It's just past that midway part of 2017 and we're feeling like grading some of the releases of the year so far. We asked the guys in the office and got some opinions on what the best releases are so far.
5. Loyle Carner - Yesterdays Gone
What we said at the time:
'As described in previous features, Loyle is refreshingly out of touch with the current wave of grime artists that dominate the British urban music culture, taking influence from early 00's hip-hop heads Braintax, Skinnyman and Jehst (who features on the album cut No Worries alongside Rebel Kleff).'
What the staff say:
Harry - Warehouse Manager
"I'm big in to my grime, but not many artists are coming close to the talent and ability of Loyle Carner. This years release is up there next to J-Hus and Stormzy's recent releases."
Josh - Warehouse Assistant
"Nothing better than some conscious hip-hop when you need to relax. Carner is a step ahead of the game in that aspect"
4. Thundercat - Drunk
'Drunk is a particularly light-hearted venture for Thundercat following two cumbersome releases in Apocalypse and The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam. Both records, alongside Flying Lotus' Your Dead, strongly contemplated the idea of mortality, spurred on by the untimely passing of Jazz pianist and close collaborator Austin Peralta... You can tell on Drunk that Thundercat is moving on from a dark time, yet still having life questioning moments (Them Changes, Where I'm Going & Inferno) but maintaining a general theme as a tongue in cheek affair, the song Tokyo being an ode to Japanese pop culture with references to Dragon Ball Z, amongst others.'
Ollie - Sales Specialist
"Anything this guy puts his name to is golden. Caught him live a few times too, and honestly it's fantastic the attention he's getting now. Such an oddball character that music needs."
Luke - Photography Manager
"His funk tinged works are irresistible for me. 'Friend Zone', 'Them Changes' and 'Show You the Way' find there way in to any party mixtape i'm at."
3. Run The Jewels - RTJ3
'Their socially conscious and political releases have seen them championed as alternative music's front runners. Not many groups can consistently use a formula of hilarious one-liners, politically driven cries and furious sub bass-addled beats to force their agenda down the throats of their audience, but the third album in and El and Mike are furious at stuff again.'
Dale - Managing Director
"I'm an old school Hip/Hop head, so for me RTJ is perfect. El-p's beats are new and old at the same time, channelling a lot of 80s electro Hip-Hop, as well as the use of scratching on record is super refreshing."
Tom - Content Writer
"Every time these guys come on shuffle In the office I have to double check it's them. They've put out such a stellar body of work in less than 3 years that I find it hard to believe they have so many bangers!"
2.Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory
''Big Fish Theory' is a switch up from Debut 'Summertime 06', taking on a frantic, Electronica / Dance tinged style further in line with Staple's previous effort the 'Prima donna' E.P. Album opener 'Crabs In A Bucket' kicks things off with an ambient, downtempo beat under Staples machine gun delivery. Frequent collaborator Kilo Kash kicks off one of many of her great features on the album, providing soft vocals to accompany Staples sometimes harsh flow.'
Callum - Creative Director
"Great progression for Vince. He's truly starting to strike out with a big name for himself. Won't be long till he's huge worldwide."
Simon - Store Manager
"Didn't expect much from this album, but I was quietly blown away by its unique production approach. I am converted!"
1. Kendrick Lamar - Damn
'There really isn't much else to say. Kendrick just blew the rap game up with another stellar project. The album is so layered with hidden features and meanings that I don't even feel like I could do this review proper justice. For me, this album means a lot more... It's the crowning release for rap's true king.'
Jacob - Sales Specialist
"I personally had this and Hendrix up there for AOTY, but Kendrick has gone and done it again with another stellar project. Very surprised and happy with how much Mike Will Made It is featured."
Andrew - Photography Intern
"This album isn't just best for this year, it's nearing into GOAT territory with each listen. For me, it doesn't get any better"