The last quarter of 2017 is in effect, and usually the number of releases tend to slow down around this time. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some fire coming out your speakers.
Here are the 5 best albums of October.
Big KRIT – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
Big KRIT has been one of, if not the, most consistent artists in hip hop today. KRIT had not released an official LP since Cadillactica in 2014 when he was signed to Def Jam, which he left in 2016. He chose to release two mixtapes, It’s Better This Way and #12FOR12, which were solid enough to quench the thirst of any hardcore fan but it wasn’t until now that KRIT delivers his main dish. 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time is his first fully independent album and also his first double album. Let’s say this outright, this double album has better material than 95% of other hip hop albums released this year. The two discs symbolize both aspects of KRIT’s personality, the Big KRIT disc full of southern player anthems and trunk rattlers such as Big Bank and Layup. While the second disc, titled after his real name Justin Scott, speaks on more introspective personal matters. KRIT’s verses are as strong as they’ve ever been, and he sets the album off with ferocity with his eponymously titled track.
Although he’s also known for putting in work behind the boards and producing a majority of his tracks, this album marks the first time that KRIT steps away from production duties for over half the album. These guest producers were not brought into change his signature sound, rather they expand it. The main guest producer is WLPWR, who joins talents with KRIT for some co-production and is responsible for some of the album’s best tracks. Mannie Fresh provides production on two tracks and DJ Khalil on three tracks including the mellow banger and album single Aux Cord. CeeLo Green, Sleepy Brown and Organized Noize brings some Dungeon Family love on Get Up 2 Come Down and Ride Wit Me, a collaboration with UGK. However, look no further than the first track on the second disc, Justin Scott, for one of KRIT’s most ear pleasing productions to date. The soulful instrumental is far from a hip hop beat, as KRIT invokes his inner Quincy Jones on a heavenly composition. At this point, Big KRIT should be considered the reigning new school king of the south because there is no one that can get close to the quality of his vast catalogue in the past decade.
Stand Out Tracks: Big K.R.I.T, Get Away, Justin Scott
Ibeyi – Ash
The French-Cuban twin sisters return with their unique brand of electro-soul/afro-cuban fusion and an album that tops their first. Ibeyi’s sound is exceptional as they manage to mix both their nationality and their Cuban roots; including a mixture of French, English and Spanish in their lyrics that create a completely unique experience. Naomi and Lisa-Kainde split the album’s strength as Naomi handles most of the album’s arrangements while Lisa-Kainde handles a good amount of the songwriting. Vocally, the twins perfectly compliment each other’s as they harmonize choruses and weave through each other’s poetic verses, such as the album’s single Away Away.
No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms is a powerful track arranged around one of Michelle Obama’s speeches in 2016. A rallying cry to come together as women. Kamasi Washington joins them on Deathless, one of the best songs of the year. Written and performed by Lisa-Kainde Diaz, the cut details discrimination from a policeman and wrongful arrest that she endured as a 16 year old girl: “He said, he said/ You’re not clean/ You might deal/All the same with that skin.” Ash is a complete project, one that plays better when listened to as a whole rather than individual songs. Ibeyi are a rare breed of talent. If you weren’t aware of that by listening to their self-titled debut album, then their sophomore release will turn you into a believer.
Stand Out Tracks: Away Away, Deathless, When Will I Learn
IDK – IWASVERYBAD
Jay IDK released one of last year’s most slept on album with the conceptual Money Bank. This time around, IDK drops his first name and partners up with adult swim to release another knock out, IWASVERYBAD. The autobiographical album tells the redemption story of IDK’s childhood as a bad seed, being the only member in his family to ever go to jail, and eventually getting his life on track. Guest features are brief but they speak volumes on the diversity of IDK’s hip hop roots, ranging from DOOM to Chief Keef. Production is solid all the way and the few skits through out really makes the narrative come to life.
IDK’s flow is his strongest quality as he varies his cadence and rarely seems like he’s recycling his own flow. Lyrically, IWASVERYBAD is mostly focused on the story telling, but he never sacrifices songwriting and manages to make catchy joints such as Windows Up and Birds & The Bees. He breaks down his struggles as a kid on Maryland Ass Nigga: “Stick a middle-class kid in a bad school and that’s me /The bad apple that dangled up on the fam’s tree.” The best moments on the album are when IDK opens up about his redemption and the way his mother helped him on both No Shoes On The Rug and Black Sheep White Dove. The latter specifically speaks on the love for his mother and acknowledging her sacrifices after her unfortunate passing, as well as his desire to rise up from the ashes as a tribute to her memory. IWASVERYBAD is IDK’s best album as of yet and one of the most criminally slept on hip hop albums in 2017.
Stand Out Tracks: Pizza Shop, No Shoes On The Rug Leave Them At The Door, Baby Scale
Snoh Aalegra – Feels
R&B has many great voices today that gain a lot of recognition, but the Sweedish born songstress seems to somehow fly under the radar of many. Snoh’s soulful repertoire is backed up by producer No I.D., who’s brought his talent to acts such as Vince Staples, Jay Z & Kanye West. What No I.D. does for Snoh is completely different than his work for other artists, he provides lush instrumentation reminiscent of 70s soul which suits Aalegra’s silky vocals flawlessly. Although Feels isn’t as throwback R&B based as her last release, it still follows the same path that earned her critical acclaim.
Worse is a well crafted heartbreak song which has a variety of instruments slowly creeping in layers as it gently builds. Logic, one of 4 guests on the album, joins Snoh on Sometimes and laces a double time flow over a slow paced jam with a hypnotic atmosphere. You Got Me is the most radio friendly song on the album, and briefly breaks the throwback soulful atmosphere but it provides with an catchy and upbeat track that balances the record well. With another quality album, Snoh Aalegra has the talent to stand out in the crowded R&B landscape.
Stand Out Tracks: Sometimes, Worse, You Got Me
Kamasi Washington – Harmony of Difference
Kamasi Washington had a tall order after the release of his debut album and appropriately titled, The Epic. The 3 disc odyssey was in many album of the year lists in 2015, so following that was no small task. However, Washington aimed to create a more accessible Jazz record than his 3 hour long masterpiece and achieved his goal without missing a step. Harmony of Difference is every bit as good as predecessor, only this time it’s kept in a brief and easy to swallow 30 minute album. Harmony of Difference should be the new starting point for those who want to get into the new generation of Jazz.
Humility is an upbeat bebop track with moving horns and keys that weave in and out with a driving demeanor. Washington’s ambitiousness is a composer is once again made present on the album’s longest track, Truth. A beautiful piece that highlights every member of his band and Washington’s ability to incorporate everything from horns, strings, piano, electric guitar, and gospel vocal choruses with a seamless presentation that will adorn your speakers. There is no doubt that Washington is the best jazz composer of this current generation.
Stand Out Tracks: Humility, Perspective, Truth