In no particular order, these are some of the artists who impressed me with new music in the past year. As I gear up to release some new work in 2019, I can say for sure that these artists have influenced my creative process.
Logic released two albums this year: his trap-heavy Bobby Tarantino II mixtape fell flat for me, and honestly seemed like a death knell for the lyrically dense, quick-witted hip-hop that I love about him as an artist. How blessed then, for his fourth studio album, YSIV to drop in September. It’s an absolutely joy, filled with rapid-fire rhymes, lots of old-school shoutouts, and just enough gangster swagger to fit the “Young Sinatra” moniker.
Everybody Knows propelled Partner to worldwide attention this year, with an appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and at SXSW. Their fun pop-punk is the perfect roadtrip soundtrack. When I learned that the band is based in Windsor, my first thought was, “of course”. There’s something so Windsor about their distinctive blend of rockin’ out and carelessness.
These 4 MCs should honestly each have their own superstar careers by now. It’s time for Toronto hip-hop to sound like more than Drake and Drake knock-offs.
Listening to Superorganism is like candy for your ears. Richly layered, genre-bending, with a surprise around every corner. I think of their music as an evolution of the vapourwave aesthetic. Self-aware of their superficiality, but they just do it so well.
What a storyteller. Saba pulls you close into his Chicago neighbourhood and threads a needle through the spaces between all the violence. Cars, guns and drugs are a backdrop for the richer, more interesting stories about family, friends, and finding purpose as a young man.
This afrofuturist duo is everything I want to see in hip-hop and R&B going into 2019. Spacey spiritualism meets mellow beats meets unpredictable flows. They’re pushing the envelope in all the right ways, and I’m so glad to see their debut album is titled Bittersweet vol. 1. Can we expect a vol. 2 soon?
It was great to hear those opening lines – “Damn, it feels good to back!” – after Shad returned to making music this year. With his stint as the host of CBC’s Q behind him, he’s experimenting with a concept album and I’m totally here for it.Sam Nabi