Music and Other Drugs is wrapping up another incredible year. Over the course of 2017, Music and Other Drugs has attended seven music festivals, several world tours, and an enumerable amount of indie concerts. For MaOD’s best of, we are featuring our favorite albums, performances, indie artists, and this year’s breakthrough artists. Check out the lists below.
Ryan’s Favorite Albums of 2017
SZA’s debut album, CTRL was one of the most highly anticipated projects of 2017. I remember the exact moment the project started and finished, it felt like a long breath and exhale, as SZA told the story of our lives. In my book, SZA won 2017, and did something that r&b music has not seen in a very long time.
JAY-Z – 4:44
Since the release of Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt, the Brooklyn-bred rapper has always established and reestablished himself as the GOAT. Jay-Z and NO I.D. created a classic body of work in 4:44. With the surge of new and up-and-coming rappers, Jay-Z reminded us of exactly who he is.
Sampha – Process
Sampha’s “Plastic 100°C ” was the first song I heard at this year’s Coachella Music Festival. Just like SZA, Sampha’s debut project Process was highly anticipated. If ever you are looking for a spiritual moment, submerge yourself into “Timothy’s Prayer,” and you will be lifted. Sampha possesses one of the most interesting voices in music, and creates a style of his own, and for that, I am thankful.
Khalid – American Teen
Breakout star, Khalid has had an incredible year. He is currently nominated for five Grammy’s, and rightfully so. I first heard Khalid’s voice on Alina Baraz’s track “Electric,” and was hooked. His album, American Teen takes me back to my own teenage years. A rush of nostalgia fills me every time I listen to this project.
Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
Lana Del Rey can do no wrong in my book. I was taking an Uber back to my Brooklyn apartment when she released her first single “Love,” and I remember freaking out, thankful to get new music from Lana. Lust for Life has a ting of Born to Die, and takes me back to my rose-colored glasses innocent days.
Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
Vince Staples created one of the most pleasurable listening experiences, this year. From initial release, the album did not list its features. From track to track, there was an excitment not knowing who would pop up on the track. Would it be Kendrick Lamar, Kilo Kish, or even Ray J.?!? Sonically, Big Fish Theory was one of the best projects of 2017, to me.
Aminé – Good For You
Any artists the gives an ode to the Spice Girls is automatically on my top list. Aminé’s entire vibe is a breath of fresh air. He and his collective are a breath of fresh air for the culture. Aminé is one of the top artists I want to see on the festival circuit, this year.
Thundercat – Drunk
The universe has blessed me to see Thundercat live at least five times, and each time it is better than the last. Who else, in 2017 can get Michael McDonald to serenade us on a track? I’ve always felt that Thundercat’s Drunk would be a dope visual exhibit, his music is other worldly.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
DAMN. That is the only word you need to use as you are listening to this album. In April, Kendrick Lamar released “The Heart” (part 4) to announce his new album, and the rest is history. Kendrick Lamar has never been afraid to speak his mind, and this project poignantly gets Kendrick’s message across. Listening to the project is one thing, but Kung Fu Kenny brought the album to a whole other level on his DAMN Tour.
Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy
Tyler, The Creator has come into his own with his newest release Flower Boy. Out of all of the albums on my list, Flower Boy has received the most listens. The album defined summer 2017 for me. I caught a glimpse of Tyler this summer at Panorama Music Festival, and can’t wait to see more in 2018.
Pell – Girasoul
Pell’s Girasoul was a latecomer for the year, and although it is only an EP, this project stands out, lyrically. The up-and-coming rapper continues to lyrically rise above much of the competition. I see a big year for Pell in 2018.
Cellus Hamilton – We Are & We Shall
Cellus Hamilton’s project We Are & We Shall as touted as the “Album of the Year.” While some may disagree, you have to listen to this project for yourself to understand the mind of Cellus Hamilton. The first time I heard this project, I remembered feeling like “this is only the beginning.” Cellus Hamilton is only going up from here, and We Are & We Shall is a project that has defined and solidified his mark in music.
Jordan’s Favorite Albums of 2017
Kllo – Backwater
Have you ever had one of those albums that you didn’t per say ask for but you are super thankful that it entered into your life? Well, this is that album for me. Since it’s release in October, this album has not left my rotation. Between Chloe’s mesmerizing vocals and Simon’s stellar production, this is one album I can’t get enough of.
Majid Jordan – The Space Between
The first time I heard “Gave Your Love Away” while watching this year’s Louis Vuitton fashion show, I knew that i needed this album. Majid Jordan have been one of my favorite acts since they first dropped their debut EP A Place Like This, back in 2014. The perfect album for those late nights and early mornings.
SZA – CTRL
I mean……it’s SZA, and this album is fucking incredible. The rawness and vulnerability she expressed on this album was something so refreshing and special. CTRL became the album of many 20 something’s lives and mine included. This album is an certified classic for me.
Toro Y Moi – Boo Boo
Some surprises come in small packages and in this case it goes to this album. Toro Y Moi has always been one of my favorites, but this album really showed another side of him that intrigued me to the core. The “Labyrinth” track alone stayed on repeat, daily. An album with 80’s nostalgia is always a win-win for me.
Miguel – War x Leisure
Miguel has been one of my favorite artist since he released “Sure Thing” back in 2011. “Skywalker” became my anthem for 2017. Miguel honed in on his signature sound on this project. The Prince influence and usage of what’s happening in our society but also still maintaining sex appeal is an album well worth the wait.
Sabrina Claudio – About Time
Sexy, beautiful, and down right stunning from top to bottom. Sabrina gave us the sexiest R&B project of the year. I foresee a Sadè in the making but in her own special way. Sabrina Claudio has a bright future ahead and this project proved just that.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
I have no words but “DAMNNNNNNNNN”. What an incredible album. This album described so many of my emotions in 2017 and truly was the soundtrack to my summer. This album stays at high volume at all times. Kung Fu Kenny is always and forever top dawg.
Kelela – Take Me Apart
Between the release of “LMK” and “Waitin” I knew I would be in for a special treat. Kelela made her debut album more than worth the wait. This is the perfect break-up, fall in love, fall out of love album for anyone that can relate. I’ll forever cherish this one. Janet Jackson would be proud (see “Better” track).
Anna Of The North – Lovers
Pop music didn’t do much for me this year, but this album crossed my path and i could not get enough of it. Lovers by Anna of the North is the modern 80’s soundtrack that takes my mind to another place. If my life were a movie, best believe, this album would be playing in the background.
Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy
Tyler brought vulnerability and beautiful art in the form of an album with Flower Boy. This is by far my favorite story-telling album this year, taking me all across the seasons from summer to fall. Tyler proved that he is an real artist that should be taken very seriously.
Daniel Caesar – Freudian
The “tissue box” album of the year by far goes to Daniel Caesar’s Freudian. One word to describe this album would be delicate. It’s like glass, I listen carefully and with ease. Daniel brought love back and showed why it’s ok to tell how we really feel to the ones we love.
BROCKHAMPTON – Saturation II
All three Saturation albums are amazing, but Saturation II gave me everything I needed. I was able to scream, throw things, cry and laugh all in one album. One of the many acts I hope to see at next year’s Coachella festival.
Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
This album took my breath away. Vince stands in a lane all on his own with Big Fish Theory. The energy on this album is electrifying and captures the new feeling of hip-hop music. The usage of Kilo Kish was also a great touch. My banger album this year.
Thundercat – Drunk
Words can’t describe how much I loved this album and how cohesive it is. I can just let this album play and never hit the skip button. Lyrically and vocally this album took me there and the production on this album was the cherry on top. Drunk will never get old for me.
Music and Other Drugs Top Live Performances of 2017
Solange – Orion’s Rise Radio City Music Hall
Banks – Coachella
Kendrick Lamar – Coachella
Frank Ocean – Panorma Festival
No Limit Records – Essence Music Festival
Jorja Smith – Afropunk
Gallant – Essence
Craig David – Terminal 5 (TS5)
Lizzo – The Meadows
M.I.A. – The Meadows
J.LO – Tidal X
Chris Brown – Tidal X
BOSCO – Baby’s All Right
SZA – CTRL Tour
Music and Other Drugs Favorite Indie Artists of 2017
BROCKHAMPTON had one hell of year, releasing three albums in one year is a true boss move and for each of them to be equally as good as the next is not an easy task. This collective has been one of our favorite acts to come out of 2017, and although they say this is it for releasing music, we are excited to see them perform live, next year.
Our good friend Kori James gave us really good music this year. His single “Right Here With Me” showed us another side to the singer that we can’t wait to hear more of in 2018. Kori has a bright future ahead.
We had the pleasure of speaking to the cool, calm and collected Quiñ this year for an MAOD interview. We are already obsessed with her music and after speaking with her we saw even more why she will always be an MAOD favorite. Beautiful spirt and an artist that can’t be duplicated.
If there is one artist we are rooting for in 2018, it is Yank$. This hard-working rapper always shares with us something fresh, new, and something we can move to. We can only imagine how many bangers he has coming our way in 2018.
This young and talented lo-fi bedroom singer is someone that we know is going to blow up in 2018. Clairo had an amazing year and blew up all on her own from none other than the internet. We can only imagine where her growth will go into the new year.
Kllo are the breath of fresh air we never knew we needed and we couldn’t be more grateful for such a talented group. The Australian duo kept it simple and smooth with their debut album, Backwater. It is our goal to see Kllo perform live, next year.
Kansas City’s own AyEl is making his mark in music. This year, he released Summer’s Over Vol 1. featuring “Motion,” which is receiving steady radio play. AyEl story-telling lyricism is what makes him a standout act. Prepare to hear more for the rising rapper next year.
There is no limit to Cellus Hamilton. This year, he released his latest project We Are & We Shall, and delivered bars. Cellus Hamilton’s commitment to his craft is evident in his music. His talent must be experienced to be understood. Head over to YouTube and learn more about this rising indie artist.
TreyRX is just getting started but we see some great and amazing things on the horizon for him as a new artist coming up in the game. Always expanding and growing his sound we know that Trey is going to bring more bangers in 2018.
Beauty is the word to describe these two lovely ladies. Wondaland’s very own duo has given us some stellar tracks including “Borders” and “Caught” and we are beyond excited to hear their debut album at the top of 2018. We know it will be nothing short of amazing.
Sunni has reinvented his sound and image for his latest releases. Giving us a refreshed Maxwell vibe, Sunni Colón brought the funk and the grooves with his Kaytranda produced track “Little Things.” We know Sunni is only going to keep delivering more dope tracks and visuals in 2018.
It’s been a long time coming but our friend, James Scott released his debut album, BOYs HURT too this month, and we were beyond excited to hear the finished project. It was well worth the wait. We are rooting for all things James Scott in 2018.
L.A. based neo-R&B artist gave us all the feels and emotions with his sophomore EP, Boy Afraid . Saro had a wonderful live showing and proved his self to us by commanding the stage and showing us why his music means so much to him.
DVWEZ is more than underrated she is the truth. She found a way to blend 80’s sound with modern day r&b music. Soft and sensual DVWEZ is an artist we want to hear more of and you will need to do the same.
PhillmySoul has been sending us nothing but dope tracks that speak to the soul. We are always ready for new Phill music and at this point were not sure if he can make a bad track. One of our most consistent indie artist of 2017 is sure to have a breakout year in 2018.
Denetia is another one of MAOD’s faves and we are always waiting on what she is up to next. If you don’t know, she is one half of indie duo, denetia + sene. She stepped out to expand her own sound and we were lucky enough to hear all of it live. An incredible experience by an incredible artist.
Our new favorite Irish trio would have to be the one and only HARE SQUEAD. “Flowers” was played non-stop, and featured on our playlists. We are looking forward to what this trio will bring to us in 2018.
Tom Tripp gave us exactly what we needed. Good music and a fresh take on r&b and pop. The blended genres work so well when it comes to Tom Tripp, and his love for giving a nostalgic sound that we love will make him a standout artists in 2018.
Music and Other Drugs Breakthrough Artist of 2017
If any artist had one incredible breakthrough year, it would have to go to SZA. With everyone waiting what seemed like forever for the follow up to 2014’s Z, SZA decided instead of dropping A, she would hit us with CTRL. The world was forever changed with her stellar debut album. Thank you SZA.
Sabrina broke out of the scene with her debut EP, Confidently Lost, last year and started making buzz. This year she took everyone’s breath away with her project About Time. She hit the road with 6Lack and never looked back. She is what many R&b fans have been waiting for. About time indeed.
Daniel Casear had already released two EP’s before the release of his debut album, Freudian. It was at that moment that we knew his life would be changed forever. With the addictive “Get You” featuring Kali Uchis, Daniel sealed the deal for an artist that will stand the test of time.
Being mysterious can be considered a gimmick, but not in rising R&B star, H.E.R.’s case. With consistently releasing r&b music that everyone could relate, H.E.R. became one of R&B music’s most prominent new artist of 2017.
Jorja Smith is only getting better with time. This year, we really saw the growth and development of what she has to offer and we are eating every bit of it. With the U.K. grime track “On My Mind,” we knew at that very moment she was an artist that will be on everyone’s top list, next year.