Jalen’s Top Five

Jalen Gomez, Reporter

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This year has provided a plethora of music to listen to, and even more is coming out before the year is over (shoutout to 21 Savage). Front to back, the music has been good, impactful and bountiful. With heavy-hitters across all genres releasing albums, such as Arctic Monkeys, Kanye West and The 1975, it was tough to pick what was the best, but here they are:

Care For Me – Saba

Pain has always been an emotion that tends to lead to the creation of some of the best art, drawn and spoken. Care For Me is the epitome of that statement. Created in the wake of Saba’s cousin’s death, the grief is sprinkled across every track in the album. In the opening track in  “Busy/Sirens,” Saba raps “Jesus got killed for our sins, Walter got killed for a coat, I’m tryna cope, but it’s a part of me gone, in this packed room I’m alone.” This showcases only a glimpse of the pain he is in. I’d like to say that this album is one of the most introspective, impactful albums released in recent memory, and it is a top-tier album released from Chicago, a hip-hop powerhouse.

•Astroworld – Travis Scott

Travis Scott created his magnum opus, his ode to Houston, with this album. Scott announced the album even before his sophomore album came out, Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, back in 2016. Astroworld was made in honor of the former Six Flags location in Houston, which was called Astroworld and was a childhood favorite for him. The album is teeming with bangers such as “HOUSTONFORNICATION,” experimental tracks like “ASTROTHUNDER” and “SKELETONS,” as well as references to past H-Town legends like “R.I.P. SCREW.” He also created one of the top songs of this year, shown by his #1 single, “SICKO MODE.” As a kid who has also Houston roots, it makes this project that much more special for me. Astroworld is an album where Scott was able to express what was once his dream, but is now a reality. With this album, Scott not only showed growth as an artist, but he showed that he is cemented as a superstar.

Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts

Kids See Ghosts is the self-titled debut of the duo composed of Kanye West and Kid Cudi, which I knew right off the bat was going to be heat. They did provide the heat, which I believe led to our record-setting temperatures this summer. The seven track, 24-minute long album is a perfect length to keep the tracks fresh, and made the album as a whole was not a chore to listen to. Kanye raps as well on this project as he did on a previous masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and him rapping over Kid Cudi-esque beats is a wonderful thing. Kids See Ghosts was created during a time where we knew that both artists were going through a time where their mental states weren’t the best (according to their Twitters), but after hearing “Reborn,” you then knew that they were going to be just fine.

Swimming – Mac Miller

The last album that Malcolm McCormick, a.k.a. Mac Miller, was able to make before his recent passing was his best. Miller has never been so personal and vulnerable in an album before. He leads off the album with “Come Back to Earth,” and the opening line says, “My regrets look like texts I shouldn’t send.” It is filled with themes such as self-love and psychological growth, and it’s easy to say that a majority of the album was inspired by the pain he went through during his breakup with pop star Ariana Grande. As I mentioned before, pain leads to the best art, and Miller delivered that. With the majority of the production being handled by Flying Lotus and Thundercat, the funky beats reciprocate throughout the album, noticeably on “What’s the Use?”. Additionally, I might note that the album impacted me differently before and after Miller’s death. Before, it felt like he had overcome demons and would be on his way to living a happy life, but after, it felt like he was ready to move onto the next phase of his life, which would be death by accidental overdose.

Geography – Tom Misch

Tom Misch creates the funky, soulful music that many say is missing from the current state of music nowadays. Front to back, the album is filled with music that just makes your hips move and makes you want to break out in dance. Personally, I don’t dance, but my head will bop accordingly with this album. With tracks such as “Movie” and “Man Like You,” Misch gets a little more personal, but does not stray away from keeping it funky. Another nice touch to the album was an instrumental cover of the iconic Stevie Wonder song, “Isn’t She Lovely.” All in all, everybody needs to give this album a listen.

Honorable Mention: Die Lit (Playboi Carti), Noir (Smino), Testing (A$AP Rocky)

Of course, there are plenty of albums that just missed the top five cut, however some just need to be loved on. Die Lit by Playboi Carti is an exciting, fun album that makes me very happy every time I listen to it. With bangers front to back, such as “Love Hurts” to “Flatbed Freestyle,” Carti can’t miss right now. Same with Smino and his sophomore album Noir, a soulful yet funky project from the St. Louis rapper. His progression as an artist is noticeable with this album, making this his best work yet. With songs such as “Z4L,” “L.M.F” and “We Got The Biscuits,” this album will definitely be in rotation for a long time. Lastly, Testing by A$AP Rocky is an experimental album from him, as he is trying to find new sounds to build from and continue after the loss of his creative director, A$AP Yams. He does this extremely well, and sets the foundation for his future work.