In a world where everything is constantly changing, one thing you can count on is the power of music to get you through the craziness. In no particular order, here are my top song picks of 2017.
Playboi Carti – “Magnolia”
While the “Milly Rock” was already a popular dance and song by rapper 2 Milly, Playboi Carti really catapulted the dance into a craze with his Spring 2017 hit, “Magnolia”. The song quickly went viral as Instagrammers and YouTubers posted their moves with the smash hit as the soundtrack. Leading with the lyrics “In New York I Milly Rock, hide it in my sock”, Carti was rapping about something just a tad less innocent than choreographed dance moves. But much like the Shmurda Dance and “Hot N*gga”, I choose to continue Milly Rocking to “Magnolia” pretending I don’t know what the song is really about.
Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”
2017 has been a breakout year for the delightfully dauntless Cardi B. She has had 2 of her 3 Billboard Hot 100 songs break the top 10, she is up for 2 Grammys in 2018, and became only the second solo female rapper to top the Billboard chart since Lauryn Hill. “Bodak Yellow” is one of those songs that puts a little extra thug in you when you listen to it. The lyrics express indomitable self confidence, diligent hard work, and reaping the benefits of one’s success. How could you not be on board with that? Plus, “Bodak Yellow” is just one of those songs that livens up any crowd, any place, any time.
Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee and Justin Beiber – “Despacito” (Remix)
Much like the Caribbean influence in pop music of 2016, 2017 seemed to be the year for Latin rhythms to make their comeback. The song to spearhead this wave is undeniably the “Despacito” remix by Luis Fonsi featuring Justin Beiber and Daddy Yankee. Though the original song was already a smash hit internationally, the Beebs definitely added an appeal that us non-Spanish speakers could get with. Though the majority of the jam is in Espanol, that hook is infectious and is impossible not to sing along with, even though I babble every word after “Despacito”.
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
DAMN., Kendrick Lamar’s his fourth studio album, was released in March of 2017 and was met with much critical acclaim. Of the 14 banging tracks, it isn’t easy picking just one favorite, but if we were simply talking stats, “Humble” would be the obvious choice. The single blazed up the charts and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and is nominated for 4 Grammys in 2018. The striking piano riffs and thumping bass line matches Kendrick’s bold lyrics and authoritative delivery perfectly, and makes it impossible to “sit down”. This song set the tone for a very commanding year to follow for the Compton emcee.
Jay Z – “The Story Of OJ”
It was a hard pick between this song and “4:44”, both of which are nominated for Grammys in 2018, but “TSOJ” edged out just a little for me. Jay Z lowkey turned into a financial advisor on this song, emphasizing the importance of investing your wealth as a black person in America, and to not throw it away. In the process, Jay ruffled some feathers with the line: “Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear/There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here.” Among those who took offense was rapper Lil Boosie Badazz, who expressed his irritation in a lengthy rant. It’s unfortunate that some people missed the message of the song, but just like most great ideas, they are often met with some objection at first.
Miguel – “Skywalker”
For many of Miguel’s fans, two years without a new album felt too long. Not a moment too soon, the songwriter released the absolutely gorgeous album, War & Leisure. His lead single “Skywalker” is a wavy track that verbalizes just that; “Good things come to those that wait up”. “Skywalker” showcases a less serious, more playful side to the artist, and reminds us to take it easy, and to celebrate life every day. It is definitely a refreshing message to close the year out with.