Favourite Albums of 2021

This is is always way more fun than my hip-hop list because it’s my personal favourites and not what I thought was the best album of one genre in relation to their peers. You can’t debate this list because it’s what I liked to listen to this year (you are not me fam).However, I hope some of these albums stand out to you and that I convince you to listen to something new along the way. Without further delay, let’s get into this.

*Disclaimer: I am but one man with one opinion. Everyone is entitled to disagree and to have a completely different order or albums on this list. But you can do that with YOUR list, this list is MINE.*

Honourable Mention:

Kanye West – Donda

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have another album slated for this spot but as the year went on I could not deny that I needed to talk about this album at some point on an album of the year list. Kanye himself might not have done the best rapping of his career on his album but he arguably got the verses of the year on here with Fvio and André 3000. I don’t think we’ll ever hear something again that’s as unique as this DONDA album. As time goes on it’s an album we’ll look to like we look at Yeezus in terms of pushing the envelope on what we think we’re capable of doing musically. Bridging this gap between secular and non-secular music hasn’t been done to this extent, let’s enjoy it now that it’s here.

Also while I’m here, I just want to say I’m pretty mad that Kanye changed the version of “Up From the Ashes” that’s on the deluxe. That was my favourite song and now I don’t enjoy listening to it.

10. slowthai – TYRON

This is one of those albums where when I first heard it I thought it was cool but when I came back to it later in the year and really listened, I realized it was amazing. Splitting this album to be an A-side and a B-side was great because you really get both aspects of what slowthai’s does best. Tun up* music and introspective rap records. Having a side for both on this album really allows you to listen to either side or both depending on your mood that day. This is a solid sophomore album from another solid UK artist. 

9. Cleo Sol – Mother

If you’ve been keeping up with the drops this year, you’ve already heard me rave about this album. Cleo Sol is so so talented. I don’t even have kids and felt this album in my chest. There are so many layers to this album and she sings everything so beautifully. This is one of those albums that came out this year that everyone really needs to hear at least once. It’s that good. 

8. Doja Cat – Planet Her

Guess what fam, I don’t care if you don’t like her, I still listened to this album and I listened to it a lot. Why? Because the music was good and what she does outside of making music in those chat rooms has only been a detriment to herself. You won’t see me in any chat rooms but you can catch me boppin’ to “Naked” with my clothes on and off on a regular basis. She 2 for 2 and if you don’t like it, that sounds like a “you” problem to me. 

7. Mariah the scientist – RY RY WORLD

This is my favourite r&b album this year. I know Summer Walker dropped and there’s probably a lot of great R&B that I missed but this album stood out to me. Ever since I heard her single “Always n Forever” with Lil Baby, I’ve been curious about this album. I’m glad I stayed curious because this album is such a fun listen. Mariah the scientist has a bright future ahead of she keeps putting out music like this. 

6. Young Thug  – Punk

This is my surprised album this year. I was late to the Thugger fan club and I fought against being here for years. I cannot deny that this album slaps*. This thing right here from front to back was very enjoyable. I’m a fan now and I can’t help it. Everything from the artwork to the features and the delivery of his verses was spot-on. I will not speak poorly on this man ever again. I am sorry. 

5. Leon Bridges – Gold-Digger Sound

Leon Bridges is such a talent man. You wanna feel sad about the girl that left you? Listen to Leon Bridges. You wanna feel sad about the girl you’re still with? Listen to Leon Bridges. You wanna feel sad about the girl you plan to be with next? Listen to Leon Bridges. This guy has sad music for every sad day of the year. But it’s great because who doesn’t like some sad music every now and again?

4. Don Toliver – Life of a Don

Don Tolliver man. In comparison to his debut, this is another rapper that took his game to another level. This is a really good album! I would have included it in my hip-hop list too if I could have figured out where to place him. By the time I was halfway through this album on my first listen I knew this guy was outta here*. The man said “five times in a row, I seen you flip” and I felt him fam. I understood the inspiration. This album is such a vibe man, I found myself coming back to listen to it again and again with “Swangin’ on Westheimer” on repeat. 

3. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

Here’s something off-brand from what you would expect from my predominantly hip-hop and r&b filled list. Imma be real, I don’t even know how to pinpoint the genre of music that this band makes, all I know is I like it a lot. It’s like indie rock, alternative rock and pop music all mashed into one album. I hadn’t listened to their previous albums before this one but I’ll definitely be going back through their discography now that I’ve heard “Jubilee”. Also, fun fact, this band is from Philly…they’re not even Japanese yo (it’s almost as surprising as their music). 

2. Baby Keem – The Melodic Blue

Baby Keem’s reference to having two phones is the single greatest trend in rap in 2021. It’s on damn near every song on this album. He has to tell you what he’s doing with his two phones. I appreciate that. For that alone, he’s top 2. Jokes aside though, this was a solid effort from Baby Keem. I was a fan before but now I’m really paying attention. “The Melodic Blue” was great. 

1. Dave – We’re All Alone in this Together

If I had to pick one album that I think encompassed the year overall, I’m picking this one. I already respected Dave’s been but this guy took it to another level with this sophomore album. A lot of rappers go through a sophomore slump. A lot of rappers crumble under the pressure of putting out a second album. They say you have your whole life to write your first album and then that time in between your first and second album to write your second album. Well, Dave showed no issues finding content to rap about. If anything he’s become an even better rapper under all the pressure. I like every single song on this album for different reasons but the one thing that’s consistent throughout is effort. Dave did the ting dawg. 

Glossary:

Tun up to turn up, to party 

Slaps to have really good sounding music 

Outta Hereto excel to another level, to be making something that is figuratively “out of this world”

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