Top 5 Albums of 2017

What a year, what a year! 2017 was a notable year for hip-hop music, especially when you look back and see all the Grammy nods. And rightfully so, this year picked up the slack of an unimpressive year in rap albums for me, with the exception of a few, in 2016. Not sure if you noticed, but I didn’t post my top 5 last year. I mean, Beyonce did basically come through and slay all day with “Lemonade” and kinda kill the competition, but anyway..

2017 was explosive, full of big names in music who blew up the scene like rapper Future, who dropped 2 dope albums back to back in 2 weeks with “Future” and “HNDRXX”, 2 Chainz, who had a flawless rollout dipped in pink for “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music,” or DJ Khaled’s adorable son, Asahd, executive producing “Grateful” and bringing us colossal collabs from “Shining” to “Wild Thoughts.” I could go on all day, but we’re going to get into the top 5 hip-hop albums that I thought trumped over a triumphant year, take a look!

 

5. Wins & Losses – Meek Mill

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A testament of triumphs and tragedies was found in Meek Mill’s 3rd album,“Wins & Losses.” Despite his infamous “Twitter fingers” getting him in trouble or his unfortunate legal drama, I’ve only known rapper Meek Mill to continually progress in his music, with this album being his best one yet. He’s shared his story as a soldier of the streets previously, but a lot more polished with this piece. Meek tells the highs and lows of himself and other possible dream chasers out there with tracks that showed his vulnerability and versatility. We get a sense of Meek that’s beyond his big face Rollie talk as he talks about tougher times in songs like “We Ball,” “Heavy Heart,” and “Young Black America” and which also happen to be some of my favorite moments on the album. In addition, he shares why the ice he wears is something like a badge of honor in “These Scars,” and just how much the price of being great is on “Price.” I also happened to admire his ability to get affectionate as we get his softer side with “Fall Thru,” “Whatever You Need” and “Open.” Don’t worry though, it’s not all sad and sentimental because that bold, brash, “I’m A Boss” Meek Mill is still alive and well on songs like “Fuck That Check Up” with Lil Uzi Vert and “Glow Up.” Overall, an album showing us heartfelt moments full of fired up flows was found on Wins & Losses, rightfully respected and in repeated rotation earning the number 5 spot on my hot hip-hop album list.

Listen to one of my favorite songs from this album below:

“1942 Flows”

4. All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ – Joey Bada$$

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I signified my love for Joey’s socially charged album, “All-Amerikkkan Bada$$” in my review earlier in April and the fact remains the same, I’m still amazed and most definitely appreciative of it, as an African- American and also as a rap fan. Brooklyn’s own Joey Bada$$ gives us a global view in his verses as a youth in revolt taking the time to pen a political statement with this album loaded with lyricism. In 12 tracks, Bada$$ takes us through hell as life as a black male recognizing “Amerikkka’s” racism, seeking refuge, and reinforcing the need for a revolution. He even recruits vet Styles P for his song “Super Predator” to make one of my favorite features of the year and makes a “Legendary” collaboration with J. Cole adding on more ways to respect this body of work. Coming in at number 4 was an album for the people and by the people as Joey brought a sense of rebelliousness all while rapping his ass off.

Listen to one of my favorite songs from this album below:

“Land of the Free”

3. The Never Story – J.I.D

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A dynamic debut from one of Dreamville’s newest signees was J.I.D with “The Never Story” as one of my absolute favorite albums in 2017. It shouldn’t be a secret considering I shared his songs in one of my playlists and explained how J.I.D is one of the ones to watch for coming out of the south in The South Got Something To Say. I never said never to The Never Story playing it any time, any place, and in any possible way. He became a breath of fresh air in a world colorful haired weirdos and misunderstood mumble niggas. Despite his East-Atlanta address, he’s far from your typical trap rapper but was somewhat like a dope dealer the way I was addicted to whatever raps he dished out. I found myself hooked to his poignant punchlines and leading lyrical ability and jumped up like a junkie on tracks that some bounce to it. Aside from showing off his rap skills, I was also thoroughly impressed with his songwriting strengths shown in songs like “Hereditary” and “All Bad” where he was even able to hold up harmonies, something like 6LACK meets D’Angelo. If this is only the debut, I can only imagine what’s to come later on. Nevertheless, I’m never hesitant to put “The Never Story” on and I’m not hesitating to put it at number 3 either.

Listen to one of my favorite songs from this album below:

“D/Vision (feat. EarthGang)” 

2. 4:44 – Jay-Z

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Although I shared my sentiments already with my review on this album, I have no problem speaking on it here as well. Rewriting history without a pen once again is Hov returning with NO ID on the tracks, let the story begin in his 13th studio album, 4:44. Coming to all of us as a sudden, but sweet, surprise this summer was the announcement of 4:44 leaving everyone on the edge of their seat of what to expect from the God MC. We got way more than what we bargained for in an album such as this one, packed with priceless principals as Jay gave us game in a long list of life lessons over illustrious beats. We got grown man rap at its finest with Jay-Z shining light on topics that show growth. He left no stone un-turned in his honesty living in his truth with songs like “Fuck Jay-Z,” in which he kills off the ego of rap persona to begin his healing process or in “4:44,” where he puts the spotlight on the damage he created with his marriage. I applauded his openness and kept clapping as he effortlessly executed other important subjects such as including spirituality, black business, entrepreneurship, therapy, gentrification, and ownership with songs such as “The Story of OJ,” “Moonlight,” and “Family Feud.” There’s so much to take from this album, especially from the fact that I found it to be daring. Jay-Z is almost 50 years old still daring to push the envelope with controversy and doing it while sampling Stevie Wonder! That’s some daredevil shit if I’ve ever seen it.

Listen to one of my favorite songs from this album below (only available on Tidal):

https://tidal.com/track/75413013

1. DAMN – Kendrick Lamar

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Most of you might be shocked by Jay not holding the number one spot for me, but I had to give it to Kung Fu Kenny for his work on “DAMN.” Kendrick Lamar does it again for giving us the most artistic approach in album-form for the year. Kendrick delivers a dark tale of the black male making his way through America’s foul ways and flourishing above the fuckery in finding faith in God, in others, and himself. You’ll also be able to catch this story in reverse on a totally opposite side of the spectrum from how Kendrick tells it. K. Dot was also able to put his story together in a way that mirrors mine as I found DAMN explaining some of my internal struggles and complicated emotions as well, especially on songs like “FEAR.” FEEL.” and “ELEMENT.” This album was full of plenty of standout songs including Kendrick getting bad girl RiRi to rap on their tag team track “LOYALTY.” and Kendrick giving us God-like storytelling on “DUCKWORTH” that delivers a message on divine destiny.  King Kendrick does it again in his artistry and takes the crown with the number one spot for hip-hop album of the year.

Listen to one of my favorite songs from this album below:

“DNA”

Honorable Mention: CTRL – SZA

Although this album was certainly not hip-hop and more on the alternative R&B side, it deserves all the accolades as an amazing debut for SZA. This was definitely in steady rotation for a girl like me as I related to just about everything (yep, everything) she penned to perfection with this project. It resonated with me so much, it nearly hurt my feelings when I heard others critique it or simply say they couldn’t get with it. I felt as if this was pulled from the pages of diary, but put to production and way better sounding vocals than I could offer. Many who saw “CTRL” as a salacious side-chick story need to listen a little harder as SZA used her songs to express emotions more complex than just sex as she sings on self-acceptance, personal growth, and the obvious element of gaining control. Try to understand Solana’s unique perspective of life as a 20-something lost in love, lust, and not much trust, and don’t underestimate her.

 

What’s in your top 5 albums? Tell me in a comment!

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2 thoughts on “Top 5 Albums of 2017

  1. If you were an album you’d be my #2 choice cause your words are magical & id like to place you somewhere to hear you speak. #1 would be SZA, though not hip hop it’s been my voice for the past few months. I agree with all that you said.

    I came here not only to show you live but to reassure you that this is greatness. Who am I for my reassurance to mean anything? I’m everyone you’ve ever wanted to cheer you on and appreciate you. So count my comment x one million.

    Dope shit Imani. But you know !

    Liked by 1 person

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