So, it’s July 2nd, which makes it officially the middle of the year, and what a year it’s been so far for music, especially in the last month or so. During the year, I try to keep a running list of albums I’ve heard as well as where I place them on my list. To be fair, I haven’t gotten to all the music I should’ve, but I’ll blame school for that. Also, the rankings may change as the year goes on. Who knows? Anyway, here’s my personal top 10. Hopefully you find something new that you like or maybe you can compare your own list. Let’s start off with some honorable mentions first.
Tierra Whack – Whack World
Philly rapper and singer Tierra Whack impressed me with this 15 minute album where she talks about not depending on a man’s money, men’s controlling nature, and deaths of loved ones, among other things. Every song is 1 minute long, and every song keeps a vibe going for the whole runtime. Favorite tracks: “Black Nails”, “Cable Guy”, “Hungry Hippo”, “Pretty Ugly”.
Death Grips – Year of the Snitch
Death Grips are back with some more experimental, industrial hip-hop that keep pushing the genre forward. Zach Hill’s drumming gets increasingly better each song and MC Ride’s lyrics makes me think he’s a bit more depressed than usual, so I hope he’s doing fine now. Favorite tracks: “Death Grips is Online”, “Black Paint”, “Hahaha”, “Streaky”.
10. JPEGMAFIA – Veteran
Some more experimental hip-hop for you, this time from Peggy himself, who we were lucky enough to have play at one of our “Don’t Come To LA” events back in March and killed it. Along with funny and quotable lines, Peggy brings satirical and nihilistic vibes all throughout. Favorite tracks: “1539 N. Calvert”, “Baby I’m Bleeding”, “Real Nega”, “DD Form 214”, “Williamsburg”, “Curb Stomp”.
9. Jay Rock – Redemption
It’s great to hear back from Watt’s finest, Jay Rock, after 3 years and after that scary motorcycle accident he was in. Either way, Rock is on top of his game once again on this album, and he makes sure you know it all throughout. Favorite tracks: “The Bloodiest”, “ES Tales”, “Rotation 112th”, “OSOM”, “Broke +-“, “Wow Freestyle”.
8. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
Janelle Monae has had a great couple of years that include some film and Grammy nominations. But now she’s back with her first album in 5 years, and it’s one of her sexiest sounding releases yet as well as some political messages. Favorite tracks: “Dirty Computer”, “Crazy, Classic, Life”, “Django Jane”, “Make Me Feel”, “I Like That”, “Pynk”.
7. Ski Mask the Slump God – Beware the Book of Eli
Not gonna lie, I wasn’t really big on Ski Mask when I first heard him. I thought he was just another run of the mill new guy in rap that I wasn’t that into. But damn, the dude can spit over some banging beats. The album is 10 songs, 20 minutes long, so it’s straight to the point with no fillers, all killer. Shoutout my mucus. Favorite tracks: “Lost Souls”, “Run”, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”, “Suicide Season”, “DoIHaveTheSause?”, “Dapper Dan”.
6. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Courtney’s sophomore effort sees a big improvement in both vocal performance and lyrics. This time around, she speaks on the troubles of relationships, the pros and cons of isolation, needing some time away from your significant other, and the fact that men have different fears than women; men are scared women will laugh at them while women are scared that men will kill them. Favorite tracks: “City Looks Pretty”, “Charity”, “Need A Little Time”, “Nameless, Faceless”, “Sunday Roast”.
5. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake
Parquet Courts really filled a full album with bangers. In the opening track, they shout “Fuck Tom Brady” and don’t let up until the final song. Aside from being refreshing, the album features production on every song from Danger Mouse, and every instrument in the band stands out amazingly, each having their own shining moments from song to song. Favorite tracks: “Total Football”, “Before the Water Gets Too High”, “Mardi Gras Beads”, “Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience”, “Wide Awake”, “Extinction”.
4. Pusha T – Daytona
The first album to come out of the Wyoming sessions, fully produced by Kanye. Pusha T delivered on all fronts on this album. There are no tracks I want to skip, which is the great thing about a shorter album. Most of the headlines focused on the last song because of the Drake diss, but to be honest, that’s nothing compared to the bars Push spits on the rest of the tracklist. Favorite tracks: “If You Know You Know”, “The Games We Play”, “Santeria”, “What Would Meek Do?”.
3. MGMT – Little Dark Age
MGMT had always been a group I looked back at in admiration because of the nostalgia that came with their first 2 albums. However, now after 5 years since their last album, they’re back with newer sounds along with some great grooves, including the opening song which is almost like their version of Kanye’s “The New Workout Plan”, as well as “TSLAMP” which talks about all the time we spend looking at our phones instead of with our loved ones. Favorite tracks: “She Works Out Too Much”, “Little Dark Age”, “Me And Michael”, “James”, “When You’re Small”, “Hand It Over”.
2. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts
My favorite project to come out of Wyoming. An excellent return to greatness for Kid Cudi and just another album to add to Kanye West’s already stellar discography. Kanye and Cudi talk about the hardships of mental illness and what they have gone through; Kanye most recently and Cudi ever since he came into the music game from what we know. I really can’t give this album enough praise. Perfectly crafted. Only nitpick I would have is that now that I know how great this was, I would’ve loved to hear more. But we can dream. Favorite tracks: “Feel the Love”, “4th Dimension”, “Freeee”, “Reborn”, “Kids See Ghosts”, “Cudi Montage”.
1. Beach House – 7
I’ve been following Beach House for about 8 years now, and I’m seriously never disappointed with any of their albums or their songs. However, the past 2 albums, as much as I liked them, were kind of riding the coattails of their Bloom album. 7, however, is a reintroduction to the band, and what a glorious one it is. Victoria Legrand’s voice is always majestic over the dream pop instrumentals that her and Alex Scally come up with. The album also touches on new topics that they haven’t put into their songs before, which is refreshing. Favorite tracks: “Dark Spring”, “Pay No Mind”, “Lemon Glow”, “L’Inconnue”, “Drunk In LA”, “Dive”, “Black Car”, “Woo”.
That’s my list! Like I said, there’s a lot of music I haven’t gotten to yet, so my end of the year list might look completely different. Let me know what you think, and here’s to an amazing second half of music in 2018.