My Favorite Albums of the Year, Ranked
DISCLAIMER: This list is not a ranking of the 10 BEST Albums of the year, but rather it is a list ranking my favorite albums based on how much I enjoyed them.
10. THIS IS WIERD by Khary (Rap/Hip-Hop)
This is Khary's latest full-length album, and in my opinion, his most refined project yet. His artistic growth into this project is impressive and he definitely put his best foot forward with this one. The concept and execution was the first aspect I took notice to in that this project is segmented by comedic skits into 4 sections. The second section is Khary reflecting on his purpose and ongoing journey through life. He even includes a nod to his intern days in NY and his first project Intern Aquarium in the third track "Revenge of the Intern". Then in the third section of the project, Khary covers topics such as relationships, attachment, and isolation. This section includes what I believe are the strongest tracks on the album such as "Nomad", and one of my favorite songs of the year "2". Across this whole project, Khary displays his versatility as he showcases various flows, vocal performaces, and concepts. This project has it all: mellow bars, beautiful vocal performances, trap-influenced bangers, and most importantly a passionate delivery across the board.
9. Halfway Off the Porch by AG Club (Rap/Hip-Hop)
Halfway Off the Porch is the first full-length album from Bay Area rap collective AG Club. Their group-rap style is reminiscent of groups such as BROCKHAMPTON and even A$AP Mob. As the idea of rap groups is no longer a unique concept, up and coming groups must refine their craft and distinguish their style, and that is exactly what AG Club did. Their first effort has a short runtime of 29 minutes, but they sure did pack a punch in that time. There are trap bangers such as "Memphis"(which even was remixed with features from A$AP Ferg and NLE Choppa) and "Fight!!!" with grungy, hard-hitting instrumentals. Along with these, the rest of the project is filled with introspective tracks including "Hngover" and "Preach". AG Club manages to hold your attention through the whole album by way of their interesting song structure and instrumentals, as well as their lyricism and catchy melodies.
8. No Moor Bad Days by Chuck Indigo (Rap/Hip-Hop)
Chuck Indigo is a rapper at the forefront of the rising Nashville rap scene. This project is his latest release and it is his most impressive yet. No Moor Bad Days is ultimately a stance against racism and oppression. Indigo's timely album discusses primarily the inequalities that black people in America face to this day. This concept isn't new as rappers have been speaking on this for years, but Indigo's approach is fresh and quite powerful. Across the entire project, he uses meticulous lyricism and wordplay to convey his message. Also, his passionate delivery over very solid soulful trap beats makes for a great listening experience. This project proves that Indigo can not only rap, but he can make a complete song. It becomes clear that he carefully combined his songwriting with catchy hooks, fitting instrumentals. The highlights from this project for me are "Ain't Free", "You Ain't This Good", and "Blessed Side".
7. Fuck the World by Brent Faiyaz (R&B)
Brent Faiyaz is a well established R&B sensation, and his latest album Fuck the World is yet another fantastic project from the singer-songwriter. His unapologetic delivery and soul-gripping vocals make this project a feeling inducing experience that pulls you into his imagination. As expected from Faiyaz, his main topic of discussion in this project is love and relationships. He does a fantastic job combining sexual imagery and lyrics with very clean production and tight song structure. Brent Faiyaz songs are predictable overall, but he manages to make each of them unique and interesting, especially on this project.
6. Angelic Hoodrat by Kenny Mason (Alternative Rap)
After hearing Kenny Mason's singles "Hit" and "Metal Wings" prior to the release of this album, I was very excited to see how he would hold up on a full-length effort. He then released Angelic Hoodrat and completely surpassed my expectations. His versatility and unique artistic style are truly impressive. It is clear that there is heavy influence from punk-rock in this project especially on songs like "Metal Wings" and "U in a Gang // Exxon". The drum and electric guitar heavy instrumentals on this project define Mason's style. His lyricism and vocal performances on this rap/punk-rock fusion are quite exciting and hold the listener's attention in a very special way. The strongest tracks in my opinion are "Angels Calling // My Dad", "Hit", "Chevron".
5. Fine Line by Harry Styles (Pop)
I would like to begin by acknowledging that this album was released in the final weeks of 2019, but regardless it is very much an album of 2020 for me. Fine Line is undeniably one of the best albums of the year. It is, in a word, beautiful. There isn't much to say about this project that hasn't been said over the course of the year. Harry, besides being seen as an icon by young women worldwide, is an incredibly talented artist. After his first self-titled solo project in 2017, I was certainly pleased, but definitely left wanting more. All of my suspicions regarding his potential were put to rest upon the release of Fine Line. This project has a very unique style; it's funky, jazzy, and soulful. Harry's vocal performances, song-writing, and execution are fantastic. The highlight tracks for me are "To Be So Lonely", "She", and "Adore You".
4. White Ceilings by whiterosemoxie (Rap/Hip-Hop)
whiterosemoxie, rising rap artist from Detroit, solidified his spot in the rap scene with his first full-length project White Ceilings. Listening to this album for the first time was one of my favorite moments of the year due to its unpredictability. whiterosemoxie's versatility between classic lyrical rap, EDM influenced tracks, and introspective melodic songs make for a wonderful listening experience. The lyricism and production are not perfect on this entire album, but his drive and ability to dip into many different sub-genres is very respectable. My favorite moment on the project is the transition from the strong title-track "white ceilings" into the EDM influenced "primal feat. K.M.O". The genre-bending production between these two songs is amazing. The trap bangers "trix" and "indigo" are also very fun songs with great flows and solid beats. Finally, "west side boys" is one of my favorite songs of the year. whiterosemoxie's performance on this track along with the growing power of the raw instrumental creates such an incredible unique feeling. This project had me on the edge of my seat from front to back and showed the great potential of this up and coming artist.
3. TAKE TIME by Giveon (R&B)
Giveon caught the attention of many people early this year due to his impressive feature on Drake's "Chicago Freestyle". He then released his first full-length project TAKE TIME in March of this year. This project is marvelous. Giveon is easily one of the best vocalists I have heard in a while. His vocal performance and song-writing on this album are very pleasantly surprising. Giveon is a one of a kind artist in that he can curate a powerful feeling through his songs. His vocal range paired with soulful R&B instrumentals make him an artist that will definitely withstand the test of time. This entire project is a highlight for me, but my favorite tracks are "FAVORITE MISTAKE", "HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY", and "LIKE I WANT YOU".
2. Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs (Rap/Hip-Hop)
Alfredo, the latest project from Freddie Gibbs, has made its way to the top of many lists similar to this one, and even earned a grammy nomination. This is for very good reason. Produced by highly renowned instrumentalist The Alchemist, the production of this album is not far from perfect. The soulful beats are comprised of drums, pianos, and horns that set the scene for this project. As one of the best rappers right now, Gibbs' lyricism and delivery on this project are excellent. The creative direction and execution of each song is amazing. Gibbs also had help from some very impressive features on this project including Rick Ross, Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, and Tyler, The Creator. Each of these artists delivered great features that did not hinder or outshine Gibbs' performance throughout the album. Most notably, Freddie and Tyler both delivered outstanding performances on "Something to Rap About". It is almost as if the two of them along with The Alchemist form some sort of rap music trinity; perfection on all sides, with each member playing an important role without outshining the others. Beside this song, my favorite tracks are "Babies & Fools" and "God Is Perfect".
1. Black Sheep by Myles Cameron (Alternative R&B)
For those who know me personally, my favorite album of the year should come as no surprise. I have been infatuated with all of the music Myles Cameron had been releasing over the last couple years, most notably his song "Caged Bird". Cameron has clearly been testing out different styles and sounds since he began releasing music, and this project is no exception. This project takes his angelic vocals and lays them over very strong, gritty, electronic instrumentals. His producer Frankie Scoca blends these two things together in an almost magical way, chopping his vocals and blending it with the instrumentals. This creates an incredibly entrancing audible experience. Not to mention, Cameron's songwriting is fantastic as well, especially on the highlight track "Counting Sheep". At just 17 minutes, this project is the perfect length to listen to front to back and pick out a new line, sound, or vocal effect upon every listen. Black Sheep is my favorite project of the year, and it's available on all streaming platforms so check it out and experience the wonder.