Hello everybody! Happy New Year! It has been a while. School and work kept me very busy this year. It prevented me from writing a lot of blogs this year. With that said, nothing will stop me from telling you all my top 50 albums of the year. Even though no one asked. This year has been an amazing year for music. In my list, I have a mix of the biggest releases and some underground gems. Every album here is great in my opinion. Check out these albums if you haven’t done so already.
Without further ado here are my top 50 albums of the year for 2021!
50) Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
49) Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti
48) CHAI – WINK
47) Chief Keef – 4 NEM
46) J. Cole – The Off-Season
45) Shelley FKA DRAM – Shelley FKA DRAM
44) Boldy James & The Alchemist – Bo Jackson
43) Vince Staples – Vince Staples
42) Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
41) Tony Allen – There Is No End
40) Adele – 30
39) EXUM – Xardinal Coffee
38) Zack Fox – shut the fuck up talking to me
37) IDK – USEE4YOURSELF
36) Kota The Friend & Statik Selektah – To Kill A Sunrise
35) Rejjie Snow – Baw Baw Black Sheep
34) Pink Siifu – GUMBO’!
33) serpentwithfeet – DEACON
32) Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs)
31) St. Vincent – Daddy’s Home
30) Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
29) Clairo – Sling
28) Nas – King’s Disease II
27) Conway The Machine – La Maquina
26) Paris Texas – BOY ANONYMOUS
25) Your Old Droog – Time
24) Porter Robinson – Nurture
23) Lil Nas X – MONTERO
22) Blu – The Color Blu(e)
21) CZARFACE & MF DOOM – Super What?
20) James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart
19) GRIP – I Died For This!?
18) Armand Hammer & The Alchemist – Haram
17) Turnstile- GLOW ON
16) Weezer – OK Human
15) slowthai – TYRON
14) McKinely Dixon – For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her
13) JPEGMAFIA – LP!
12) Black Country, New Road – For the first time
11) Tyler, the Creator – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST
10) Genesis Owusu – Smiling with No Teeth
9) Magdelena Bay – Mercurial World
8) BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW ROAD
7) Kanye West – DONDA
6) Injury Reserve – By the Time I Get to Phoenix
5) Backxwash – I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
4) C. Tangana – El Madrileño
3) Spellling – The Turning Wheel
2) Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
1) Silk Sonic – An Even with Silk Sonic
Let me know what you think?
P.S. Just like last year, I have a Spotify playlist for my top 50 songs of 2021. Check it out! I also started list week on my YouTube channel (FancyMemo), if you are interested.
2021 is taking us through the Summer with pulsing music. Here is a playlist with some of the best songs of the year so far, as we ask ourselves, “Are we there yet?” The musical highlights from 2021 (so far) include Genesis Owusu, Cassandra Jenkins, and Squid.
Genesis Owusu’s groundbreaking debut album, Smiling With No Teeth is the hip-hop, techno, video game music you need to dance to. The standout songs include, “The Other Black Dog,” “Don’t Need You,” and “Smiling with No Teeth.” He relates the concept of the ‘black dog’ as a euphemism for depression to his experience with being subjected to racism. The lyrics are both liberating and contemplative. He was heavily influenced by the video game, Jet Set Radio Future and will be touring in the US for the first time in 2022.
Cassandra Jenkins’ poetic, impressionistic album, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature is a reflection on life, that ebbs and flows with the magical sounds of the saxophone. It only becomes more fulfilling on repeat listens. She took a lot of voice memos from strangers and recorded everything as inspiration to make sense of the change around her. The album title was taken from something a security guard told her at an art exhibit at the Met Breuer in New York. She explains in an interview with Stereogum, “There’s a lot of humor in that for me- the idea of offering some objective truth, when we’re really sharing something about our completely subjective point of view.” Cassandra Jenkins was recruited by David Berman to play as the guitarist with his album for Purple Mountains. Berman tragically died by suicide, just days before the tour would begin. Though she only knew him a short while, her memory and grief around this loss are articulated in the songs, “New Bikini” and “Ambiguous Norway.”
Bright Green Field is Squid’s debut rock album and it sounds both urgent and scary. The five musicians (Ollie Judge, Anton Pearson, Louis Borlase, Arthur Leadbetter, and Laurie Nankivell) write all of their music together and jam it out in a collaborative way. The song, “Narrator” was in part influenced from Bi Gan’s dystopian film, A LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT. The song gives us an unreliable narrator to question and meditate on. The whole album is experimental in the right way and denotes the feeling of a medieval, dystopian environment. The anxiety riddled throughout this music is a cathartic escape, strange enough to leave you coming back for more and more.
Hello everybody! Happy 4th of July! We are finally halfway down with the year. Although this hasn’t been a crazy year for music so far, I have a feeling things are going to start picking up. Just this past month there have been a lot of great singles. I’m going to cap it at 6 tracks in this article because I can easily write a ten-page essay on just the singles alone. There were a lot of big-name artists dropping projects this past month. There were a lot of great projects in general released this month. Let’s just hope this summer goes even crazier. I have a few recommendations for you all today. Let’s jump into it.
Song Honorable Mentions:
Nxtime & Dev Lemons – keep in touch: Nxtime X Dev Lemons is a heavenly collaboration we all needed. This bedroom pop track has pretty, dreamy, and quirky production. Although this track is about how difficult dating is, the production gives off some great summery vibes. I like Ray Rubio’s singing, but it is tough to compete with Dev’s performance. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite up-and-coming artists.
Declaim, MED, and Madlib – All Over The World: This track has Madlib production…do I need to go on? Like most Madlib beats, this track has a chill and lofi feel to it. It has this wonky sound looping in the background. It is honestly a very pretty beat. Both Declaim and MED give great verses. The chorus is dope. If you’re a fan of straightforward boom bap hip hop, definitely don’t miss out on this track. Yall old heads would love this!
Pa Salieu – Glidin’ (feat. slowthai): Brooooooo! THIS SHIT GOES CRAAAZZY! The chorus on this track is so catchy. It is hard not to groove to this track. Pa Salieu has so much personality. He just seems like a cool person in general. Slowthai absolutely kills his feature. A slowthai feature never misses. This grime beat is absolutely perfect for these two artists. Man UK hip hop is so underrated. Don’t sleep on UK rappers!
Tkay Maidza – Cashmere: Just like the early 2000’s Lakers, Tkay Maidza just got herself a three-peat. SHE HAS NOT MISSED ALL YEAR. This is the third single for her upcoming EP Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2. Cashmere is probably the best track she released this year. I love the colorful and angelic production. Tkay’s voice is so smooth and pretty. This track is AMAZING! I can’t wait to watch her perform this song in September. I also can’t wait for her new EP. I can’t believe it’s dropping in less than a week!
Remi Wolf – Liz: This month has been a great month for singles. If the competition wasn’t so neck and neck this track could have easily been my favorite song of the month. The instrumental on this track is beautiful. It is another dreamy bedroom pop track with a cool bass and amazing electric guitar playing towards the end of the track. The instrumental is amazing, but it can’t top Remi’s performance. Her singing gives me goosebumps. You can tell Liz means a lot to Remi just by listening to the passion in her voice. Go listen to this track right now.
Album Honorable Mentions:
EXUM – Xardinal Coffee: Mates is back at it with another fire recommendation. Not going to lie, this album is pretty weird, but I love it. EXUM is such an amazing performer. Whether he is rapping, singing, or screaming he always sounds amazing. EXUM reminds me of both Ski Mask the Slump God and IDK, but even more chaotic. I love how well the production compliments EXUM. The beats always match his energy in this diverse tracklist. This album has no misses in my opinion. Go give it a listen.
Backwash – I Lie Here Buried with My Rings and My Dresses: I am in love with this album! The haunting and creepy horrorcore production is to die for. I love the inclusion of metal in this industrial hip-hop album. The rapping is S tier level good. Backxwash can fucking spit man. She gives an incredible performance on basically every track here. Confession time. I just listened to this album for the first time two days ago. I didn’t listen to this album when it first came out because I heard a snippet on twitter and got scared, so I kind of started avoiding this album. I’m glad I did finally give this album a chance because it is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up liking this album more than this month’s album of the month. Although this album isn’t for everybody, give it a chance. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised like me.
Your Old Droog – Time: This is by far one of the most underrated albums of the year. Droog made a great contempt album about time. Time is referenced in each track in one way or another. There are tracks where Droog is talking about his younger self, his career, and even mortality. There is even this very cool storytelling track about a time machine taking people back in time. The lyrics are great. The production is very lush and classy. There are a lot of great features like MF DOOM, Aesop Rock, and Blu. What’s not to love?
Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs): Let me start off by saying this, the best way to experience these songs is through Bo Burnham’s Netflix comedy album Inside. This comedy album does not flow nicely since it is meant for a comedy special. The reason why I am adding this album is that the highs on this album are HIGH. Some of my favorite tracks of the year are in this album. “Comedy”, “White Woman’s Instagram”, and “Welcome to the Internet” are in constant rotation for me. This album can be very funny, but it can also be depressing. The special is mostly about Bo’s mental state during the pandemic, and you can tell the pandemic had an effect on him while watching the special. I totally recommend this special and album. I am sure you will be able to find something you like.
Mother Mother – Inside: After blowing up on Tik Tok, you would think indie rock band Mother Mother would capitalize the attention by dropping a safe and generic album. Luckily this is not the case. This album does go into a darker approach. The dark mood is the result of the band’s experience during the pandemic. I do really enjoy this darker approach. In fact, I wish they went further with this sound because the album does get more upbeat further into the album. With that said, I do like the serene moments. I think for the most part the band gives a pretty good performance. Even with some flaws, I do really enjoy this album. Give it a try.
Favorite Song of The Month:
Jasiah – Art of War (feat. Denzel Curry & Rico Nasty): When a track starts off with “Yo, this the type of shit to make you curb stomp a newborn baby”, you know it will be an aggressive banger. I love the experimental and industrial production. It is almost as hard-hitting as the rappers. Every rapper here did not miss. Denzel Curry goes in with a fiery flow. Jasiah’s chorus is the type of shit you headbang to. Rico woke up and chose violence. I love how cartoony and squeaky her delivery is. This track is insane. I fucking love it. It definitely deserves to be the song of the month.
Favorite Album of The Month:
Tyler, The Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost: I’m not going to lie, I am a huge fan of Tyler. I am definitely biased, but god damn this is amazing. Tyler really showcased his skill set on this album. The production is great. He somehow mixes this artsy sound with a rugged hip-hop mixtape vibe. DJ Drama’s adlibs definitely further pushes that mixtape sound. Tracks like “LUMBERJACK” and “JUGGERNAUT” are crazy bangers with amazing production. Tyler also shows off his lyrical chops in songs like “WILSHIRE” and “MASSA”. There are a lot of great highlights in the tracklist. Although this isn’t my favorite Tyler album, it is a great way to end off this amazing three-album run.
These are my monthly favorites! Let me know what you have been listening to!
Hello everybody! Happy February! I hope your 2021 has been good so far. So since I didn’t do a monthly favorites for December, this month will be a monthly favorites deluxe edition. I will be covering both December and January music. There is a lot of great music to cover so lets just jump into it.
Songs Honorable Mentions:
Quan – Came Back: Earlier this month I scrolling through Instagram when I stumbled across an ad promoting Came Back from Quan. I don’t usually check out the music in promos, but I’m glad I did this time because this is good. It’s not anything groundbreaking, but I’m loving this guy’s energy. He has a lot of charisma. I love his aggressive flow. His angry yet fun delivery reminds me of Denzel Curry. If you are into Denzel’s music then I highly recommend you check out Came Back. Quan has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Yung Skrrt – McDonald’s: So this song is kind of stupid, buuuuuuut I love it. It’s exactly what you think it’s about. This song is about McDonald’s. Almost every line ends with Yung Skrrt rhyming Mcdonald’s with McDonald’s. Yung Skrrt is either monotone or he is using a high pitched baby voice. The beat is hard-hitting and distorted. On paper, this song shouldn’t work, but it does. Check out this banger if you dare.
Alice Gas – BALONEY (freestyle): This is for all you Hyperpop fans out there. This is a fucking banger! I like what Alice did with her vocals. I like the robotic vocals during the chorus. I also like the high pitch chipmunk vocals when she gives her verse. It reminds me of 100 gecs. Alice kills it on the vocals, but the beat is even better. It is so bubbly yet it also has an industrial feel to it. I love how the bridge flourishes. The outro is also amazing!
JPEGMAFIA – FIX URSELF!: Peggy blessed us with a ton of singles that turned into an EP last year and it seems like he is going to do it again this year. FIX URSELF! is the second single for Peggy’s upcoming EP. He once again kills it. I love how triumphant the beat is while still sounding like a JPEGMAFIA beat. As always Peggy’s use of autotune sounds amazing. There are several cool vocal passages. Peggy covers a lot of different topics in this one song, but this is by far my favorite line: “I love my baby like Trump loves Putin, in the deepest way”. How can you not love this man?
slowthai – MAZZA (feat. A$AP Rocky): This song was nearly my song of the month. MAZZA is the third single for slowthai’s upcoming album TYRON. It should be released next month and I am excited for it. Especially after the release of this single. MAZZA is a lowkey banger. The beat is perfect for slowthai’s animalistic energy and A$AP Rocky’s smooth feature. I am surprise on how well these two sound together on the same track.
Lice (Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman) – Ask Anyone: On New Years Eve the world found out that one of the most legendary underground MC’s, MF DOOM, passed away on Halloween. This is a huge loss in the world of hip hop. DOOM is responsible of some of my favorite albums of all time. DOOM made a huge impact on not only me, but on a lot of people all over the world. This includes Lice AKA Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman. After hearing about DOOM’s death they made a tribute song for DOOM. They rapped about how much DOOM meant to them while using a MF DOOM beat called Datura Stramonium. If you are a fan of MF DOOM listen to this tribune track.
BADBADNOTGOOD & MF DOOM – The Chocolate Conquistadors (From Grand Theft Auto Online: The Cayo Perico Heist): Speaking of DOOM, this song was the last song he released when he was “alive”. This song was made for GTA of all things. Most artist would phone in their music if it is for a movie or a video game. DOOM is different. This song is so fucking good! First of all, DOOM rapping in spanish is a treat to listen to. He doesn’t rap entirely in spanish, but he did at the beginning. DOOM’s delivery is smooth and insane as always. Although I am praising DOOM a lot, BADBADNOTGOOD did their thing. What a beautiful instrumental. The live instrumentation gives this song so much life. The second half of the song is all instrumental. It’s a grand and exciting way to end off this 7 minute beast. Even though I have a feeling we might still get more MF DOOM music, this song wouldn’t be a bad way to end off his discography.
EP Honorable Mention:
Kota the Friend – Lyrics to GO, Vol. 2: This is technically an album, but it’s only 15 minutes long so I am going to consider this an EP. If you are a fan of Kota’s music already you’ll enjoy this EP. This EP is just more of what you expect from Kota. Good raps with chill lofi beats. Fun fact! Kota claims that the beats are taken from YouTube. I looked it up and it’s true! He straight up rapped over Kota the Friend type beats. Great vibe music!
Album Honorable Mentions:
Renaissance Mic – The Renaissance Tape: Renaissance Mic deserves to blow up. This album is amazing! I am surprise Renaissance Mic only has 1,000 monthly listeners. This album is a jazz rap album. The instrumentation is phenomenal. Renaissance Mic is rapping about several serious topics. His rapping style reminds me of both Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. If you like either of these two artists you will definitely enjoy Renaissance Mic’s music.
Moor Mother & billy woods – Brass: When I did my top 50 albums of 2020 list I tried my best to wait till the end of the year to release my list so that I don’t miss anything. Well I ended up missing this amazing album. Brass is an eerie rap album made by billy woods and Moor Mother. This is the type of album I personally need to be in a certain mood before jumping into it because it can be pretty intense. Especially since Moor Mothers performance is amazing, but really creepy. Billy woods did his thing. He sounds very heroic throughout this dark album. Impressive collaborative album. It definitely deserved a spot in my top 50.
R.A.P. Ferreira – Bob’s Son: R.A.P. Ferreira really decided to drop heat on the first day of the new year. Bob’s Son is a very chill layback sounding album. Each song has a lofi beat. There are several beautiful moments. R.A.P. Ferreira is once again rapping poetically. I really like how he raps. The way he emphasize certain words is cool to me. The combination of his rhymes and lofi beats give this album a warm feeling to it.
Navy Blue – Song of Sage: Post Panic!: Am I the only one that didn’t know Navy Blue is a professional skateboarder named Sage Elsesser, he does some modeling, and he is an Odd Future affiliate. How did I miss all of this? Well anyway this album slaps, but in a depressing way. Navy Blue’s lyrics are demoralizing. The beats are dusty and lofi with some cool sampling. Navy Blue has helped artists like Earl Sweatshirt and MIKE with production, so if you enjoy their work you’ll definitely enjoy this Navy Blue album.
Your Old Droog – Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition: I really like what Droog did with his album. Droog is an Ukrainian American and in this album he sprinkles in a little bit of his heritage. He does a great job highlighting his heritage in his raps and beats. Speaking of rapping, man this guy can spit. This album is filled with BARS! He has several quotables. Even though Droog is highlighting his heritage, that New Yorker charm is still there.
Favorite Song of the Month:
Brent Faiyaz & DJ Dahi – Gravity (feat. Tyler, The Creator): Man this is amazing! By far my favorite song of the month. This might be my favorite Brent Faiyaz song. This song sounds like it would fit perfectly in flowerboy. In fact, while listening to the song I forgot DJ Dahi produced this song. I thought Tyler did the production for a second. Speaking of Tyler his verse was short, but great. Brent definitely made a larger impact throughout the entire song. Plus Steve Lacey contributed on this song too. I don’t think this song will do amazing on the charts, but to me it sounds like a hit.
Favorite EP of the Month:
Cosmo Pyke – A Piper For Janet: For only having four tracks this EP was able to make a huge splash. First of all the production here is so good. The live jazzy instrumentation gives this EP so much personality. I would love to hear this EP performed live. Cosmo’s soulful singing is just as wonderful. His voice is so powerful yet soothing. If this is the type of music Cosmo would release on an EP, it makes me wonder how good an album worthy song would be.
Favorite Album of the Month:
Madlib – Sound Ancestors: MADLIB DOES NOT MISS! Everything he touches turns into gold! If you need further evidence on why people consider this man the GOAT hip hop producer look no further. Teaming with Four Tet, Madlib continues to experiment with his sound. What can I say? These beats are amazing! I love the sampling Madlib does on this album. I also love all of the vocal snippets sprinkled throughout the entire album. He does a great job at grabbing the listeners attention. There are several mind-blowing moments throughout the album. If you love Madlibs previous work you will definitely enjoy this album. Beautiful album! Give it a listen if you haven’t already.
These are my monthly favorites! Let me know what you have been listening to!
Is there anyone on Earth with more grace and poise than Alicia Keys? On a difficult day of worldwide mourning she somehow managed to say the perfect thing in her beautiful opening tribute to the memory of Kobe Bryant and his daughter who tragically passed away this morning along with seven others.
It’s been a hard day, and it’s not like this makes it any easier. But she somehow managed to make us feel good about watching this show and enabled us to enjoy the music, and maybe even feel a bit more unified in our hurt by the end of it. There were times during the GRAMMYs this year where I didn’t want to look away because I didn’t want to miss a single moment or notion regarding Kobe, and I’m glad I didn’t. Lizzo kicked off the night with a heart-wrenching shout out leading into Truth Hurts which you can catch in the first 15 seconds here:
John Legend and DJ Khaled also showed love, along with love for the late Nipsey Hustle in their acceptance speech and performance for Higher (feat. Nipsey), which was later emotionally performed.
Also can I just say, DJ Khaled’s cadence amazes me. Sometimes when he talks I find myself bobbing my head like that Chinese reporter who thought Desiigner was rapping that one time in one of my favorite videos of all time:
I would love to see DJ Khaled do some voiceover work if he wasn’t busy manufacturing bangers like faster than Nabisco does cookies.
It was an amazing show, held down by the one and only. We can go down the rabbit hole of Alicia’s past hits another time, but I’ll save this post for a dedication to tonight’s show.
If you haven’t heard it check out Alicia’s newest song Underdog you should check it out, it’s a heater.
If you haven’t heard Billie Eillish won most of the major awards, full list of winners here. Camilla Cabello gave a stunning tribute performance to her dad which felt much needed. The show in general was emotionally fueled (the clear exception being Old Town Road which was featured in our top 50 tracks of the year), with other touching performances including Bonnie Raitt’s Angel From Montgomery tribute to John Prine for his achievement award, Bring My Flowers Now by Tanya Tucker which was featured on our weekly playlist, and Demi Lovato with her first performance since being hospitalized for an overdose in 2018 doing her new song Anyone.
H.E.R. was also awesome, that girl can shred.
My Favorite Moment:
Introduction aside, this was my favorite moment of the night:
What a far way this man has come, from eating a cockroach on camera and making some of the most offensive music I’ve ever heard:
To a an even darker perspective on Wolf, to a more fun and unapologetically energetic on Cherry Bomb, to a genre-ambiguous adventure on Flower Boy:
To the production masterpiece that is Igor:
I don’t know Tyler but I’m proud of him (that’s chill right??). Plus look at these expressions from Tyler and his mom:
Isn’t this what it’s all about? There’s nothing better than seeing extremely hard work convert into sheer unbridled joy right in front of your eyes. I’m so happy for all of the winners tonight, and hope they enjoy a much deserved celebration.
Afterword (or whatever the blog equivalent of this is)
Music is so important to me, as I’m sure it is to you if you’re reading this. It’s with us for the highs when we need something to celebrate to, and it’s with us for the lows when dead silence would be unbearable beyond belief. Seeing the music community come together to collectively mourn the Kobe Bryant tragedy reminds me of how important community is, whether it be a larger community of music listeners or a tight community of friends. There are no takeaways from a tragedy like this, but if there’s one thing this reminded me of (especially via Jay Williams) it is to live life to the fullest and spend time with the people you love and doing the things you love, because you never know what could happen. I love music and writing, and I’m grateful that I get to do this, especially with my friends who help make it happen. Not quite as elegant as Alicia said it but true nevertheless. RIP Kobe Bryant and thoughts and prayers to his family.