, there are some lyrical gems in there that Logic is widely known for.
27. Drake, More Life
A playlist made my top albums list? Well, first of all this isn’t a traditional playlist nor is it a conventional album. Drake had been teasing this album/playlist for a while shortly after Views dropped in 2016. The fact that his approach to this album was so different from anything he’s ever done makes this interesting to say the least. There are certainly some stand-out records on there (“Passionfruit,” “Free Smoke,” “Portland,” “Fake Love”) as Drake usually makes, but being that it’s a playlist, and some of the songs he’s not even on makes this effort not as strong including the fact that a majority of the songs are skippable.
26. Travis Scott & Quavo, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho
Travis and Quavo have been teasing a joint project practically all 2017, and unlike most rumored collab albums, this one actually came into fruition. Huncho Jack was almost exactly what I expected from these two, hence why I enjoyed it so much and made it this high on the list. Travis and Quavo definitely have a kind of chemistry that is rare to find in hip-hop artists, and in my opinion, this album was miles ahead of Super Slimey and What a Time to be Alive, because it wasn’t rushed, it wasn’t manufactured, and Travis being the perfectionist he is made sure it sounded the best it could be.
25. Migos, Culture
2017 was definitely the breakout year for Migos (and Cardi B, but I think she’s just getting started). Culture was definitely Migos’ most anticipated and commercially successful album, especially with “Bad and Boujee” topping the charts for so long. I didn’t really like Migos before because they were the quintessential mumble rappers, that was until i started to understand what they were saying and appreciated their flows and cadences. The trio hasn’t let up either, with Quavo’s collab album, the Quality Control compilation, and Culture 2 which just released this weekend, nearly a full year after Culture dropped.
24. Mac Demarco, This Old Dog
Mac Demarco is quite the character outside of music. He has a crazy, old Odd Future behavioral feel to him, but his music is actually beautiful. I discovered Demarco from his song Chamber of Reflection which is still his most popular song to date. This Old Dog is classic Mac Demarco in the sense of the relaxing vibes, soothing vocals and easy-going lyrics. This Old Dog is the perfect soundtrack for a warm sunny day on the back porch, or something like that.
23. Washed Out, Mister Mellow
I discovered Washed Out the same way a lot of people I know who know him discovered Washed Out. Through the opening credits of the IFC show, Portlandia (Feel It All Around). It is a wonderful song, but Mister Mellow is probably his best yet. His last album, Paracosm, was okay but this one is on a new level. It was part of my 2017 summer soundtrack because of it’s chill, atmospheric island vibes which also had dance-worthy tracks. I would say if you’re just hearing about Washed Out, listen to “Feel It All Around,” and then this album.
22. Cyhi The Prynce, No Dope on Sundays
For G.O.O.D Music fans, this was a long overdue album, but I will say it was definitely worth the wait. If you need a reminder on who Cyhi The Prynce is, go listen to “So Appalled” on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Yes, this album came out nearly seven years ago, but I can tell that Cyhi wanted to make his debut album a classic. While it is too early to deem it a classic, No Dope on Sundays was definitely one of the best hip-hop albums to come out in 2017. As one of the few actual lyricists from Atlanta, Cyhi delivers on a wide variety of styles and executes on his wordplay nearly flawlessly.
21. Toro y Moi, Boo Boo
I still till this day do not understand this album title, but that doesn’t matter, the album itself is great. Toro Y Moi is a multi-talented songwriter, producer, vocalist, DJ and plays multiple instruments. One thing I love about Toro is that he isn’t afriad to step out of the box and experiment, which he did leading up to Boo Boo. Since his album Anything in Return, Toro has released an indie rock album, a electronic dance album under a different name, a mixtape with hip-hop beats accompanied by indie artists as well as a joint project with a two-piece band from San Francisco. Boo Boo definitely embodies the sound that Toro is known for which is groovy, atmospheric, unconventional alternative pop.
20. HOMESHAKE, Fresh Air
The title of this album is exactly what HOMESHAKE’s sound is. There really is no genre to place him in nor is there any signs of him garnering commercial success, which is fine with me. In Fresh Air, there are elements of soft rock, R&B, hip-hop, and pure atmospheric instrumentals. He also sings in a variety of different voices with several effects, oftentimes to make himself sound like a female vocalist. HOMESHAKE was actually a member of Mac Demarco’s band back before he went solo, so there are similarities in their music. Though I don’t like this album as much as his 2015 album Midnight Snack, it is still good enough to make this list and secure the 20th spot.
19. Jhené Aiko, Trip
I’ve had a big crush on Jhené Aiko since I heard her mixtape, Sailing Souls, and she kept that common theme of sailing and souls throughout her next two projects, except for this one. Trip is just what the album title states. It’s a long, strange but beautfiul journey into Jhené’s mind and world. Her voice, her writing, and her beat selection are all extremely intricate and calculated, which makes for her best album yet. She also released a poetry book and a short film to accompany the album which was released out of nowhere and three years ahead of her debut album, Souled Out. The whole play on words and the ‘sold out’ concept is fitting for her brand because you can tell with this album especially that she didn’t compromise and stuck to her usual subject matter and signiture sound.
18. Joey Bada$$, ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$
Since his debut mixtape, 1999, Joey Bada$$ has been one of the most consistent lyrical rappers with a strong message. Listening to Joey over these past couple of years, I wouldn’t have thought he had a strong political stance. ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, however, is one of the most politically driven hip-hop albums of the year. Musically speaking, I believe this is Joey’s best work so far. While he doesn’t just give you thought-provoking lyricism and flows that he’s widely known for, he also experiments with harmonies and cadences which work for Joey’s deep voice. There is also a strong message on the last song, “AMERIKKKAN IDOL,” that not just every rap fan, but every American should listen to.
17. Syd, Fin
The ex-Odd Future band, The Internet, decided to put out a slew of solo albums in 2017 and Fin is just one of those by the lead vocalist Syd, or as Odd Future fans know her, Syd The Kid. This was probably the most commercially successful albums out of the Internet’s solo albums and the vocal performance from Syd is incredible. She really showcased her strong song-writing, vocal range and versatility on Fin and has solidified herself as a prolific female artist to look our for in the near future, though I believe a full Internet album should be coming out this year. Also for any Aliyah fans reading this, the second song, “Know” sounds eerily just like her.
16. Big Krit, 4eva is a Mighty Long Time
For one thing, I’d just like to say that I am so grateful that Big Krit put out an album in 2017, and this might just be the one. Krit’s mixtape days are what made me a huge fan of his, and this album brought us right back to those days. His first two albums were definitely more label driven and weren’t commercially successful in their own right. I’ve always thought Krit was talented enough to be in the same conversations as Drake, Kendrick and Cole as a producer who raps, but his projects just weren’t strong enough. 4eva is a Mighty Long Time marks his departure from his label though as well as his triumphant comeback.
15. Matt Martians, The Drum Chord Theory
Here we have another solo album from a member of The Internet, and this one is funky in more ways than one. Matt Martians and Syd are the two co-founders of the band and Matt is responsible for the majority of the beats. Being from Atlanta, Georgia, Martians doesn’t believe in conventionalism when it comes to making music, so you’ll never catch him making a trap beat as ATLiens usually do. Instead, The Drum Chord Theory has various infused sounds inspired mostly by R&B, funk, jazz, rock, and a sprinkle of hip-hop. My personal favorite from this album is “Southern Isolation,” which is an extremely smooth instrumentally driven tune that probably made The Drum Chord Theory one of my favorites from 2017.
14. Khalid, American Teen
This albums was one of the most critically acclaimed of 2017 and Khalid quickly rose to stardom, especially with his unconventional smash hit, “Location.” For the longest time I thought he was British because of his accent, but then his album title wouldn’t have made sense. Turns out, he’s from a small town in Georgia. American Teen is without a doubt a pop album, but what makes it stand out is the 90’s influences and his voice especially which is nasally but soothing at the same time. I enjoy his slower songs a little more, my favorite being “Saved,” which Khalid said was the first song he recorded for the album. The inner highschool teen in me resonates with this album so well.
13. Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory
One of the most interesting and polarizing characters on the internet is the man and the myth himself, Vince Staples. He swears he isn’t a troll but radio personalities will say otherwise. But this isn’t about his personality, this is about his music. I’ve seen Vince perform live and he has definitely developed an impeccable stage presence. Big Fish Theory is an album that combines intricate rhymes with modern electronic instrumentals. It is certainly a breath of fresh air especially coming from a rapper, and it features the likes of Kilo Kish, Ray J, Kendrick Lamar and Ty Dolla $ign though not officially credited.
12. Nai Palm, Needle Paw
You’re probably wondering who this is, what this is, and why it’s so high on this list. It just so happens that Nai Palm is the lead singer and guitarist of my favorite band, Hiatus Kaiyote. Once I learned she would be releasing a solo acoustic album in 2017 I got too excited, being one of the best female vocalists I’ve heard in a long time and her style is so unique and special to me. One of the best songs on this album is “Crossfire.” Once I heard it for the first time I couldn’t stop listening to it, and then it fades into her interpretation of Tamia’s “So Into You.” She also covered Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” which is the title song to my favorite Jimi Hendrix album. I would recommend listening to Hiatus Kaiyote before going to this album if you haven’t heard of either Nai Palm or her band.
11. Rapsody, Laila’s Wisdom
This album came straight out of left field and hit me where I didn’t expect it. It probably did the same for a lot of hip-hop fans as well. I’ve always known about Rapsody being an extremely lyrical female emcee, but Laila’s Wisdom probably solidified her as the best female rapper out right now and in ways, the female Kendrick Lamar. It is entirely produced by 9th Wonder and is nominated for Best Hip-Hop Album at the Grammy’s which is well deserved. One thing that caught my attention was the fact that she has a song with Kendrick on this album, and she didn’t get killed by him. That’s really saying something being that Kendrick usually has the standout verse on any record he’s on. Hip-hop-heads, if you haven’t heard this album yet, go listen NOW.
10. Jaden Smith, SYRE
This was a long time coming, but the man, the myth, the legend, Jaden Smith, finally released his debut album in 2017. I’ve followed him and his sister’s music since 2012 and I immediately saw potential in both of them. I already knew that Willow is a talented vocalist, but when it’s all said and done, Jaden could end up being a better musician than his dad. The album starts off with a sequence of four seamless songs titled “BLUE,” each song containing a different letter. Then we get a sample of Jaden’s versatility in his crooning and rapping and he is great at both, but I believe he’s one of the best young rappers out right now, but overlooked only because well, he’s Jaden Smith. DO NOT SLEEP.
9. Calvin Harris, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
The first single from this album came from Frank Ocean’s Blonded Radio series on Apple Music and it featured him and the Migos over a Calvin Harris beat. At first it sounded too strange to be true, but then the song dropped, and I fell in love with it right away. I knew there and then that Calvin Harris may have the album of the summer. The songs on this album are funky and wavy just as the album title suggests, and they’re all just feel-good dance tracks. And what puts this album over the top is the features, which include Pharrell, Snoop Dogg, Schoolboy Q, DRAM, Kehlani, Travis Scott, Young Thug, Khalid, Future, Ariana Grande, and John Legend just to name a few. Hopefully there is a volume 2 in the works.
8. Thundercat, Drunk
This is probably the weirdest album on this list but musically, it is absolutely brilliant. Thundercat is a bassist who used to play for Erykah Badu in the early 2000s before he became a solo act and signed with Flying Lotus’ label, Brainfeeder. There isn’t necessarily much to take from this album as far as content goes, but if you do listen to the lyrics you will find just how ridiculous it is (there is a full song on this album dedicated to cats). I would recommend this album to anyone who doesn’t necessarily need to be intellectually stimulated by an album, but truly appreciates good instrumentation.
7. SZA, CTRL
2017 was a huge year for SZA. TDE’s first lady finally put out her debut album, CTRL, early in the year and boy did it do numbers. Her unconventional song-writing and subject matter is what had people gravitate toward her and applaud her success, but also the music is just great quality, and TDE is known for quality. I personally have seen her live twice, once before this album and once after and her energy on stage is unmatched and you can definitely tell she pours her soul out into her songs. This year she has five grammy nominations which is the most by a female for this years awards. Also, “Love Galore” is one of the best songs to come out in 2017, and “The Weekend,” which is deemed a side-chick anthem, went platinum without even being a single and is nominated for best R&B performance at the Grammy’s this year.
6. Steve Lacy, Steve Lacy’s Demo
This isn’t exactly an album, as it says in the title, it is just a demo. What made this album so good and ranked so high on my list is Steve Lacy’s impact in general. Every song (which is only six) on here was recorded and mixed on his iPhone. He has also produced music for the likes of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean and Jhené Aiko. Plus, he’s only 19 years old. “Ryd” is definitely one of my most played songs of 2017 and “Some” is such a bop I can’t help but dance when it comes on. Steve is a vocalist, bassist, and an incredible guitarist, and is the most recent band member of The Internet. He is also known to be mostly responsible for the success of Ego Death, which was nominated for a grammy in 2016, while Steve was still in high school.
5. JAY-Z, 4:44
Who knew that a 48-year-old Shawn Carter would drop one of the best hip-hop albums in 2017? Probably everyone who is familiar with JAY-Z. 4:44 is Hov’s most introspective, honest, emotional and revealing album that he’s ever put out and it only took him 13 albums to do it. This album was the controversial response to his wife’s Lemonade regarding the infidelity allegations, which we learned were true and JAY-Z owned up to it on the title song, “4:44.” All of the beats were produced by No I.D. and there was not a radio friendly song to be found. This was very mature of Hov not just because of his age, but because of the political and social climate we’re in and the immense platform that he possesses.
4. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
Let’s be honest, we all saw this one coming. Though DAMN was at the top of the majority of end of the year lists, it fell a little short for my list. Kendrick delivered like he always does, and maybe that’s why it didn’t get the top spot, because he was expected to deliver. But anyway, DAMN is the perfect mixture of all of Kendrick’s past work, while he combines radio-friendly beats with his flawless rhymes and flows on top of socio-political subject matter. In a climate where hip-hop has been oversaturated, Kendrick continues to push the envelope and set the bar for where hip-hop should be in it’s current state. DAMN is also probably the front-runner for hip-hop album of the year at the Grammy’s.
3. Tyler, The Creator, Flower Boy
I am so proud of this guy not only because he is one of my dopplegangers, but after following him since Goblin, Tyler, The Creator has finally bloomed (no pun intended) into the artist that he’s always wanted to be. He has always produced his own music, directed his own videos, and designed his own clothing and I can’t help but think that Flower Boy is the album he has always wanted to make. From a recent interview he filmed with comedian/actor Jerrod Carmichael, he mentioned that he wanted this album to be a score for a film, and it makes a lot of sense if you listen to it front to back. In my opinion, Flower Boy features some of Tyler’s best productions, arrangements, and rhymes and is well deserved of his grammy nomination for best hip-hop album (though he probably won’t win).
2. Daniel Caesar, Freudian
I haven’t been this impressed with an album by an artist I just discovered since Hiatus Kaiyote’s Choose Your Weapon. I didn’t discover him on my own however. I had been hearing his name a few times before I gave the album a listen, and of course, I was blown away. Daniel Caesar is a young guitarist/vocalist/singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada and he has single-handedly reinvented what modern R&B has potential to be which is more stripped down, minimalistic with non-narcissistic content while still singing about love. I even went so far to learn the guitar chords for “Best Part” featuring H.E.R which are pretty simple, but is still a beautiful song. I am certainly looking forward to what his musical potential holds, and being that he is nominated for a few grammys this year, it is looking bright,
1. N.E.R.D, No One Ever Really Dies
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” This is the opening line to this album and the truth is, this was the best album to come out in 2017, saving the best for last (December 15). I was extremely excited to hear N.E.R.D was coming out with a new album because truthfully, I thought they were finished as a group. Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley make up this alternative, pop-rock band and what really makes this my favorite album from 2017 is the fact that there is so much versatility in the production and they make politically charged lyrics sound fun and upbeat when the message and positivity is badly needed in today’s political climate. Also you couldn’t ask for a more stacked features list (except for Calvin Harris’ album) which include a RAP VERSE from RIHANNA, Gucci Mane, Wale, Future, Ed Sheeran, Andre 3000, MIA and not one, but TWO Kendrick Lamar verses. Needless to say, this album was much needed.
Big Sean, I Decided
Brockhampton, Saturation Trilogy
Lana Del Rey, Lust For Life
21 Savage, ISSA
Action Bronson, Blue Chips 7000
A$AP Mob, Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy
Dave East, Paranoia: A True Story
Mike-Will-Made-It, Ransom 2
Aminé, Good For You
DJ Khaled, Grateful
Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2, Star Stuff
Stormzy, Gang Signs & Prayer
SiR, Her Too