Instead of doing a countdown of my favourite albums for the first half of this year — a gimmick that has become so played out in this SEO driven age of the content farm — I will make a short comment on every album I have listened to thus far. The patience of listening to as much new releases as possible dissipated with my youth, so I only listened to a few. Here they are in the order they arrived in my hard-drive:
Migos – Culture II
This trio of misogynistic homphobes once channelled their bigotry into making very enjoyable music — then they scaled. Their latest release is a near two hour long journey into uninspired sound that will leave you feeling hollow and tired. Practise self-care and avoid.
Payroll Giovanni & Cardo – Big Bossin’ Vol. 2
Flawless drug raps from Detroit’s very own and west coast beats from Texas’ very own. Rap album of the year thus far.
scallops hotel – sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face
milo writes well and milo raps well; milo consistently produces solid album. This short release under the moniker ‘scallops hotel’ is no different.
SiR – November
R&B will never die and D’evils is a flawless song.
Black Milk – Fever
Witnessing Black Milk grow from a Dilla disciple to carving his own niche with a sound that is entirely his has been very fulfilling. In the age of Trump he managed to create a work that is less darker than his two previous releases.
Against All Logic – 2012 – 2017
Our lord and saviour, Nicolas Jaar, compiled music created between the years 2012 – 2017 but couldn’t fit in the numerous releases he made then. None of the tracks here feel like throwaways — a testimony to his brilliance.
Roc Marciano – Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose
At this point in time what else is there to say about Roc Marci except that he influenced a generation of NY rappers and his consistency is admirable. The Bitter Dose is amazing.
MURS – A Strange Journey into the Unimaginable
Sad MURS creeps me out, man. I’m grateful that he let us in on his tumultuous few years but listening to this felt intrusive. It’s a great album that anyone who’s been following MURS since the early 00’s should listen to.
SABA – Care for Me
A very mournful and well written album from SABA that I thoroughly enjoyed. Man, the kids are alright.
Thandi Ntuli – Exile
The ever brilliant Thandi Ntuli and her ever brilliant collaborators gifted us with a masterpiece. My album of the year. In an ideal world she would get all the coin but this isn’t an ideal world. This album sounds like it wasn’t cheap to make so it’s important that if you do buy it, buy it on bandcamp.
Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Everything’s Fine
Hip Hop’s favourite married couple — who are both individually brilliant — came together to bring us one of this year’s solid releases. Everything works here, Jean Grae’s idiosyncrasies blend well with Quelle Chris’ obsessiveness.
Czarface & MF Doom – Czarface meets Metal Face
I’m sorry but this was hella gimmicky. I love MF Doom. And I love 7L, Esoteric and Inspectah Deck, but this is a no from me. I don’t think we need another MF Doom release; he has a prolific discography that, we, his core fans can always go back to when they “miss him” and the music he makes now won’t win him any new fans so I don’t know why he even bothers. It’s been painful to watch him resort to gimmicky self-parody.
Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
Unpopular opinion: Channel Orange album roll-out made me sceptical of any artist who would come out prior to an album release and we already kinda knew that Janelle wasn’t a heterosexual and the Phillip K. Dickesque world she created on her last three released said more than enough about society’s pitiful handling of deviance, so I side-eyed a lot in the lead up to this release. But, album roll-out theatrics aside, this album is brilliant and timely, in the age of Trump. The album sequencing is impeccable — the best I’ve experienced in years, it is well written and produced. The visuals were perfect. And the rapping (one of the few things Janelle isn’t good at) actually worked here. I don’t know what more to say about this except that you should listen to it (and watch the emotion picture)
Kur – Madness
Kur made another great mixtape packed with enjoyable beats and good rapping but decided to sabotage it by releasing it at 98 kbs.
Meshell Ndegeocello – Ventriloquism
An album of R&B covers from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s made with the sensitivity that only Meshell can offer.
Toni Braxton – Sex & Cigarettes
Traditional R&B is the best R&B and Toni Braxton came through for us by making an R&B album that does not have to the mostTM for a chance at a Coachella appearance.
Royce da 5′ 9” – Book of Ryan
Royce da 5′ 9” took a theme — addiction and his decision to sober up — that he briefly touched on his previous releases and expanded it to now include childhood traumas that might have led to his addiction. A solid rap album.
Sun El Musician – Africa to the World
A very sweet sounding, wonderful and melodic vocal house album.
Playboi Carti – Die Lit
PLAYBOI CARTI CAN’T RAP FOR SHIT BUT HE GAVE US UNADULTERATED JOY IN ALBUM FORMAT WHEN I LISTEN TO DIE LIT I CAN’T STOP SMILING.
Bbymutha – bbyshoes EP / FreeBritnee EP
One of the most exciting rappers to come out in the last few years gave us two enjoyable EPs this year.
Pusha T – Daytona
The only good thing to come out of MAGA-era Kanye. Pusha T can still rap well about selling drugs and these Kanye beats aren’t as insufferable.
Jenny Hval – The Long Sleep EP
Oh Jenny! Thank you for reminding us that we are all our own disco balls!
Phonte – No News is Good News
Your favourite rapper/singer’s favourite rapper/singer latest offering. It sounds like a Phonte album which could be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask.
Kanye West – Ye
A morally, spiritually, conceptually and lyrically bankrupt album. I can’t believe the people around him made him think he can get away with this.
Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
Brilliant storytelling; brilliant songwriting.
Kanye West & Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
These two work very well together and this actually worked.
Lykke Li – So Sad So Sexy
A sad pop album with joyful beats and catchy hooks. A masterpiece.
Khrysis & Elzhi – Jericho Jackson
Uninspired beats, lazy rhyming, played-out concepts. This was a chore to listen to. Such a shame since individually, these two have a lot of talent. It’s been a bad year (every year since 2012 if we’re being honest) for backpack rap — shut the whole thing down!
Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
I tend to avoid anything the kids like these days, especially if it’s R&B or Hip Hop but man, the kids were right on this one. The kids are alright.
Jay Rock – Redemption
JAY ROCK IS A BEAST AND EVERYTHING HE MAKES IS AMAZING AND HE’LL PROBABLY GON GET IGNORED AGAIN CAUSE HIS NAME IS NOT KENDRICK.
Nas – Nasir
We* all once idolised Nas when we were younger but we all grew up and read more books and realised how pitiful the “knowledge” he kicks in his rhymes really is. I heard everyone say this album is nice I must have listened to a different album cause I really didn’t enjoy this. At all.
SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARLs UN-INSIDES
THIS IS SO GOOD GUYS, I NUTTED.