My Top 10 Favorite Albums Of All Time (in no particular order)
All of these albums hold a very special place in my heart for whatever reason, and I consider them to be perfect. It would be too difficult to rank them, as the #1 spot changes based on whatever mood I’m in.
1. To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar: I believe this is the greatest hiphop album of all time for many reasons; like the amazing jazzy & experimental production, Kendrick’s flawless intricate lyricism & catchy flows, the masterfully executed concept and the poem. This album manages to be deeply thought provoking while also being very replayable and staying true to hiphop’s roots.
BEST SONG: u
BEST BEAT: How Much A Dollar Cost
BEST PERFORMANCE: The Blacker The Berry
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “I went running for answers, until I came home”
2. Preacher’s Daughter – Ethel Cain: if you enjoy music that completely devastates you emotionally and then drags you from the pits of hell back to reality, this album is for you. The album follows the story of a girl with a traumatic past, detailing the events leading up to her death (and what happens after) and the ways her trauma has affected her. The premise seems pretty straightforward, but when you dive deeper into the story you realize why Ethel Cain originally wanted to make this project a movie: every character has a complex personality, every track is indispensable to understanding the full story and the ending will leave you at a loss for words. No album has ever hit me as hard as “Preacher’s Daughter”, and I don’t ever consider it an album anymore: it’s an artistic masterpiece that should be experienced with headphones, access to the lyrics and proper knowledge of the story.
BEST SONG: All
BEST BEAT: Thoroughfare
BEST PERFORMANCE: Ptolomaea
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “God loves you, but not enough to save you”
3. I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You – Quadeca: it’s hard to describe the way this album will make you feel. “I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You” is a work of art that tells the story of the ghost of a man who fell victim to suicide, and the different ways he copes with seeing his family grieve. He goes from regretting his decision and missing his mother, to attempting to kill her with carbon monoxide due to him not accepting her attempts to move on, to eventually realizing that he has to move on and literally fading to static. This project can’t be pinned down to a single genre; drawing inspiration from witchhouse, folk, electronica, glitch-hop, industrial, gospel and experimental rock, and remains one of the most beautiful albums I’ve ever listened to.
BEST SONG: fantasyworld/born yesterday
BEST PERFORMANCE: knots
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “Let me go but don’t let go of me”
4. XXII – Killstation: while lacking a concept, this album deserves a 10 from me because of how perfectly Kill’s layered singing mixes with JUDGE’s complex, glitchy and textured beats. “XXII” is a project that will make you either feel like you’re in a scene from The Matrix or make your hate for backstabbers of the past resurface. Although short, is by far my favorite emo album because of its emotional & creative range.
BEST SONG: MY FINAL BREATH/FIXED/OBLITERATION
BEST BEAT: WASTE MY TIME
BEST PERFORMANCE: MY FINAL BREATH
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “She’s the poison in my blood that wants me dead”
5. S16 – Woodkid: this album is what earned Woodkid his spot as one of my favorite artists of all time. I compare this album to a spaceship ride around the multiverse, because of how beautifully ethereal it sounds. The nocturnal production is almost entirely orchestral, with the occasional use of industrial percussion and ambient synths, and Woodkid’s deep voice is lays bare and clean in the mix to guide us through this journey. Two tracks even feature a Japanese children’s choir. From delicate ballads to percussive yet emotional pieces, “S16” is a magical album that will make you escape from reality while stargazing.
BEST BEAT: Pale Yellow
BEST PERFORMANCE: Horizons Into Battlegrounds
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “I see you in the eye of Jupiter, circling through the reactor”
6. Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd – Lana Del Rey: probably the most warm, delicate and comforting album I know; this project is a godsend for anybody feeling low and in need of a warm hug. Lana’s raw & soft vocals matched with very textured and organic piano/acoustic/orchestra instrumentals will give your heavy heart solace. The use of interludes across this dark tracklist is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time, and even though it was released earlier this year it has quickly managed to land among my favorite albums of all time.
BEST SONG: Kintsugi
BEST BEAT: Paris, Texas
BEST PERFORMANCE: Fingertips
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “Take you home, I’ll give you a blanket so your spirit can sit and watch TV by my side”
7. CARE FOR ME – Saba: made to help him cope with the murder of his close friend and cousin Walter, “Care For Me” describes feelings of depression and grief with soothing lofi-jazzy instrumentals. Saba’s storytelling, emotional delivery and driving flows will carry you with him down his path to find closure; the album climaxes with PROM/KING, a storytelling track following Saba’s memories with Walt until the moment he learns his cousin is missing from his mother (he goes out with his friends to search for him). It then closes with a beautiful and moving track on Walt’s perspective on his death. This album is an amazing experience and one of the most emotional hiphop albums I’ve ever listened to.
BEST SONG: PROM/KING
BEST PERFORMANCE: GREY
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “I don’t wanna fight no more, ‘cause I’m not a fighter”
8. Friends That Break Your Heart – James Blake: there’s nothing this album does wrong: beautiful & delicate singing, experimental electronic production influenced by dubstep and hiphop as much as R&B and ambient, extremely vulnerable lyrics and a star-studded tracklist with many great artists (like SZA & JID). This album talks of heartbreak and loss, and will make you feel like you’re floating over a deep forest. This album has never gotten old for me, and remains my favorite project by the legendary producer/singer James Blake.
BEST SONG: Coming Back (feat. SZA)
BEST PERFORMANCE: Say What You Will
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “I will live in the leaves that crunch under your feet”
9. USEE4YOURSELF – IDK: mixing Kanye’s swagger with slowthai’s vulnerability, “USEE4YOURSELF” is the sequel to IDK’s 2019 album “Is He Real” and shows us the many layers of his mind: across 17 tracks we see Jay go from flexing and flaunting to realizing that he uses toxic masculinity as a coping mechanism for his trauma, subsequently diving into his pain of living with an abusive stepfather and emotionally unavailable mother, finding closure with his late mother in a skit. This album is home to one of the most heartbreaking hiphop songs I’ve ever heard, titled “Cry In Church”: he finds himself in church tearing up but as he cries he continues to attempt to convince himself there’s only something in his eye, until he gives in to his emotions and after a powerful speech from DMX he sings himself a lullaby in a beautiful symbolic showing of his healing (he never had a mother figure to sing one for him, and instead of seeking one through different women he realizes he has to comfort himself). The album closes off with the sound of his mother telling him “I love you too” before ending abruptly. Absolutely stunning project, possibly one of the best rap albums to release in the past 5 years and a very special listen with a lot of range.
BEST SONG: Cry in Church
BEST BEAT: Red
BEST PERFORMANCE: Cry in Church
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “maybe a couple of lullabies was all that I needed to fight all these demons”
10. Infections Of A Different Kind – AURORA: this ethereal, romantic and spiritual short project was my introduction to AURORA. This project feels like a walk around a beautiful and foggy mountain surrounded by spirits and fairies. AURORA’s bright and angelic vocals and the organic art-pop instrumentals mix perfectly and deliver an experience that sounds completely unique.
BEST SONG: Soft Universe
BEST BEAT: Forgotten Love
BEST PERFORMANCE: Churchyard
MOST IMPORTANT LYRIC: “The universe is growing tall, and we’re caving into dreams of the space”