After the weekend’s Autumn Equinox of 2017, I’m here to give you a few albums that the summer brought us. You may have missed a few of these, but music is eternal, so just use it as an excuse to amplify your autumn playlists.
This album was everywhere. If “Love Galore” wasn’t on the radio, there was sure to be someone belting out “The Weekend” on their way to work, or a stressed college student reassuring themselves to the lyrics of “20 Something.” At a time when black girl magic and the intersectional feminism is finally on the rise, SZA made a smart move when she released Ctrl in June 2017.
Favorite Song: “Broken Clocks” because we don’t have time for anything that’s distracting us from our personal growth.
Fifth Harmony- Fifth Harmony
Y’all know I had to put my girls on this list. After losing one of its members, Fifth Harmony made quite the comeback with an album promoting independence, liberation and female empowerment. “Sauced Up” is the perfect song to put on when you’re in a mood to flex on the haters, and they even opposed Trump’s call to build a wall on the US-Mexico border with “Bridges.” Yes, you can get hype and resist the Trump Administration all within the half hour it’ll take to listen to this album.
Favorite Song: “Angel” because I can get behind the campaign to stop assuming every woman is trying to get cuffed up this cuffing season.
Many have described this album as the album we needed, but never wanted. I won’t get into the gritty details, but Kesha has been through a lot and this album is evidence that she is stronger because of it. “Woman” shows that she is back to her Animal ways and gives us that classic Ke$ha Laugh that I’ve missed so much. (See “Blow” and “Party At A Rich Dude’s House.) She tells of forgiveness in “Praying” and self-acceptance in “Let Em Talk.” Another thing I’d like to address: her vocals. She absolutely showed out on this album, and as a long-term Kesha fan, I’m proud she’s finally expressing herself in the way I always knew she was capable of doing. However, the unfortunate circumstances under which she had to muster this strength give me mixed feelings about the album.
Favorite Song: “Hymn” because any time Kesha refers to the collective of social outcasts as “kids,” let’s just accept that we have a jam on our hands.
Lana Del Rey- Lust For Life
From her debut album Born To Die to the summer hit Lust For Life, Lana has shown major growth as an artist. This album cover is even the first one that features her smiling. I don’t see this as coincidence. She gave us serene vocalization on “Cherry”and even featured XXL 2017 Freshman, Playboi Carti on “Summer Bummer.” While I used to be convinced that all of Lana Del Rey’s music just sounds like one long song, I think the artistry in that tactic is that her music flows well from one song to the next, almost seamlessly.
Favorite Song: Groupie Love (ft. A$AP Rocky) because they are the unlikely pair that always works and this song just has that ambient trap vibe that makes for a great bonfire soundtrack.
Calvin Harris- Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
When “Slide” featuring Frank Ocean and the Migos dropped back in February, I had no idea that 4 months later he was going to lay down the heat track after track until my scalp was bald. I don’t know what life was like before I heard Jessie Reyez tell us why why she likes being “Hard to Love.” We also need to just hand Calvin Harris a Grammy for the simple fact that he has John Legend and Takeoff in the same song, “Holiday.”
Favorite Song: “Cash Out” because I need more songs motivating me to make enough money to splurge on luxury items in my 30s.
Tyler, the Creator- Flower Boy
8 years after I waited to download Bastard off of Datpiff, Tyler, the Creator is still blessing us with music, though the subject matter and vibe are completely different. People say that he “came out” on this album, but with careful attention to his social media and Loiter Squad outtakes, you’d see that his sexuality is old news. I like to think of Flower Boy as his “glo up” album. His lyrics are more mature and his tone is less aggressive. He got artsy and deep, as opposed to the punchy and riotous material he has previously put out. He got the king of Cameos, Asap Rock to feature on “Who Dat Boy” and the haunting vocals of “See You Again” with Kali Uchis must be addressed.
Favorite Song: “Mr. Lonely/911” because Steve sampled “Outstanding” by The Gap Band. Need I say more?
H.E.R.- H.E.R. Vol. 2
She had me captivated by a mysterious 90-second clip of “Pigment” a couple years ago on SoundCloud. Sure, she’s still sending mixed signals to whoever her lover is on the other side of this tumultuous relationship, but she’s sounds damn good doing it. She has a way of layering her metaphors to the point where the subject matter can be interpreted in endless ways and applied to many stages in life. “Lights On” is a fun and seductive track about spicing things up, while “Still Down” asks if they can make it after all they’ve been through. This album is like Ctrl, with more of an affirmation vibe more than a collection of anthems for adolescence.
Favorite Song: “I Won’t” because she got me with the Bonnie Raitt “I Can’t Make You Love Me” sample. I really respect a sample done right, if that isn’t obvious yet.
2 Chainz- Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
This album was sophisticated all around the board. K. Swisha’s sophisticated production with “Blue Cheese” and 2 Chainz sophisticated wordplay. For example, Gas in a ziploc, now that’s loud and clear was uttered on “It’s A Vibe” and I honestly haven’t been the same since. This is the kind of trap music you pop open a bottle of moscato to and have a game night in with squad. A lot of the artists on this list are noted for their artistic journey, and 2 Chainz, formerly known as Tity Boi of Playaz Circle, has certainly come a long way.
Favorite Song: “Poor Fools” because Swae Lee can do no wrong. It’s also the push I need sometimes when I need to bit the bullet and face adulthood. Thank you, Swae.
Aminé- Good For You
When I first heard the groovy percussion of “Caroline,” I was afraid that this was another one-hit-wonder on our hands. But this XXL 2017 Freshman made this album, so his position in this industry is sealed. This is the most classic album to come out of 2017 until Kelela drops hers on October 6th. Metro Boomin assisted with production for “Yellow” which also featured Nelly on the chorus. A frickin’ Nelly feature, guys. I was utterly blown away by his falsetto on “Hero” and “Wedding Crashers” hit so close to home, I had to move. His smooth vibrato over the diverse arrangements have to be noted and commended. Keep your eyes peeled, because Aminé is a force to be reckoned with.
Favorite Song: “Dakota” because this is not the first, not second, but third Charlie Wilson feature on this album, and this song is the best for night biking.