Camiele’s 100 Favorite Albums of 2017
20. SATURATION III
MORE BARS! The conclusion of this 2017 trilogy has a hint of exaggerated happiness about it, while still touching on topics that even in 2017, some 40-plus years after hip-hop’s official birthday, are still sensitive: sexuality, abuse, mental illness, and drug addiction.
19. Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman – Triple Fat Lice
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Twenty seconds in… BARS! Composition to the GAWDS! Anything from Stones Throw is going to just blow your mind. The lyrical depth and flow here is just ridiculous! Aesop Rock… doesn’t matter. You’re going to get quality. Homeboy Sandman… forget about it. The combination of the two is just unreal!
18. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Obviously no one can deny the absolute power and fury of one Kendrick Lamar. His work is unquestionable in terms of lyrical depth, musical scope, and imagery. While DAMN. doesn’t quite reach the heights of To Pimp A Butterlfy for me, you can never deny just how visceral every piece of music Kendrick releases is. There’s a darker edge to this piece, as if he’s done purging himself of his demons and is now fighting them on the physical plane. Kendrick is the master of the long-form conceit, and there are secrets hidden within the album without it being at all cryptic. One simply has to take the time to find them.
17. Joey Bada$$ – ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this album, but am I ever grateful Hermanito endorsed it so highly. All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ is powerful and honest. It opens strong enough, but there’s a noticeable shift in tone and aggression when Schoolboy Q shows up on track ROCKABYE BABY. From the point on the album becomes relentless, anthemic protest music.
16. Logic – Everybody
This is by far and away Logic’s most powerful piece of music to date. Everybody has a backbone and a heart to it that manages to touch on so many parts of the human experience in such a short amount of time. His storytelling is masterful, his use of metaphor is pure poetry. Truly heartfelt, vulnerable, unapologetic.
15. Van Hunt – Popular
I have to admit I did a lot of squealing, screaming, and crying in 2017. I’m thankful to say that most of it was over music I thought I’d never get. Case in point, the elusive third album from the enigmatic Van Hunt: Popular. This album had been shelved after fans had waited with bated breath for a follow-up to On the Jungle Floor. I never thought we’d actually get this piece of work. Goodness am I ever glad 2017 proved me wrong. Popular is very obviously the culmination of everything leading up to it. Beautifully crafted and well worth the wait.
14. Sampha – Process
Sampha successfully created one of the more emotional albums of the year. With Process, he manages to get inside one’s psyche with his tone and his composition. There’s a strong heartbeat in this album, as if it were a living, breathing, feeling thing. His mixture of the synthetic and the natural is reminiscent of some of Björk’s sonic masterpieces.
13. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
So before I got into this one, I had to go back and listen to Vince’s discography. Gotta say, he’s not afraid of growth, no matter how grim his outlook on his own life may have been. His openness to experiment with various genres of music, anything that will match pace with his delivery, is commendable. From house, to punk, to lo-fi, his powerful delivery and harrowing lyricism shines more on Big Fish Theory than anything he’s released in the past, and that’s saying something. He seems to have always had big ambition when it comes to his brand of rap.
12. Iglooghost – Neō Wax Bloom
It’s clear Iglooghost is a disciple of Flying Lotus, but he also draws much inspiration from Odd Future. I’m irrevocably in love with him. His ability to scatter sound and space like an atomic explosion… I’m just no more good after listening to him. Neō Wax Bloom is emotional, smooth, raw, frightening, exciting. All the things really good music is supposed to be.
11. Hippy was Gipsy – Tree
I was not expecting this album to come out of South Korea. True enough there was a great deal of waviness and plenty of R&B happening, but there wasn’t anything quite like the power, magic, absolute wildness that was Tree. Hippy Was Gipsy is the experimental duo of J-Flow, member of my #34 entry, and singer Sep. Any group that has the balls to actually sample from Nina Simone’s legendary 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival performance is on some other level of gorgeous.
10. Anomalie – Métropole
Goodness this album! Métropole was a journey and a half. It opens with Vince Guaraldi-esque jazz piano, then gives me SO MUCH LIFE!!! Anomalie is classified as “downtempo,” but this album sooooo much more! The level of explosive musicality, the grace, the elegance. This album truly left me breathless.
9. Hyukoh – 23
Without a doubt, Hyukoh released one of the most evocative albums of 2017, certainly out of South Korea. The band is consistently good. Stellar music with unbelievable depth, rich vocals, incredible composition. 23 by its very nature is their maturest work to date, and that’s an understatement. Powerful, raw, energetic, emotional. A true work of art.
8. Toro y Moi – Boo Boo
Oh, Chaz. How is it possibly that you get more and more amazing with every release? With Boo Boo he delves even deeper into the foundations of R&B, taking its roots and branching off into something completely and absolutely his. This is a stunning work of art, a piece of music that really outdoes everything that came before it.
7. Jay-Z – 4:44
First of all… SAMPLES!!!!! I can’t put into words what a masterpiece this is. I’ve not been the biggest fan of Hova over the years, but this piece of music really is, from start to finish, open and honest, poignant… haunting at points (The Story of OJ). A gorgeous piece of music with samples that make you want to cry.
6. Nick Hakim – Green Twins
When I first discovered Nick Hakim I don’t know what came over me. I was simply overwhelmed with the power of his vocal layering, the simplicity of his composition, the effortlessness of his lyricism. Where Did You Go was a master class in how to create meaningful and poignant music without pushing for too much. In that same vein, Green Twins is a marvel of soundscapes and experiences. This album had everything that I could’ve possibly wanted.
Honestly when it comes to the Top 5 this year, there were only two clear favorites. However, when it got down to the nitty-gritty, it was just a matter of which day of the week, really. It was a fight for me to solidify #5 and #6, for example. But I think I got it, and I’m not even sorry for my choices.