What a huge start to the year. Huge! Major releases from superstars Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran,
long-awaited returns from The Gorillaz and Lorde, and breakouts from the likes of J.I.D and Khalid have
made it difficult to keep up. The first half of 2017 has blessed us with an abundance of beautiful music,
particularly in the world of hip hop. Let's rank the top 15 releases of the year to date.
DAMN. - Kendrick Lamar
It's the best album of 2017 so far, and it will take some serious beating for the rest of the year. It's almost
unanimously great too, with an incredible Metacritic rating of 96. Kung Fu Kenny's fourth studio album
almost made me physically uncomfortable on the first listen (in a good way). He masterfully displays
typically versatile lyricism over production that only a few artists could do justice. With four consecutive
flawless albums behind him, the notion that Kendrick is the greatest emcee of all time, or at least will be
when all is said and done, is looking very real.
DRUNK - Thundercat
"This is different" has been a pretty consistent reaction from any friends this has been played to. Equally
consistent has been the "I like it though" that follows. 'Drunk' sees Thundercat join forces with the
enigmatic brilliance of fellow LA native Flying Lotus on the boards for the most complete project of his
career to date.
WHATEVER MAKES U HAPPY - JMSN
This guy... now this guy might be one of the most tragically under-appreciated artists of our time.
'Whatever Makes U Happy', Detroit native Christian Berishaj's fourth incredible release in the space of
five years, is a raw celebration of imperfection, with each track recorded in one or two takes and featuring
technically flawed but insanely soulful vocals. The only real knock on this record is that it isn't long
enough. Its 8 tracks leave you wanting more, and with JMSN's consistent brilliance, we hope "more" isn't
Where Do U Go
AMERICAN TEEN - Khalid
British singer Sampha got a heap of love for February's 'Process', and that's fair enough. This is better. A
sonically similar project, 'American Teen' contains all the gloomy vibes and beautiful, emotional vocals
with even stronger melodies and production.
Young Dumb & Broke
CTRL - SZA
TDE's resident soulstress was almost lost to music after frustrations around release delays. Let's hope any
ideas of quitting the game are shoved aside by the tremendous response to this album. Features from
Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad are almost unnecessary for any purpose but mainstream
promotion, but they're never out of place or overwhelming. SZA is so God damn smooth it hurts.
Doves In The Wind
MELODRAMA - Lorde
Don't make us wait so long again, Lorde. After an utterly dominant 2013, we were starved of her
prodigious talents for too damn long, save for a few loosies (and a South Park appearance - yah yah yah).
Melodrama is worth the wait. Lorde took inspiration, and a sense of musical freedom from Frank Ocean
landmark 2016 release 'Blonde', and there are certainly parallels between the two. What the album lacks
in 'Royals'-tier bangers, it makes up in completeness.
ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADASS - Joey Badass
Joey made the ballsy decision to release his sophomore studio album within a week of King Kendrick,
almost a full year after the release of lead single 'Devastated' concerned some fans with its departure from
the conscious, nostalgic 90's vibe that we've become accustomed to hearing from the New York emcee. A
venture into the more light-hearted world of trap never eventuated, as this album turned out to be some of
his most thoughtful, hard-hitting and politically-charged work yet. And somehow, 'Devastated' still fit
within that aesthetic pretty nicely.
For My People
Land of the Free
FLYING MICROTONAL BANANA - King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
One of the most prolific bands in the world today, the impeccably named King Gizzard and The Lizard
Wizard have followed 2016's critically acclaimed 'Nonagon Infinity' with another intriguing release.
Flying Microtonal Banana is so delightfully atmospheric, it wouldn't feel out of place if used as the
soundtrack to a Tarantino western. South Australians who made it to February's Laneway were lucky
enough to catch the some of the album live in what was a fascinatingly busy performance. The King Giz
boys aren't done for 2017 either, with a grand total of four or five albums set for 2017, including the
recently released 'Murder of the Universe'.
THE NEVER STORY - JID
This one came out of nowhere. Signed to J.Cole' s Dreamville Records, J.I.D's delivery is reminiscent of
2016 breakout Anderson Paak, mixed with a hint of Vince Staples. This certainly isn't typical Atlanta
music. The Never Story intense, well produced and lyrically endearing. This is a debut worth paying some
BIG FISH THEORY - Vince Staples
We haven't had enough time to really let Staples' sophomore studio album sink in just yet, but first
impressions are that Big Fish Theory not only builds on the critically acclaimed Summertime 06 and
Prima Donna, but it builds on the genre as a whole. One of the brightest and most lovable talents in music
today delivers an album that simultaneously envelops you in his world, and just straight-up knocks.
Rain Come Down
BARDO STATE - Horrorshow
Solo cements himself as one of Australian hip hop's foremost lyricists on the duo's long-awaited fourth
studio album. Adit's production is safe and predictable in that it fails to stray too far from current trends in
international hip hop, but so polished and consistent that we can forgive the absence of any trailblazing. A
considerable portion of the group's fans will have found this album too poppy for their taste and their
expectations, and there are moments at which it seems the eyes of Solo and Adit are set on an Illy-esque
mainstream breakthrough, but regardless of creative direction, this is a very solid release. You can catch
Horrorshow live in Adelaide soon as part of their biggest tour yet. They'll hit the stage of The Gov on the
15th of July, with tickets available through Oztix here: http://bit.ly/2tbxiTp
Eat The Cake
How We Get Down
SPEEDING - Allday
Alright, so there may be some bias in this selection. A publication called 'Man About Adl' featuring an
Adelaide man over the likes of rap heavyweights Big Sean and Rick Ross? There's a conspiracy worthy of
a 15-minute YouTube video that uses the term "sheep" a lot. But it's not just tokenism, 'Speeding' is a
quality project. Allday is a polarizing figure in Australian hip hop, with a skill set worth taking seriously,
but a horde of teenybopper fans and a penchant for singing ensuring many rap purists refuse to does so, at
least openly. So, he's basically our Drake. Listen out for a cameo from fellow South Australian Dialect on
the Blackwood/Reynella-referencing 'Codeine 17'.
THE KIDS WILL KNOW IT'S BULLSHIT - Dune Rats
If Violent Soho are labelled an Australian reincarnation of Nirvana, the Dune Rats hold claims to the title
of our Blink 182. These guys are having a whole shitload of fun riding the wave that is their constantly
growing popularity, and it's contagious. The Dunies have paraded 'The Kids Will Know It's Bullshit'
through Adelaide twice already in 2017, with a wonderfully high-energy appearance at Laneway Festival,
as well as a stop on their album tour in March.
EVERYBODY - Logic
Logic's third studio album is disappointing only in comparison to his first two. 'Everybody' carries a
wonderful, positive message and an intriguing narrative, but the skits that are so captivating on first listen
hurt the album's replay value badly. With all that said, this album still has plenty to get excited about, with
an abundance of impressive lyricism and typically strong flow.
HARRY STYLES - Harry Styles
Lmao it's actually good. It's actually pretty good. That might not have surprised you as much as it did me,
but it's actually good! I guess that's what happens when you recruit a man as talented as Jeff Bhasker for
the writing and production duties. It's no surprise that the only track without his fingerprints on it is the
one most likely to put fingerprints on the skip button. Styles' vocals can't be faulted throughout the
10-track, 40-minute debut, as he delivers a style more alike Bowie than Bieber. Forget everything you
know about One Direction and give it a chance.
Sign Of The Times
Meet Me In The Hallway
From The Dining Table