BROCKHAMPTON took the hip-hop and musical world by storm this year with their SATURATION trilogy. The group saturated the market with a wholly unique sound and identity. The boy band is one of music’s best stories and their first installment of SATURATION broke ground as a simultaneously catchy, creative, and layered project. The group focused on lyrical messages of self-improvement, loneliness, and friendship. The chemistry between the myriad of members is unmatched in the industry.
2. Uyai – Ibibio Sound Machine
Ibibio Sound Machine was one of the year’s biggest surprises, delivering upon a sound of electronics mixed with live instrumentation for an infectiously funky, soulful, and danceable experience. The group crosses multiple West African genres and features only limited English, but the music itself is so good lyrical understanding hardly matters.
3. Bravado – Kirin J Callinan
The Australian pop artist is currently one of the most interesting, creative, and passionate songwriters working in pop. He boasts an experimental sound with some incredibly catchy hooks and a great sense of humor. If you’re looking for something new and different out of the pop sound, Bravado is a can’t miss album.
4. Peasant – Richard Dawson
Richard Dawson created the year’s best singer-songwriter album with a completely primal and raw approach to folk music. His vocals aren’t clean or trained, but are more endearing for the passion he exhibits. The music in Peasant is best described as a well-traveled man in the medieval age singing his stories to anyone that will listen. The gorgeous melodies and the unhinged drums and vocals transport you to a completely different era and state of mind.
5. Flower Boy – Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator emerged in 2017 as a much more mature song-writer. His album deals largely with his own sexuality and life. He matched the album’s themes with his best production, sweetest hooks, and most ambitious set list to date. The album’s featured artists are used excellently, and Tyler does not shy away from letting his musical influences create one of the more dynamic sounding hip-hop albums in the last few years.
6. 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time – Big K.R.I.T.
Big K.R.I.T. returned to form after leaving Def Jam, by dropping a double-album of perfectly crafted southern hip-hop tunes. The album thrives with its consistency and diversity of feelings. The first half, named after his stage name, is a fun and upbeat experience. The second half, named after his real name, is introspective and soulful.
7. SATURATION III – BROCKHAMPTON
The finale to the Saturation trilogy was everything it lived up to be. While the album did not stray too far from its predecessor’s formula, it showed the group going further into experimental territory. The production strayed more and more from hip-hop norms, and the band’s hooks and chemistry remain top-notch.
8. Forget – Xiu Xiu
Easily the strangest album on this list, Xiu Xiu delivered a project that had no right be so catchy and infectious. The front man’s vocals sound like a demented and miserable David Bowie, while the instrumentals are foreboding yet funky. The lyrics are esoteric, and the music can be unhinged, but it somehow all works together beautifully.
9. No Shape – Perfume Genius
Under the Perfume Genius name, Mike Hadreas produced an incredibly beautiful and sincere album with No Shape. The melodies are fantastic, the instrumentation has its own identity, and the content is all deeply personal. Despite a slow pace for most of its songs, the album remains catchy with only a couple duds.
10. ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ – Joey Bada$$
New York rapper Joey Bada$$ returned after a two-year hiatus with a new, pop-focused sound and his most well-crafted album. At only 22 years old Joey’s writing is far more mature than many of his contemporaries, spreading messages of peace and social understanding throughout the music. Hopefully his success breaks boundaries for similar messages in hip-hop. While he strayed from some his strengths as an East Coast emcee, he created some of the catchiest songs in hip-hop this year. Aside from his lyrical and technical rapping prowess, Joey also displayed impressive singing chops on many of the hooks.