15 Songs I Loved This Year
This year has been absolutely packed with music, and there’s been a little something for everyone. I have listened to over 40'000 minutes of music on Spotify, apparently, and I’ve enjoyed the majority of it. So as the year draws to a close, here are 15 songs I listened to this year that stuck out to me as exceptional, in no particular order.
Babylon-Joey Bada$$ (feat Chronixx)
Take Me Away-Daniel Casear (feat. Syd)
Something Foreign-SiR (feat. ScHoolboy Q)
DNA- Kendrick Lamar
XO Tour Lif3- Lil Uzi Vert
Meditate-EARTHGANG (feat. J.I.D)
Every Song Frank Ocean released this year.
After Blonde finally released in 2016, I really thought that Frank was going to return to his secluded life hidden from popular culture for another half decade. Thankfully, instead of that Mr. Ocean decided to have one of the best musical years of his life without even dropping an official project. I say official because, if packaged together, Lens, Biking, Biking (Solo), Provider and Chanel would most definitely be one of the best EP’s of the year. My favorite of the five would have to be Provider, and it might just be my favorite of the entire year. For whatever reason, “Is you a natural blondie like Gokuuu” just sounds so beautiful when Frank says it. Frank won this year, all five of these songs are going to be in heavy rotation for the foreseeable future.
(I realized I just totally broke my own rules by putting 4 songs in one spot, but I’m writing this so what are you going to do about it?)
Butterfly Effect-Travi$ Scott
If it is set in stone that Travis is going to stick to auto tune and abandon the silky smooth flow and rap voice he displayed during his XXL Freshman Cypher completely, then I’d be more than okay with him just making songs like this. I’ve been told that my expectations of Travi$ are very different from those of his fans, personally, if he is not going to give me “Backyard”, then I don’t really want to hear him try and rap over the heavy auto tune. Let the beat work for itself, and just ride with the rhythm, basically, just make more atmospheric instead of trying to counteract the vocal effects. This song does that perfectly: good timing on his ad-libs, his voice fits beautifully with the beat and sounds natural, and it has a catchy hook that is a textbook earworm. The rap verses are pretty damn good, too. More like this please.
Brockhampton owned this year, coming out of nowhere to make two albums that will probably both land on most year end lists, and this song is probably my favorite from both of the albums, it definitely has the best hook (“Keep a Gold chain on my neck, fly as a jet, boy better treat me with respect”), and all 478 (?) members contribute with some awesome verses and make this an amazing, energetic, posse cut.
RAF-A$AP Rocky (feat. Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, Frank Ocean, A$AP Mob)
Speaking of posse cuts, A$AP Rocky gathers up every single rapper within a 30 mile radius of his recording studio for “RAF”, and somehow, they make an absolute banger. I don’t really have too much in terms of in-depth analysis of this one, everyone just has a good verse, the hooks are catchy, and the flurry of ad-libs from Uzi and Quavo add to the whole atmosphere. Even if you dislike this, the song itself is just egging you on, its raw energy daring you to let loose, and eventually, you do. Not to talk about Frank Ocean again, but his last verse is surprisingly awesome, didn’t think he would work on this beat at first but he proved me very wrong.
The Heart Part 4-Kendrick Lamar
The 4th installment in Kendrick’s long running “The Heart” series was a single released prior to “DAMN”,but may be the best song K-Dot put out this entire year. That is not saying “DAMN” isn’t worth praising, but goodness does Kendrick ever go off on this track. Just under five minutes of lyrical assault and braggadocio from one of the greatest to ever step behind a mic, this almost sounds like Kendrick’s diss record practice, as he goes at an unnamed foe over a constantly evolving beat that is a roller coaster from start to finish. I still think there should be a challenge where you take a picture of your face after the first beat change and try not to look like you just smelled your green bin. (Don’t say goodbye to Kendrick just yet, he will make another appearance on this list.)
LEMON-N.E.R.D (feat. Rihanna)
I will be honest, before this year I had no idea who N.E.R.D. was, their album was released in 2010, and at that time I was still on a strict diet of The Killers and Weezer so I wasn't exactly paying attention. But after hearing this song, I went back and started listening to their whole catalogue because my goodness, does this track ever go hard. The beat is typical Pharrell, jsut bombastic and all over the map, somehow coming together to form this energetic instrumental that just makes you move every time. Rihanna steals the show here though, her verse is probably my favorite Rihanna feature I’ve heard since “Take Care”.
Wow, 2017 and I love a Jay album, I’ll be honest I did not see this coming. Marcy Me is definitely my favorite track off of 4:44, Hov describes just how it was growing in up in Marcy, which he has done before, but this time he does it from a different sort of perspective, a more nostalgic, restrained perspective. Every time I hear this song, I envision strolling through Jay’s former stomping grounds, with him as my tour guide, providing me a look into to a world I never would have known otherwise. Plus, No I.D.’s production adds even more to the atmosphere with it’s hearty piano, this song engrosses you, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Crew-GoldLink (feat Brent Faiyaz, Shy Glizzy)
I like, GoldLink, his last album was really good and would probably be pretty close to, if not in, my top 10 for the year, he has a nice flow, a unique voice, and pretty decent bars to match even though he could be successful without them. The point is, GoldLink is good, Shy Glizzy’s verse is good, but this is Brent Faiyaz’s song. I had no idea who this guy was before this song came out, but wow, does he have an incredible voice. He handles the hook so effortlessly it almost seems unfair, he sounds angelic, and I wish I had half the talent he did. Anyways, this song is great and i’m glad to see GoldLink get some mainstream shine.
Oh look, Kendrick’s back again, who would have guessed. FEEL is one of the best songs I have heard from him in a long time, the type of introspection and honesty he portrays in this song really transcends his persona. Kendrick shows that he well aware of what he and his art mean to listeners and followers around the world, and how this awareness weighs on him. Somehow making this message relatable even though it should only be applicable to a select few. That’s really what makes this song so perfect, and the album in general: Kendrick makes us FEEL like him.
(No One Knows Me)Like the Piano-Sampha
Sampha delivers a heart-wrenching ballad about the death of his mother due to cancer, his soothing voice reminiscing about the bond he and his mom had while she was alive. The subject matter bleeds through Sampha’s voice, and it’s heaviness is not lost. The song toes the line between the pain of what is lost and fond memories of what was so perfectly that it is impossible not to be pulled into its embrace. This is probably the most beautiful song I've heard this year, with the piano and swelling background vocals coming together perfectly to craft one of the best R&B tracks that I have heard in a while.
Ghostface Killers-Offset (feat. 21 Savage, Travi$ Scott)
This year brought us some interesting collaborations between some of the biggest names in rap. Arguably the best one being between Offset, of Migos fame, and 21 Savage, with production coming from the infamous Metro Boomin. The song is a brooding, murderous romp through what I assume is The Game’s daily activities, killing people, thinking about killing people, and finally rapping about killing people. The best verse here in my opinion surprisingly goes to 21, his verse has a few good punchlines, and you can almost hear the grin spread across his face as he describes the weaponry of which he will attack you with. Overall, everybody holds their weight, Metro’s production is haunting and energetic at the same time, and it all adds up to a banger.
Who Dat Boy-Tyler, The Creator (feat A$AP Rocky)
2017 was really weird for many reasons, but I think the most obvious oddity was Tyler making an album called “Flower Boy”. If you listened to the album, you know that the project was a stark departure from his former OFWGKTA, offensive persona. However, the grimy bars are still present, and take center stage on this track, with Tyler spitting gravely rhymes over a bass laden beat that fits his voice perfectly. Tyler then gives way to Lord Pretty Flacko himself, who proceeds to do exactly what we have expected from him throughout the past few years, his feature verses are usually on point, and this one is no exception. The song fits both artists personalities perfectly, and they both rap really well to make a great song.
(A$AP… If you're still listening, imma need that album immediately, thanks.)
No Dope on Sundays-CyHi the Prynce (feat. Pusha T)
CyHi marked his triumphant debut into commercial prominence with one of the most criminally underrated albums of the year. One of the biggest standouts is the title track single featuring King Push himself, results in CyHi dropping some of the best bars of his career. He flows effortlessly through an ever changing beat while talking about his days in Atlanta, while Pusha T provides a somber spoken word outro about the moral quandaries of a drug dealer. This song shows just how much talent CyHi has when given the freedom to express his vision.
Kites-N.E.R.D (feat. Kendrick Lamar and M.I.A)
Another great, energetic cut from Pharrell and friends new album enlists the talents of “Kung Fu Kenny” as well as British rapper M.I.A for another chaotic romp through the fields of political discourse with “Kites”. The song is so attractive due to its continuously evolving beat, which is a Frankestein’s monster of raw energy with a chanting refrain stuck to the background. Despite the beat’s ferocity, the verses all flow perfectly, Pharrell takes the first two and while he doesn’t exactly provide thought provoking discourse, he really just has an understanding of the beat and sounds right at home on it. The third and fourth verses star Kendrick and M.I.A, who both deliver politically charged verses disguised as party jams, which is a common thread throughout the album. “Kites”, is definitely the best example of that.
Big Fish-Vince Staples
Vince is back at again with another light-hearted jam. The artist famous for “Norf Norf” brings us a song that could be described as its more positive cousin, “Big Fish” is a combination of an infectious hook and beat, as well as the Staples’ voice, which molds and blends into the beat, almost acting as another instrument. He spits while the bass washes over his vocals, but not so much that you can’t make out what he is saying, Vince finds a happy medium on this track that is really hard to achieve, but he does it well and rides the beat all the way through. A nice touch also is the addition of bubbling effects in the background of the track, adding to the “Fish” theme, definitely an acquired taste, but I do really enjoy it.
Well, there you have it, those are 15 songs that I loved this year, now there are many more that I heard and was infatuated with, and the TOP 60 will be available in the linked Spotify Playlist below,
2017 has been an amazing year, music has went in so many different directions it was hard to keep up,
Here’s hoping 2018 will give us as just as much to listen to as the last 12 months, I for one am eager to see.