I didn’t really put a lot of effort into keeping up with new releases outside of rap, but I tried to at least sample everything that I heard positive reports about. I don’t think I encountered any masterpieces this year. Among rap albums, I would go out of my way to say that for me Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN was the worst major release of the year, mostly because of the slow jams. I was extremely disappointed, because I really liked one or two of the singles, but what a bummer of an album. On the other hand, Kendrick’s guest spots on other people’s stuff were uniformly excellent.
My favorite rap albums and mixtapes were
- Without Warning- 21 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin. Perfect trap album.
- You Only Live 2wice- Freddie Gibbs. A leap forward for a great lyricist.
- Big Fish Theory- Vince Staples. Maybe not his best rapping, but the EDM!
- Project Baby 2- Kodak Black. Kodak gets reflective.
- Flower Boy- Tyler the Creator. Tyler (the ultimate homophobe) comes out of the closet. Not my favorite musically but this thing is profound.
- My Favorite Mixtape- Boosie Badazz. Cancer just made Boosie harder. But also more reflective. Feels like retro 3rd coast shit, with lots of twang. A little uneven but my affection for it is high.
- Pretty Girls Like Trap Music- 2 Chainz. The best 2 Chainz album. Nothing groundbreaking, just a solidly executed trap album.
- 4:44- Jay Z. I got tired of it fast but this is undeniably good. Hova as provocateur/late capitalist robber baron/motivational speaker/apologetic husband who the whole world wants to smack for this Becky shit
- Culture- Migos. Overplayed but extremely solid. Well-executed trap.
- Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 2- Cardi B. Cardi is breakthrough MVP of the year.
Honorable mention to Gucci Mane.
There was one jazz new release I got into: Fluku from Large Unit. I heard the track Happy Slappy on the radio and was captivated. https://pnlrecords.bandcamp.com/track/happy-slappy-2
There was also one electronica release that grabbed my attention: Black Origami from Jlin
The pop releases I liked best were
Utopia – Björk
Plunge- Fever Ray
Take Me Apart- Kelela
I enjoyed Hiss Spun from Chelsea Wolfe but I thought it was weaker than her previous album. I liked the Lorde album but I’m not proud of that. I thought the St. Vincent album was her best yet but I got tired of it very quickly. Please feel free to send recommendations for stuff I missed, especially jazz, metal, electronica and classical. I just haven’t had the energy to rigorously keep up with new stuff outside of rap.