Before I write about my favourite albums of the year, I will list some honourable mentions that deserve my praise even if they're not quite my favourites of the year.
SHOUT-OUT TO: Lana Del Rey 🐕🦺🙎♀️🐕🦺
Lana Del Rey gave us two very good album this year, what an amazing year to be a bad bitch with daddy issues who loves cherry coke! SADLY, as much as I do like cherry coke, I am not a bad bitch with daddy issues so I can't relate that much to her music even though it is pretty objectively good 😪. Also neither Chemtrails Over the Country Club or Blue Banisters were as good as either Ultraviolence or Norman Fucking Rockwell! (IN MY HUMBLE SUBJECTIVE OPINION!) so I'm leaving her two very good, well worth checking out albums here in the mandatory honourable mentions. Special extra shout-out to that random trap beat instrumental interlude in Blue Banisters that comes out of nowhere.
SHOUT-OUT TO: YEAT 👺👺👺
2021 was a prolific breakout year for Portland, Oregon rapper Yeat, who released three full length albums and an EP. He's a distinctly new-wave hip-hop artist with shades of Playboi Carti and Young Thug influencing his more experimental vocals and interesting production choices. While none of his albums really fit my criteria for favourite albums, he is definitely one of my favourite new artists of the year as the amount of quality songs he's put out across all these projects is pretty exciting, it seems like Yeat is postured for a massive 2022, whether he tries to break into the mainstream with a "debut album" or just keeps releasing music upon music, we'll see!
SHOUT-OUT TO: MOH BARETTA🏄♂️🏄♂️🏄♂️
Moh Baretta seems to be in wait, ready for the emerging "plug" style of trap music to start getting proper time to shine outside the underground, as his stuff sounds hugely fresh and fun. Across his three projects released this year he seemingly gleefully samples all sorts of songs and raps with a sort of deadpan edge over novel production. There's a lot of infectious energy on show and it shows his potential as a solo artist already even though the collective he is part of, Surf Gang, is also still on the come up. His "ay ay go ay go" ad-libs are likely to get stuck in your head for sure.
SHOUT-OUT(?) TO: WEEZER 😷😷😷
Honestly I can never be too upset at Weezer. They gave us The Blue Album and Pinkerton, two undeniable classics and more than a few good songs since then. The White Album was pretty good too! But they keep going and going, wtf. Much like Lana Del Rey, Weezer also blessed us with two new albums this year! OK Human which honestly is one of their most inoffensive projects in a while and despite the riff on Radiohead's album it's just kind of a set of middlebrow Weezer tracks.
Van Weezer, however is a pretty unappealing listen. Made to accompany a stadium tour with Green Day and Fall Out Boy, they needed some stadium sized songs, and, uh... They're not great, but I appreciate the effort and Rivers Cuomo's never-ending quest to create the ultimate crowd-pleasing album. Can you believe we're more than 10 years removed from Weezer's arguable lowest point with Raditude?
^tbf I kinda like this song lol
SHOUT-OUT TO: WATERPARKS 🤽♀️🤽♀️🤽♀️
Waterparks' brand of bratty pop-punk (emphasis on the 'pop') is fairly appealing to me, but primarily in the form of singles rather than full album. Despite the ironic Greatest Hits album title, the album does have a loose narrative and flows pretty well, but there's a lot of songs I'm not too keen on. HOWEVER, certain songs, namely the singles, I do find myself returning to, a lot! This ended up one of my most played albums of the year, but specifically off a few singles rather than repeat spins of the whole album.
SHOUT-OUT TO: KANYE WEST 🐻🐻🐻
Kanye West's personal drama, headline grabbing antics and general attitude is not worth celebrating, but his music is still good. His long-awaited follow-up to the (what I thought was borderline terrible) Jesus is King is a more interesting 'Jesus Era' Kanye album. Running at about 2 hours long with over 30 tracks on the deluxe version, it's a behemoth to digest in one sitting and I'm not convinced that it's really that good enough as a full project, BUT there's a lot of gems on this project where both Kanye and his legion of guest features really shine. So it's well worth a look to grab some quality new Kanye tracks. Such as these for example:
SHOUT-OUT TO: SG LEWIS 🕺🕺🕺
Big shout-out to the eye-catching artwork for SG Lewis' debut album. which is also filled with accessible, yet very catchy dance tunes. For me, it wasn't all hits, but the hits that this has are ✨HITS✨. You know? One More was one (more) of my favourite tracks of the year, and if it had technically been released this year, then Impact would've dethroned it. There's some unmissable dance tracks on this album for sure:
SHOUT-OUT TO: TRIPPIE REDD 👿👿👿
Trippie Redd is a very prolific artist for someone who's only 22 years old, and he's released two projects this year. You might be thinking what the hell is that one on the right? Well it's his 'pop-punk' project that wasn't released on its own and was instead stapled on as a "deluxe" edition of the extremely mediocre Pegasus album, for whatever weird label reason. To be honest that album is a fun novelty but not particularly strong, but I'll highlight a collaboration between Trippie and Deftones frontman Chino Moreno as a highlight:
His big comeback album featuring the hit single (and one of my personal favourite tracks of the year) Miss the Rage was released later in the year and is a far stronger project even if it could've done with some trimming of the fat. Given a lot of the beats start blending together and the last stretch of the album feels weak in comparison to the first. But there's a bunch of Trippie's best work tucked onto this album and the "hypertrap" style is fairly novel. Lots of great collaborations in particular, as highlighted below:
OVERSHADOWED PROJECTS :(
Spoilers for what artists (and probably what projects) will be on my best of list, but some artists released really good stuff which was then simply bettered by a later (or earlier) release. For example:
Sematary - Rainbow Bridge 3
Sematary is one of the most puzzling artists out right now, originally gaining some notoriety off of his bizarre Rainbow Bridge project, with a 'so bad it's good' album cover and music that sounded like Chief Keef recorded in a garage, with no respect for mixing procedures. It's an acquired taste, but he's gained a cult following off of his unique sort of aesthetic. This year he released two projects, the first of which is the most inaccessible thing he's put out so far, and that's saying something
Rainbow Bridge 3 is so blown out, you can barely tell what's going on, and that's kind of awesome? However, this style of music being spread across tracks totalling almost an hour makes this a challenging listening. Though I can't help but enjoy the audacity of this project. You'd think Sematary would calm things down considering his stuff already isn't exactly attracting a wide audience, but as expected by the title, Rainbow Bridge 3 triples down on his blown out, nonsensical and violent rap(?) music. It's very fun and the level of noise could be considered cathartic, but for me I prefer Sematary's full projects to be on the shorter side!
Sewerslvt - Skitzofrenia Simulation
The first of two Sewersvlt projects, this was my favourite since their breakout album Draining Love Story, only for the NEXT album to be even better in my opinion. Though it's worth keeping this album in mind still as it has some of the most interesting genre experiments that Sewerslvt attempted and great variety in the tracklist. Going from noisy techno to blissful drum and bass, this is a very good electronic album that features some of the most exciting electronic music of the year for sure, even if there's an EVEN BETTER album by this artist also out in 2021 👀