IGNORANT BLISS – BEST OF 2017: ALBUMS
So, this year I decided to actually write about the music I really liked over the last year instead of just the playlist (I still have a favorite songs playlist). So bare with me as I ramble on a bit about my favorite 19 albums (yeah I didn’t do 20) of 2017.
1. DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
This is kind of an easy choice and one that you’ll see on just about every 2017 year-end list. Kendrick’s new album hit hard from the release of The Heart part 4 to prepare the world for the Humble’s amazing video straight to the whole project. Now in 2015 I felt TPAB (To Pimp A Butterfly) was the best album of 2015 and that album to me was about the external mental struggles with the current state of the world on K.Dot’s psyche, DAMN is more about his world the and his success from that album on his psyche. It’s an album that isn’t the jazz and black messiah influenced soundscape of TPAB, this one was harder, more stripped down production and also catchier, clearly he chose to make songs that can work as singles to quiet the critics that questioned his ability to make songs for the club and radio. DAMN is an album that also unlike many others this year that has had staying power.
2. CTRL — SZA
SZA’s first album is one that surprised me. I thought SZA was great after having many a homegirl talk up her EPs. I didn’t expect the album being this amazing though. SZA brings in something new and old at the same time, the voice of woman figuring it all out with love and life with honesty. Everything from her music feels authentic and felt like I was learning something while listening to that.
3. At What Cost — Goldlink
No album made me happier to see succeed more than Goldlink’s At What Cost. His album as a love letter to what DC was compared to how it has rapidly changed thanks to gentrification was one of the few albums to come out so early in 2017 and grow and gain more and more buzz and play by the people. So many great tracks that hit hard yet also had songs with fantastic vibes throughout.
4. 4:44 — Jay-Z
Hov came out with an actual factual grown man album. His bars about regrets are different than the ones on early albums and now feel like those of a man 47 years of age with a wife and kids that have made mistakes. No I.D.’s excellent production on all the tracks of the album made it clear one of the best albums of the year and one of Hov’s best in his whole catalog.
5. Funky Wave Bounces vol. 1 — Calvin Harris
There was no album this to me that sounded like summer than this release. From song one until the end the album put vibes in my head of cookouts, road trips, beaches, pools, rooftops and young folks dancing and chilling. This filled a void and did it better than any other release this year for that season.
6. Scum Fuck Flower Boy — Tyler, the Creator
Another person people sleep on musically that doesn’t really stop his forward momentum in music, clothing, and entertainment as a whole. Tyler is out here killing folks on their own songs and sat down and decided to craft a dope piece of work. His last release Cherrybomb was basically his love letter to N.E.R.D. while this one his grows musically and while you can still hear the Neptunes influences it’s now a completely new, grown-up Tyler.
7. Washed Out — Mister Mellow
This is just a fire electronic album. A perfect mashup of sounds. I just enjoy listening to this on repeat.
8. Freudian — Daniel Caeser
I don’t have a lot to say about this album other than it’s fantastic. The songs are written so well and sung with such feeling that it’s an album that feels like R&B from earlier eras. Just great heart filled song making.
9. Big Fish Theory — Vince Staples
the smartest young rapper in the game. Outwitting old rappers at all times. Vince put together an album that is quite different than his previous ones with elements and sounds that skew toward electronic but also from early west coast hip hop music. He has songs that feel sparse in production while others feel dense. Vince has so much potential and just another amazing black artist from southern Cali killing it.
10. Pretty Grils Like Trap Music — 2 Chainz
See what Y’all going to stop doing is faking on 2 Chainz. Stop underestimating him and thinking his rhymes are not up there. I think now the audience just takes for granted how nonchalant and easy tityboi makes it all look. His delivery, flow, and punchlines are so good and have been for so long it seems to almost be thought of like air — it’s always there. With PGLT he takes it another level and tries to make people take notice with stronger stories and an excellent song arrangement (song arrangement is huge for me).
11. More Life –Drake
Maybe the least liked Aubrey project, that was the most streamed project on Apple Music for me hit all the right spots. London Drake, as Aubrey puts on the diaspora’s sounds like Kamen Rider forms was on the right wave. I was in as soon as I caught the premiere stream during his OVO Radio on Beats 1 as the songs sounded darker and sullen in his raps and of course still lovelorn in his singing songs. Get It Together is my jam, I recorded a whole podcast on it with David Brothers on it.
12. Fin — Syd
Man Syd’s album came out like too early. This album feels like Syd went a little out of her comfort zone of her sound that she’s known for with The Internet and made all type of songs that work well together as an album but had a tinge more popness to them than what her fans and listeners might be used to.
13. C U L T U R E — Migos
There were not many people who had a better year than the Migos. Ever since the young god Donald Glover pronounced Bad and Boujee one of the best songs ever they have been on a wave up. It’s cool to see them hit the top. Like other, I found them from Kamen Rider Drake putting on his Migos form to slide on Versace but I’ve been following them ever since as they dropped mixtape after mixtape. Their last studio album didn’t have that energy but with this one, they brought the full sound of the Migos and took it to a new place.
14. Vogue EP — Full Crate
I found this out by just seeing a song on Apple music with Trinidad James and was I surprised! Each track is fire and has a different dance vibe. Catchy melodies and knocking rhythms keeps this EP in the rotation.
15. 4eva is a Mighty Long Time — Big KRIT
Oh Big KRIT, a rapper everyone respects but yet to reach the height of popularity success. This album that is split between his two sides of his self. This feels like his most personal album and that says a lot is how much he has put himself in each previous release. Also, it has Lloyd on it and man I haven’t not liked a track with Lloyd on it.
16. 1992 Deluxe — Princess Nokia
I really rocked with this because the album like its title sounds like early 90s rap. It’s heavily influenced by those sounds and production. Her rhymes are solid and have a hint of playfulness to them. Well worth listening.
17. Sounds of Crenshaw — Terrace Martin presents The Pollyseeds
This was a nice little surprise. Terrence Martin is one of the best producers in the game right now. He can produce any type of music and has. So once I saw something came out with his name on it I jumped on it fast. What’s here is a jazzy, smooth, R&B kind of like 80s smooth R&B through a 2010s lens of sounds and lyrics.
18. Feels — Snoh Aalegra
I’ve been into each song Snoh has released for the last two years. Her voice is so soothing yet filled with hurt and vulnerability. A lot of her music has the classic soul feel and I think it’s a lane that’s constantly trying to be filled since Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones has passed. Also, her album art is always some cool sci-fi & romance comics visuals.
19. H.E.R. — H.E.R.
An album that is, in the end, the first two EPs arranged together with some other songs is like in comics when you end up copping the big omnibus after reading all the issues and trades but still want to the super collection. H.E.R.’s music is somber but confident. It’s one of the many stellar R&B albums that made 2017 a great year for R&B/Soul.