As 2018 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on another year of new music. A lot of the most popular music released this year has been challenging and experimental, which reflects a shift in the tide of pop music and mainstream tastes.
Empowerment has been a significant feature of a lot of 2018 records, with artists using their platforms to convey messages about situations of minority, political defiance and upsetting situations.
A small group of us got together to try and make a collaborative top 20 list – but given the subjectivity of music, we decided to make a list each.
10. Coops – LIFE IN THE FLESH
A Tottenham native like myself, Coops has always been a personal favourite. With ‘Life in the Flesh’, he touches on topics that affect the lives of black ethnic minorities from a historical, spiritual perspective, whilst still entrenching his sound in the reality of this current situation.
9. D Double E – Jackuum
D Double, the Grime OG, one of the best MCs in the UK. He backed up his lyrical ability with a well-put-together 20-song album – my personal favourite is “Live Tonight”
8. Masego – Lady Lady
Having seen his COLORS Berlin performance, Masego blew me away straight away. This album did exactly the same; his ability to create the perfect intersection between jazz, trap and R&B is very impressive.
7. Moses Boyd – Displaced Diaspora
The UK Jazz scene is thriving at the moment, and Moses is definitely a big part of that. This project along with other Black jazz musicians at the moment is so important as it is taking jazz away from a white middle-class place and bringing it back to its authentic roots of black culture, looking through the eyes of someone from the diaspora.
6. Bakar – BadKid
The singer surprised many with his distinct style and diverse range of styles on this album. With the FIFA 18 smash hit “Big Dreams” being the standout hit, he still expresses his different styles with songs like “WTF”. The Camden native opens up around stories of love, heartbreak and the fuck-ups and triumphs of living in a city like London.
5. OdunsiTheEngine – rare.
The leader of the new Alte Cruise movement in Nigeria created a masterpiece with this album, incorporating styles of music that push and challenge what it means to be a modern day Nigerian, but also a citizen in this ever-global world. His album speaks to a new generation of kids trying to express themselves in any way possible.
4. Jungle – For Ever
The XL band showed us the four year wait for a record was really worth it, with its disco funk style and pop songs which you don’t feel embarrassed to listen to.
3. Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
This record got me through many a train journey; their psychedelic music takes you through different moods in such a subtle way. Particular mention has to go to their visuals showcasing the different journeys people in their creative team have been through personally.
2. Blood Orange – Negro Swan
Dev Hynes explored so many different themes of what it means to be a man in this record, something we all as men needed as we reflect on our own views on gender and tackling toxic masculinity. Hynes also explores how black men are portrayed in this society.
1. Travis Scott – AstroWorld
Undisputed number 1 album in the world – despite all the drama with Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott created a classic album. Experimenting with different styles, the hit Sicko Mode sounding like how a DJ should actually be mixing and introspective songs like Coffee Bean. He showed his diverse range in ability, and gave us an album many are still enjoying to this day. That’s why he gets my number 1.
UK Tips for 2019
Kam Bu & Pullen
For this choice it has to be these guys, working so closely with them they’re in for a very great year; they’re part of a growing scene with the likes of Louis Culture and others who have been pushed by platforms like Loudhouse. With the release of their EP Ear Wax receiving a lot of acclaim, this duo are due for a 2019 that shows people the range and duality that is the springboard for their sounds. They have an upcoming release with Gelato coming up, a South London label on Balamii, solo projects, with a passionate belief in bringing people with them and working with family, they are pushing a message of supporting the underdogs, and pushing themselves and others into mindsets and places that people don’t think they can get to.
Aanya, a singer who has so much soul, her 2019, is going to be very special. Working on her new EP, and working with her she opens up about her most personal of feelings in a way not a lot of singers can. Working with a wide range of producers, with different styles she can hop on a lot of different sounds and still make it her own. At 19 years old she isn’t waiting on anything to stop her or focusing on her potential, she wants to show the world her talent and express her thoughts to people in a way that connects with the truest parts of people. Very excited for her 2019. Watch out for her new single “Breaking My Heart” coming out in the New Year.