As we’re reaching the end of the 2021, here are my six favorite albums that have been released… since five wasn’t enough.
6. The Off Season, by J. Cole
Southern rapper, J. Cole, returns with another highly anticipated album “The Off Season”. About a week before the album’s full release Cole had released the single “i n t e r l u d e” which immediately had an impact over social media and the rap community. Cole’s introspective lyrics, often talking about his perspective on what he sees in society today and how where he started and where we find him in his success are interesting and thought provoking. Topped with his smooth flow and great instrumentals throughout it made it really feel like J. Cole was back after a short hiatus. “The Off Season” is consistent, thoughtful, impressive, and a fun listen. I’m excited to see where J. Cole goes from here, despite being deep into his career.
5. An Evening With Silk Sonic, by Silk Sonic
“An Evening With Silk Sonic” introduces Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars coming together for a flourishing 70’s pop influenced collaboration album. With the lead single “Leave the door open” being released back in March, the anticipation for this album was incredibly high and was able to last until the album’s full release in early November. Normally when expectations are so high it can be found difficult for artists to deliver, along with the worry that the album may strictly rely on it’s nostalgic sound, Silk Sonic still manages to deliver 110%. The drums, bells, guitar, bass, and impressively delivered ego high lyrics provide a fun and exciting listen as the band often ventures through a relationship.
4. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, by Little Simz
Before listening to “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert”, I honestly had never heard of Little Simz. But, as the album had made a huge impact on the hip hop community, it was hard to avoid. Months later though, it’s safe for me to say that Little Simz had struck gold on this album. Her orchestra influenced instrumentals mixed with amazing hip hop samples and jazzy drums creates a golden and luxurious sound. Throughout the roughly hour long runtime we follow Simz’s challenges when following her own dreams and working for her music career to get where we see it today. Along with her struggles in overcoming gender and race gaps in the music industry. When it all comes together, Little Simz’s “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” is genuinely inspiring and unique, not to mention sounds beautiful.
3. Donda, by Kanye West
Kanye West, I feel needs no description, and his newest album Donda is among one of my favorites. Despite it’s very messy rollout and constant change in some song’s features or instrumentals… This album is amazing. Lyrics dealing with losing his mother, mental health, power, race, and etc, with that classic Kanye delivery, are almost perfect. Not to mention that the features on this album just don’t stop making hits… playboi carti, baby keem, travis scott, fivio foreign, jay-z… it just doesn’t stop. Some major highlights include the drill inspired beat on “Off the Grid”, Kanye sharing bars with his own mother on “Praise God”, Jay-Z’s “Watch the Throne” revival feature on “Jail”… again, it just doesn’t stop. The album overall gives me a dark and futuristic feeling in its instrumentals, but isn’t so hollow in its subject matter that I don’t enjoy it (except for “Jesus Lord”… that song is far too long). When it all comes together, “Donda” proves that Kanye West is always able to make an instant classic.
2. Sunflower, by Briston Maroney
Briston Maroney has been on the more underground side of alternative rock for a while now. With hits every here and there like “Freaking Out On The Interstate”, off of various EPs, Briston has been on my radar for a year or so and I enjoy a lot of his music. Once, he released his first album early this year titled “Sunflower” . I was somewhat hesitant as I’ve seen many new, promising artists flop with their first album. Of course, I was wrong, and I love this album a lot. Gritty drums, guitar, and booming bass mixed with Briston’s emotional, yet relatable, lyrics are just so fun. “Sunflower” delivers constant highs and choruses that are just… *chefs kiss*. When the whole thing comes together it can feel epic and beautiful in some of its complexity. It brings something out of me that misses alternative rock and it’s sound, but you’re not going to be able to find an album similar to “Sunflower”.
1. Call Me If You Get Lost, by Tyler, the Creator
Since his beginnings as the frontman for rap collective Odd Future, Tyler, the Creator has had a consistently impressive discography. With his previous, grammy winning, album “IGOR” Tyler set a new and impressive bar with experimental and alternative rap. But, with this latest album, “Call Me If You Get Lost”, Tyler really feels like he’s at an all time high. Going into this album I expected something even further strayed from the hip hop genre, especially with the debate on whether “IGOR” even is a rap album. What was delivered though, was the exact opposite. Tyler almost works backwards (in a good way), with many of his songs sounding like those from his second studio album “Wolf” mixed with his newer, more polished, style. The album starts with some heavy yet flourishing rap songs and slowly works its way deeper into a story about Tyler’s love life and insecurities about his own art, while still keeping his fun and ego high bars prominent. Even with features that feels like Tyler brings the best out of, like NBA Youngboy on “WUSYANAME” and lil Wayne on “HOT WIND BLOWS”. This album does not miss on a single song, it’s fun, introspective, and unique. And even like many of Tyler’s albums, “Call Me If You Get Lost” genuinely takes the listener on an flourished, rich, and introspectively flawed journey.