Best Artists of the Year

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By Nick Faber ’18

2017 was a rich year for music of all genres. With diverse sounds, voices, vibes, it was a melting pot of music. To wrap up 2017, we will take a look at a few artists who dominated this year.

15) A$AP Ferg- Part of the A$AP Mob, A$AP Ferg had a fantastic year. This New York City native struck gold with his hit ‘Plain Jane.’ Before this song, he’d only ever reached 30 on the Billboard Top 100.

14) Alesia Cara-  For the past 2 years, she’s been one of the hottest up-and-coming singers to break the game. Although only 21 years old, Cara has a track list full of hits. ‘Here,’ first released in 2015, was one of the biggest of the year. This year, she has 4+ Grammy nominations, one for her song ‘Stay’ with Zedd and another for Logic’s anti-suicide ‘1-800-273-8255.’ She is also nominated for the category for ‘Best New Artist.’

13) Quavo- The Migos had their best year yet. Seemingly going from prison to topping the charts in little over a year, they have not only influenced pop culture, but even Hip Hop as a whole as well. But Quavo was the obvious standout from this group, appearing in songs from Major Lazer (‘Know No Better’) to Drake (‘Portland’) to Post Malone (‘Congratulations’). With these hits under his belt, there’s no telling where he will go next year.

12) Metro Boomin- Truly the man behind the hits, this St. Louis producer created hit after hit along 3 albums in 2017. His discography (just showing 2017 songs) include ‘Mask Off’ by Future, ‘Bounce Back’ by Big Sean, ‘Congratulations’ by Post Malone, 9 songs off of 21 Savage’s recent album “Issa Album,” to even Lana Del Rey and her song ‘God Bless America.’

11)  Khalid- With his newest album “American Teen” reaching 4th on the Billboard 200, Khalid was a born star. He first started gaining popularity with his song ‘Location,’ he quickly gained the spotlight. Later on in the year, he released songs in collaboration with Logic, Calvin Harris, and Lorde to name a few.

10) Kesha- After almost 4 years away from the spotlight due to legal troubles with Dr. Luke, Kesha came back triumphantly with her newest, and possibly best, album yet. Besides dropping the ‘$’ from her name and opting for a regular ‘s’ in place, she has since changed her demeanor and style of music as well. The music community praised her for speaking out about her abuse and restrictions allegedly put on her by Dr. Luke.

9) Ozuna- Puerto Rican singer Ozuna has been making a name for himself over the past few years, with 2017 being his biggest and most important for his career. He has continuously reached more than 100 million views on of his music videos on Youtube, with ‘Tu Foto’ being his most popular as of late (549 mill. at time of writing). He was also featured on a range of hit songs including ‘Escapate Conmigo’ by Wisin and ‘Criminal’ by Natti Natasha. He was also recently featured on ‘La Modelo’ by Cardi B.

8) BROCKHAMPTON- This rap group has been making waves in the underground/alternative hip hop scene and is being followed closely by the Hip Hop community is general. Releasing 3 albums in 2017 alone (Saturation 1, 2, & 3), they have strived due to voices and personalities like Kevin Abstract and Ameer Vann. As their name becomes more knwon among the music community, their popularity will only grow.

7) 21 Savage- With the help of formally mentioned Metro Boomin, 21 Savage has continued to baffle music chart theorists by providing hit after hit. Releasing 2 full length albums (“Issa Album” in July and ‘Without Warning’ in October), 21 Savage has continued to dominate mainstream rap/trap charts. ‘Bank Account’ and ‘Ghostface Killers’ were some of his biggest hits yet.

6) SZA- Originally from New Jersey, SZA showed her full talents this year on her newest album “Ctrl.” As a Top Dawg Entertainment signee, she has to compete with artists like Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar, but per usual, she blew them along with many other artists in 2017 out of the water with her amazing ability to flip a R&B beat and make it her own. Her incredible voice only aids her in this feat, making her album a contender for one of the best of the year.

5) Jay Z- New York rap legend came out with his newest album entitled “4:44” which was well-received critically. Although only released on Apple Music and a few other music streaming services (notably missing from Spotify), Jay Z came back with some of his most creative songs yet. He is in the running for 7 Grammys, most impressive being Record of the Year with his song ‘The Story of O.J.’

4) Joey Bada$$- Releasing one of the best rap albums of the year, Joey had a big year. Critically and commercially received well, he was elevated out of the underground to the mainstream. He also toured with Logic, being exposed to both casual and pop rap listeners. J Cole, a notable influencer of this generation of rap, even used one of Joey’s instrumentals for his song ‘False Prophets’ at the end of 2016, almost as an omen of Joey’s future importance.

3) Rapsody- Rapper Rapsody released her album “Laila’s Wisdom.” Although it was released recently in September, it has already been nominated as one of the best rap albums of the year. Collaborating with artists like Anderson .Paak and producers like the legendary 9th Wonder, she clearly put her heart and soul into a project that will be played and looked upon by future generations.

2) Daddy Yankee- Reggaeton superstar Daddy Yankee has been relevant longer than many artists in Latin and non-Latin genres alike. At 40 years old, he still features in song after song, and hit after hit. Obviously well-adapted to the new generation of music listeners, he has collaborated with artists like Ozuna and Camila Cabello. But his most notable of this year was, of course, ‘Despacito,’ or 2017’s unofficial Song of the Summer.

1) Kendrick Lamar- Kendrick Lamar has been on top of the game for the past few years. With his most recent release, “Damn,” we saw a range of styles and a break-away from his past jazz-inspired instrumentals. Opting for a more modern trap sound, we see that Kendrick Lamar will prosper on any beat thrown at him. ‘Humble’ is an obvious year-defining banger and one that will be celebrated for many years to come.