2017 is entering its final chapter and as I look back and reflect, it was one of the greatest years for music that I’ve ever experienced. So many vibes, so many stories, so many memories. No other year of my life has captured the very essence of music that makes me laugh, makes me cry, and makes me move to the beat of my own drum.
In 2017 we saw the greatest comeback in hip-hop history with Hovs’ 4:44, a brilliant album which gifted us a personal apology from one of the most powerful men in the music industry. We saw the greatest debut into the modern R&B scene with “CTRL” as SZA beautifully represented the hearts & minds of every hopeless romantic in their 20 somethings.
2017, the year Daniel Caesar made people fall in love again, the year idols became rivals and Future taught us to never miss a loss and you’ll come out strong with or without the throw aways. So without further ado, here are the top hip-hop and R&B albums of 2017.
10. “Culture” – Migos
Culture is undoubtedly Migos best album which is something I thought I would never utter prior to it’s release in January. Several songs from this album can still be heard on the radio with heavy circulation which is quite impressive for an album that was released in January. Bad and Boujee, Slippery, All A** & Brown Paper Bag are still played widespread all over the airwaves and at parties. Hopefully this is the beginning of the Migos transition into super-stardom which is very possible under the guidance & influence of the legendary Kanye West.
9. “True To Self” – Bryson Tiller
True to Self was a solid sophomore album from Pen Griffey Jr. There’s an argument to be made that an artists’ second album is always tougher to produce than the first one is due to the expectations that may or may not exist. After the success of Trapsoul, anything less than stellar was inexcusable from the young singer and Tiller more than delivered. Every song coming together beautifully, Tiller easily has the best transitions from song to song I’ve ever heard.
A deep love note about his regrets and the mistakes he’s made in his young life is an appreciated open book that any young man can relate to. The sky is the limit for Bryson Tiller and I don’t expect anything less than an legendary career from one of the most important voices in modern R&B.
8. “Trip” – Jhene Aiko
I’m honestly appalled this album has gone under the radar as much as it has. Easily her best work, Aiko takes us on a psychedelic journey from the first track LSD that ends our drug addicted path with Trip featuring Mali Music.
Jhene has some of the most beautiful vocals in the industry and they’re on full display throughout the entire album here. Beautifully crafted from top to bottom Trip feels like a look inside the diary of the now veteran singer and as the listener, it’s very appreciated that she gave us such a firsthand look into her love life and career.
7. “Future” – Future
I can’t speak for everyone but Future definitely gave me 2015 Future vibes which was such a blessing after a 2016 when Future was consistently dropping mediocre projects back to back.
This album definitely featured a few gems in Futures catalog of songs. Might as well and Feds did a sweep could easily be in Future’s top 20 songs ever and Draco was one of the earliest smash hits of the year.
This was easily Future’s best album in a few years until he dropped another album that may or may not be mentioned later in this list….
6. “Rather You Than Me” – Rick Ross
Rather You Than Me is easily the best album Ross has ever given us. Rozay once again gave us music with production value that makes you want to cruise around your city smoking a cigar reflecting on all your successes.
“Idols Become Rivals” was the best diss track of the year and yes that includes “Play Wit Yo B*tch” by Dolph! He reflected on his humble beginnings on Game aint based on sympathy and delivered Ashton Martin Music vibes with Apple of my Eye and I think she like me.
Rather You Than Me was a great album that people will better appreciate once they further analyze Ross’ discography once he’s retired from the game.
5. “4:44”– Jay Z
Jetlag creator Larento Campbell once said that people will better appreciate 4:44 a few years from now and honestly, I agree. We don’t often hear rap artists be as honest and truthful in their wrongs but Hov delivered plenty of that and then some on this album.
If Beyonce’s Lemonade was about forgiveness and sisterhood in a marginalized world, 4:44 is about acknowledging your wrongdoings and becoming a better man in every aspect in life because of it.
4:44 was an incredible album in every sense of the word. Production wise, this is the most impressive album on the list. Every note and verse tying together beautifully with rich beats and beautiful vocals, this albums sounds rich and that’s a rare compliment to give albums in this day and age.
Hopefully, Jay-Z retires with this album. If he does, this will be no different than Michael Jordan retiring with six rings after his game winning shot against Utah. Legendary.
4. “DAMN” – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar delivered yet again. I’m honestly not sure if any rapper in the modern era has ever delivered as incredibly on their first four albums as Kung-Fu Kenny has. DAMN isn’t just a great rap album it’s a great music album period.
Kendrick Lamar is so great you can make a legitimate argument that DAMN is K-Dot’s “worst” album, that’s how incredible his resume is.
We still have two years to go in this decade but don’t be surprised if you see DAMN on everybody’s best of the decade lists in November and December of 2019.
3. “Freudian” – Daniel Caesar
I mentioned earlier in the introduction into this list that Daniel Caesar made people fall in love again, and I mean what I said. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bryson Tiller and Tory Lanez but often times the type of love they sing about is toxic (at times) their love isn’t always healthy.
Daniel Caesar is different though, he performs the kind of love that’s 100% pure and makes you feel wanted and appreciated. This is reminiscent of R&B music that our grandparents used to listen to. I’m talking Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass.. It’s beautiful.
His debut album has just been announced as a Grammy nominee and you have to believe the sky is limit for Caesar as get this… he’s only 22 years old. He could very well have one of the all time great R&B careers and I honestly believe he could compete with the likes of R Kelly, Luther, and Gaye and so many others that came before him.
2. “HNDRXX” – Future
Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but Future is the only music artist in recent memory who has released two album of the year candidates in TWO different genres. If you can think of any other artist who has done this feel free to @ me on twitter. HNDRXX was simply brilliant.
Lessons of bossing up and remembering who the hell you are, HNDRXX featured music for several different moods. Providing Fresh Air for a night out in the club, I Thank You for that one person that motivated you to greatness, and Neva Missa Lost to remind all your scorned past lovers that you don’t regret anything. No album put me in my bag more than this one.
This is EASILY Future’s best album and I think it will stand the test of time and remain that way forever honestly. If HNDRXX is anything, it serves as a testament to the skills of one of the most talented music artists of our time. A future classic album that will stand the test of time, and yes I said classic album.
1. “CTRL” – SZA
CTRL is the best album I’ve heard in years. I’ve said for years that Channel Orange is one of the two or three greatest albums I’ve ever heard and quite honestly CTRL challenges that. CTRL is the best album I’ve heard since Frank Ocean released Channel Orange in the summer of 2012 and over time I’m sure will impact my life just as much as Frank’s masterpiece did so many years ago.
It’s one of the few albums I’ve ever listened to where every song holds weight and feels vital to the success of the album. Every single track ties in together beautifully and creates a beautiful story of a young woman guiding her way through issues of self-love, relationships, and new found success while she chases her dreams.
There were so many vital life lessons on this album and sadly that gets lost behind the false narrative that SZA makes “side chick anthems” even though she’s already explained herself a millions times *face palm*. Life lessons such as self love on the Grammy nominated track Supermodel, dating men who lead double lives on The Weekend, ultimately tying all these lessons together and praying for the best on 20 Somethings.
CTRL had one of the greatest conclusions to an album that I’ve ever heard with 20 somethings. That is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard and one of the few songs that evokes a strong emotional reaction for me. Production wise, lyrically, vocally, everything you can think of SZA had it on this album and then some.
SZA is a young and beautiful star who has nothing but time and potential on her side for years to come in her new career and I expect nothing less than greatness as her career progresses. An incredible talent, a beautiful person, and an immaculate album that serves as a landmark of love, growing, and youthfulness as you travel through the world in your 20 somethings and so on and so forth.