Let’s face it, 2017 sucked. Everything that could have gone wrong mostly did go wrong. Chester Bennington and Lil Peep died. Sheesha got banned (we’re still reeling). However, in the nasty grey rubble that was 2017, a few diamonds were found – and they came in the form of music. Music is the only thing that saved us closing the curtains and calling it quits so, in appreciation of this, we have compiled our favourite songs from this year. This list is not in any particular order because we feel the songs may be too different to compare. Enjoy and forgive us for all the gems we’ve probably missed.
10. Dreezy, 6lack, Kodak Black – Spar
Political dissatisfaction has been a major theme in hip-hop this year and Trump is the punching bag that every rapper gets a round at. Rightfully so, in fact. The most precise and pin-pointed attack has been courtesy of Dreezy, 6lack, and Kodak. Inhabiting arguably different spectrums of the genre, these artists came together to channel their anger against a broken system. All on a disgusting trap beat.
9. Tyler, The Creator – 911/ Mr. Lonely (feat. Frank Ocean)
Loneliness in 2017 is a cliche. Everyone is sad and wants to die, you don’t really need to say it anymore. Tyler turns this on its head and reaches out. To the cops. It’s a pretty standard ‘Tyler the Creator’ way of doing things but he commits to this feeling throughout the entire song. The most melodic cry for attention this 2017, featuring a hook from Daddy Frank himself.
8. Jorja Smith – On my mind
Jorja Smith’s fame skyrocketed this year. After her feature on More Life, Jorja’s run of epic singles began. Capping them off would be ‘on my mind’, my favourite of them all. On a UK garage beat, a largely dormant genre this year, Jorja voices her anger towards a, particularly shitty lover. It’s catchy and her soulful voice brings the point across clearly. Hope we can finally get an album in 2018.
7. Tunji – Mat za Ronga
This jam made traffic especially fun for me. Trying to find all the mats from the song was like bingo for particularly sunny days on Langata road. Tunji takes this part of our culture and gives it the recognition it deserves in a song that is as grand and bright as the matatus he describes. If there was a club anthem this year, it would be this song (right after Bablas, of course).
6. SZA – 20 Something
This is a survival prayer. It’s stripped down to just her voice and a guitar to guide you in traversing this borderline between childhood and adulthood: the summary of being in your 20’s.
It’s okay to be scared of an unknown future. It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to be anxious. It’s okay to be a little sad sometimes because you’re not where you feel you’re supposed to be. I think you should give yourself more credit though. Clap for yourself, you made it through another year of driving blindfolded, but can’t you feel the mask slowly slipping with each passing moment? Isn’t your vision and the direction you want getting clearer each day?
You’re not alone, we’re alone. Together.
5. Thundercat – Lava Lamp
This drunken silly man just sang what might be the feelsiest song of any album this year. Free from judgement, it’s an ode to detachment. To distancing yourself from what is not of benefit. To letting go. Only then will you realize that you don’t really need everything you imagined.
4. Ibeyi – Me Voy
It’s December. Let the island rhythm set you lose and loose you. Raindance in the night time under a bamboo showers. Feel the humidity with every beat of the drum. Ibeyi might be this decade’s NinaSky. Channeling their ancestors. Vibrating on a higher frequency.
3. Col3trane – Penelope
I’m sorry but Coltr3ane is to Frank Ocean what Desiigner is to Future.
Hello ethnically ambiguous Frank Ocean jr. Even how he gets you bumping to the saddest lyrics is Frank. The beat switch ups are Frank. The heavy reverb that makes him sound like he’s singing in a fast speeding air-conditioned car – is Frank.
I’ll take it. This is what I prayed for all the years I sat gathering dust in a corner, waiting on Frank to finally drop Blonde.
2. Omousangare – Koun koun (Jinku remix)
The way it starts is like it’s on a jungle river rowing you at a steady pace. You trust where it’s going because it’s happening at the right time at the right place, even the transitions happen at the right time at the right place. It’s always the right time. It’s always the right place.
It breathes and gently hits. Like an entire village chanting for rain or harvest. A song of the people.
Like a song mother taught you when you were young, and you don’t know what the words mean, but you understand the feeling of it. The meaning is innate even though you don’t necessarily speak the language. You know what it means.
- Jaden Smith – BLUE
‘Did you listen and did you kind of understand the fact that it’s four separate songs that is one?’
SYRE, as a whole, felt like an entirely new approach to the arrangement of an album. The intro is four songs long and the outro is in the middle of the album. BLUE, the crown jewel of the album, plays out like an orchestral arrangement. We have a crescendo at the beginning of L, avant-garde chord progressions and the most random changes in tempo. I love it. The entire album is inspired by the major artists of our generation. Kanye, Cudi etc. This bit, however, is entirely Jaden’s. Confusing and non-sensical but, ultimately, compelling.
Featured image: Masashi Wakui