Best Artist of 2017

2017 had a lot to offer just as every year tends to do, however, 2017 introduced the world to a group, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. 2017 gave us Brockhampton and their remarkable Saturation trilogy. This collective who prefer to be known as a “boy band” took the year by surprise with their consecutive releases and accompanying music videos. This boy band currently has 14 members and continues to impress with every release. The formula to Brockhampton is quite simple in retrospect, but the execution is what makes them stand out better than any group before them.

Brockhampton was formed in 2012 and went by the name of AliveSinceForever until 2014 when Brockhampton was created. With Kevin Abstract taking the helm of the band leader and Ameer Van being a founding member, their journey to the Saturation trilogy would require a lot of risks and trust. Allegedly, a forum about Kanye West created the Brockhampton we have now, despite the few changes to the members. With Brockhampton hosting a diverse cast of members including members who are black, white, gay and straight it’s easy to see how diversity plays a huge part in their success. Each member of Brockhampton is unique to the point where almost everyone who listens can resonate with at least one member and maybe even more. With all of the members being roughly around 20 years old, the achievements and hype of Brockhampton is something they were entitled to when the first Saturation album was released this year.

In my personal opinion, the Saturation 2 is the best of the trilogy. This album ranked at number three on my list of albums this year and surprisingly beat out a lot of other well known and respected names. I could easily choose Brockhampton as my favorite artist of this year based solely on that album. The Saturation 2 improves upon everything that the first one had to offer, which is then reinforced in the finale of the trilogy. As a standalone album, The Saturation 2 hits every mark and sets more for them to hit moving forward. With near perfect production and unparalleled verses by each member the album excels and makes me want to listen to it every day to which I have. Although I was late in discovering Brockhampton since I’ve heard this album I’ve become a huge advocate of spreading their name to as many rap fans as possible. The Saturation trilogy is not only a great introduction to the group but also invites listeners to explore some of the solo content their members have put out, especially Kevin Abstract.

Kevin Abstract’s album American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story is an impressive album by itself, but when compared to the Kevin Abstract we hear in Brockhampton, the stark difference of character continues to add layers and depth to the group. A lot can be said about the members of Brockhampton but my favorite member has to be Ameer Van. Ameer Van’s verses, voice, and talent stand out the most to me and I find myself identifying myself with him which is quite rare for me to do.  His competition to be my favored member is definitely a close one and I could see myself having multiple favorites with the release of their future albums. Every member of Brockhampton contributes something new and different which then creates some of the most outlandish and realistic verses ever heard.

Brockhampton exploded in 2017 and certainly had a good reason to do so. Brockhampton needed to be heard and their message needed to be delivered. While the group delivered more than their fair share of hits and albums this year, what lies ahead can only get better and hopefully will rival my thoughts on the Saturation 2. Until then, Brockhampton remains as my favorite artist of 2017 while also becoming my favorite boy band of all time.

 

DAMN

With the recent release of the collector’s edition of DAMN which plays in reverse, it’s time to further shed some light on Kendrick Lamar and give insight into DAMN with a little help from my friend and fellow music buff ZiggyStarscream.

DAMN. – The Fourth Installment in the Film Narrative of Kendrick Lamar:

There are not many artists who have created a sense of mythos in the age of social media. With accessibility at an all-time high, the sense of mystery behind the art has started to fade. Music specifically had felt the impact of the internet far before the social media comet reshaped human interaction forever. The singles were the parts to sell a record. Like tinning for gold in a river hoping for a single damn sparkle of gold What happens if we change. We make the album to MAKE AN ALBUM. Think about the last time an album really mattered. A whole album that really grabbed hold of a people’s heart and never let go. Not the one song or a transition or two. Kendrick Lamar, with each release, reminds us that those albums can really exist.

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Expectations

Expectations surround everyone. The idea that one must live up to their own goals and the goals that others set for them can be quite daunting for anyone. While a musician can eventually live up to the expectations of friends and family, the real challenge is fulfilling the expectations of fans and critics. The taxing effort and thought that a musician must put into their work can be very draining and demanding in order to adequately meet these expectations. The unfortunate truth is that some if not many musicians fail to meet these expectations which result in poor sales and reception.

The first commercial album release is the most defining factor for musicians in this era, which requires demonstration of their talent to the fullest extent. The exhibition of talent determines the future of a musician while also revealing to fans and critics their true potential. More recently, not a lot of musicians have been capable of releasing an outstanding debut album. This practice leads to many musicians being forgotten and find their fanbase becoming attracted to newer and more relevant musicians. However, one artist has come out on top this year and has recently released one the best albums 2017 has to offer while also crafting one of the best debut albums to be released in quite some time.

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Genre

Experimentation has always been a key element in hip-hop. From newer artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Trippie Redd, and XXXtentacion who continue to push new and groundbreaking elements into the genre, they’ve shown that hip-hop is an ever-changing style of music that is constantly developing a new sound. However, this isn’t a new trend. Older artists have been doing this since the 80s. While some consider the Beastie Boys to be one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time, many forget their first project. In 1982 the band released their EP titled Polly Wog Stew. This eight-track release was a punk album that is a stark contrast to their later work and subsequent success. 35 years later we are still seeing the dynamic of experimentation of different genres becoming very prominent in today’s rap music. Continue reading

OPINIONATED – Yeezus

Kanye West.

One of the most significant names in all of the music industry, fashion, and modern society. This titan of the industry has become one of the many influential names to arise in the 21st century. With his 40th birthday being just over a week ago, I decided it was time to finally voice my opinion on why I believe his 2013 album: Yeezus is his magnum opus.

Coming out in the Summer of 2013 this album had quite the hype surrounding it. Less than a year before this album was released, Kanye West and his label GOOD Music released their first compilation album: Cruel Summer. With songs like “Mercy”, “Clique”, and “Don’t Like” the voice of Kanye West was everywhere and the people wanted more.

For Kanye West, the challenge of living up to his other albums would be a difficult task; but surpassing them would be almost impossible. In order to create his best work, he would have to reinvent his sound and style. In order to accomplish this, Kanye created a small team including Daft Punk, Mike Dean, Travis Scott, Rick Rubin, and Kid Cudi to name a few. The result of these names and talent resulted in an album, unlike anything he’s ever put out. These 10 songs are the payoff of years upon years of knowledge and skill which have been dominating the industry for over a decade. This album is nothing short than a masterpiece and a demonstration of how hip-hop has evolved over the years.

The album in its entirety is rebellious in nature and a stark contrast to the sound his fans were familiar with. No song that Kanye put out before this album even came close to this heavy and abrasive style. The engineering of this album is very technical thus explaining its inclusion of Rick Rubin, Daft Punk, and Travis Scott who are undoubtedly technical and unparalleled producers. At this time all three of these names were occupied with other projects like Travis Scott’s debut Owl Pharaoh, Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories, and Rick Rubin’s executive producing of The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The album also enlisted my favorite producer: Mike Dean who’s production credits are expected to be listed on a project from Kanye West.

There is a plentiful amount of material that can be said about Yeezus from a positive and a negative aspect. This album split his fan base upon release, some praised its uniqueness and individualism while others disliked his drastic change in sound and lyrics. The release of this album was also quite strange as it’s CD release had no album art and only red tape sealing the case.

The songs on this album range from emotional trips to the aggressive industrial hype, whilst even featuring a timeless love song. This album showcases that anything can be accomplished when you have the proper musician and devoted team. Yeezus is the pinnacle of deviance which created an unprecedented example of experimentation in hip-hop. Since this album came out, there have been many rappers that have stepped out of their comfort zone and out of the mainstream category in order to create the music that they want and not necessarily what their label wants.

While this album came out in 2013, its influence is still impacting West’s work today. While Kanye’s latest album: The Life Of Pablo is more reminiscent of his older work, the breakthrough sound of Yeezus is imprinted upon some of the production on the album.

Without a doubt, Kanye West put out his best album in 2013 and to this day continues to amaze his fans with his unique style, production, and topics that no other musician can comparatively come close to. Yeezus may not be everyone’s favorite, but it does deserve recognition for the distinct revolutionary sound that will leave it’s mark on hip-hop forever.

Positivity

One of the greatest mindsets in the world is being happy. This includes being positive and having a bright outlook on life and what it has to offer. Being a positive musician in the rap genre has often been forgotten due to the setting of where these rappers are raised. But one man stands out from the others. A fairly new addition to the game has been pushing the genre to the limits of his outright positive nature; this man is Lil Yachty. Continue reading

OPINIONATED – Why Man on the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager is my favorite album.

I firmly believe that a mere six years ago, the best album in the world was released in my opinion.

In 2010 an album was released that was so ground-breaking it would forever change the way that I listen to music and also gave me a new purpose in life. At the time, I was only a casual music listener who just enjoyed whatever was playing on the radio in the car; that was until Scott Mescudi released his second studio album on November 9, 2010. The album is a mix of club music and emotion about a man who must overcome the biggest obstacle in life: himself.  It is without a doubt the darkest album that Cudi has ever released and it is a very welcomed follow-up to his 2009 debut album. With hooks and even features by some of the most influential artists of all time such as Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, and CeeLo Green one can clearly see how influential this album would be to an awkward 13-year-old social outcast.

The album is the best because it appeals to feelings; the songs that really make you contemplate your life as well as wonder what Cudi felt and went through at the time of recording makes the album almost tangible and life-like. The album covers many different subjects like drugs, love, addiction, emotions, and even mental health. All of these personal aspects come across as endearing and tragic as Cudi tells you about his mistakes, regrets, and future. Not only does this album take you on a journey, it also gives the listener thoughts to ponder about and if you in any way love this album as much as I do, you’ll still be thinking about those thoughts to this day. There is no other album that I have listened to that made me laugh, smile, and cry as much as this one has. For the last six years, this album has given me the same experience every time I listen to it. The change of emotions that a listener goes through is absolutely insane and is a definite recommendation for someone who has not listened to this work of art yet. Continue reading