There was a lot to listen to in 2017. From compilations, to collaborations, EPs, LPs, new comers, veterans, producers, beat makers, rappers, singers, crooners, and more - here are our favorite 20 albums from 2017.
20. The Kid Nicky Halt - II/IV: Little Green Apples
19. Pistol Pete - The 3 Pete
18. X. WILSON - CONTRAST EP
I've watched the electrifying sounds of X. WILSON unfold from his time living in Topeka to his move to KC. His link up with Intelligent Sound is a match made in heaven, as the young musician continues to improve and impress with each release. CONTRAST EP is only 4 tracks, but it's musical value is undeniable.
17. Domineko - Aux King
As I seem to recall 2016 being the year of the Neko, and 2017 still gave us some incredible sounds from the highly regarded emcee. Aux King is a triumph of collaboration, as Domineko paired with the entire Intelligent Sound roster of producers. Released on New Years Day, Aux King set the bar high for the rest of the year.
16. Ricky Roosevelt & Jonah P. - In The Dark
The eerie cover of In The Dark sets the tone for the downtempo electronic vibes Jonah P sets for Ricky Roosevelt's equally captivating vocals. The Vivid Zebra team continues to improve on an already VIP roster of DJs, producers, emcees, and everything in between.
15. Les Paul - Jive Turkey
14. Rory Fresco - Teen Spirit
Despite the fact Rory's music continues to disappear from major streaming platforms, his 2017 release lives on the internets original home of free music, DatPiff. The producer \ rapper \ singer \ graphic designer was blasted into viral stardom in 2016 after catching millions of plays on SoundCloud, when his breakout single Lowkey auto-played after a Kanye West song. Proving he isn't just a one hit viral wonder, Rory followed up with a slew of music and a major remix featuring G-Eazy - all of which is summarized on Teen Spirit, his 12 track project that rated 'Very Hottttt' on HotNewHipHop.
13. Kye Colors - Milk is Nasty
The Caviart newcomer brought a blend of soulful sampling and new school arrangement on his anti-dairy titled project. Milk is Nasty sews together feel good party vibes and highway cruise music, setting the stage for this very talented rapper and producer.
*looks like Milk is Nasty has been removed from the interwebs, but I am not rewriting this list*
12. Approach - Elegant Knock
11. Reach - Nothing Gold Can Stay
10. Scotty Wu - WUGOD
At 2 dozen tracks, WUGOD may have the longest runtime of all the albums on this list. The impressive release from the familiar face of Scotty Wu gave something for everybody to enjoy. WUGOD further pushes this once beat maker into his new role of an artist. On a side note, this album's artwork was my personal favorite for the year.
9. DEV3N - EPHNY
No matter where I go, DEV3N's name is held to the highest of standards. The effortless wordplay of a highly intelligent emcee absolutely shines on EPHNY, a 7 track self released album. Songs seamlessly blend together with the use of sound effects and field recordings, pieced together by MAB, his go to engineer. As Dev continues to develop as a rapper, he has also started touching the boards as a producer - with some of EPHNYs beats provided by the artist himself.
8. Bad Dreamer - If It Goes Wrong
Bad Dreamer pairs the incredible writing and delivery of Second Hand King with the meticulous sound production of Jesse Bartmess. The debut album of the duo, If It Goes Wrong, was captivating and inventive as the pair navigate into an uncharted territory of perhaps what is a new music genre.
7. Billy Early - The Early EP
Before his very public and embarrassing Facebook meltdown that resulted in a family trip to the Dr. Phil show, Billy Early delivered one of the most refreshing projects to come out of Topeka in a long time. The Early EP fuses Billy's undisciplined attitude with veteran production and arrangement. What was undoubtedly a hot topic to close out 2017, it will be interesting to see how Early can bounce back and continue on with his music endeavors.
6. Duncan Burnett - Duncan Burnett Presents: Conrad Harris?
The future jazz vibes of multi instrumentalist Duncan Burnett all come together on his debut instrumental effort, Conrad Harris?. In the style of producers like Zo!, Tall Black Guy, Boon Doc and others, Burnett's soulful musicianship shines on this 6 track EP that feels like perfect bachelor pad music.
5. Loogey - Jaded
4. Sheven - Coexisting
3. Rick Maun - ANXIETY LP
An absolute magnum opus from a staple in Kansas City's music community, the lo-fi master Rick Maun put together an incredible LP featuring some of the scenes most creative people. ANXIETY embodies Maun's SP404 techniques and abstract song arrangement perfectly, as it plays straight through without skipping a beat.
2. Stik Figa - Central Standard Time
A triumphant return to Mello Music Group, the man who put Topeka in XXL Magazine shows why he is still the Top Dog in the Top City. Stik Figa's Central Standard Time had an absolute all star roster of producers like Black Milk, Nottz, Apollo Brown and more. The only album on this list to be pressed on wax, CST is a must listen whether your a long time fan or new listener to Stik Figa.
1. Aaron Alexander - Memento Mori
If you don't think this album was the best thing to come out of the area this year, it's because you didn't listen to it. Memento Mori is an incredible achievement in both sound and science, featuring the impressive wordplay of Aaron Alexander paired with top notch production and live instrumentation. Written over 2 years before its release, much of the time spent making Memento Mori was in the studio, tightening up every snare and syllable to perfection. Just as Alexander impressed us with his Radiant Redone in years past, Memento Mori sets the new standard for music moving forward.