The best of the best
25: Superorganism – “World Wide Pop“
Pop supergroup Superorganism return with a record so bright, energized, and exciting that it can be enjoyed by anyone around the world.
24: Vince Staples – “RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART“
While named after a heartbreak, Vince Staples’ latest project feels like a love letter to his home in California. The record provides endless summer jams with excellent production.
23: Metro Boomin – “HEROES & VILLAINS“
Metro Boomin’s return to hip-hop’s forefront was worthy of the fanfare it received. Songs like “Too Many Nights” and “Feel The Fiyaaaah” showcase how Metro has honed his craft since his last full-length project. On “Metro Spider” he lays the groundwork for one of the greatest Young Thug songs ever released.
22: Dreamville – “D-Day“
A label compilation album from J. Cole’s “Dreamville” is always a sight to behold, and D-Day is no exception. Released mostly as fuel for the label’s annual festival in North Carolina, the project boasts killer appearances from each label member with plenty of guests throughout.
21: Omar Apollo – “Ivory“
One of pop’s most exciting young stars came through with an emotional, gorgeous, and well-produced album. Omar Apollo is only scratching the surface of what he can accomplish.
20: Drake & 21 Savage – “Her Loss“
While it suffers slightly from the inconsistency that plagues most collaborative albums, Drake & 21 Savage’s “Her Loss” brought with it some of the best performances from each artist and some of the most engaging production that each has rapped over.
19: Carly Rae Jepsen – “The Loneliest Time“
“The Loneliest Time” is another smash hit for Carly Rae Jepsen, with highlights so creatively and emotionally rich that they could be enjoyed for decades. Her abilities to keep pop familiar and fresh at the same time are not to be understated.
18: Beabadoobee – “Beatopia“
Beabadoobee’s latest project, while deceivingly simplistic at first glance, is full of some of the year’s most emotionally poignant and beautiful songs. Gorgeous vocals meld perfectly with laid-back instrumentals to create a vibe unlike any other.
17: FKA Twigs – “CAPRISONGS“
FKA Twigs reaches new artistic heights on “CAPRISONGS,” a project so full of meticulously crafted and mindbogglingly brilliant ideas that keep the listener on the edge of their seat throughout. From dancehall to drill, she does it all on such a concise and enjoyable mixtape.
16: Ravyn Lenae – “Hypnos“
Ravyn Lenae stuck to her guns on “Hypnos,” and the end result was definitely worth it. Her distinct feathery vocals bring an ambience and warmth all her own. Simple but rich production paints the perfect backdrop for her fantastic performances.
15: Kilo Kish – “AMERICAN GURL“
“AMERICAN GURL” was a long time coming, and Kilo Kish certainly didn’t disappoint. The album is bold, loud, new, and above all else, exciting. Kish continues to redefine alt-pop, and her knack for experimentation provides some of the best songs of the year.
14: Steve Lacy – “Gemini Rights“
The internet was set ablaze by the release of “Gemini Rights,” and justifiably so. Steve Lacy demonstrated immense artistic growth on his latest project, an album with so much to offer that it’s hard not to get lost in its sonic landscapes. “Helmet” and “Bad Habit” demonstrate his ability to write fantastic and catchy pop jams. The album shines just as bright on deeper and more emotional cuts such as “Give You The World” and “Amber.”
13: SZA – “SOS“
After a painful 5-year wait, SZA finally returned with an album that most would agree was worth the time. Across 23 songs, she is able to strike every chord and bring a cascade of emotions unlike anything else. Songs like “Kill Bill” and “Low” allow her to present some of her catchiest material yet, while “Open Arms” and “Gone Girl” present SZA at her most emotionally vulnerable. It’s a project that reflects on love, heartbreak, isolation, and much more in a way that only SZA could.
12: The Weeknd – “Dawn FM“
“Dawn FM” is the blueprint for what a throwback album should sound like. The Weeknd revels in 80’s pop nostalgia with a cavalcade of perfectly crafted instrumentals that feel ripped out of time but perfectly placed within the album. “Out Of Time” and “Take My Breath” are the best examples, while “Sacrifice” brings cutting-edge production to marvel at. It’s a pure joyride throughout, and The Weeknd is at the top of his game.
11: Brent Faiyaz – “WASTELAND“
Brent Faiyaz’s growth toward this project is something to marvel at, as it greatly surpasses everything that precedes it. “WASTELAND” excels in its ability to create an atmosphere so distinct and intriguing, due in equal amounts to Faiyaz’s incredible vocals and his excellent instrumental selections. It’s smooth, smoky, and constantly enthralling, and it’s incredibly exciting to see what Faiyaz will do next.
10: Smino – “Luv 4 Rent“
“Luv 4 Rent” is vastly different from anything else I listened to this year. It’s uniquely organic, in a way that every instrumental feels sourced from the earth and the natural world. The incredibly happy project feels made to be listened to outside on a gorgeous day. Smino’s voice is an instrument of pure joy across the tracklist. It’s impossible to not recommend such a beautifully crafted body of work.
9: Denzel Curry – “Melt My Eyez See Your Future“
In sparse contrast to his last full-length release “Unlocked,” Denzel Curry’s “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” is deeply meditative and thoughtful in a way that few other projects this year were. His reflections on his own state of mind, his environment, and his struggles bring to life a project that sounds like growth on both a personal and professional level. Seeing Curry continue to improve his craft is incredible, and he continues to outdo himself with each release.
8: Duckwrth – “Chrome Bull“
While technically an EP, “Chrome Bull” was far too impressive to leave off of this list. In just 7 songs, Duckwrth launches dance music decades into the future with some of the most exciting production on any project all year. It’s quick, sharp, endlessly replayable, and (hopefully) an indicator of what dance music will sound like soon.
7: Björk – “Fossora“
“Fossora” is really just another Björk release, meaning that she again has crafted a masterpiece. The album is a testament to her ability to create an entire world through music, with the object of her focus this time being Earth. It’s stunning, whimsical, and captivatingly gorgeous throughout.
6: Sudan Archives – “Natural Brown Prom Queen“
With “Natural Brown Prom Queen,” Sudan Archives has created an absolute R&B opus. The album twists and turns through an incredible sonic palate that highlights consistently impressive vocal performances. The entire project is sultry, smooth, and so finely produced that each moment is more exciting than the last.
5: ROSALÍA – “MOTOMAMI“
“MOTOMAMI” sees the complete transformation of ROSALÍA as an artist, something that has yielded mind-blowing results. The album is bold, loud, and entirely new, with ROSALÍA putting herself at the forefront of pop innovation. “SOAKO” and “BIZCOCHITO” are unlike anything else released in recent years, and one can hope ROSALÍA will continue being on the cutting edge.
4: Pusha T – “It’s Almost Dry“
Perhaps the most amazing part of “It’s Almost Dry” is that it comes several decades into Pusha T’s career. He’s been rapping at such a high level for so long that seeing him drop another masterpiece this late in his career is almost unbelievable. Killer raps with killer production craft a stellar project from one of the greatest rappers of all time.
3: JID – “The Forever Story“
“The Forever Story” is the realization of the immense potential that JID has been displaying for years. The entire project is concise, expertly executed, and nearly perfect all around. JID is confident, contemplative, and expertly scored by a barrage of immaculate instrumentals. “Kody Blu 31” is one of the most impactful songs of the entire year, and it only scratches the surface of how fantastic the project is.
2: Beyoncé – “RENAISSANCE“
For Beyoncé to release what is perhaps her best body of work yet at this point in her career is unbelievable. “RENAISSANCE” is a disco utopia, a nonstop dance party with all gas and no brakes. Across 16 songs she doesn’t break a sweat while presenting exciting and vibrant dance music. It’s a masterpiece in every sense of the word, and I cannot wait to hear the other two parts of the project.
1: Kendrick Lamar – “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers“
With “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers,” Kendrick Lamar turned inwards after a career of examining the world around him. The album is self-reflective on a visceral level, and the results of Lamar’s introspection is some of his most captivating lyrical content yet. “Father Time,” “United In Grief,” and “Auntie Diaries” stick out as some of the strongest examples, but truly any track could be examined as its own work of art. The album is a testament to Kendrick’s status as perhaps the greatest rapper ever, and it is undeniably the greatest album of the year.