As promised I’m back at it again with another list of projects that won’t make my personal top 10 album list (often because they’re EPs or mixtapes) but I think need to be celebrated nonetheless. With so much music coming out I’m sure I missed some names and definitely wanted to add some to this list but to keep things concise, I narrowed things down to 10 projects. I tried to pick projects that I felt should be highlighted regardless of when they came out this year. Let’s give these artists their flowers one more time!
Dom Kennedy – From Westside with Love 3
If you’re a fan of independent hip-hop, I’d argue that you’re a fan of Dom Kennedy. If you’ve been following his journey, then you know that “From Westside, With Love” is what put him on the map. The second installment in the series was a bit underwhelming to me but this third one bangs! If you aren’t already, after listening to a few songs you’ll be yelling “OPM (Other People’s Money)” too.
Standout songs: Don’t Walk Away, Hypnotized, LAX, Star Baby, Deep Thought, From the Westside With Love, Rollin Papers
Warm is the hardest song to come out of the UK this year. That might sound like quite the statement coming from someone who isn’t from the UK but this is my genuine belief. The first time I heard this song, I almost fully kick over my coffee table for dramatic effect. Then I heard the tape! Fam this tape? Nah, this tape is the one this year yo.
Standout songs: Warm, Pick ‘n’ Mix, Ying, Elon Musk, Billie Jean, RRR, Help
Curren$y – Still Stoned on Ocean (Album)
I’m gonna jump out the gate with a hot take here but I think the consistency of this man’s work is really one of the overlooked in hip-hop. He drops so many projects and I have yet to hear one that I’d consider bad. This one was a special one this year. The features, the beat selection and the delivery? This one had all the elements of a solid Curren$y project that I look for. If you’re a Curren$y fan, light up and enjoy the ride because this one’s a vibe.
Standout songs: Game Tapes 2, High!, The Beach, Bad Decisions, Bal Harbour Brunch, Freezer
What. A. Talent. I was actually put on to Pip Millet by a friend of mine when she sent me songs on a playlist that she made (shoutout to Lex). Even since I heard “Running feat. Ghetts“, I’ve been a fan. Her old stuff is definitely worth checking out but this is one strong-ass EP. That inflection in her voice during some of her hooks adds this soothing sound to her records. It’s a great project.
Standout songs: Running, Hard Life, Best Things
Northsidebenji – The Extravagant Collection (Mixtape)
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t one of my favourite Toronto rappers right now. I’ve been waiting a while now for him to drop some new heat and to be real, this exceeded my expectations. This is a great body of work and “Keep Runnin’” is an absolute banger. No doubt about it!
Standout songs: The whole project slaps*
If this was an album, I’d probably include it in my favourite albums of the year list. This EP was hard from front to back. This might be my favourite project from him. I think this one established how he defers from the rest of his peers from a sound perspective. I think he’s established more of his own sound and is embracing it.
Standout songs: No Chill, Link Up Time, Mask Off (Feelings), Slow Motion, 4K
Emmanuel – ALT Therapy (Album)
Another Canadian talent right here. When I was sent his “Need You” single last year, I immediately became a fan. Then I heard “Thought It’d Be Easy” and knew I would have to keep up to date on his releases. It was a good idea to do that because it helped me catch this album. If you’re looking for some new R&B music, look no further than Emmanuel.
Standout songs: Need You, Thought It’d Be Easy, Magazines, PTH, Black Woman
Sofia Kourtesis – Freisa Magdelina (EP)
This is a project nobody that’s been following my drops this year would expect me to talk about. It’s not hip-hop, it’s not R&B and it doesn’t even really have vocals on it. It’s hard though! Sofia was born in Peru, but lives in Berlin and makes house music that sounds both hopeful and sad at the exact same time. That’s my best explanation but it’s worth a listen if you want to venture out into something new!
Standout songs: La Perla, By Your Side, Juntos
This is another unique one on the list because although it has lyrics, not all of it’s in English. I’d say more than half of it’s in Korean. This year I’ve been put on to a lot more Korean rap by people and this is one of the real bright spots. It’s experimental in its delivery of this upbeat melancholy sound but fearless and unapologetic it’s sound. If you’re looking for something off-brand, it’s definitely worth a listen.
Standout songs: Hula Hoops, Summer Tights, Boom, Yellow Cab
Judas & The Black Messiah Soundtrack
Honestly, if you didn’t know this movie came out back in February, then you probably have no idea that this soundtrack exists. I’m here to let you know it’s fire. A great balance of introspective rap, street rap and R&B melodies. So many songs are great for so many reasons and with a crazy feature list like this, it’s an album you should really explore. There are gems in here for everybody.
Standout songs: Fight For You, EPMD, What It Feels Like, Broad Day, All Black, No Profanity, Revolutionary, Teach Me
Does the list feel incomplete to you? Is there a project you’re listening to this year that you think deserves its flowers? Let us know in the comments on our Instagram @dayfour. We want to know what you’re listening to!
Slaps – to sound very good from a musical standpoint