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Like any other year in the music industry, 2017 was filled with old and new. Big name artists dropping much anticipated albums that are followed by loads of fan fare and the occasional unknown who breaks into the industry and puts their stamp on the world of music. The only thing that made this year different for me, was the fact that I decided to purchase a membership for Apple Music. This gave me the opportunity to listen to an unlimited amount of new songs and artists, taking me out of my comfort zone as a listener. Here are six albums that I heard and thought you probably should too:
“American Teen” – Khalid
Stand out songs: “Winter”, “Saved”, and “Angels”.
My thoughts: Khalid played the role of breakout artist this year. His song “Location” peaked at the eight spot on billboards R&B charts paving the way for Khalid to enter the mainstream. His collaboration with Marshmello, titled “Silence”, recently went platinum, which served as the perfect finish to Khalid’s dominant year. His debut album, “American Teen” brought a unique style back to the music industry. With an 80’s feel and synth heavy beats he solidified himself in the industry and his impact didn’t go unnoticed as he was nominated for five Grammys, including best new artist and best R&B song.
“Process” – Sampha
Stand out songs: “Reverse Faults” and “(No one knows me) Like the piano”.
My thoughts: Another artist who played a big role in the 2017 R&B world, Sampha finally had his magnum opus with the release of “Process”. With his electronic R&B sound, Sampha also found his way onto a Drake song, featuring on 4422, which helped bring even more light to Sampha and his music. “Process” may just be the beginning of what the Londoner is able to accomplish in the music industry, but it will be a tough album to follow up.
“Damn” – Kendrick Lamar
Stand out songs: “XXX”, “Pride” and “Duckworth”.
My thoughts: A staple in the rap game, Kendrick Lamar followed up his award winning album “To Pimp a Butterfly”, with another classic. “Damn” delves deep into the civil strife that has plagued the United States over the last several years. Filled with unapologetic anthems, Lamar picked up right where he left off as he continues to make his case for raps crown.
“More Life” – Drake
Stand out songs: “Gyalchester” and “Do Not Disturb”.
My thoughts: Drake is without a doubt one of the biggest names in the music industry. While many would like to see Drake return back to his “Take Care” days, he took his newest album in a much different direction. “More Life” as an album takes heavy influence from the British grime scene, something that had slowly worked its way into to Drake’s style. But, Drake added more then just grime into his discography, showing why he is one of the most diverse artists in the world, “More Life” also took influence from the South Africa and Atlanta scenes, creating a beautifully unique album that stands out from anything else released this year.
“Syre” – Jaden Smith
Stand out songs: “Breakfast (feat. A$AP Rocky)” and “Lost Boy”.
My thoughts: Yes, that Jaden Smith. Jaden has certainly graduated from his days of the “Karate Kid” reboot. “Syre” is one of the most colorful and unique albums in hip-hop in a long time. With a similar feel and style to his close friend and rapper Childish Gambino, Jaden gave the rap industry something that they were missing from this year: a weird album. Jaden didn’t stick to the social norms of the rap industry; he instead expanded beyond its borders with a sound and style that needs to be heard to understand. While it defiantly came as a surprise that Jaden Smith was the one to do this, it came as a welcome surprise, garnering acclaim from many big names in the industry.
“Rennen” – Sohn
Stand out songs: “Hard Liquor”, “Conrad” and “Rennen”.
My thoughts: Sohn is the least known artist on a list that features some rather obscure artists already. With a familiar sound and beat, Sohn brings something to the table that feels set to become a commercial success. His second album brings even more of this to the table. An anthem filled album, “Reenen” features songs like “Hard Liquor” that keep you wanting more. While few know of the London artist I would highly recommend giving him a chance.