Beats you can't beat: 6 of the best albums of 2017
Big Sean, Shane Eagle, Moses Sumney and more struck a musical chord with our melody lovers this year. Take these as credible references and turn the beat up
I DECIDED BY BIG SEAN
When you imagine a person with unlimited potential reaching the pinnacle of their dream only to lose it all and hope desperately for a do-over, the last person most people think about is Big Sean.
After his multi-platinum 2015 release Dark Sky Paradise, it became evident to everyone watching that Sean was on a come-up the likes of which few of his peers in Detroit or rap have seen.
But for his 2017 project, Sean Anderson chose to look at speculative narrative for
I Decided, in which he wondered what he would do if given the opportunity to start again after irreparably messing his life up.
The theme does not get in the way of Sean giving his fans what they want from him - motivation bangers (Moves, Stick To The Plan and Bounce Back), and woozy love anthems (Halfway Off The Balcony, Owe Me and Jump Out The Window).
Sean's wit is sharper than ever and his flow is as slippery as a mossy rock on The Light, Bigger Than Me and Sacrifice.
He won't necessarily be ruling the roost in the platinum plaque collection Olympics or topping the Metacritic end-of-year database, but Sean Don definitely gets first prize for making the hip-hop album about reincarnation that flew over everyone's heads. - Khulekani Magubane
WATCH | The music video for Big Sean's Bounce Back
YELLOW BY SHANE EAGLE
Shane Eagle's Yellow, is hands-down the best local album of 2017. Eagle has released a project that far exceeded expectations and dwarfed even the established veterans of the new school in local hip-hop.
This is the non-commercial yet radio-friendly album we've all been waiting for. The standout tracks for me are Need Me (featuring KLY), Privacy (interlude), Let It Flow and MIHI. - Kabelo Molepo
WATCH | The music video for Shane Eagle's Need Me (featuring KLY)
ARCA BY ARCA AND AROMANTICISM BY MOSES SUMNEY
My pick for album of the year is a tie. Both Moses Sumney and Venezuelan producer Arca released projects of breathtaking beauty and picking between them is like trying to choose a favourite child.
Sumney's Aromanticism is viscous, emotional and terribly difficult to listen to if you're not in the mood for it. It's the soundtrack to your deepest fears and your most painful wounds.
Arca's self-titled masterpiece is also his most accessible - a dark, twisting exploration of things that should not see the light of day but oh so heavenly when the lights are dim and you're all alone.
Sampha's Process should also be on this list and only just misses out. - Yolisa Mkele
WATCH | The music video for Moses Sumney's Doomed
PLUNGE BY FEVER RAY
The video teasers released for Fever Ray's second solo album were creepy, sexy and intriguing. One showed the muso, Targaryen-blonde hair, White Walker's ice-blue eyes, latex bodysuit, dry and cracked face paint, devilishly long nails, stroking a speculum, while sitting in what could only be a bloody serial killer's lair. Another showed her at a computer, typing a dating advert: "Sadist, empathetic switch seeks same."
The BDSM is strong with this one. Plunge is as much about politics and patriarchy (This Country) as it is about queerness (To the Moon and Back) and sex (Falling). It talks about motherhood and the fear of your children eventually leaving you (Mama's Hand), a broken relationship (Red Trails) and the search for new love post-divorce (Mustn't Hurry).
It's delicate. It's aggressive. It's dark. But you can dance to it. Best line? "I want to ram my fingers up your p***y." Magical. - Pearl Boshomane
WATCH | Fever Ray's music video for To the Moon and Back
EVOLVE BY IMAGINE DRAGONS
I like the message it sends and the feeling it gives you. The message is that you can do anything you put your mind to.
My favourite song off the album is Walking the Wire. It encourages you to face your fears. One of its lines is: "If you're afraid of falling, then don't look down."
The songs are fun and jumpy. The band did a good job and the whole album is amazing. - Lesedi Mkele (10 years old)
LISTEN | To Imagine Dragons' Walk the Wire