I know, I know. There are 20 days left in 2017. But have you seen the news lately? Between Dude in the White House and potential changes to net neutrality, who knows where we’ll be by 12/31? (I kid, I kid.
I didn’t keep up with #SkinnyBlackJams this year, as I was consumed by the news cycle and checked out on new music for a few months. I did, however, manage to compile my yearly collection of songs I liked in 2017. Here were the ten songs I played the most.
1. Bonnie & Clyde – Mack Wilds: “Oooh, who knew you’d try to do me like you do/ Frontin’ hard like fuckin’ me ain’t cheatin’, baby, shame on you.” That’s how you kick off a song. I know we’d like to award SZA with “Dirty Mack Anthem of the Year” for “Weekend.” But Tristan Wilds’ blend of nostalgia, lust, and longing ups the sexy factor. Not even spoken word from Wale could put out its flame.
2. Kill Jill – Big Boi featuring Killer Mike & Jeezy: One word: KNOCKS. Turn it on. Play it loud. Try not to lose your shit when Killer Mike’s perfect voice booms “POLO TO DA FLO’ THO. YOU ALREADY KNOW, THO.”
3. All of You – Nick Grant: “Girl, open wide and buss it/ You talkin’ to me nasty/ God said ‘keep it classy,’/ but heaven marked you absent.” I love a well-executed rap love song and Nick Grant put together the right elements: a smooth hook and lyrics that meet at the intersection of sweet, witty, and dirty.
4. F vs. J Intro – Fabolous & Jadakiss: Much bars. Many classic NY rap feels. The play between Fab’s dizzying punchlines (“all of a sudden thunder, it might’ve been Hoodie Melo”) and Jada’s violently vivid Jason references (“I came out the lake, but I be in the boondocks/ Flannel and overalls, work boots, tube socks/ I put somethin’ right through ya face from out the toolbox”) are perfection.
5. ’95 Bad Boy Logo – Skyzoo: Speaking of classic NY rap feels, Skyzoo (have I told you he’s my favorite rapper not named Shawn Corey?) waxes nostalgic about coming of age in the Shiny Suit era. “All we really wanted was a ’95 Bad Logo/ on the back of a letterman, backstage at Letterman/ Fitted over my brow, like I was Mason Betha and patent leather 11s…”
6. Marcy Me – Jay-Z: After years of haphazardly throwing slightly-better-than-average lines on tracks, I didn’t know Jay still had this in him. HOW CAN HE STILL RAP LIKE THIS AT DAMN NEAR 50?! Quotables from beginning to end here, but my favorite is: “Hold that uzi vertical/ Let that thang smoke/ Y’all flirtin’ with death/ I be winkin’ through the scope.”
7. Take Me Away – Daniel Caesar featuring Syd: This album arrived with hyperbolic fanfare. Apparently, R&B by men who actually LIKE women is rare these days. Not sure that Daniel Caesar can save hashtag black love, but this slow, sexy ode to the “cool chick” got a lot of burn this year.
8. Say It Again – H.E.R.: “Show tonight/ I hit all the notes that I know you like/ you know I’m a pro when I’m on the mic/ We already here so turn off the lights.” Makes me want to turn my bed into a stage and put on an inspired performance.
9. Luh Ya – Marsha Ambrosius: I forget about this song until I shuffle it on my Best of 2017 playlist. Next thing I know, I’ve logged ten consecutive listens. Why? It just feels good.
10. Hard Liquor – Musiq Soulchild: “You don’t always know how it’s gon’ turn out/ Gotta be smart about it or you gon’ burn out/ Cuz, it’s ’bout to change, here we go again/ Here’s a toast to the world we in.” 2017 was a hard year. Based on the news cycle, things won’t get easier in 2018. With “Hard Liquor”, Musiq voices collective frustration, confusion, and desire to cope in an increasingly changing world.
As it is still 2017, I reserve the right to add to this post should more heat drop before December 31st. Honorable mentions? #skinnyblackjams: 2017 features 68 more tracks I couldn’t get enough of.