As with every year, 2017 saw the rise of an innumerable amount of talented artists. From the explosive return of SZA to sweet debuts from GoldLink, Smino, and Sabrina Claudio, many received their well-deserved shine.
To help sift through the sea of newcomers and veterans alike, here are a few of our favorites from the past year:
Andy: While more commonly recognized for his production for artists including A$AP Rocky, Rick Ross, and Future, Childish Major is continuing to climb the charts for his vocal work as well. I first came across the Atlanta artist when he teamed up with SZA and Isaiah Rashad on “Happy Birthday,” a track that would serve as one the lead singles from his recent WOO$AH project. “I Like You” pairs his fleeting verses with verses from 6LACK and DRAM, topped off with woozy production from Supah Mario.
Andy: As a member of the creative empire known as MSFTSrep, ¿Téo? weaves between bellowing croons and crisp verses. “Uno Dos” with Jaden Smith plays like an ominous Amélie soundtrack B-side with a fresh rap twist. Subtle guitar riffs and a steady pocket from Teo Halm carry the track forward as ¿Téo? and Jaden trade swift verses. Needless to say, this is one I’ve had on repeat for a while now and leaves me looking forward to more music from the MSFTSrep crew. – Andy
Jonah: IDK‘s IWASVERYBAD boasts a routinely self-reflective tone, delving into IDK’s life as he discusses love, youth, his relationship with his mother, and more; the Maryland rapper offers himself for examination as a microcosm of the industry that changed his life, challenging the voyeuristic obsession with the American “gangbanger.” These themes come to head in “Black Sheep, White Dove,” a glowing ode to IDK’s late mother that is a testament to his musical, lyrical, and emotional progression. Boasting a painfully melancholy hook, the track undergoes several evolutions that work in tandem with IDK’s ongoing reckoning with the past, searching within himself for acceptance and absolution. IDK poised on the edge, penning a powerful eulogy and proving himself a complex artist and person that does not fit within the two-dimensional chalk lines he refutes. – Jonah
Jonah: BROCKHAMPTON haven’t been out of the headlines since dropping the first Saturation. Three albums later, BROCKHAMPTON have attracted an ardent fan base and released some of the year’s finest music. Saturation III represents the culmination of the series, tying together themes and demonstrating the group’s growth over the course of the three installments. “BLEACH” stands as one of the album’s few unexpected collaborations; Ryan Beatty’s chorus is a bittersweet R&B falsetto that tinges the song with a mournful flavor as the Brockhampton boys combine with characteristic coordination. Each verse is very much a part of those surrounding it, gradually spiraling into the pitched murmurings that carry it towards its close and invite listeners to get lost in the track just as its creators did. – Jonah
Keenan: To say that Brent Faiyaz has had an incredible year would be an understatement. Besides singing one of the catchiest hooks I’ve ever heard on a Grammy nominated single, his Sonder (alongside producers Dpat and Atu) released their stellar project Into. To cap it all off, Faiyaz dropped his intensely personal debut album Sonder Son, perhaps my favorite album of the year. “Gang Over Luv” is one of my favorite cuts off the album, invoking a vivid youthful nostalgia. – Keenan
Keenan: For years now Sángo has made a name for himself by taking samples of Brazilian “baile funk” or “funk carioca,” flipping them with his own unique spin. “Conte a Todos” is Sángo at his best, combining hard hitting drums with an infectious melody impossible to stay still to. 2017 was the year I dove into the wave that Sángo has created in Brazil and beyong with “Conte a Todos” standing as one of the songs that dragged me in headfirst. – Keenan
Camille: With its mellow beat, bright keys, and smooth harmonies, Rejjie Snow‘s “PURPLE TUESDAY” featuring Joey Bada$$ and Jesse Boykins III presents a call for unity in the face of modern day struggles. – Camille
Camille: Produced by H.E.R. and MNEK, “2” illustrates a twisted tale of love, cheating, and revenge. The self-titled album was intended to allow “women to really feel how honest and vulnerable [she is] and to understand that they are not alone and that these are all human emotions.” – Camille
Andy: Ciscero has been killing it all year. From teaming with GoldLink on “Fall In Love” to the JULiA LEWiS-produced “Potential,” the DMV rep is steadily building his resume. j.robb flips the Mick Jenkins and BADBADNOTGOOD cover of “On The Map,” allowing Ciscero, Jay Prince, and Foggieraw to swoop in and create the perfect soundtrack for whipping around town. – Andy
Andy: Rayana Jay has an alluring voice and aura that allows her to reel in listeners with ease. As one of the true standouts from her Morning After EP, “Magic” recruits producer ROMderful for a disco- and funk-filled joyride. She shines over a whipping bassline with a classic call and response that culminates in an effortless jam that’s sure to have you grooving along. – Andy
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Don’t Sleep playlist on Spotify.