Many people thought it would be a minute before we had a musical year as poppin’ as 2016, but the hits of 2017 proved to be pretty kick ass, too. There’s no doubt that hip-hop is in great hands, from the heavyweights who’ve reigned in our hearts, as well as the charts, to the rising stars who’ve shown they’re ready to claim next.
Some of the biggest names in music, like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Big Sean, Tyler, The Creator, Future and more, dropped projects in 2017, and we were also treated to releases from newer acts such as Daniel Caesar, SZA, Khalid, 21 Savage, Vince Staples, Snoh Aalegra and countless others.
As the year comes to a close, it’s only right that CASSIUS honors the artists whose tracks instantly got the staff vibing. There are some familiar faces, some you ought to know, and, of course, all of the music in one place for you to enjoy, courtesy of Spotify. This list isn’t about who was the best in music this year; the charts tell that story. The CASSIUS list is all about our picks. Check out the winners of 2017.
Album of the Year: Freudian – Daniel Caesar
Yes, we said this isn’t a list of who was the best and all that, but Freudian by Daniel Caesar is the top album to come out this year. This project had amazing records and an incredibly underrated track listing. And let’s not forget the number of proposals landed at his live shows. If you’re looking to tie the knot any time soon, fill the room with your significant other’s friends and family, play “Blessed,” and descend before your girl on bended knee like Sting from the rafters. You’re welcome.
Favorite Record of the Year: “Party Here” – Octavian
Every season there’s a record that we just couldn’t seem to get enough of (“First Day Out” by Tee Grizzley, “Catch Me Outside” by Ski Mask The Slump God, etc). Yes, we knew all the words to “Bodak Yellow” at the summertime function out of nowhere. But I have to say that my “favorite” record goes to a relatively up-and-coming rapper from across the pond. Octavian is Paris-born and London-raised, and his song “Party Here” isn’t like anything else I’ve heard this year. It gets me to dance as soon as it drops. It’s part Afro-Beat, part UK bounce, and part “I don’t know what,” but it’s a chune that has burned it down whenever I get on the aux. Not sure what’s next for Octavian, but he has a knockout record here.
Sleeper Project of the Year: EP 1 – iZNiiK
W e featured this mysterious creator, a.k.a. “the faceless wonder with one of the year’s best EPs” earlier in the year. It’s December and we still have no idea who they are or where they came from, but it’s lived up to its not-so-humble title and is undoubtedly one of the best projects we’ve heard this year. It’s only five tracks long, and you’re hit with so much musicality that it just barely grazes becoming a sensory overload. Don’t have any expectations when you check this out, just let the wave roll.
Song of the Year: “Crew” – Goldlink featuring Brent Faiyaz and Shy Glizzy
People often talk about “the perfect song. “Crew” is it. The melodic beat, Brent’s soulful crooning of an emotion that anyone can relate to (She see the money all around me, I feel like I’m the maaaaaaaaaaan), and Goldlink’s unorthodox flow being countered by the raw tones of Shy Glizzy create the ideal yin and yang of DC greatness. Everything is sweet. This rings off in the whip, a party… a baby shower after church. Whatever you’re looking for, play “Crew” and enjoy the party. I can’t wait to sing this record in 10-15 years as my kids are cleaning the crib on Saturday morning.
Thanks for everything 2017, and amidst all the B.S. we had to deal with this year, we sure found a way to dance through it all. Here’s to 2018.
Editor’s note: We wanted to include “Roll In Peace” by Kodak Black so badly, but morally couldn’t vouch for XXXtentaticles. Fire record, though.