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. In a normal year, those in top 20 might be number one, but 2017 has been extraordinarily good. Here’s 20-11.
20. DJ Khaled – Grateful
DJ Khaled went from a popular artist within music to a megastar in 2017. His use of social media, becoming a walking meme for all the right reasons and being able to deliver a string of successful singles make him a favourite for artist of the year. ‘Grateful’ is your typical DJ Khaled album. There’s pop bangers on there like the inescapable ‘Only One’ and ‘Wild Thoughts’ but you also get a mesmerising Nas and Travis Scott collaboration and the hottest debate for ‘who killed it’ between Pusha T and Jadakiss all on the same CD. Major Key.
19. Jister & The Lion Ranger – JTLR
‘Vicarious Life’ is literally life mate. It might be the best summary of 2017 in song form, it might as well be called Netflix & Chill. Jister & The Lion Ranger first collaborated on 2013’s ‘Absurdism’ EP, one of the best releases of that year. ‘JTLR’ was one of the most anticipated albums of the last 12 months and did not disappoint.
18. Dave – Game Over
Dave could have split this EP into two mini-EP’s and could have snatched number one and two on this list. One half of ‘Game Over’ are radio-ready bangers, the other half is the complete opposite. Individually each track is incredible but they don’t necessarily mash together too well. ‘Question Time’ might be the most important song the UK has produced in a decade.
17. Big Boi – Boomiverse
Don’t @ me, Big Boi is the better half of OutKast. I don’t need an Andre 3000 solo effort when Big Boi is consistently delivering high quality albums like ‘Boomiverse.’ Big Boi is the equivalent of being friendzoned by hip-hop fans while we wait for 3 Stacks to pay attention for us for 16 bars in a year and then disappear again. Which is all the more frustrating in 2017, because ‘Boomiverse’ is a beast.
16. Yelawolf – Trial By Fire
Disclaimer: I only listened to this album because I was making this list. I missed the boat on ‘Trial By Fire’, I was too busy with life when Yelawolf released his 2017 opus, and then was never interested in going back to it at a later date. How wrong I was to have such an attitude. Yela’s third studio album has put him a place above Obie Trice on the rankings of Shady Records artists, just behind 50 Cent and Eminem himself. A fourth album ranging somewhere between ‘Trial By Fire’ and ‘Radio Active’ and he might take that top spot.
15. Rick Fury & DJ A.D.S – Lego Scarface
Rick Fury is the G.O.A.T hip-hop artist from the North East of England. He’s inspired multiple generations of geordies, mackems and smogs, and is still going bar-for-bar with the best of them. While ‘Enter The Dragon’ might have been a blip on his record, ‘Lego Scarface’ alongside DJ A.D.S reaffirmed Rick’s status at top of the mountain. ‘How To Enjoy Losing’ and ‘Lego Scarface’ back-to-back is an impressive feat even for a veteran like Rick. Can he keep it coming in 2018?
14. Vic Mensa – The Manuscript
In 2017, Vic Mensa became one of my favourite rappers ever and undoubtedly my favourite rapper of 2017. ‘The Manuscript’ was the first step to that. Bringing back Mr Hudson to my ears was a dream, and that track was the lowest point on the EP. The other three tracks rightfully made the full-length album released later in 2017, which also features later on in this list in the top 5.
13. Meek Mill – Wins & Losses
Meek Mill might be proof that in the internet era, you can’t be killed off. Drake made a mockery of this man, and yet with a simple formula of releasing good music despite fuck shit on social media, Meek found himself back in our good graces in 2017. Whilst more fuck shit has happened since, the music still speaks for itself. ‘Wins & Losses’ is a fantastic album, and ‘Young Black America’ is one of the best songs of the year.
12. KV$HNOODLE & MAXXAMMO – deathistheonlyescape
There’s always one. Just as you think you’ve got your end-year list sorted, someone drops late in December and makes you re-organise your entire list. This year, KV$HNOODLE came through with producer MAXXAMMO with ‘deathistheonlyescape.’ Sonically, the mixtape is dark and brooding, venturing into heavy metal throwing me back to my early teenage listening habits. Mix that with emotive lyricism and concepts revolving around mental health, and I’m hooked.
11. Cyhi The Prynce – No Dope On Sundays
I suspect this will be in most people’s top 10 albums of 2017. It deserves to be, but narrowly misses out here. Objectively, Cyhi might be the best rapper-rapper of the year, and ‘No Dope On Sundays’ is top 5 based on the theory of making a great rap album. Music doesn’t work on theory though, its all about building a connection and whilst I know plenty will connect with Cyhi on this opus, I didn’t – and that’s the difference between being top 10 on a TheRootMusic list or not.