The end-year list of the best albums of 2017 has finally been decided. We accumulated and ordered 20 projects according to their overall quality, cultural relevance and success. I hope this list will help you discover great music you may have missed out on this year.
20. Young Thug – Beautiful Thugger Girls
Young Thug is rap’s perennial shapeshifter. His flow and songwriting in the rap world are heavily regarded as unorthodox but to his benefit. With Beautiful Thugger Girls, Young Thug was able to break genre barriers again by blessing his consistently great discography with a “country” album. Many of the songs feature Thug crooning over blissful guitar riffs. In this area, he was able to make a few of his most introspective songs like “Daddy’s Birthday” and “Feel It.” What is so remarkable about Young Thug is his passion always shows with his magnetic voice and character. It’s the main reason he’s still one of the most incomparable acts today.
19. Brent Faiyaz – Sonder Son
Artists have their whole lives to create their debut album, so why not talk about your life on your first album? That is exactly what Brent Faiyaz did. The DMV raised, R&B upcoming filled Sonder Son with pure emotion. e expressed his struggle with everyday life on a multitude of songs. He also displayed where his loyalties lie for the men and women who enter his world. With Songs like “Gang Over Luv” and “First World Problems”, he keeps his instrumentals simple, sort of like a blank canvas, and colors them with his past stories and future desires.
18. Ibeyi – Ash
Ibeyi is a dynamic twin duo that showed how beautiful and pristine music can be. Ash is their brilliant sophomore album that went under the radar for many this year. The gorgeous gem contains some of the best spiritual music in recent years. Their style is something that isn’t overly saturated in music today as they sing often in spiritual chants. The songs are African influenced and are assisted by Ibeyi’s perfect harmony. Standout tracks are “Deathless,” “Away Away,” and “Me Voy”.
17. Playboi Carti – Playboi Carti
In this mumble rap era, very few are more promising and worthwhile than Atlanta’s Playboi Carti. He went from SoundCloud sensation in 2014 to being of the biggest acts this year. He has a unique style and flow that has been ridiculously copied during his rise to fame, and with megastar A$AP Rocky by his side, there are very few obstacles in his way. On his self-titled effort, Carti dialed back on lyrics and focus more on adlibs and charisma. Some artists practice this to a fault, but he was able to benefit tremendously. “Magnolia” was one of the smash hits of the summer, also putting Pi’erre Bourne, the producer of a bulk of the album, on the map. Other standouts are “Dothatshit!” “Wokeuplikethis*” and “Flex.”
16. Goldlink – At What Cost
Goldlink had a phenomenal year. He acquired his first Billboard hit with “Crew,” the Grammy-nominated single that wrecked the summer. Goldlink has much more to offer though. Along with the hit single, he has a full body of work he should be praised for. At What Cost is stylish and catchy with songs that will get you off your feet. The Go-Go house music style is utilized frequently within this record, being that Goldlink is a native of Washington D.C. “Meditation” and “Herside Story” do the album great justice.
15. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
There are few artists like Vince Staples that can create such a distinct and daring project such as Big Fish Theory. Previous to this album, Vince was widely just known as a gangsta rapper, one of the most intelligent. This time around Vince used his intelligence to make a rap album that sounds like few others. He raps an impeccable flow on techno instrumentals, completely abandoning the sound that he rose to fame with. As much as Vince is the star of the show, the production is to be recognized. It shifts randomly and will force rap listeners to adapt to what they are not used to hearing. Vince gracefully raps about the world, love, and his problems on this stellar second album. Check out “745” and “BagBak”.
14. Mac Demarco – This Old Dog
Who could hate him? The always loveable Mac Demarco returned this year with his third full-length album in five years. On This Old Dog, his eclectic personality thrives. His slow, mellow voice aids the sense of listeners and with the upscale production, this album is successful on all cylinders. He sings about love in such an endearing manner and his capabilities as a storyteller are outstanding. “For The First Time” is a flawless example of how love can be so refreshing. The gentle sounds of strings and the sweet lazy feel of the album are what makes it one of the best releases of the year.
13. BROCKHAMPTON – Saturation III
The best boyband of 2017 grabbed the world by its throat near the summer and never held back. Out of the three in the Saturation series, it looks like the third is the best. BROCKHAMPTON was able to combine their weirdness and skill for the best outcome. How the group values self-expression in their songs is truly admirable. The chemistry was at its near peak as everyone was completely familiar with each other’s skill sets and benefited off of one another outstandingly. “BLEACH” and “TEAM” are a couple of the best songs released this year.
12. King Krule – The OOZ
King Krule has been known for his ability to blend genres over the years. He has been doing a combination of dark, somewhat psychedelic rock, jazz, and few elements of hip-hop on both of his major releases. On The OOZ however, he is much quieter and does far less singing. The album is a somber musical journey that is not without pretty sounds. The lyrics are often very dramatic and hard-hitting, There a handful of suffering moments of this LP that can be very opaque yet relatable. Great examples are “Midnight 01” and “Czech One”.
11. Migos – Culture
Migos undoubtedly started the year on the right foot. They road the momentum they garnered in 2016 and have not stopped yet. Before Culture they were regarded as singles artists. This LP proved the critics by being a solid body of work through and through. The album has been very helpful for their careers as Offset and Quavo have had great success as solo acts in 2017. Sure there are favorites like “Bad and Boujee” and “T-Shirt” but don’t gloss over “Deadz” and “Kelly Price”.
10. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
The Mississippi native had a reenergized return this year with his first independent project, 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time. There have been pretty few rap albums this year that displayed so much conviction. In this double album, Big K.R.I.T. is a jack of all trades. At times he is aggressive, spiritual, and introspective. This album teaches about the importance of self-care and to stay away from the toxins life has in store for you. He remains in his comfort zone of southern jazz influences and propels the lessons he has learned living in and out of the spotlight. Brilliant tracks include “Miss Georgia Fornia” and “Price of Fame”.
9. Kelela – Take Me Apart
With her marvelous debut album, Take Me Apart, Kelela challenges the range of modern pop music. Her songs are danceable but she sings with such an insightful tone. There is no moment of mindlessness at all as she sings every word with honesty and grace. Take Me Apart is mostly about relationships. In these stories, Kelela knows her self-worth, but is also aware that she is prone to have weaknesses because she is human Wonderful tracks to lose yourself to is “LMK” and “Better”.
8. Moses Sumney – Aromanticism
People like to put black singers in a box without listening to their music. Moses Sumney is not an R&B artist. The best way for his debut album Aromanticism to be described as is maybe alternative folk. The first thing that captures the listener is his unique voice. As you listen deeper, you may notice a particularly foreign concept. That concept is lovelessness. There is no sense of solitude more beautiful than this album. This project is a great idea executed flawlessly. It was the best-overlooked album of the year of 2017 by far. Bless your ears with “Don’t Bother Calling” and “Doomed”.
7. Daniel Caesar – Freudian
Few love albums have this sort of magnitude in its impact nowadays. The stories that Daniel Caesar tells within his songs deserve a Pulitzer prize. The versatility of his voice brought forth one of the best performances we heard this year. When Caesar felt pain, we felt it as well. When he felt love, we did as well. He had our hearts on a string with Freudian, a Grammy-nominated masterwork. There are not many voices in the spotlight that are as endearing as his. Everything we questioned about Caesar’s potential has been answered. Other than the classic “Get You,”tracks like “Blessed” and “Best Part” should not be slept on.
6. Lorde – Melodrama
Lorde’s second LP, Melodrama, is a beautifully melancholic affair. The ways she uses her voice to provoke such a wide range of emotions so effortlessly is truly astounding. This album was full of emotional uncertainties. Often she does not know who she is as a person, and where she belongs as a lover. In “Liability”, she expresses how she and her life aren’t built for relationships. She also ventures into the idea of her not being a lasting lover in “Supercut”. She is conflicted throughout the whole project and the lyrics depict it vividly.
5. Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy
It seemed like Tyler waited his whole life to create this album. It’s unlike any of his prior releases, but the potential to make this project was becoming more and more obvious every album. He was incredibly focused on bringing his ideas to life the way he needed to. Throughout the album, his delivery is clear and concise. He produced the entirety of it and organized guest vocals beautifully to make his songs brighter. Tyler explores the idea of finding bliss in spite of loneliness. “See You Again” and “Boredom” are essential tracks.
4. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
This is one of the most underappreciated rappers of our time. Rapsody wants to be known as a rapper, not a female rapper. For evidence of her excellent prowess on her latest album, Laila’s Wisdom. She raps better than most people in her class. Her topics are various; she can rap about literally anything whether it be female the concept empowerment, the come up, and being proud to be black. Her flow and command of the mic is something to write home about for sure. Rapsody has been doing this for years, but with the help of the Rocnation deal in 2016, she finally got the added acclaim and respect she deserved. “Sassy,” “Black and Ugly,” and “Power” are showstoppers. There is plenty of wisdom to be shared with this project.
3. Jay-Z – 4:44
The history of Jay-Z is timeless, but this time Shawn Carter had something to say. The has been plenty of time where he has dropped his mafia personality to be more sincere and vulnerable, but he never did it this much on any album released before. This project is regarded by many people as his apology album. It’s way more than that. The 48-year-old offers so much knowledge on this LP. He has lived a life coming from tragedy. These things still affect him to this day. No matter what age you are when you listen to this album, you will learn something that you never pondered before. Jay-Z coming out with this album this year was so vital. Thanks, Beyoncé.
2. SZA – CTRL
SZA was the champion of 2017. Day one fans of her’s have been waited for what seems like centuries for this album. However, very few people knew or expected that she will release her magnum opus during the year. On CTRL, she ceased the artsy narratives revolving around the laws of nature and began to sing stories of the youthful, modern woman. These stories are impeccably vivid and are relatable and shouldn’t be shamed. Through her mistakes, she became wiser and stronger. There are many albums made by women about the topics she sings about, but very few have been as artistically crafted as this album.
1. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Every major release from Kendrick Lamar has not been similar to its predecessor. The man continually attempts to outdo himself at every opportunity. In 2017, he brought forth another conceptual masterpiece with DAMN. What makes this album so magnificent is the way it tackles various emotions in such an intelligent manner. Kendrick uses these emotions to express his hostilities, insecurities, and effect on the world at large. Kendrick expressed once again that he can’t escape the struggles of being human just like anybody else. Still, there are moments on this album where he conveys his vigor. Kendrick ruled 2017 by releasing an album that reflects the person he sees in the mirror.