The first quarter of 2017 has seen beautiful releases from the likes of several music MVPs, and the hits are set to keep on coming. From established artists reasserting their legendary statuses, to behind the scenes up-and-comers, everybody has something worth a fair listen.
Big Sean released his fourth studio album, I Decided, this past friday. On I Decided, Sean distances himself from his tough-guy persona and humbles himself as a grateful, hard-working, God-fearing man. Tracks such as the Metro Boomin’-produced “Bounce Back” show that Sean is not letting any loss or setback derail him.”Halfway Off The Balcony” shows how Sean has matured throughout the course of his career, realizing that “chemistry means way more than anatomy” when it comes to women; a notable growth from 2011’s “Dance (A$$).” Although I Decided contains recurring themes of humility and God, there are still tracks on which Sean spits the tongue-in-cheek humorous bars he’s known for, specifically on “Jump Out the Window”, on which he says “you walked in with a perm, and now your hair look like The Weeknd’s.” Fellow Detroit G.O.A.T. Eminem joins Big Sean on “No Favors,” on which both rappers deliver arguably the best verses of their careers. I Decided is currently only available for streaming and digital purchase. Big Sean is also set to release a second part to 2016’s Twenty88 collaboration album with Jhene Aiko later this year.
Another notable release is singer/songwriter Kevin Garrett’s new EP, False Hope. On Garrett’s sophomore EP, he sings of the struggles of modern love, feeling a “Stranglehold” on his heart, on the EP’s second track. The album’s closing track “Little Bit of You” details the process of falling out of love, and received a cosign from actress Chloë Grace Moretz on Twitter. Last year, Garrett went on tour as an opening act for Alessia Cara and co-wrote “Pray You Catch Me,” the opening track to Beyoncé’s Lemonade with British singer James Black. False Hope, produced and written entirely in Garrett’s home bedroom, showcase both his songwriting and vocal talents, proving he has a promising career in the industry. Garrett is currently touring the country on his first ever solo tour, promoting False Hope.
While you may recognize British singer Sampha’s vocals from collaborations with Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean, his debut solo album Process was just released this past Friday. The album contains emotional, poignant ballads, including “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”, on which the production is minimal, allowing his powerful vocals to shine through. Other notable tracks are “Blood on Me” and “Timmy’s Prayer.”
After years of contributing vocals to projects from Odd Future, The Internet, and Kaytranada, queer R&B singer Syd has released her debut album Fin. On Fin, Syd balances her masculine and feminine energies and uses the end product to create art. The standout track on the album is “Body,” a sexy anthem for the times.
New York City-based electronic duo The Knocks are known their fun pop-style collaborations with music’s A-listers, including the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, Wyclef Jean, and Fetty Wap. On the pair’s new streaming-exclusive EP, Testify, The Knocks bring to light some of the industry’s most talented yet underappreciated vocalists, including British singer/songwriter MNEK and X Ambassador frontman Sam Nelson Harris. The track “Heat”, which features Harris, fuses rock, pop, and EDM in a way that makes the song a contender for an early hit for summer 2017.