The summer is here and the year 2017 has graced us with some amazing music releases in its first six months. From Kendrick Lamar’s huge comeback, to Future’s week-to-week, back-to-back double album releases, to reminiscing with Faith Evans and Biggie, The Source presents to you the round-up of the best album of 2017 (so far).
#17. The King & I, Faith Evans & Notorious B.I.G.
Label: Rhino Entertainment Company
Twenty years since his death, The Notorious B.IG.’s widow Faith Evans has resurrected his voice the duet album The King & I. Of course the couple worked together a few times before Biggie’s murder in the infamous drive-by shooting, but this album takes their collaborations to a whole new level. The album’s production is smooth, with Stevie J seamlessly blending the late rapper and Faith’s vocals on tracks like “It Was Worth It,” the album’s intro “A Billion,” and the single “Legacy.” Faith delivers impressive vocal performances, while the familiar Big verses seem to get lost in the shuffle of 25 tracks. However it’s worth noting the tracks produced by DJ Premier and Just Blaze help give Big a voice and the album that true Biggie feel. The only thing the album lacks is cohesion, with the length of the album and the use of certain Big lines feeling a bit out of place and diluted-like the recycling of parts from “Who Shot Ya?” on “Somebody Knows,” which finds Evans singing about Biggie’s murder as he raps about his own death with lines from the classic diss track. On The King & I fans hear the tale of Faith and Big’s love from the songstress’s perspective, amazing features from artists like Busta Rhymes, 112, and Snoop Dogg, some awkward skits, and stellar production, amongst what feels like a muddled representation of the late rapper. – Nadirah Simmons.
#16. Neva Left, Snoop Dogg
Label: Doggystyle Records
Neva Left is an album that sees Snoop Dogg return more to his roots than previous offerings have and marks 25 years in the game for Snoop. The overall sound of Neva Left is somewhat of a throw back to the Doggystyle and Tha Doggfather era, with a classic west coast feel throughout its production and delivery. The 16-track release is solid throughout its duration with numerous stand out tracks, including the lead single “Mount Kushmore” featuring Redman, Method Man and B-Real and the anthem “420 (Blaze Up)” with Wiz Khalifa & Devin The Dude. “Vapors (DJ Battlecat Remix)” is another stand out, building upon the original Vapors version released on the Tha Doggfather album. The title track Neva Left utilises the classic The Charmels sample (as used also on Wu-Tang Clan’s C.R.E.A.M.) to great success and “Bacc In Da Dayz” featuring Big Tray Deee are both tracks commanding high replay value. The album also features notable appearances from Too $hort and KRS-One, cementing Neva Left as one the best west coast albums of 2017 so far. Neva Left peaked at #54 on the Billboard 200 (#26 on the Billboard Top R&B/ Hip-Hop Albums) as well as charting internationally and is sure to become a favorite amongst more Snoop traditionalists in the years to come. – The Lesson 92.7 w/ DJ Sanchez.
#15. Plata O Plomo, Fat Joe & Remy Ma
Plata O Plomo is the first joint album together by Fat Joe & Remy Ma and managed to live up to the extended hype surrounding it. The Terror Squad duo have collaborated extensively in the past, with their highpoint before this album being undoubtedly the timeless classic “Lean Back” that went #1, Gold and charted highly around the world. The clear stand out track on Plata O Plama is the lead single and one of the club anthems of recent years, “All The Way Up” featuring French Montana and Infared. This single itself has so far gone double Platinum, propelling Fat Joe back into the Top 30 charts for the first time in a decade, earning Grammy, BET amongst numerous other award nominations. Beyond this, the album is solid from front to back with “Swear to God” featuring Kent Jones and “Money Showers” featuring Ty Dolla $ign other key stand out songs. While none of the three subsequently released singles could live up to the impossibly lofty heights and expectations created through “All The Way Up,” Plata O Plama cements Fat Joe & Remy Ma’s reintroduction to the masses as a force to be reckoned with. – The Lesson 92.7 w/ DJ Sanchez.
#14. The Chief, Jidenna
Label: Epic Records
If versatility was the goal, The Chief hits the mark. A definite genre-bender, the costume changes presented within Jidenna’s studio debut may have proven to be a bit exhausting to some. But, a clear track record of bouncy singles, the next never quite sounding like the last, was enough to point to what The Chief was poised to be: a testament to the Wondaland signee’s impressive range. Opening with a conversation with Jidenna’s uncle, The Chief’s seemingly incongruent track list is bound together by a tactical rope in the form of the elder’s words of wisdom. Within the 14-track opus, Jidenna adopts a slew of roles and he acts them out with ease. Just as fiercely as he rips his opposition to shreds on tracks “A Bull’s Tale” and “Long Live The Chief,” he is as much a natural at penning heartfelt odes as seen in “Bambi” and whipping up hot takes like the piercing “White N-ggas” cut. – Milca Pierre.
#13. Ransom2, Mike Will Made-It
Ransom 2 displayed Mike Will Made-It’s abilities as both a producer and curator, bringing together some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop today. Unique beats and melodies coupled with artists like Pharell, Andrea, Rae Sremmurd, and Lil Yachty make this a unique, diverse trap music listening experience. Singles “Gucci On My” featuring YG, 21 Savage and Migos and “Perfect Pint” featuring Rae Sremmurd, Gucci Mane and Kendrick Lamar are just the tip of the iceberg of this multi-faceted project. In a section of a genre that constantly evolves just as people’s interests do, Mike Will Made-It maintains his niche here. – Armon Sadler.