Another year over. 2017 brought us many musical highlights. I’ve listened to over 100 releases and a good 70 of those were up for contention in making the top 50 albums of the year. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed every album on this list, there are certain albums truly blew me away and broke into my all-time list. We’ll be introduced to those in the top 10, but for now enjoy 40-31.
40. Dialect – Lifting The Curse
Perhaps better known for his battle rap career, Dialect had a brilliant 2017. After a slight dip in his stock, the Leeds MC ensured his place in title contention before Don’t Flop’s (un?)timely demise. Beyond clashing, Dialect also released a solid EP in the form of ‘Lifting The Curse.’ Dialect’s signature flows have won him many-a-clash, and are transferred over into this EP. Screwface central.
39. Ken Masters – Breaking The Chain
North East Hip-Hop’s godfather, Ken Masters is a role model to many, not only as an MC but as a human being too. Helping a number of younger rappers develop their skills, but not one to let his own talents go to waste either. Representing the four pillars of hip-hop beyond just rapping, Ken is as real as ‘real’ hip-hop gets without ever coming across as preachy. ‘Breaking The Chain’ is the musical embodiment of Ken’s outlook on hip-hop culture delivered in eloquent fashion.
38. Gilly Man Giro – For The Heads
Where Ken Masters is eloquent, Gilly Man Giro is brash and in your face. ‘For The Heads’ is exactly what it says on the tin, for hip-hop fans deeper than casual listeners. Boom-bap centric production reminiscent of the 90’s but with the album has a voice very much in the present. Although I’ve never been a fan of skits, and there’s plenty of them here – the music is top quality with the title track, ‘Fuck A Job’ and bonus cut ‘Eggywegs’ featuring King Hippo offering particular high points.
37. Big K.R.I.T – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
There’s something about Big K.R.I.T’s vocal inflection that makes my hair stand up. Some people are simply born with a voice to rap with aren’t they? It seems particularly common with MCs from America’s southern states and K.R.I.T is up there with the best of them. I’ve loved an array of his feature verses but not until the double disc ‘4eva Is A Mighty Long Time’ opus have I enjoyed a full-length project. Hopefully he’ll drop another album of similar quality in 2018 and finally be included in the top 5 of the generation conversation he’s deserved to be in for years.
36. Loose Logic – Reflections
Having been a fan of Loose Logic for 5 years, I’ve never been disappointed. Each and every mixtape, EP and album – solo or as part of a group – has hit all the right spots. ‘Reflections’ is another in a long line of outstanding releases. I’m wary that the trap-mumble rap satire may soon step beyond irony and become a standard fixture of his musical output. This 2017 release is a lot more melodic than Loose Logic fans have come to expect, but that’s neither a good or bad thing – simply a matter of preference.
35. Rex Regis – The Third
I remember the weekend ‘The Third’ dropped, I got caught in a debate whether Rex Regis’ 2017 mixtape could be considered a classic. It was far too soon to tell, and in my opinion at the time ‘The Third’ wasn’t quite up to par with predecessor ‘Faith Restored.’ On reflection, I’m still not quite sure the album is a classic – but the tape spawned some superb singles that I didn’t recognise at first. ‘You’re Not From Round Here Wor Kid’ in particular might be a classic song. ‘Cold Outside’ is one of the better mixtape-tracks of the year, too.
34. Endem & Leum – Planning Permission
The first official release from Legitimate Anarchy as a record label comes in the form of Endem and Leum collaborating for ‘Planning Permission.’ The album explores Endem’s relationships with friends and family, drugs and alcohol, and hip-hop and the team of musicians around him – including Leum. ‘Planning Permission’ showcases Endem’s excellent technical ability but the album highlight comes in the less-technical, more vulnerable ‘Diaries Of A Sociopath – Page 2.’
33. The Great & The Magnificent – Rebirth.Life.Death
After a radio interview I conducted with The Great & The Magnificent, Baron Von Alias and MistaBreeze asked me if I related to the album. They’ve since signalled a confusion between my ‘no’ for a dislike of the album. This isn’t the case. Although my music taste often revolves around my connection to music, my connection to ‘Rebirth.Life.Death’ didn’t come in the form of relatability but in being able to identify and empathise with their pain. Whilst we each faced mental health issues whilst working together a couple years ago, the reason for and journey during were much different – but that doesn’t mean I don’t highly respect their approach to reflecting that in this album.
32. Max Gavins – 1994
Similarily to The Great & The Magnificent, there’s also a misconception that I wasn’t a fan of Max Gavins’ ‘1994.’ Although my review came across harsh, it came from a place of love – for Max who I’ve worked closely with on the Monthly Mumble podcast, but also for ‘1994’ itself. ‘1994’ is the opposite of Eminem’s ‘Revival.’ Whilst ‘Revival’ has bits of genius drowned out by a lot of shit, ‘1994’ has a lot of genius that ruined by bits of shit. ‘Mic Ashley’ was originally released in 2015, but as an album track in 2017 is one of the best individual songs of the year.
31. Double S – Double Vision
Double S has been one of the finest MC’s for a long time. While I loved Marvell, it’s arguable that being part of the trio held the Flow Farda back a little. Since turning solo, Double has achieved a lot more success and recognition as one of the best grime artists today. ‘Double Vision’ featured ‘Style & Flow’, ‘Yana Darg’ and ‘Get Paid’ each of which were critically acclaimed singles alongside his ‘Oi’ remix.