The Sound is a column on all things music written by Charles Park (’20) and Mark Park (’20). -Ed.
10. The Thrill of it All – Sam Smith
The four-time Grammy awarded artist, Sam Smith comes back with his new album, The Thrill of it all. Again, Smith creates another masterpiece of R&B/pop. It still was able to create a new soul, making it a perfect song for love. His brand of sadness in love marks itself again which can be exhausting but his songs still provoke sentimentality with his tender voice and softly produced beats.
Recommended Tracks: “Too Good at Goodbyes”, “Pray”, “The Thrill of it All”
9. Ctrl – SZA
The critically acclaimed album, Ctrl, has been compared to many famed R&B artists such as Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, and more. However, SZA’s album directly dives into her own life with stark episodes in each of her songs, all connecting to her appreciation of the solidarity in her life as she explains many experiences with her lovers, good and bad.
Recommended Tracks: “Love Galore”, “Doves in the Wind”, “Drew Berrymore”
8. Mura Masa – Mura Masa
Mura Masa, a rising dance-pop artist, creates a light yet digestible dance-pop album with its ear-musing beats and some famed artists for features. The album, Mura Masa, depicts his relationship of love while connecting all his songs to his city, London. Despite its simplistic construction of the album, the album still stands as one of the relaxing and easy dance-pop albums in 2017.
Recommended Tracks: “Love$ick”, “What if I go”, “Firefly”
7. 4:44 – Jay Z
Jay-Z’s thirteenth solo album, 4:44, dazzles through the deconstruction of Jay-Z’s world, basing his thoughts on the album, Lemonade from his wife Beyonce. The album was the dreamwork of Jay-Z the songs reflect how the world goes around while leaving a legacy of all his past work. Every angle that he explores has been referenced through all his albums, but 4:44 recreates a refreshing view and discloses all his emotions and personal revelations. From its classic beats and samples to intense lyrics, Jay-Z creates a masterpiece of his end, leaving the audience with a handful of eloquent thought processes of his life to mark a legacy.
Recommended Tracks:”The Story of O.J”, “4:44”, “Family Feud”
6. The OOZ – King Krule
The OOZ is one of the most underrated albums in mainstream culture when disregarding its high appraisals from major critics of the album. King Krule creates the album to be an alien yet perennial as this contemporary album does not fit in any time of the century. It was beyond the trend. The album is packed with 19 tracks, consisting of tender jazz, tacky R&B, hard rock, and soft hip-hop. King Krule, already prominent for his imperfections and amalgamations of multiple genres, creates a journey deep into all kinds of emotions with overwhelming beats and out of tune sounds, making the album more special.
Recommended Tracks:”Dum Surfer”, “Slush Puppy”, “Vidual”
5. Funk Wave Bounce Vol.1 – Calvin Harris
Calvin Harris was able to create the perfect album for the summer vibe. Calvin Harris completely shifts direction from EDM to relaxed dance putting many fans in anticipation of the perfect chill album which Harris fulfilled. The album consists of appearances of the top artists such as Frank Ocean, Migos, Khalid, and more, making the album one of the best dance/chill album in 2017. Although the album wasn’t greater than it was anticipated from its features, Funk Wave Bounce still was the album for funky summer vibes.
Recommended Tracks: “Slide”, “Rollin”, “Feels”
4. American Teen – Khalid
American Teen is the debut album of a 19-year-old, dealing with daily adolescent problems of identity, love, and family. The album is packed with classic R&B tracks with its stylistic beats fit for mainstream Pop culture. With his authentic voice in R&B, Khalid may be one of the best artists to create music as for the mainstream audience. The album consists of an overall similar tone, making it easy for the audience to digest its simpleness. As the songs explore the struggles and fantasies of life, mostly derived from the millennials, American Teen can easily represent the life of an adolescent.
Recommended Tracks:”Location”, “Saved”, “Young, Dumb, and Broke”
3. Flower Boy – Tyler the Creator
Flower Boy may be Tyler’s best album as the album strips Tyler away of his furious raps and depicts his pain in the most sincere way. With the appearance of high-end R&B and Hip-hop artists, Flower Boy is packed with ear-musing tracks while it starts to hint another side of Tyler-vulnerability underneath his aggression. While he still presents few furious raps like his past songs, most of the tracks depict Tyler’s emotions under his anger towards misconnected love and navigation of his youth. Despite all kinds of slurs from the past in his music, Flower Boy presents Tyler riddled with identity and loneliness with small innuendoes of homosexuality, a topic Tyler has always been aggressive about.
Recommended Tracks: “See you again”, “9/11, Mr.Lonely”, “Boredom”
2. Process – Sampha
Critically acclaimed from mainstream publications, Sampha’s debut album, Process has been a unique masterpiece. Exploring different elements of music, Sampha offers an album packed with strange yet contemporary beats while restlessly depicting his emotional soul of his family. Unlike other soul-hitting albums, Sampha creates a vast range of his tone from nostalgic sweetness to cold and bitter sentiments. The album strips Sampha with strong depiction of his vulnerableness, creating bleak and vague definitions of his emotions.
Recommended Tracks: “(No One Knows Me) like the Piano”, “Blood on me”, “Incomplete Kisses”
1. DAMN – Kendrick Lamar
There’s no doubt that 2017 has been the year of Kendrick with his fourth studio album “DAMN”. The album easily peaked the Billboard charts and quickly achieved Double Platinum after its release. From the thought-provoking lyrics to the diverse characteristics of his beats, his songs have dominated 2017’s pop culture. The album has been placed as the best album in 2017 for many mainstream publications with high regards of the album’s complexity and storytelling.
Each year, Lamar tells a different story, and in this album, he questions the coexistence of his fame with the divinity of God, musing the audience with its vivid details and evocative scene-setting when describing each of his stories. Tracks such as “Yah” or “Pride” depict his fame changing his life with his appeasing tone and playful rhymes while tracks such as “DNA” or “Element” consists of aggressive and thought-provoking language and heavy beats. The complexity of his album could be stressed in every way from the jaw-dropping story when the tracks are played backwards to the intricate samples of classic songs.
Recommended Tracks:”Love”, “Humble”, “Element”, “DNA”
Other Notable Albums:
Big Fish Theory-Vince Staples
– Mark Park (’20)
Featured Image: Neo Pak (’19)