Staff Picks: Sinat Giwa's Top 5 Albums of 2017 So Far
Projects and Operations Manager, Sinat Giwa
Here are my albums of the year so far. I chose all of these because they made me better at working, sleeping or dancing. Some of them also took me to a happy place, preventing me from leaving that voicemail or sending that text message, and instead forcing me to relax and/or turn up.
Here, I hope they help you too.
1. Fleet Foxes - Crack- Up
I have a friend that I’d talk to each time a single from “Crack-Up” dropped. In a true moody fashion, we’d gushed on over the harmonies and strings and how the horns came in with promise. And how Robin Pecknold’s lyrics took to the side each time the drums made their entrance. I’d wondered what Fleet Floxes had made of themselves since “Homesick Blues” and their self-titled debut full-length a few years prior, “Fleet Foxes.” If they were out in a wilderwild making music or starting a cult. Listening to tracks like “Fool’s Errand,” the more explicitly political ballads such as “Cassius” about Muhammad Ali’s death and protest following the brutal killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police, as well as others like the title track, “Crack-up,” about the disorienting last election and now presidency, I realized that they had been here with the rest of us too in the world. It’s a wonder how an album can make you want so badly to hear more angry poems in the world (or write a few). To take the next flight home to fold into the ones you love. Or wonder if New York
It’s a wonder how an album can make you want so badly to hear more angry poems in the world (or write a few). To take the next flight home to fold into the ones you love. Or wonder if New York city has straight-up made of fool of you for forgetting sometimes how close you are to the ocean.
2. Sampha - Process
I’ve played “You’re free, you’re free you’re freeeeee” from “Take Me Inside” on loop over and over again on my way out of somewhere or something sticky many, many times. And oh, how I have believed it. That’s pretty much all I think can be said about Sampha’s debut full-length album that hasn’t been said. I think “Process” is a perfect testament of inching away from melancholy only to stumble backward right into it. Of grieving while exercising your daily routines of life. “What Shouldn’t I Be” is the perfect cap to this practice. “You can always come home.” Blame it on my mother who has said this to me almost knowingly over the last decade since I’ve been far away. For that song, I think Sampha deserves it all. I’ve had the privilege of seeing this album played live three times and been able to take hold of the individual builds and layers of drum, to melody, to voice and the timing always feels so impeccable.
3. Thundercat - Drunk
Because “Uh Uh” is the kind of track that I wanted to make after taking music theory classes and going hard on the scales in high school. That’s a two-minute jam for all us of who tried unsuccessfully to assemble a Jazz trio in high school but think the time could be now… no? Ok. I love “Drunk” also because of Michael Mcdonald! In a few weeks, I will embark on a journey to Atlantic City from NYC to cross off a lifelong goal of seeing Michael Mcdonald in concert, though I’m sure it was him at the piano back in ‘07 playing at Cono and Sons on Graham before it became a Thai restaurant... In any case, this is very solid traveling album, with songs like “Day & Night” making for a solid and trippy palette cleanse while you go on your way into “Walk On By” ft Kendrick Lamar, “Blackk” and the more obvious “Where I’m going.” Also, because Thundercat is just something else. Anyone who can steadily dress up as the cosplay version of himself while tearing it up onstage is alright with me.
4. Latasha Alcindor - Teen Nite at Empire
I never made to Empire Roller Rink while it was around, but in Chicago, we had Rainbow up north and the Rink on 87th street where - if you could kick up and drop it low on 8 wheels and 2 brakes - you were a star. However, on most nights, we were excited about footwork routines and juking in these free and protected spaces. “Teen Nite at Empire,” Latasha “LA” Alcindor’s homage to kicking back at the legendary Empire rink that closed a decade ago in 2007, outlasting disco’s first go-round where skating had its heyday, is a nice mix of reflective and intuitive thoughts on this freedom. Latasha Alcindor is the truth with the double entendre, and you get it right away on “Breakthru.” On “Nikki’s Car” featuring Nikki T, LA’s flow is as nostalgic as it is emblematic, giving off great energy like a “Ladies First” for independent women of the 21st century. This album is empowering to women since that’s inherent to Latasha Alcindor’s spirit, but the topics covered extend well outside of LA’s womanness. “Ol’ BK Soul” goes harder than you would expect on someone’s sixth release and pleasantly so. Production is solid and contextual. For those of us who didn’t know Empire or
Latasha Alcindor is the truth with the double entendre, and you get it right away on “Breakthru.” On “Nikki’s Car” featuring Nikki T, LA’s flow is as nostalgic as it is emblematic, giving off great energy like a “Ladies First” for independent women of the 21st century. This album is empowering to women since that’s inherent to Latasha Alcindor’s spirit, but the topics covered extend well outside of LA’s womanness. “Ol’ BK Soul” goes harder than you would expect on someone’s sixth release and pleasantly so. Production is solid and contextual. For those of us who didn’t know Empire or its significance, Latasha Alicindor tells us everything we ought to know about the space, the importance of preservation (personally and culturally) and being free.
TIE: Gucci Mane - DropTopWop
How I love thee Gucci Mane, (brr) let me count the ways. First of all, he still says ‘playa-hatin.’ Like the whole word. In “Tho Freestyle” he moves seamlessly from 1st to 3rd person, as always, while telling you a story that takes your gaze to the situation, then to his opponent, all while he has you steadily turning to him to peep that very exclusive something that he has on. “Bucketlist” is Gucci’s message that he’s still in the game but out of the streets. “Bucket list, no more sellin' bricks, that's off my bucket list.” Magnificent against the reality that most dealers don’t get that option. Gucci Mane, if you see this, this is basically my plea for you to drop a full-on visual album. Also, now that it’s behind y’all and only true everlasting love is ahead, is “I Think I Love Her” about falling for Keyshia Dior Ka’oir? Please let us know.
Source : Twitter
TIE: Sza - CTRL
On some of these songs, I know exactly who Sza is talking to. I know that dude that she’s talking to, and I SAID THE SAME THINGS. Or at least I did in my head. On other tracks, like “Garden (Say it like Dat)” I could swear that she’s facing a mirror and letting it all come out because I know that girl too. I listened to this album the first time for the harmony, then with the lyrics accompanying the second time and many times since and I was knocked out by Sza’s commitment to making proper prose of mixed up inner dialogue. “Anything” reminded me of the wanderlust that still lingers when I think about situationships where pride said to choose going together over leaving things alone. “Pretty Little Birds” knocks in a nice and familiar way, like the best songs to make your bed to, or the ones that get you out the door in the morning. Nice horns.
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. (videos are really making me love the album even more)
Show Me the Body - Corpus I
Dirty Projectors (Self-Titled)
Stormzy - yes to Ghanaian moms praying on ya the tracks!