2017 has been a crazy year, and any logical expectation will assume that 2018 will be just as eventful. 2017 has been an excellent year for music, with artists from every genre dropping great projects. Despite the numerous and diverse album and mixtape releases this year, my two favorite albums have both come from southern Hip-Hop artists: J.I.D. and Big K.R.I.T. J.I.D. and Big K.R.I.T. hail from Atlanta and Mississippi respectively. J.I.D.’s The Never Story and Bid K.R.I.T.’s 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time shine due to their uniqueness and ability to showcase diverse artistic talent.
I had not heard of J.I.D. before his signing with Dreamville Records. J.I.D., a member of the Spillage Village collective, has incredibly noticeable similarities to Earthgang, an Atlanta rap duo. His chemistry with them on Earthgang’s “Meditate” (one of my favorite songs of the year) and his own song “D/Vision” is undeniable, as they both rap fast and rely heavily on vocal inflections to create bouncy, vibey music. On The Never Story, J.I.D. sounds like a glorious combination between Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar, two prominent Hip-Hop figures today. His singing ability is evident on songs such as “All Bad”, “Hereditary”, and the album-opener, “Doo-Wop.” The other tracks mainly focus on his rapping ability. He can create uptempo head-bumping jams on songs like “General”, “Never”, “Lauder”, and “Hoodbooger.” Conversely, “EdEddNEddy” proves that he can also create a smooth, relaxed vibe. While the production on this song is not radio-friendly, it is a smooth, easy listen. His main strengths come from his ability to seamlessly switch flows and manipulate his voice to fit the song’s mood. None of it comes off as abrasive or poorly done. Rather than focusing on creating a lazy trap album like some other Atlanta artists, J.I.D.’s The Never Story is full of lyrical flexing and complex rap patterns.
Secondly, Big K.R.I.T.’s 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, a double album, is another favorite of mine this year. I have been a fan of his music for many years and was eagerly anticipating his new album. I think his 4Eva N A Day mixtape was flawless, and his verse on A$AP Rocky’s “1 Train” was the most impressive, even when competing with some of modern rap’s best in show. His new album shows the duality of his abilities, embracing southern Hip-Hop’s subwoofer culture while also showing his conscious side. The album splits into two sides: a “Big K.R.I.T.” side and a “Justin Scott” side, named after his rapping persona and his legal name respectively. While the “Big K.R.I.T.” side is an epic display of rapping talent with stand-outs like “Confetti” and “Aux Cord”, the “Justin Scott” side is a much more personal and an overall more intimate listen. The album’s production is orchestral, mix ‘n’ matching combinations of instruments and styles all under Scott’s southern twang. The album’s best cut is the brilliantly-named “Miss Georgia Fornia”, where Scott discusses moving from Mississippi to Atlanta, Georgia in hopes of furthering his career all the way to California. He raps smoothly and sings about growing as an artist while staying true to his roots. It is honest and incredibly personal. Overall, the wide array of music featured makes the album’s 84 minutes not feel too daunting. Combining tracks like the sensual slow jam “1999”, and gospel-banger “Keep The Devil Off” is practically unheard of. Hopefully, we will not have to wait a mighty long time for K.R.I.T.’s next project.
One can only expect 2018 to be an even bigger year with anticipated drops from Major Lazor, Drake, Migos and many more big names.
2017 picks from the Entertainment Crew:
Leo Gilbert: DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar, Sumersault – Beach Fossils
Marcus Kuhlmann: More Life – Drake, Morning After – Dvsn
Thomas Morberg: This Old Dog – Mac DeMarco, Homey – Chon
Matthew Reuter: Flower Boy – Tyler, the Creator
Let us know your favorite picks in the comments.