Micah’s Picks: Best of 2017

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2017

01. Kendrick Lamar – Damn.
Spotify
Kendrick Lamar’s first four albums are arguably the best initial run from any rapper ever. The latest addition to his discography continues his pattern of making each record drastically different from the preceding one. After releasing the jazz-influenced masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick went back to the fundamentals of beats and rhymes, tapping the likes of Mike Will Made It and 9th Wonder to create an album that sounded more like a mixtape than a jazz jam session. Even though the musical direction of Damn. is more accessible, the rhyming and flow are as good as ever, with Kendrick delving into the topics of gang violence, racial discrimination and black excellence that he’s tackled on all of his previous projects. It’s nearly impossible to guess where King Kendrick will go from here, but there is no doubt that he will have the attention of every hip hop head when he is ready to release any new music.
Read our review of Damn. here.


02. SZA – Ctrl
Spotify
Even though I wasn’t that impressed with Ctrl when it was released in June, after a couple months of periodically coming back to it, it clicked. Since then I’ve been unable to put this record down for more than a few days. SZA took a huge leap forward with this project compared to her debut. The music is richer, more organic and better arranged, but still doesn’t come close to outshining SZA’s voice which displays more range and confidence than ever before. Opting to write the entire album herself, the songs are deeply personal, dealing with infidelity and insecurity that adds an emotional potency to the record that makes it infinitely re-listenable.


03. Jay-Z – 4:44
Spotify
At almost 50 years old, Jay-Z is proving that it is entirely possible to still be influential musically in a genre that is dominated by young up-and-comers. Instead of chasing trends and bombastic sounds like he did on Magna Carta Holy Grail, Jay-Z worked with No I.D. to craft a sound for 4:44 that was minimal and sparse, taking a chance on putting the emcee out in front without elaborate production to fall back on. In the spotlight, Hov is more personal than he’s been since his debut album released over twenty years ago, discussing his struggles to build a legacy for his career and family, and dealing with his own shortcomings as a father and husband.
Read our review of 4:44 here.


04. Brockhampton – Saturation Trilogy
Saturation 1 Spotify
Saturation 2 Spotify
Saturation 3 Spotify
Brockhampton is without a doubt the breakout group of 2017. From complete obscurity outside of a few corners of the internet, the group took the music scene by storm by putting out three incredible albums in the span of six months, accompanied by self-made music videos, and a gruelling touring schedule. With a massive team of musicians, producers, engineers, designers and coordinators working around the clock the group seems unstoppable in their ability to produce so much at such a high caliber. In their relatively young career, the group has mastered a wide range of sounds, from infectious braggadocios bangers to heartfelt, smooth R&B. I cannot imagine that they will be able to keep up this ridiculous pace. Maybe once the members begin to make solo albums, they will slow down to find their own individual sounds.
Read our review of Saturation 1 here.


05. Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile – Bach Trios
Spotify
It is rare to find a trio with as much raw talent and chemistry as this one. Each member of the group has both mastered their instruments and innovated in their genres. On their latest release, they play the music of the J.S. Bach, bringing their virtuosity to music that has been played by countless ensembles and somehow managing to breathe new life into it. Maybe it’s the unique makeup of the trio, but more likely its the unique personalities and perspectives of the players that makes this record so enthralling.
Read our review of Bach Trios here.


06. Thundercat – Drunk
Spotify
The latest project from Thundercat and company  is their most refined and complete yet, displaying their psychedelic take on the neosoul/jazz genre with a tracklist full of short songs that somehow don’t feel abridged or unfinished. While there are some fantastic guests joining the ensemble, the album really shines when the musicians endeavor down strange musical rabbit holes led by the eccentric bassist-songwriter. The album effortlessly flows from beginning to end and manages to be strange and comforting at the same time.
Read our review of Drunk here.


07. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Spotify
North Carolinian rapper Rapsody has earned her spot as one of the most important voices of the new generation of Hip Hop, joining the ranks of Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, J. Cole and Danny Brown. She earned her spot through talent, diligence and dedication, crafting her sound to create a voice and flow that is unmistakable and lyrics that are both socially conscious, captivating and truly memorable. On her latest release, with the support of her mentor 9th Wonder, she crafts a project that is more cohesive and potent than anything she’s ever done. If there is anyone who deserves to break into the mainstream out of North Carolina, Rapsody is the clear choice.


08. Tyler, The Creator- Scum Fuck Flower Boy
Spotify
It’s crazy to think that Tyler has been releasing music for almost a decade now. The young rapper/producer that first began releasing music on internet forums in 2008 now is making a name for himself in music, fashion and video directing. He has both the ears of artists that influenced him such as Kanye West and Pharrell Williams and the younger generation of musicians like the members of Brockhampton. His latest album is much more consistent than his debut triology or Cherry Bomb. Gone are the joke songs and the hard hitting rap tunes–aside from the visceral “Who Dat Boy”. Scum Fuck Flower Boy is Tyler embracing the neo-soul sound that he has only sprinkled on previous albums and the result is the first album from him that I can easily listen to all the way through. By rapping less and focusing more on producing great songs, Tyler has made his most personal and listenable album to date.


09. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva is a Mighty Long Time
Spotify
Big K.R.I.T. has been bubbling in the underground for years and I was really hoping that his latest album, the first to be released without a major label, would finally be the one to catapult him to the success he deserves. While this isn’t that project, the freedom K.R.I.T. has as an independent artist allowed him to make an album that where he tackles his demons like he does on 4eva is a Mighty Long Time. Long time K.R.I.T. fans might be surprised to learn more about Justin Scott on the second disc and how he’s struggled with the modest notoriety he’s achieved and the addiction that festered during his come up. This album would have been a lot higher up if it had been condensed down to a single album, but I can understand why K.R.I.T. wanted to put it all out there on his debut album as an independent artist.


10. Smino – Blkswn
Spotify
St. Louis native Smino
came through with the best debut album of 2017. The dark and warm sound from Monte Booker coupled with Smino’s raspy flow make this album stand out from the Chicago rappers that clearly influenced his sound and the trap-sound that is dominating the mainstream rap sound at the moment. The hooks are catchy, the beats are immaculate and the future is bright for this young emcee.

TOP 10 SINGLES OF 2017

01. Brockhampton – Lamb
Somewhere out there they will say / He is mine, he is mine

Spotify Youtube


02. Kendrick Lamar – DNA
Salute the truth when the prophet say
Spotify Youtube


03. Frank Ocean – Chanel
How you looking up to me and talking down /
Can’t you see I am the big man?
Spotify Youtube


04. SZA – Go Gina
Tryin’ to keep to myself / But you bring me out of character
Spotify Youtube


05. J.I.D. – Never
I ain’t even in this shit for the fame bruh, it’s the pain bruh
Spotify Youtube


06. Sampha – (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano
They said that it’s her time, no tears in sight, I kept the feelings close

Spotify Youtube


07. Big K.R.I.T. – Layup
You been runnin’ long enough to get a layup

Spotify Youtube


08. Jay-Z – Smile (featuring Gloria Carter)
Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don’t matter to me if it’s a him a her

Spotify Youtube


09. Thundercat – Jethro
And when I die / Cave into your light
Spotify Youtube


10.Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Keep that style you got soulful / The best of the best gon’ fear you
Spotify Youtube

2017: In Rotation

A$AP Ferg
East Coast (Remix) (featuring Busta Rhymes, A$AP Rocky, Dave East, French Montana, Rick Ross & Snoop Dogg)
Spotify Youtube

A$AP Mob
RAF (featuring A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert & Frank Ocean)
Spotify Youtube

Alison Krauss
It’s Goodbye and So Long to You
Spotify Youtube
Gentle on My Mind
Spotify Youtube
You Don’t Know Me
Spotify Youtube

Alvvays
Dreams Tonite
Spotify Youtube

Ameer Vann
High Tolerance
Spotify Youtube

Aminé
Red Mercedes
Spotify Youtube

Big K.R.I.T.
Confetti
Spotify Youtube
Layup
Spotify Youtube
Get Away
Spotify Youtube
Keep the Devil Off
Spotify Youtube
Price of Fame
Spotify Youtube
Drinking Sessions (featuring Keyon Harrold)
Spotify Youtube

Big Sean
Bigger Than Me (featuring Flint Chozen Choir & Starrah)
Spotify Youtube

Brockhampton
Lamb
Spotify Youtube
Heat
Spotify Youtube
Gold
Spotify Youtube
Star
Spotify Youtube
2pac
Spotify Youtube
Swim
Spotify Youtube
Milk
Spotify Youtube
Face
Spotify Youtube
Waste
Spotify Youtube
Gummy
Spotify Youtube
Tokyo
Spotify Youtube
Chick
Spotify Youtube
Fight
Spotify Youtube
Sweet
Spotify Youtube
Summer
Spotify Youtube
Boogie
Spotify Youtube
Johnny
Spotify Youtube
Bleach
Spotify Youtube
Alaska
Spotify Youtube
Hottie
Spotify Youtube
Stains
Spotify Youtube

Lamb (Extended Version)
Spotify Youtube

Brother Ali
Own Light (What Hearts Are For)
Spotify Youtube
Dear Black Son
Spotify Youtube

Calvin Harris
Slide (featuring Frank Ocean & Migos)
Spotify Youtube
Heatstroke (featuring Young Thug, Pharrell Williams & Ariana Grande)
Spotify Youtube

Cardi B
Bodak Yellow
Spotify Youtube

Choker
Diorama
Spotify Youtube
El Dorado
Spotify Youtube

Cyhi The Prynce
No Dope On Sundays (featuring Pusha T)
Spotify Youtube
Nu Africa (featuring Ernestine Johnson)
Spotify Youtube
80’s Baby (featuring BJ the Chicago Kid)
Spotify Youtube

David Rawlings
Midnight Train
Spotify Youtube

DJ Khaled
Shining (featuring Beyonce & Jay-Z)
Spotify Youtube
Wild Thoughts (featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller)
Spotify Youtube
I’m The One (featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne)
Spotify Youtube

Drake
Passionfruit
Spotify Youtube

Frank Ocean
Biking (featuring Jay-Z & Tyler, The Creator)
Spotify Youtube
Chanel
Spotify Youtube
Lens (featuring Travis Scott)
Spotify Youtube
Provider
Spotify Youtube

Future
Mask Off (Remix) (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
Spotify Youtube

Francis & The Lights
Just for Us
Spotify Youtube

The Hood Internet
40 Years Of Hip Hop
Spotify Youtube

Injury Reserve
See You Sweat
Spotify Youtube

J. Cole
High For Hours
Spotify Youtube

J.I.D.
Never
Spotify Youtube
D/Vision (featuring EarthGang)
Spotify Youtube
All Bad (featuring Mereba)
Spotify Youtube

Jay-Z
Kill Jay Z
Spotify Youtube
The Story of O.J.
Spotify Youtube
Smile (featuring Gloria Carter)
Spotify Youtube
Caught Their Eyes (featuring Frank Ocean)
Spotify Youtube
4:44
Spotify Youtube
Family Feud
Spotify Youtube
Marcy Me
Spotify Youtube
Legacy
Spotify Youtube

Joey Bada$$
For My People
Spotify Youtube
Temptation
Spotify Youtube
Land of the Free
Spotify Youtube
Rock a Bye Baby (featuring Schoolboy Q)
Spotify Youtube
Ring the Alarm (featuring Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies)
Spotify Youtube
Super Predator (featuring Styles P)
Spotify Youtube

John Mayer
Still Feel Like Your Man
Spotify Youtube
You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me
Spotify Youtube

Karriem Riggins
Bahia Dreamin’
Spotify Youtube
Cia
Spotify Youtube
Fluture
Spotify Youtube

Kendrick Lamar
DNA
Spotify Youtube
Yah
Spotify Youtube
Element
Spotify Youtube
Feel
Spotify Youtube
Loyalty (featuring Rihanna)
Spotify Youtube
Pride
Spotify Youtube
Humble
Spotify Youtube
Love (featuring Zacari)
Spotify Youtube
XXX (featuring U2)
Spotify Youtube
Fear
Spotify Youtube
God
Spotify Youtube
Duckworth
Spotify Youtube
The Heart, Pt. 4
Spotify Youtube

Khalid
American Teen
Spotify Youtube
Saved
Spotify Youtube
8teen
Spotify Youtube

Knxwledge
pushit.
Spotify Youtube

Lil Uzi Vert
XO Tour Life
Spotify Youtube

Mac DeMarco
My Old Man
Spotify Youtube
This Old Dog
Spotify Youtube
Baby You’re Out
Spotify Youtube
A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes
Spotify Youtube
One More Love Song
Spotify Youtube

Miguel
Come Through and Chill (featuring J. Cole & Salaam Remi)
Spotify Youtube

N.E.R.D.
Lemon (featuring Rihanna)
Spotify Youtube

NxWorries
Best One (Remix)
Spotify Youtube

Oddisee
Like Really
Spotify Youtube
Rain Dance
Spotify Youtube

Ollie Chanin
Shame
Spotify Youtube

Playboi Carti
Magnolia
Spotify Youtube
Wokeuplikethis (featuring Lil Uzi Vert)
Spotify Youtube

Terrace Martin
Mama D/Leimert Park
Spotify Youtube
Wake Up
Spotify Youtube

Rapsody
Laila’s Wisdom
Spotify Youtube
Power (featuring Kendrick Lamar & Lance Skiiiwalker)
Spotify Youtube
Chrome (Like Ooh)
Spotify Youtube
Pay Up
Spotify Youtube
Nobody (featuring Anderson .Paak, Black Thoughts & Moonchild)
Spotify Youtube
Black & Ugly (featuring BJ the Chicago Kid)
Spotify Youtube
Knock On My Door (featuring BJ the Chicago Kid)
Spotify Youtube

Sampha
(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano
Spotify Youtube
Reverse Faults
Spotify Youtube
Under
Spotify Youtube

SiR
New LA (featuring Anderson .Paak & King Mez)
Spotify Youtube

Smino
Spitshine
Spotify Youtube
Netflix & Dusse
Spotify Youtube
Anita
Spotify Youtube
Lobby Kall
Spotify Youtube

Amphetamine (featuring Jean Deaux, Bari Allen & Noname)
Spotify Youtube

Sufjan Stevens
Tonya Harding (in D Major)
Spotify Youtube
Mercury
Spotify Youtube

SZA
Supermodel
Spotify Youtube
Love Galore (featuring Travis Scott)
Spotify Youtube
Drew Barrymore
Spotify Youtube
Prom
Spotify Youtube
The Weekend
Spotify Youtube
Go Gina
Spotify Youtube
Garden (Say It Like Dat)
Spotify Youtube
Broken Clocks
Spotify Youtube

Thundercat
Uh Uh
Spotify Youtube
Bus in These Streets
Spotify Youtube
A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)
Spotify Youtube
Lava Lamp
Spotify Youtube
Jethro
Spotify Youtube
Day & Night
Spotify Youtube
Walk On By (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
Spotify Youtube
Blackkk
Spotify Youtube
Friend Zone
Spotify Youtube
I Am Crazy
Spotify Youtube

Toro Y Moi
No Show
Spotify Youtube

Tyler, the Creator
Foreword (featuring Rex Orange County)
Spotify Youtube
See You Again (featuring Kali Uchis)
Spotify Youtube
Boredom (featuring Rex Orange County, Anna of the North & Corinne Bailey Rae)
Spotify Youtube
I Ain’t Got Time!
Spotify Youtube
911/Mr. Lonely (featuring Steve Lacy & Frank Ocean)
Spotify Youtube
November
Spotify Youtube
Ziploc
Spotify Youtube

Vince Staples
Big Fish
Spotify Youtube
Yeah Right (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
Spotify Youtube

The Wailin’ Jennys
Wildflowers
Spotify Youtube
Boulder to Birmingham
Spotify Youtube

Willie Nelson
Still Not Dead
Spotify Youtube

Young Thug
Do U Love Me
Spotify Youtube

Your Old Droog
You Can Do It! (Give Up)
Spotify Youtube

Yo‐Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer
Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530- I. Vivace
Spotify Youtube
Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530- II. Lento
Spotify Youtube
Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530- III. Allegro
Spotify Youtube
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
Spotify Youtube
Fugue No. 20 in A Minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 889
Spotify Youtube
Fugue No. 18 in E Minor, BWV 548
Spotify Youtube
Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter, BWV 650
Spotify Youtube
Sonata for Viola da Gamba No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 1029- I. Vivace
Spotify Youtube

Zebo
Sweet Home
Spotify Youtube