The Year 2017 in Review
Author: Patrick Taylor
While on a personal level 2017 was fine, in terms of U.S. politics 2017 was rough. I lost more sleep over this administration than I did raising a newborn. It's stressful watching your country be slowly and deliberately dismantled.
Through it all, music was my constant. Music never lies, music doesn't write think pieces, music doesn't regurgitate talking points, music doesn't shout "fake news!", music doesn't show up in paramilitary gear, music doesn't argue that maybe pedophilia isn't such a big deal, music doesn't write angry Facebook posts or racist memes. Music is the truth, and the ten artists below spoke it.
10. Jay Z, "4:44"
9. Mike, "May God Bless Your Soul"
8. Oh No, "Oh No Vs. Now Again Volume 3"
7. Kweku Collins, "Grey"
6. Open Mike Eagle, "Brick City Kids Still Daydream"
5. Leikel47, "Wash & Set"
This mask-wearing rapper/singer combines club-ready beats with serious skills on the mic, making music that is both fun to listen to and good.
4. SZA, "CTRL"
SZA managed the perfect combination of sassy and insecure, combined with a gorgeous voice, solid songwriting, and well-chosen guest spots.
3. Shabazz Palaces, "Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star/Quazarz Vs. the Jealous Machines"
These two albums are the ones I listened to the most this year, partially because they make for good background music. They are muddy, hazy, inscrutable, and heavy.
2. Kendrick Lamar, "DAMN."
"To Pimp a Butterfly" was a great album, but it was also a long, dense, meandering album. Where "good kid MADD City" spawned a kajillion singles, most of TPAB was too strange and too profane to rock the Hot 97. So instead, Lamar comes back with a tight album full of pop features and shiny club rap beats.
1. Vince Staples, "Big Fish Theory"
Vince Staples took a bunch of weirdo industrial/electronic beats and used those as his template to talk about the perils of fame, racism, relationships, and a bunch of other stuff that he is way too young to have such thoughtful ideas about. Kendrick Lamar's genius is more easily recognizable, but Staples, to me, is a once-in-a-generation artist, someone whose music manages to speak to his peers while at the same time challenging the tropes, cliches and pitfalls of mainstream hip-hop and youth culture.
Originally posted: January 9, 2018