Here Are 10 Essential Tracks From 2017 You Need To Hear

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$AP RockyRick Ross, and FutureChildish Major is continuing to climb the charts for his vocal work as well. I first came across the Atlanta artist when he teamed up with SZA and Isaiah Rashad on “Happy Birthday,” a track that would serve as one the lead singles from his recent WOO$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.



Rayana Jay’s ‘Morning After’ EP Is Sonic Gold

From her impressive Sorry About Last Night EP to collaborative efforts with the likes of Caleborate and Sylvan LaCue, Rayana Jay showers her fans with endless waves of soul. Building upon previous singles like “Magic” and “Sunkissed,” Rayana’s Morning After EP picks up where Sorry About Last Night left off. The Richmond-born songstress explores the duality of love and her personal experiences with balancing relationships. Rayana embellishes production from ROMderfulKev Choice, and Drew Banga with her silky vocals and warm energy, topped with a saucy verse from Innanet James on the closing track “Play Thing.” Needless to say, Morning After is a major dose of sonic goodness that’ll have you hooked.

Stream Morning After and relive her recent show at The New Parish after the jump.

Rayana Jay & The Kount Release “Sunkissed”

Following her ROMderful-produced stunner “Magic,” Rayana Jay is keeping her hot streak alive and well with “Sunkissed.” The Richmond artist pens an ode to Black love, channeled by her lush voice and effortless flow. The Kount of Fête Records assembles a groove-filled foundation laced with his striking synth work, culminating in a vibey track you’ll want to keep in rotation.

Rayana will soon follow up on her Sorry About Last Night EP with Morning After. In the meantime, stream “Sunkissed” below and revisit our interview with Rayana Jay.

If you’re in the Bay Area, be sure to catch Rayana’s headlining show with SiriRed Corvette and Sweetest Threaton September 28. Check out the flyer below and grab tickets here.


Artist Interview: Meet Rayana Jay, Richmond’s Sultry Songstress

Just over two years ago, Rayana Jay unveiled her 21 EP, a four-piece offering featuring lead single “Coffee.” From the moment I pressed play, I was mesmerized by her impressive vocal work. The Richmond songstress went on to appear on Caleborate‘s breakout album Hella Good and P-Lo‘s Before Anything, continuing to captivate listeners with her alluring voice.

After keeping the ball rolling with Sorry About Last Night, which taps talent from the likes of Mikos Da Gawd and Elujay, Rayana is gearing up for her next project titled Morning After. The first single from her forthcoming EP, “Magic,” is a dancefloor ready track produced by ROMderful. Whipping basslines and a steady groove allow Rayana to command the track with ease. It has that type of energy that makes it easy to keep on repeat for hours on end.

Ahead of the projects full release on July 21, I had the opportunity to chat with Rayana on Sorry About Last Night, her inspirations, and plans for the future:

Who is Rayana Jay?

Rayana Jay is just a soul from the soil. I’m a singer, a lover, a story and truth teller.

How did you get started with music?

I started in my church choir at a very young age. I think as soon as I started talking, my mom threw me into the choir stand. As I got older, I went on to direct my church choir. I was always writing little songs and poems in my spare time; I still stumble across old notebooks and cringe at how corny I was. While in high school, I was told about a place called Youth Radio in downtown Oakland, and the rest is really history. That’s where I saw my first professional studio, that’s where I was offered the time and space to try the music thing out, and I loved it immediately.

Was music always something you wanted to pursue?

I don’t think I had plans to go as far as I am now, but music has definitely always been on my mind. I actually wanted to be a veterinarian when I was younger, then when I was going to college, I wanted to be a AFRAM teacher. Music was always going to be in the plan.

Rayana Jay // Photo by Lauren Formalejo

Back in October you dropped Sorry About Last Night. How did the project come together?

Sorry About Last Night just happened. After meeting Evangeline, who would later become my manager, and putting together “Sleepy Brown,” we just decided it needed to happen. Two months after dropping “Sleepy Brown,” Sorry About Last Night was practically done. It felt natural and it felt as if I’d had those songs already written for years how they just poured out.

What kind of personal growth have you experienced since 21?

I experienced my first real heartbreak when I released 21 and I think for a long time I was really jaded and guarded and didn’t really want to do too much of anything. Since then, I’ve become more forgiving, softer, and more attentive to the real love around me. I’ve learned to cherish friendships more. I was freshly 21 when that project came out, and I was new to the whole adulting thing that I was supposed to do, but now I do think I’m more responsible and more focused on future goals.

Can you tell us about the process behind “23,” your track with ESTA.?

That was really brought to you by a blessing we call the Internet. ESTA. tweeted that he was looking for singers to work with and Mikos, who I’ve made a lot of great music with, looped me into the tweet thread and in the next 5 minutes, Esta had DM’d me. He sent over a bunch of great beats and the one called “bleu” was the one that hit me. I wrote “23” almost instantly and was in the studio maybe the next week to record it. It was fun to do and ESTA. has been one of my favorite producers for a while, so to be able to make that song was a dream come true.

You were also part of a stacked line-up for the Women in Music festival—can you tell us a bit more about your experience has been like and what the festival means to you?

The WIM festival was one of the most eye opening experiences I’ve ever had the honor of being a part of. To see all of these amazing and talented and sometimes overlooked women from the stage and behind the scenes come together to just love and shed light on each other—it was heartwarming. Knowing that my manager and DJ turned an idea into a weekend that has changed the Bay forever—my heart is full of pride.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you in your music career so far?

Every time I write a song, it’s like I had a baby and i’m a very protective parent. Putting your art, your child, on display for everyone to see and judge and pick apart is one of the scariest parts of it all. You love your kid so much and the moment one person has a negative critique, it hurts. I’m very sensitive—that’s another one of my biggest challenges.

Any dream collabs?

Gucci Mane, Migos, Young Thug, Anderson .Paak, Solange, Xavier Omär.

How do you define success?

Success is when you do things only because you want to and not because you have to. It’s that moment when you no longer worry about what tomorrow brings because you know you can handle whatever it is; success is happiness. I think I’m successful. I think the big issue is when people make success synonymous with wealth; if you’re rich but unhappy, how successful are you?

Any advice for the aspiring musicians out there?

Just do it and do it from the heart. Make the music you needed to hear when you were feeling low all those years ago. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. The world needs your story, and only you can tell it, so get to it.

What’s next for you? Anything else you’d like to add?

Just working on my album and hopefully we get to the U.K. this year.

Keep up with Rayana on Twitter and SoundCloud, and expect Morning After on July 21.

Rayana Jay Serenades With “Everything”

Richmond’s own Rayana Jay cemented her spot in the current Bay Area renaissance with her recent Sorry About Last Night EP, as well as her ESTA.-produced “23” from earlier this year. After opening for Kelis a few weeks ago, the W&V favorite is back with her latest single, “Everything.” Rayana pairs her heavenly vocals with lush production from Gabriel Lambirth, crafting another major dose of soul. Her ode to timing of relationships is another major dose of soul to get you through the weekend.

Stream “Everything” below.

ESTA. & Rayana Jay Link For “23”

On the heels of her Sorry About Last Night EPRayana Jay returns with another sultry cut to close out the year. Celebrating the start of Rayana’s Jordan year, “23” was produced by the boundless ESTA., who has recently worked with the likes of IshDARR and SOSUPERSAM. Buttery guitar riffs from G.Bliz open the track, segueing into a bed of trickling melodies and fluttering hi-hats from ESTA.. Rayana’s blissful vocals ride the instrumental with ease, culminating in a thoroughly smooth listen that’s sure to have you nodding along.

Stream “23” below.

Rayana will also be performing at Wine & Bowties‘ upcoming New Year’s Eve event next week, featuring SydDUCKWRTH, and more. Peep the flyer below and grab tickets here.


Sylvan LaCue ft. Rayana Jay // “Televised” (Prod. Sylvan LaCue)

Inspired by the results of the recent election, Sylvan LaCue has teamed up with Rayana Jay for a new track titled “Televised.” His latest offering is another exhibition of his vocal and production talents, also standing as his third self-produced release. Echoing the words of Gil Scott Heron, soulful samples and crisp percussion are paired with Sylvan’s powerful verses, topped off with a smooth outro from Rayana.

“Televised” follows “Best Me” and “The Truman Show” with Xavier Omär. Stream the track below and grab tickets to The Loner Tour with Sylvan, Khary, and Elujay.


Rayana Jay Shares New EP, ‘Sorry About Last Night’

When I started Waffle & Vibes, Rayana Jay was one of the first Bay Area talents I was introduced to. At the time the Richmond crooner had just reeled in listeners with her 21 EP, featuring fan favorites like “Coffee.” Rayana has since kept the momentum going with shows around the Bay, including performances at the YK La Familia Sadie Hawkins and this year’s revamped Oakland Music Festival.

Featuring two Mikos Da Gawd-produced singles, “Sleepy Brown” and “Nothin To Talk About,” Rayana has unveiled her latest project, Sorry About Last Night. The EP explores her experiences with love, heartbreak, and every relationship in-between, channeled through smoky vocals, unbound sultriness, and echoing production from the likes of 1-O.A.K.Drew Banga, and Jamal Jellyfish. Following his Jentrify debut, Elujay also makes an appearance on “Bad Decisions” to round out the collection.

Stream Sorry About Last Night below and grab your copy via iTunes.

Rayana Jay Announces Debut Album With “Nothin To Talk About”

Rayana Jay first caught my attention with “Coffee,” the lead single from her 21 EP. Roughly a year after its release, the Richmond artist has officially announced her debut album, Sorry About Last Night, which hits speakers next month on October 27.

To hold us down in the meantime, Rayana has reconnected with producer Mikos Da Gawd to present a peak from the album, “Nothin To Talk About.” Mikos strings together an array of dancing pianos, synths, and percussion, allowing Rayana’s seductive vocals to flow with ease. As their latest collab since “Sleepy Brown,” the slow-burning, soul-laced cut explores heartbreak, desperation, and the overall rollercoaster of love.

Stream “Nothin To Talk About” below, and check out the full premiere via The Fader.