1. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
The most-genius with a tight-loop of conscious bangers
2. sza - CTRL
I don’t think I went a day without listening to this album. She has so much rhythm and so much to say. Every lyric feels like the right one.
3. Lorde - Melodrama
The production, but especially the lyrics. “I am my mother's child, I'll love you 'til my breathing stops. I'll love you 'til you call the cops on me.”
4. Tyler the Creator - Flower Boy
The lyrics, but especially the production
5. Future - HNDRXX
The trap king gets loose
6. Makaya McCraven - Highly Rare
My favorite modern jazz innovator
7. Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors
I don’t love every song, but the good ones are so good, they blur out the rest.
8. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory
Still my favorite rapper, veering left toward Detroit while everyone else co-opts the sounds of Atlanta
9. The xx - I See You
Still the best at driving emotions through minimalism
10. dvsn - Morning After
Sexy, jealousy-filled and way better than all the other dark R&B guys
11. Calvin Harris - Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1
12. Ty Dolla $ign - Beach House 3
So many hooks
13. Migos - Culture
14. Moses Sumney, Aromanticism
If Joanna Newsom and R&B merged. His voice is a wonder.
15. Jay-Z 4:44
Yes, write all the man-unfolded think pieces. Jay will forever have the best voice, but I’m here for NO ID.
16. Drake - More Life
If only Drake put out one album every other year, it’d be perfect. This one is no exception -- plenty of clutter, even more gems.
17. Big Sean - I Decided.
I don't even think the lyrics or production are necessarily great, but I just kept wanting to listen to this album.
18. Smino - blkswn
Rap from the era of Chance: Open-armed beats bolstered by such a good voice
19. Slowdive - Slowdive
The dream(y shoegaze) of the ‘90s is alive.
20. Majid Jordan - The Space Between
Honorable mentions: Aimless - Beats from 2017, A.Chal - On Gaz, Keyon Harrold - The Mugician, Nate Smith - Kinfolk, GoldLink - At What Cost, Perfume Genius - No Shape, A Boogie wit da Hoodie - The Bigger Artist, Young Thug & Future - Super Slimey, Mr. Eazi - Accra to Lagos