AFRO + CARIBBEAN: the 40 best albums of 2017

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To all you music lovers out there, PRSPCT hopes you had an awesome festive season filled with joy, love and of course, fantastic music. We couldn’t let the year start on a dull note so we selected the 40 best albums that Africa, the Caribbean and the diaspora have either offered or adopted in 2017… Afrobeats, dancehall, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, gqom, these albums come from Nigeria, Jamaica, Congo, Ghana, Trinidad, France, UK, US… In chronological order of release.

Check out our AFRO + CARIBBEAN playlist Spotify, Deezer and Youtube  with tracks from every albums.

1. Sampha – ‘Process’

[UK/Siera Leone]

The Sampha cameos go way back (SBTRKT, Kanye West, Frank Ocean …). His collaborations have always been of the best taste and the contributions of the British have continued to shape him into the brilliant and maturing artist that he is becoming today. In February 2017 he finally offered us a first album called Process.

Listen here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

2. Syd – Fin

[US]

With the album Fin, Syd takes us into her personal universe where she shows us a more pop based range of tracks without denying her strong roots in hip-hop and RnB on which she has long relied within The Internet.

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3. Mr Eazi – ‘Accra To Lagos’

[Ghana]

The Ghanaian rapper  Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade aka Mr Eazi will have marked the year 2017 to be the release of his first ever mixtape with the hit song ‘Leg Over‘ opening the tracklist. If ‘Leg Over‘ is anything to go by then 2018 looks to be a promising year for the artist.

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4. Legendury Beatz – Afropop 101

[Nigera]

Brothers Uzezi Oniko and Okiemute Oniko shared their first mixtape at the beginning of the year  titled ‘Afropop 101’. A project of 9 tracks inviting to the microphone a beautiful bouquet of artists on the rise including Tanzania’s Vanessa Mdee and Nigeria’s Wizkid, Mugeez, Maleek Berry and the Ghanaian Mr Eazi…

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5. Jidenna – ‘The Chief’

[US/Nigeria]

Almost 3 years ago Janelle Monae’s protégé, Jidenna under her label Wondaland splashed the world with the release of the single ‘Classic Man‘. The first album of the dandy American rapper of Nigerian origin was quite the unexpected turn in the music world and he is yet to disappoint.

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6. Stormzy – ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’

[UK/Ghana]

Gang Signs & Prayer’ is the first official album by the grime star was coming to an end on February 24th. Worthy and fast successor of his compatriot Skepta as figure nº1 of the UK Grime, Stormzy signs a perfect 2017 year.

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7. Drake – More Life

[US] 

With over 22 songs,  More Life brings together Drake’s loyal collaborators like Kanye West, Young Thug, Quavo, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, and Partynextdoor, as well as new affinities with Jorja Smith, South Africa’s Black Coffee, Sampha and so many more. As usual, the rapper came through with some memorable tracks an we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us for the rest of 2018.

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8. Goldlink – ‘At What Cost’

[US]

In 2017 the American rapper GoldLink literally got it right with every song, every collabo every remix he did. Same goes with the album ‘At What Cost‘. In our opinion, we think it could honestly rank amongst some of the classics within the hip-hop/RnB genre. We strongly advise you give the song ‘Crew’ a listen, a very 90’s collabo with singer Brent Faiyaz.

Listen here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

9. ÌFÉ – ‘IIII + IIII’

[Puerto Rico]

ÌFÉ is a captivating and confusing discovery that forces us to redefine the contours of electronica and Afro-Caribbean music. The first album IIII + IIII undoubtedly marks a golden cross in the Afro-Caribbean music news of 2017.

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10. Ycee – The First Wave

[Nigeria]

YCee released First Wave in April 2017, an intense, short and brilliant format with various hues (rap, dancehall, afropop …) on which the former Nigerian rapper meets his fellow Nigerian musicians Maleek Berry, Falz, the young Seyi Shay, Reekado Banks and others.

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11. Spoek Mathambo – Mzansi Beat Code

[South Africa]

On his latest album Mzansi Beat Code, Spoek Mathambo leaves the microphone for a short while and entrusts it to many featured artists to devote himself to the production and sophistication of a hybrid beatmaking that mixes different colors of the South African house: Bacardi, Durban Gqom, Sghubu …

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12. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Damn.’

[US]

Damn. definitely made a significant mark in 2017, from ‘Loyalty‘ featuring our favourite hit girl Rihanna, ‘Humble’ and another fan favourite ‘Love‘. Kendrick shared the different ranges of his talent from simply spitting game to using his music as a means of activism. We stand 100%.

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♦ ♦ ♦

 

13. Bryson Tiller – ‘True To Self’

[US]

Relatively unobtrusive since the release in April of his excellent second studio album True to Self whose extract ‘Run Dry Me‘ (a personal fave of ours) nevertheless conquered the radio waves to Southern Africa, Tiller was also involved alongside DJ Khaled and Rihanna in one of the biggest hit of the summer with ‘Wild Thoughts.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

14. J Hus – ‘Common Sense’

[UK/Gambia]

The rising English Hip Hop star released  his first studio album in April – Common Sense – which offers a broad panorama of the influences and talents of the young emcee who is clearly  as comfortable in Dancehall mode as Rap, Grime, Afrobeats, RnB or Garage music.

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15. Odunsi x Nonso Amadi – War

[Nigeria]

Lagos’ creativity is booming and we are witnessing a wave of new talent setting the stage for a global musical landscape in the making. Soul, R&B, and up until now, the pre-square of Afro-American and British artists, have been studied, reviewed and adapted by young Nigerian beatmakers and vocalists whose producer and singer Odunsi (The Engine) is probably the best representative in the world, sides of his compatriot Nonso Amadi. 

Listen Here:  SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

16. Juls – ‘Leap Of Faith’

[Ghana]

Originally from Ghana and based in London, the artist and producer Juls released last May a true wonder of an alternative afrobeats album under the title Leap of Faith. If you were immediately obsessed with the club vibe of ‘My Wave‘, then as much as the album title doesn’t give too much away… you will be blown away!

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17. Oumou Sangaré – ‘Mogoya’

[Mali]

Last May, Oumou Sangaré unveiled Mogoya, her first album since 2009. The Malian star talks about what she knows best, namely human relationships. French collective  A.L.B.E.R.T. added their french touch to the a brilliant production, perfecting the interweaving between traditional African instruments – kamele n’goni, karignan, percussions … – and a body of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards.

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18. SZA – Ctrl

[US]

So as we all know, 2017 was a big year RnB’s new darling SZA. After the release of CTRL, and more recently five nominations for the Garmmy Awards (which makes her incidentally the most nominated woman in the history of Grammy!), SZA has amply proved that she is a new force to be reckoned with.

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19. Cham – ‘Lawless’

[Jamaica]

As a result of endless legal conflicts, Lawless‘s release comes 11 years after Cham’s last album … The dancehall veteran’s new album is no less good, balancing the positive dancehall tracks with dancefloor hits.

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20. Tshegue – Survivor

[France/Congo]

A mesmerizing Afro-futuristic fusion of raw rhythms, tribal trances concentrated in Garage Rock magma, RnB and electro beats, the burning music of producer/percussionist Dakou and voodoo priestess Faty has left no stone untouched.

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21. Chronixx – ‘Chronology’

[Jamaica]

If Chronology is now in the shortlist of the best reggae album for the Grammy Awards 2018, at Prospect we have already made our choice, and it is Chronixx that wins. The latest album from the Jamaican manages to seduce ears sensitive to his words as easily engaged as eardrums in search of feelgood music. Great compositions, unstoppable production… Chronixx begins 2018 at the peak of his art.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

22. Laylow – ‘Digitalova’

[France]

After having started up as the duo Laylow x Sir Klo, the Toulouse rapper embarked on a solo career at the end of 2016 by first presenting the EP Mercy. Last July Laylow released Digitalova, a visionary solo debut that marked a highlight in the artist’s early career.

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23. Fally Ipupa – ‘Tokooos’

[Congo]

Tokooos is an album cut for the streaming platforms. With 18 calibrated titles and a dream team of featured artists (Booba, Wizkid, Keblack …), Fally Ipupa delivers the most urban album of his career and we love it. The thing is, we love Fally’s 14 minute dance videos with never-ending soukous beats as much… Maybe someday we can have both flavors on one same album? 

 Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

24. Wizkid – ‘Sounds From The Other Side’

[Nigeria]

Already one of Africa’s biggest stars, Wizkid strengthens his status as a global artist with the release of his third studio album Sounds From The Other Side last July. The Nigerian singer-songwriter, who had comfortably settled on the 2016 charts with Drake’s “One Dance” phenomenon, shared a slew of songs that were just as feel-good as the others, and have since been replayed over and over again.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

25. Damian Marley – ‘Stony Hill’

[Jamaica]

Damian Marley could have continued to keep playing the guests or producers on the albums of his colleagues, live his life as a business man and shoot in the biggest festivals… But 12 years after the release of his last and now classic album Welcome to Jamrock, Jr Gong had some topic he wanted to address … Stony Hill offers us an in-depth look at Marley’s critical and analytical mind today.

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26. Aminé – ‘Good For You’

[US/Ethiopia]

Born in Portland, Oregon of Eritrean by Ethiopian parents, we must go back to June 2016 to really understand the phenomenon Amine, propelled into a new rap career after his hit ‘Caroline‘ invaded the American airwaves and reached the 11th place on the charts Billboard Hot 100. He then released Good For You late July. The fluidity of his melodic flow, a level of writing clearly above the average and an unstoppable production will definitely be a problem for anybody who want to stand still…

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

27. Daniel Caesar – ‘Freudian’

[Canada]

It’s been a few years since Daniel Caesar made a splash on the Toronto RnB scene. His first two EPs, Praise Break (2014) and Pilgrim’s Paradise (2015), clearly demonstrated the ability of the 22-year-old singer-songwriter who has been able to merge a fine line between gospel and RnB. In 2017, he released Freudian, a pampered debut album with heartbreaking melodies that unfold troubling romantic stories and literally takes the listener hostage. Yes we totally cried.

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28. Angela Hunte – ‘R.A.W.’

[US/Trinidad]

At 42, Angela Hunte has enjoyed a successful series of singer-songwriter career successes, but her debut album R.A.W. is to this day one of her most beautiful achievements. The Trinidadian-American icon known throughout the Caribbean for her socca has definitely left her mark in the reggae world with this album.

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29. PARTYNEXTDOOR – ‘Seven Days’

[Canada]

The Canadian born PARTYNEXTDOOR likes to surprise his fans. Last June, without warning, he released 4 unpublished projects via the EP Colors 2. Alongside EP Seven Days on which he invites Rick Ross and Halsey. 2017 was probably the most productive year of his career. In parallel with this doublet of EPs, he released half a dozen solo tracks on his Soundcloud without any real reason. Added to this are his recent contributions from Drake, DJ Khaled, Zayn and Calvin Harris, as well as an author credit on one of the biggest hits of 2017, ‘Wild Thoughts‘. He confided to Zane Lowe in his Beats 1 show last week that he had written his part in 45 minutes… Talented Much?

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

30. Distruction Boyz – ‘Gqom Is The Future’

[South Africa]

The South African Gqom scene continues its national emancipation by shifting from the underground to a genre better recognized within urban and electronic scenes. From a more global point of view, the original Durban movement can always rely on foreign ears to be as attentive as they were in the beginning. From this point of view, the release of Gqom Is The Future is to be celebrated both from a national angle in South Africa and in a process of globalization from European and American capitals.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

31. Miles From Kinshasa – ‘Limbo’

[UK/Congo]

In 2015 we discovered the artist Miles from Kinshasa with the song ‘Ivry’ that follows a very mystical and almost disturbing aesthetic. Born in the suburbs of Paris and of Congolese origin, the London artist released the RnB album ‘Limbo‘ in October.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

32. Shekhinah – Rosegold

[South Africa]

Thanks  to her collaboration with Black Coffee on ‘Your Eyes‘, one of South Africa’s golden songbirds has really come into fruitation with her new album Rosegold. For her first album, she really has accomplished one a solid job: the songwriting is amazing and inspired while the production sounds like that of a high profile international R&B album.  Shout out to Shekhinah!

Listen Here :  SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

33. Kalash – Mwaka Moon

[France]

The Caribbean born Kalash offered us in 2017 an album that finally earned him a recognition in the eyes of the French public. The features were handpicked: Mavado, Damso, Niska … even Vybz Kartel !

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

34. H.E.R. – H.E.R.

[US]

In 2016 H.E.R. made a sensational debut on the global RnB scene. Determined to keep the secret of her identity, she signed at RCA Records and released H.E.R. flight. 1, a first EP that really struck a chord with audiences forcing all the spotlights on the young singer who was then 20 years old. At the end of 2017, the enigmatic American singer finished her EP cycle and put together the essentials on an eponymous album.

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35. Krept & Konan – ‘7 Days 7 Nights’

[UK]

The English duo Krept & Konan released their double mixtape 7 Days 7 Nights in October last year. 7 Days brings together J Hus, Skepta, Stormzy on production leaning sharply towards trap music. 7 Nights, our favorite half, counts the appearances of Jhene Aiko, Tory Lanez and Hudson East, and put on a much lighter and sunnier tone under a Dancehall and RnB infusion.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

36. Falz – ’27’

[Nigeria]

At the end of the 2017 Africa the Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA), which reward African artists by region, Falz was quietly ahead of his friends Wizkid, Davido, Tekno and Mr Eazi and brought home the award for Best West African Male Artist. In the process, he released a excellent rap album ‘27‘ tinged with afrobeats.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

37. Roy Woods – ‘Say Less’

[Canada]

The Canadian scene has strong links with the Caribbean. Roy Woods’ dancehall single ‘Gwan Big Up Urself‘, released in 2016 on Drake’s label OVO Sound is the perfect illustration. A little more than 2 years after his debut in the illustrious American team, Woods released his first studio album last December, and brilliantly finished the 2017 season of OVO albums after his label mates PARTYNEXTDOOR, Majid Jordan and dvsn whose projects had all  surfaced in October.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

38. Ken Booth – ‘Inna de Yard’

[Jamaica]

Ken Boothe, the great soulful voice of Jamaica, released  his new album Inna de Yard last Novemeber, recorded with the collective Inna Yard. This is the first album of the artist released internationally for more than 20 years. It features several titles from Ken Boothe’s huge repertoire, sometimes interpreted unplugged for the first time.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER 

 

39. DJ Maphorisa – ‘Gqom Wave’

[South Africa]

Johannesburg producer DJ Maphorisa (pictured alongside Jidenna in the video Major Lazer ‘Particula‘) set the bar high last year by signing one of South Africa’s bangers with ‘Midnight Starring‘. The arrival at the end of the year of the album Gqom Wave on which we find the summer anthem has thus been able to benefit from all the attention it deserves.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC

 

40. Jidenna – ‘Boomerang’

[US/Nigeria]

You’d think that after his first album The Chief at the beginning of the year (see No. 5 of this list) and a tour to the four corners of America, the Nigerian-American MC would be taking a break but nooo, he released an EP titled Boomerang late last year. Jidenna’s latest effort is extremely solid and incidentally displays a cast not tainted: Tiwa Savage serves the perfect verse on ‘Spy Candy‘, Maleek Berry, Quavo and Sarkodie pass the ball on ‘Bambi Too‘ and Burna Boy is impressive as always on the remix of ‘Little Bit More.

Listen Here : SPOTIFY / DEEZER / APPLE MUSIC


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