by Erin Beattie
Its no secret that Rihanna has always and will always be my number one girl-crush in the music industry but badgirl's 8th album was also an absolute game changer. Rihanna rules at being brilliantly weird and grubby, and she fully embraced that on this album. She let her freak flag fly like never before from complete bangers ("Work", "Sex With Me", "Needed Me") to lowkey R&B ("Kiss it Better", "Yeah I Said It") to moody, psychedelic funk covers ("Love on the Brain", "Same Old Mistakes") to ballads ("Close to You")- she handles it all and slays. I could go on and on and on.
Favorite Tracks: ALL OF THEM
Freetown Sound//Blood Orange
This year has been full of important, political albums and Dev Hynes has joined in on the conversation with this moving personal document. With searing and soothing vocals reminiscent of Prince and Michael Jackson, Hynes sings about accepting his racial and sexual identity through struggles to make sense of himself. This one will stick with you.
Favorite Tracks: "Best to You" and "Better Than Me"
A Seat at the Table//Solange
Speaking of important albums, Solange has proved her royalty with this absolute masterpiece. This spectacular neo-soul and R&B album serves as a celebration of black lives in America as well as a declaration of female-hood. That all said, the music is paired with gorgeous visuals--check out the music videos of "Don't Touch My Hair" and "Cranes in the Sky" and swoon.
Favorite Tracks: "Mad" and "Where Do We Go"
I have to admit it. I almost did not include this album in my Top 5, but how could I not? I will always get down to Drizzy and you will too. Don't fight it.
Favorite Tracks: "Redemption" and "Faithful"
Skip a Sinking Stone//Mutual Benefit
If any band knows how to embody melancholy-ness into their music, it's Mutual Benefit. Jordan Lee takes this folk project to the streets of New York City and yet this album does not sound anything like New York. In fact, the songs are out of place. They describe the feeling of what its like not to be okay, but to be working towards finding peace. This album came to me at an incredibly important time in my life this past year and has served as a means to keep searching for myself through struggles. Let it tug on your heart strings in all its thematic loveliness.
Favorite Tracks: "Fire Escape" and "The Hereafter"
Ape in Pink Marble//Devendra Banhart
Black Terry Cat//Xenia Rubinos