As the year moves by rapidly, the last month has brought us a lot. Theresa May stated there’ll be snap General Election, America dropped the ‘Mother of all Bombs’ on Afghanistan and Turkey’s president was just given an abundance of new powers. Aside from this doom and gloom, the music world has shone bright once more, with new releases from Gorillaz, Kendrick Lamar and Njozma. Without further ado here are the 10 best albums albums from the past month.
House of Pharaohs – Real Faces
London’s own House of Pharaohs return saw them drop a 15 track long mixtape Real Faces. One of the most exciting acts within UK music right now have yet again successfully blended hip-hop, drill, trap and grime to put out something unique that nobody else is doing. The group, who have been hailed England’s answer to A$AP Mob, all bring a range of creative and effortlessly-good bars and flow to their music and tracks like Cilit Bang and Air are perfect examples of this. They’re destined for great things and with mixtapes like this they seem right on course to make themselves a household name.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Of course this album was going to be on here, perhaps the best album of the year (if not another one on the list might just be) Kendrick was back in full force to show off his skills once more. After dropping the fourth installation in The Heart series, the hype began to build and build for this album. The only track we had heard before the release was HUMBLE., something different to what Kung Fu Kenny has offered us in the past. Kendrick set out to prove he could make a solo chart hit with that song and while it may have displeased a lot of his hardcore fans in that it strayed from his Hip-Hop roots a bit, when it all came down to it DAMN. delivered. From chart hits, to classic storytelling, Kendrick excelled here and even though there was a possibility that rumours of a follow up album two days after could have overshadowed this, the quality of the project ultimately shone through cementing King Kendrick’s place atop the Hip-Hop mountain.
Njomza – Sad For You
German born Njomza put out a good, fun project under Mac Miller’s label REMember records and offers a R&B-cum-80s styled album which is surprisingly quite good. The creative direction she’s gone through under the guise of Mac Miller and other supporting artists like Earl Sweatshirt is a really good one and she’s on path to have a luxurious career. Her voice is softly tinted with a sound that makes it so easy to listen to and Sad For You takes the listener on a nice little journey.
Jacob Banks – The Boy Who Cried Freedom
From Njomza’s soft voice, to Jacob Banks’ powerful one, The Boy Who Cried Freedom is a magnificent release. Stylised with soul, R&B and jazz like sounds, Jacob Banks’ voice is at the forefront of a modern musical experience. It’s a voice that hits you hard and it’s such a good feeling, the standout track Unholy War is coupled with a beautiful visual and is really putting Banks onto new levels and is something the Birmingham should feel incredibly proud of.
Smoke DZA – Ringside EP 5
The fifth addition to the annual Ringside EP from Smoke DZA didn’t disappoint yet again, maybe I’m a bit biased being a wrestling fan too, but this coupled with the excitement of Wrestlemania weekend always makes it a project worth checking. Even if you’re not a wrestling fan you can appreciate DZA’s rhyme scheme and his flow patterns, or if you were once a wrestling fan maybe the nostalgia of Kurt Angle’s theme can attract you to the project. Either way, it’s a short fun project definitely worth the listen.
Freddie Gibbs – You Only Live 2wice
The first release from Freddie Gibbs after his tumultuous time in Europe following him being incarcerated on suspicion of rape, this was Gibbs’ redemption back into the hip hop world. Writing the entire album whilst he was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, you can feel and hear the pain and rawness all throughout the album. References to people from his past and personal anecdotes, Gibbs’ usual stylish, polish and adroit flows were shown off and is a definitely a project worth checking out. This is just one of 3 albums he wrote material for whilst in prison, one of the others being the follow up to the Madlib collaborative effort Piñata, so be sure to keep your ear out for that.
Leaf Dog – Dyslexic Disciple
One of UK Hip Hop’s most profound names dropped his second full length project, and he lived up to the legacy he created. The beats on the albums compliment Leaf so well and it’s something he’s been able to master for a while now, finding the best beats for him. The final track, The Legacy, is a near 8 minute tour de force from some of the best names in UK Hip Hop past and present; Phi Life Cypher, Klashnekoff, Jack Jeston and Verb T just to name few, that track alone makes it worth purchasing. Dyslexic Disciple will surely go down as a marquee moment in the scene for years to come.
Remy Banks – Champ Hoody Music EP.
As part of the World’s Fair collective, Remy Banks is probably the most active member of the group, putting out his second project in as many years, he was able to bring some of his cohorts onto the project. One of the underground talents hiding out in New York, Remy has a versatile range that allows him to be called one of the best kept secrets in Hip-Hop, with a mixed array of beats and even a feature from Woolwich based rapper Jesse James Solomon, Remy Banks is on the come up. Speculation of a follow up to World’s Fair’s 2013 project Bastards of the Party is setting underground rap Twitter abuzz, and will definitely be something special.
Jacqui Siu – Danger EP
London based singer Jacqui Siu latest release Danger is something similar to Jhené Aiko but still so so original and relaxing to hear. The Auckland born artist possesses such a soulful and full voice is also at the same time so peaceful and easy on the ears, the soft electro type beats ease her voice even more so and make it one of the best projects I’ve heard all 2017. The jazzy undertones throughout provide another element to the 4 track EP and helps Jacqui to stand out from the rest of the crowd as she looks to be a break out artist this year.
Gorillaz – Humanz
Gorillaz, as always, have put out something spectacular. Damon Albarn and the two co-producers to the album The Twilite Tone & Remi Kabaka, Jr. helped craft such a good backbone to the album with wonderful, out of this world beats and the features took it to a whole new level. It may have lacked some of the structure the hype boasted but the quality of songs on the project make it arguably the best album of the year so far (this or DAMN.). The feature list alone is enough to sell it to anyone, a plethora of musicians from across the music world including Danny Brown, Vince Staples, Grace Jones, Jehnny Beth and Popcaan, Humanz provides something for everyone. For a more in depth review of the album click here.
With a bunch of projects set to release of the next month from Leeds based talents Graft and Northaze, to internet sensations Rejjie Snow and Mac Demarco, it looks to be another good month for music.
Words by Rohan Parmar.