Boldy James & Alchemist – Bo Jackson
As far as hip-hop collaborations go, Alchemist and Boldy James are unquestionably elite. Alchemist’s varied, soulful yet gritty production, coupled with Boldy James’ monotonous yet engaging raps, makes their music special. Bo Jackson is their best album to date, a true masterpiece that flows beautifully from start to finish. Boldy James sounds so hungry and alive over these eclectic beats, and his ability to paint such vivid pictures of his life through his raps makes this such an incredible listen. He’s one of the best storytellers making music today, and combined Alchemist’s legendary production, he’s able to bring his vision to life. This album is truly exceptional.
Ka – A Martyr’s Reward
Ka has cemented his legacy as one of the most poignant and intellectual wordsmiths to ever touch a mic. With every release, he has been able to create a new concept, a new story that just blows my mind, and with A Martyr’s Reward, he has created a new masterpiece. It’s a subdued and stripped back listen, with a heavy focus on Ka’s introspections, and as usual he’s able to create something that is truly a genius work of art. It’s one of his best albums to date, and it’s an album I’ll be replaying for years to come.
Loraine James – Reflection
Loraine James has my electronic album of the year. On Reflection, the London-based producer shows us a glimpse of the future. She experiments with electronic dance music to create an album that is both subdued yet full of energy and full of incredible moments that defy categorisation. Seeing her perform this album live was a whole new experience, and something I will never forget for the rest of my life. The beats on this project are insane, and her desire to always push herself out of her confort zone is admiring, and a true reflection (pun intended) of her talents.
L’Rain – Fatigue
Another one of my revelations for this year, L’Rain’s Fatigue is an extraordinary album, with incredibly delicate and atmospheric compositions that feature soulful vocal performances and eclectic melodies that are just so hypnotic. Her ability to draw you in to her world while providing truly powerful and memorable moments is what makes this such a poignant, elegant, and truly magical album.
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
I’ve been following Little Simz’s career since 2015’s A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, so to see her grow with each and every release into a British hip-hop icon is inspiring and a great example of a musician sticking true to her art. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is her most complete album to date, an expansive triumphant project that showcases her versatility and her majestic musical aura that makes her so captivating to listen to. She just gets better and better, and there doesn’t seem to be a ceiling to her potential.