Sunday, December 3, 2017

2017 The Albums: League of Their Own

This award started long before the site was even a thought, in one publication, radio show or another. Since 2000, I have handed out a "League of Their Own" Award to an album that is made by an artist who is the most forward thinking, open minded, revolutionary musician out there today. Their accomplishments in the past 12 months have either resurrected a sound, broke down walls and created new frontiers or have totally reinvented a genre all together. The choices for "League of Their Own" have become more than just the best album of the year but the most important record to be released at that time. 

In the past winners have included: 

2000 - Radiohead - Kid A 
2001 - The Strokes - Is This It? 
2002 - NERD - In Search of... 
2003 - The White Stripes - Elephant 
2004 - The Killers - Hot Fuss 
2005 - The Mars Volta - Francis the Mute 
2006 - TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain 
2007 - Kanye West Graduation 
2008 - Santogold / Santigold
2009 - Mastodon - Crack the Skye 
2010 - Gorillaz - Plastic Beach 
2011 - Bjork - Biophilia 
2012 - Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes 
2013 -  Arcade Fire - Reflektor
2014 - Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2  
2015 - Kamasi Washington - The Epic 
2016 - David Bowie - Blackstar 

...and now to add to this growing list is someone who has taken the music world by storm for the last five years and proves to be the most important living musician today and the voice of a generation. His music is more than just hip-hop, it is a verbal documentary about life in hard times, life as a black man, life as a young person under 30, and someone searching for more than just a higher power but understanding. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2017 League of Their Own winner is...

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN

"I'm willin' to die for this shit
I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this shit
Put the Bible down and go eye for an eye for this shit," Lamar sings as he opens the single "ELEMENT." and four songs into DAMN., he makes the declaration that this isn't a job, this isn't for fame, this isn't for money, this is his life and these are the themes that made this record so spellbinding.

DAMN. is Kendrick Lamar solidifying himself as the best rapper alive and a top five emcee. As he uses the words thrown against him, the headlines that are flashed around the news, DAMN. is a record that is just as much in the ethos of punk rock as it is in hip-hop. If Johnny Rotten fronted The Clash it would have that attitude and political / social rawness and awareness. Yet, Lamar, who is a fan of jazz, Afropunk, rock, and clearly 90s rap and R&B, he mixes his influences together with a record that is not just the best to come out in 2017 but an album that has the Compton rapper touching the arch of music history. 

With appearances by Rihanna, Kid Capri, U2, and Zacari, Lamar left his comfort zone but oddly remained in it while telling his story and observations. If anything, the closing track, "DUCKWORTH." is the proof in the pudding that whatever this young artist was born to do was destiny.  

Stay Tuned Next Week For Our Top 10 Albums of the Year!