2017. What an phenomenal year for music. I can’t remember a year this good, I could’ve smashed out a top 100 albums for you, but between the three of us at Viberant we decided 20 each would suffice. Amazing artists like Amine, Queen’s Of The Stone Age and Arcade Fire didn’t make my list, but what did?
20. Jaden Smith- SYRE
People have been hating forever but it’s time to accept it, Jaden Smith is good. This album showed his progression over the last few years, the album is wonderfully produced and his flow is beyond solid throughout. It’s clear that he’s drawn inspiration from his idols, maybe a little too much at points, but all in all this was a great release, one I would argue is being massively overlooked.
19. Lana Del Rey- Lust For Life
My favourite Del Rey album to date. It shows her maturity off in an excellent way. There’s a beautiful blend of genres throughout the album varying from rock to hip hop. Mega features from the Weeknd and Rocky bolster the tracklist superbly. All in all a fantastic release, in a world where mainstream pop is full of awful song writing and people selling their souls to the industry, Del Rey really stands out as one of the best around.
18. St Vincent- MASSEDUCTION
St Vincent AKA Annie Clark produced a worldie here. Some of the best production of the year along with some wonderful songwriting. It’s hard to pin down what this album even is genre wise it covers so many crazy styles. It’s like nothing else you have ever heard, which is a real rarity in 2017. Tracks like Pills and more so Ageless have been played non stop since the albums release in October. I feel really bad that it’s not higher in the list, but 2017 has just been the best year for music I can remember really.
17. Gorillaz- Humanz
Normally a critique of an album this length with so many features is how jumbled and crazy it becomes, it’s not all together, but I feel like this time around it’s meant to be that way. Genuinely one of the craziest albums ever, and for me the best Gorillaz album ever. It’s bold, fresh and bonkers. When a group has been going as long as this, they often grow stale, but this comeback was the exact opposite, it threw them back into the limelight in totally different fashion to their 2000’s work.
16. Mura Masa- Mura Masa
Mura Masa’s self titled debut really hit a home run. It’s one of the best debuts of the year, it’s all very well thought out, something that most albums in this type of genre are not. Masa doesn’t rely purely on a big bass and massive drops, a lot of the time you find yourself just appreciating the art that he’s created. The majority of the features really do a solid job, it’s hard to knock this guy, he’s got potential to be one of the biggest artists around.
15. Drake- More Life
Let’s get the negatives out the way first, the track list is a little too long and overall it does get a little jumbled up as a result. Other than that it’s really hard to pick negatives. Near enough every feature on this album resulted in a fantastic song in my eyes, especially the work from Giggs, Skepta and Sampha. Drake’s style was a little different on this project than his previous few, a lot of people said he was “too road.” Personally I just thought he’d evolved as an artist, it’s not like he’s turned into a grime artist, he’s just mixed it up a little, everyone would complain if he did the same old same old routine.
14. Goldlink- At What Cost
Picture this, Goldlink in a studio with Matt Martians, Steve Lacy and KAYTRANADA. That was a thing that happened, and a massive reason why this album is so high in my rankings for the year. Goldlink is an absolutely amazing rapper, he has one of the best flows around and a unique voice to match it. Add in some masterful production and outstanding features and you got one of the albums of the year. Crew and Herside Story are standouts from the album, both songs sum up perfectly everything I’ve said about the album.
13. King Krule- The Ooz
What a cool cat King Krule is. This album is one of the most compelling of the year, something that when it was released I simply HAD to listen to. It’s more than worth a listen, I’d recommend to anybody and everybody. It might be 10 minutes too long, but that aside it’s a really fantastic listen. It’s a well written project, masterfully produced and extremely well delivered. If you don’t know about Krule, you should give it a shot.
12. Daniel Caesar- Freudian
As far as classic R&B goes, this is the album of the year. It’s filled with something near enough everyone can relate with, it’s essentially an album about love. He’s said himself at points that the album is plentiful of cheese and corn, but I love that aspect of the album. It’s leading track Get You was one of my favourite releases of 2016 and has remained one of my favourite songs throughout 2017 as well. It’s an album full of soul, full of relatable lyrics, and full of brilliance.
11. Calvin Harris- Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
Who would’ve said I’d have a Calvin Harris album in my top 20 in 2017? This album was super fun. It wasn’t the best album ever in any way, shape, or form, but it was played all summer long for some of it’s biggest bops and best features. Slide is one of the best tracks of 2017. I love albums like this, it takes me right back to the summer of 2017, it’s just a generally happy album which is hard to find these days. Not everything has to have a deeper meaning, an album can just be full of wobblers.
10. Sampha- Process
Top 10 time now, and here we have the 2017 Mercury Prize winner, Sampha. The albums lyrics are often times deep due to the death of his mother. It’s a listen like no other this year in terms of feeling something. A reason I love this album is the lack of theatrics, it didn’t need massive features and something crazy, it’s just fantastic having Sampha do it his way. It’s a powerful and deep album, it’s masterfully produced and even well better written. Not many come near Sampha in his field.
9. SZA- Ctrl
This is something special. SZA has spent years working on this album, it’s clear that that’s the case because everything is on point and as it should be. Lyrically the album is as about as good as can be. SZA is meticulous in her work, and as a result we’ve only got the very best songs, and some of the very best artists featuring on the album. Top Dawg Entertainment pull it out of the hat time and again with it’s artists, and SZA is the brightest new star who could quickly find herself being known as one of the best artists in music today, and that’s exactly what she is in my eyes.
8. Wolf Alice- Visions Of A Life
The best alt rock album this year BY FAR, nothing comes close. Wolf Alice asserted themselves as one of the best bands in Britain with this stunning piece. As a music fan this pretty much ticks every box, it’s got something for everyone that’s for sure. It’s powerful, it’s hardcore, it’s chilling, and I genuinely think it’s only a glimpse of how good this band could end up being.
7. BROCKHAMPTON- Saturation
The best debut album of the year right here. BROCKHAMPTON have all the chemistry in the world, a truly special group that haven’t shown us there best, yet still remained better than near enough everyone this year. The production on this album is slick, and each man has their own unique rapping skills, all flowing excellently. Every single released from this album was amazing, and each of the music videos were simply incredible. We’ve seen nothing as cool as this since the early days of Odd Future so I recommend that everyone enjoys this brilliance as soon as they can, as when Saturation III drops it will be the final album by the group.
6. BROCKHAMPTON- Saturation II
They’ve gone back to back. Not many people can release two albums this good in a year, which is a testament to how amazing they really are. This is very similar to Saturation, but I personally think that some of the tracks are that bit better, particularly Gummy and Sweet. All I know is that if their upcoming album Saturation III had been released a day earlier (Our deadline for our albums of the year) Then they would undoubtedly have three albums in this top 20.
5. Lorde- Melodrama
In my humble opinion, Lorde might just be the greatest woman in music. People will argue Beyonce and Rihanna which is understandable, but Lorde really is something else. Her work is something special, and she’s a true artist. It was four years between her debut and this, and it’s clear how much work went into everything, lyrically and musically. She’s a one of a kind artist, and she’s only 21, we might have only scratched the surface of how good she could be. After this album she left no doubt in everyone’s minds how amazing she is, and she might become the biggest thing in music.
4. Kendrick Lamar- DAMN.
Well would you look at that, Kendrick Lamar brought an album out and isn’t number one. It’s rare that happens, it’s not a knock on Kendrick either, but 2017 has been ridiculously good. Let’s ignore the whole ‘play the album backwards’ hoopla, let’s just focus on the music. It’s really incredible. DNA, HUMBLE, and XXX are three of Kendrick’s best songs ever. I think it takes a few listens before you realise how fantastic this album is. The big problem is there are a couple filler tracks that do fall a little flat, which is basically the reason this isn’t number one.
3. Joey Bada$$- ALL-AMERI
Here’s the real number one conscious rap album of the year, outdoing Kendrick this time around. This is an album with absolutely stunning lyrics, as Bada$$ talks of racism and politics throughout, some might even say a little too heavily at points. He has a killer flow, if you take production and lyrics out of it, Joey is simply one of the best rappers around. When you add production and lyrics into it, he’s one of the best artists around. It had the perfect blend of hit singles and conscious masterpieces. The features were all outstanding and further added to the album, but even the likes of J Cole weren’t going to take the limelight away from Bada$$. I feel like this is an underappreciated album, and I feel like one day it’ll be looked at as one of the best, and most important albums of it’s time.
2. Tyler, the Creator- Flower Boy
So close yet so far away. Every listen of this album makes me love it more and more. This is without a doubt Tyler’s best work ever, and it feels like he’s finally found where he belongs in music. He’s so much more than the basic rapper. The album was entirely produced by Tyler which always makes it that bit more special. There’s an abundance of cool and unique features which really helps the albums R&B vibes, it’s those vibes that make it better than his previous albums. Lyrically, the album is his least abrasive yet which made for easier listening throughout. I feel like this album is everything Tyler wanted Cherry Bomb to be, it’s the fully evolved and mature version, and it’s absolutely outstanding.
1. Vince Staples- Big Fish Theory
When I heard this album for the first time, I said there and then it was the album of the year, and I stand by it, only Flower Boy came close in the second half of the year. This is not only the best hip hop album of the year, it’s the best electronic album of the year. Lyrically, Staples discusses many topics, racism, fame and suicide. The production is something special, I can’t think of many hip hop albums that can top it, it’s masterful and it meshes with Staples flow and voice perfectly. It had plenty of anthems and plenty of wow moments, including the surprise verse from Kung Fu Kenny. This is a lot more than a rap album, it’s unique and inspiring, it’s evolved hip hop and thrown Staples into raps top five. I Genuinely feel that when Kendrick and Vince were on a track together here it was the first time in a long time the top two were on a track. Staples will be the main man in raps push leading into the new year, he’s brash, brilliant, and brutally honest. This was not only the album of the year, but the best rap album since To Pimp A Butterfly.