Every year, it’s as if people say that that year was a good year for music. 2017 wasn’t any different. I’ve had a bigger appreciation for music of any genre, having strictly listened to hip hop in the past, now that I listen to damn near everything and have gotten a few festivals under my belt. Seeing artists live just enhance the overall experience. As a reflection of 2017, I decided to pick my top 5 as well as honorable mentions and do a design sprint within the span of a day, creating alternate cover art to these albums. The magic to design sprints is to generate ideas and not overthink so I see a lot of these pieces as works in progress but inspired and directly influenced by each album.

5 – Saturation II

I was a little late to Brockhampton. I had heard about Kevin Abstract and The American Boyband show on Viceland but never really caught my interest. Through the power of twitter and social media in general, I was convinced that I needed to check them out. I passed on Saturation I, downloaded Saturation II, and took it on the car test and it passed. They reminded me of a hybrid between Odd Future and D12 but less shock value and more like a voice speaking on social issues delivered in an awkward manner with a gravitation pull. Each member of the group gets on the track with their own personality, I honestly don’t know any of their names but only know them through their voice and rap style.

4 – The Ooz

I feel as if King Krule’s music is, at first, an acquired taste but I’ve found it as a gateway into a world of some sort of new age jazz fusion. His music has led me to artists like Cuco, Yellow Days, and Cosmo Pyke. My adoration for this album is only amplified due to the fact I was able to watch him perform live and kill it in FYF pre-The Ooz. The album resonates with me best on late night drives or nights when I lay in bed just daydreaming before I go to sleep.

3 – Flowerboy

To me, Flowerboy has got to be Tyler’s most interesting album. Having listened to him back in the early OF days, you can really see the clear growth between his weird and aggressive days during OF’s DIY youtube music videos or Goblin and his now vulnerable sound and message. Despite his departure from his original sound, you can still hear a little of it on tracks like Who Dat Boy with A$AP Rocky. So I think there’s a little bit for everybody, OG fan to somebody just getting into Tyler post-OF. I personally appreciate all the features, especially Kali Uchis and Lil’ Wayne.

2 – The Space Between

The Space Between gets better with every listen. Majid Jordan’s mastery of this pop R&B synth-y sound. I feel as if, with this album, they solidified themselves as a duo that can find success outside of the shadow of Drake and OVO. Driving at night to this gives me the feeling like I’m in some sort of 90’s movie, driving a Testarossa down an empty freeway with strip club neon lights trailing my peripheral views. It definitely appeals to my simp side with songs like “You” and any of the little savage side with “One I Want”.

1 – DAMN 

I feel as if many conscious rapper artists fall short of the entertainment aspect of music. To me, Kendrick does this perfectly. Do you remember him making a banger out of a song talking about alcoholism and substance abuse? Anyways, he continues this streak of delivering a message through songs you can listen to on your own, in the car, and in the club. To be honest, the album executed as a concept album goes over my head, but it’s gotten to the point that people try to decode his albums and their story which I enjoy reading about. My appreciation for this album and making it #1 in my list for 2017 may be a little a biased, having gone to the Damn tour and being thoroughly impressed with everything about it from the stage design to the mini kung fu movie played throughout. It also helps that he’s released multiple music videos all with cinematic and photographic elements that are just pleasing to the eye and, at times, mind blowing. Standout tracks for me, which seem common to many others, are “Love”, “Loyalty”, and “Humble”.

Honorable Mentions

blkswn – Smino
Into – Sonder
Gang Signs & Prayer – Stormzy
Boo Boo – Toro y Moi
Sonder Son – Brent Faiyaz
Freudian – Daniel Caesar
HNDRXX – Future
Process – Sampha
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