Now that summer 2017 is (un)officially over, it is time to decide the top ten albums of the summer. From rap to rock to pop, many artists delivered strong efforts this summer but only a few could make this list.
10. Aminé, Good For You
This is the major label debut album of up and coming XXL Freshmen Class of 2017 rapper, Aminé. On Good For You, Aminé continues the quirky, comedic rap introduced in his debut hit single, “Caroline.” The album could have done with some fat trimmed, but its stellar production and witty rhymes make-up for any throwaway tracks. Alternating between duetting with R&B songstress, Kehlani, and trading verses with Nelly, Aminé proves his versatility on this solid debut album.
Key Tracks: “Wedding Crashers (feat. Offset)”
9. Imagine Dragons, Evolve
After an experimental turn on sophomore album, Smoke + Mirrors, Imagine Dragons fully hones in on their sound and created a short and sweet album. The album blends hip-hop influences with 80s rock to create a confection of strong hits (“Believer,” “Thunder”) and stronger album tracks (“Whatever It Takes,” “Mouth of the River”). Expect this album to collect many Grammy nominations later this year.
Key Track: “Whatever It Takes”
8. Dua Lipa, Dua Lipa
The best pop album since Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman. With her deep voice and rich tone, Dua Lipa creates a soundscape of darkness and light in an album that captures the young pop star at her worst and her best. The hit single, “New Rules,” and the feisty “Blow Your Mind (Mwah),” reinforces the fact that pop music can be dark and complicated and it will never be lowbrow.
Key Track: “Lost In Your Light (feat. Miguel)”
7. Bleachers, Gone Now
Jack Antonoff’s side project Bleachers has been delivering solid, enjoyable music for the last few years. With the delicious guitar riffs and 80s throwback bombast, Gone Now is a commendable effort by a ridiculously talented artist. The lead single, “Don’t Take The Money,” is an excellent display of pop songwriting and tracks “Hate That You Know Me” and “I Miss Those Days” have tangible grit and nostalgia backed by strong production.
Key Track: “Don’t Take The Money”
6. Daniel Caesar, Freudian
R&B newcomer, Daniel Caesar, crafted a jaw-droppingly gorgeous debut album. Featuring collaborations with Kali Uchis, Syd, and H.E.R., Freudian is a soundscape shaped by murky production, love, and the innermost and deepest thoughts of a young artist. If you like alternative R&B with excellent vocals and killer vocal arrangements, I highly recommend Freudian.
Key Track: “Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song)”
5. Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life
A step up from its predecessor, this is the Lana Del Rey we all know and love. Lust For Life blends the muddy trap of Born To Die, the rock edge of Ultraviolence, and the jazz sensibilities of Honeymoon to create an opus that captions the happiness and anxiety Lana is currently experiencing. The brilliant lyricism of “Cherry” and the haunting vocal performance on “Tomorrow Never Came (feat. SEAN ONO)” are highlights.
Key Track: “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks)”
4. 2 Chainz, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
2 Chainz is severely underrated; I don’t remember the last time he’s had a truly awful verse, unlike say, um, Drizzy Drake. Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is a collection of great tunes that soundtracks this summer perfectly. The album is hectic and laid back simultaneously, a hard trick to pull off. Collaborations with Travis Scott, Trey Songz, and Nicki Minaj further propel the album into the realm of greatness.
Key Track: “Realize (feat. Nicki Minaj)”
3. Lorde, Melodrama
After a four year hiatus, Lorde returned to the music scene with an album that combined her alternative roots with her newfound pop persona to create an album that tracks the arc of teenage relationships and lust. From aching ballads to raucous uptempos, Melodrama is a victory for pop music enthusiasts.
Key Track: “Writer In The Dark”
2. SZA, Ctrl
Ctrl is kind of like Melodrama‘s older and more reckless sister. Full of gut-punching lyrics and extremely interesting and provocative vocal arrangements, Ctrl is a patchwork of a day in the life of “20 Something,” and it is glorious. Read our review here.
Key Track: “Broken Clocks”
1. JAY-Z, 4:44
Quite possibly Mr. Carter’s most revealing and most important work, 4:44 is a masterpiece that thrives because of its circumstances. Given the complete take over of trap music and “ad-lib rap,” JAY-Z could have easily put out an album that would have dampened his enviable discography. Instead, he chose to pour his heart out in advice and life lessons. He chose truth as the anchor of this opus. Hats off to you, Mr. Carter.
Key Track: All of them, but specifically, “4:44”
*To be considered albums had to consist of at least 9 tracks and be released in the date range of June 1 – August 31