The 30 Best Overlooked Albums of 2017 So Far
Arte por Lia Kantrowitz


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The 30 Best Overlooked Albums of 2017 So Far

Forget your most played list, and see what you've missed.

Music: It's good. And there's never been a better time to be a fan of it. Thanks to a little thing called the internet, you can find music from all over the place pretty much any time you want. That's sick! What's less sick is the fact that despite the near-infinite options at our fingertips, the internet has also created a feedback loop where we spend most of our time all focusing on the same stuff and telling each other things we all already know to be true, such as "dogs are good," "Donald Trump is a giant turd sandwich," and "the Kendrick Lamar album fucking bangs."


And while the Kendrick Lamar album does indeed bang, there's no need for another article repeating that fact. Which is why, instead, we've come together as Noisey staffers from around the world to share some of our favorite albums that haven't dominated the conversation quite so much. From newcomers about to blow beyond their scenes to established artists less inclined to seek out the spotlight to everything in between, these are the best, most overlooked albums of 2017 so far.

Blanck Mass's World Eater is one of those records that pairs up especially well with its album art—feral, gnashing, and very much to the point. Like many noise albums, the latest release from the solo project of Fuck Buttons's Benjamin John Power is rich for exploring the carnival of disgust and absurdity that is the world's current state of affairs. But where his ilk often do so with a helping of disturbing irony (see: Tobacco, HEALTH), World Eater scraps that. It's a lean, minimalist concoction of subtle dance influences, industrial palettes, and big, loud walls of noise. There's no plot twist to its songs, no choruses or key changes to which the tension gives way. It's aggressive, meant to encompass and overwhelm, less in the meditative sense of Power's past work than a way that makes you confront your discomfort—a reminder that sometimes you don't get release or relief, you just get to be. — Andrea Domanick | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music


Featuring members of Dick Diver, Twerps, and London's Primetime, Blank Statements produce the kind of effortless and breezy pop that Australian bands have become known for over the last decade. On their debut cassette, released on Hobbies Galore run by Alex MacFarlane of Tyrannamen and The Stevens, the Melbourne band introduce eight charming songs that involve instrument swapping and vocal sharing. From the melodica-led "Privacy," to the hushed whispers of "Scorpions," to the shoulder hunch of "Building a Ramp," the tracks are simple but insanely catchy. Fans of songs about daylight savings and hunting caps need this tape. — Tim Scott | LISTEN: Bandcamp

Charli XCX is the best pop star the UK has birthed in decades. Number 1 Angel, the mixtape she released this year after a number of label difficulties with her as-yet-unheard second album, may well be the perfect crystallization of why that is. Produced by members of the infamous dance-pop collective PC Music, whose partnership appears to have helped Charli embody the weirdest (and best) version of her vision for herself, the tape sounds like how a 16-year-old's Tumblr page looks—all 90s trash imagery, saccharine pop beats, and lyrics about angel wings and getting all the way fucked up. With an impressive features roster of female talent (which includes CupcakKe and reclusive French princess Uffie), Number 1 Angel is the strangest and most original 2017 pop album you haven't heard yet, so hire a purple Lambo, cruise around, and get into it. — Lauren O'Neill | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music


The first thing you will think when you hear Guppy is: Hey, which 90s teen movie is this the soundtrack for? The second thing you will think is: Hey, this is the best power pop album I have heard this side of Gabrielle Union being consistently cast as The Best Friend. Charly Bliss wear their influences on their sleeve, with flashes of Letters To Cleo, Rilo Kiley, and early Weezer throughout, and hints of vocalist Eva Hendricks' background in musical theatre in the sheer confidence and buoyancy of it all. This could easily coalesce to form little more than a Myspace "Influences" section that's more style than substance, but scratch just a little below the surface and you'll find an honesty and darkness largely absent from their touchstones. Familiar sun-kissed melodies, hooks and emotional key changes give Guppy its appeal, but it's lines like "I can't cum and I can't lie / I can't stop making myself cry" or "Guardrail, taking the stairs / Passed out on the subway with blood in my hair" that make it human. — Emma Garland | LISTEN: Bandcamp

No artist's shadow looms larger over the most recent wave of viral hip-hop sensations as Chief Keef's. Whether in the sing-song hook of "Hate Being Sober," the choppy bravado of "Don't Like," the lo-fi grit of "3Hunna," or the ambient drift of "Citgo," Keef forecasted basically every trend of hyped 2017 music in 2012. So when he begins his latest project, the long-promised Thot Breaker, with an ad-lib whispering "catch up," it might be worth paying attention. Thot Breaker isn't full of obvious hits, and plenty of it falls into indistinct mush, but, sonically, it's one of the most progressive rap releases—if you can even call it that—of the year. Whether Keef is interpolating TLC over breezy steel drum instrumentals ("Can You Be My Friend"), channeling Gucci Mane gruffness ("My Baby"), or chopping dubstep-style bass drops into a lacerating, stadium-sized, ambient pop-punk love ballad ("Whoa"), he is consistently way the fuck out there. On "Slow Dance," by far the prettiest and most romantic Chief Keef song ever made, his voice melts into a vocoded soundscape, like Daft Punk's "Digital Love" on Xanax. It's nothing you expected and maybe not what you wanted either—but that's how experiments work, after all. — Kyle Kramer | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music


In one of his bi-annual art dumps, cult hero Mark McCoy released three albums he'd been meticulously working on for years through his boutique record label, Youth Attack: a black metal stunner by Grinning Death's Head, a hardcore primal scream by Civilized, and a burst of savage energy from Culture Shock. While all three are worth your time (though not your money, since physical copies sold out faster than you can say "Discogs"), Culture Shock's album is a next-level show of force. Packing 10 songs into only 14 minutes, the self-titled record from the Denver band feels like getting run over by the Tour de France before walking away and stepping on a series of rakes Sideshow Bob-style. It's an entirely fitting addition to the Youth Attack catalog, which touts everything from Failures to the Charles Bronson LP that started it all. For a cult hardcore record, that's about the best company to be in. — Dan Ozzi | LISTEN: Bandcamp

There are a bunch of nerds running shit in hip-hop right now. For whatever reason, Toronto's rap producers best exemplify this trend, with "Back to Back" creator Daxz taking it to the furthest level through Kingdom Hearts-referencing artwork and a "fuck genre" approach. His free Soundcloud album Being Alone Isn't Bad is an oddball release that sounds like a grungy 808s & Heartbreak and is even less interested in rap than Kanye's original. Highlight "Cross the Line" has guitar solos, overdriven Linkin Park drum loops, and pop-rock choruses all coexisting under the guise of a rap track. What makes BAIB work is the feeling that Daxz is absolutely making the music he wants to make here, and though it's as uneven as any debut, the singularity of its geeky vision makes it a notable listen. — Phil Witmer | LISTEN: Soundcloud


Music can be an incredible platform for reinvestigation. For Toronto based folk artist Fiver, the forgotten histories of women in a criminal insane asylum was up for re-interrogation. Audible Songs From Rockwood is a sprawling effort, yet sonically it is sparse, leaving more of an impact on listeners. Songs From Rockwood tells fictionalized stories of real women who lived at an asylum for the criminally insane that in Canada in the late 1800s. Fiver's singer Simone Schmidt spent years researching the institution's history, which is a remarkable feat for a singular project. The result is both heartbreaking and illuminating. "Waltz For One" is an jangling plea and love song from the perspective of teenage girl; while on aching fiddle strings "Haldimand County" contemplates colonialism of First Nation communities and the disappointment of a "new world"; and "Yonder White Mare" is an a capella track, emphasizing Schmidt's emphatic, stunning vocals. — Sarah MacDonald | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music

Higher Brothers are leading the new Chinese rap scene out of Chengdu, far to the southwest of the country's government and cultural capital, Beijing. It may not be apparent to foreigners, but China has enormous variety in accents and dialects across its many regions—to the point that it's not uncommon for two people from different places to be completely unable to understand each other. When the PRC was started, the Chengdu accent almost became the default across the country. Today, another accent called putonghua (普通话) is now the standard, so it's incredible to see music done in a local accent taking off without any concession to the mainstream. The Higher Brothers sound is off the wall, and the group's collaborations with artists like Maaly Raw, Charlie Heat, and Famous Dex are giving Chinese kids a fresh aesthetic and a new standard of music and lyrics. This album is our answer to what we are witnessing from the outside. Thank you, internet. Wang Peng | LISTEN: Soundcloud


A few years ago—let's say from 2010 to early 2012—young producers were slavishly devoted to offering their own spin on the lazy-gait drums and artfully deployed samples contained on the late, great J Dilla's 2007 masterwork Donuts. Donuts is great, but the relentless aping potentially gets tiring. This is where Jansport J's Pharaoh comes in: the California producer's album from earlier this year evokes that classic Donuts sound without falling into mere mimicry, with colorful melodic touches and a carefully arranged framework that makes for an exceedingly pleasing listen. Pharaoh is proof that it's possible to wear your influences on your sleeve without sounding like a total faker—and it has the world waiting to hear what's next from Jansport J. —Larry Fitzmaurice | LISTEN: Bandcamp

Cameroon's Jovi is a jack of all trades. He not only handles all the production of his own records, but also for each artist that is signed to his New Bell Music label. That attention to detail and precision shone through on his 2015 Mboko God album, a mixture of trap-like production fused with traditional Cameroonian instrumentation. He continued that trend this year when he released his third album, 16 Wives. The album, comprised of pulsating drums, bells, whistles, chants, and Jovi switching between English, French, and Pidgin displays him as key African artist to look out for. That's especially crucial considering that the bulk of African music people in The States are listening is the afrobeat coming out of the continent's western region. "Ou Meme," "50-50," and "Mongshung" are standouts. —Lawrence Burney | LISTEN: Bandcamp


Julia Holter works in spirals. In The Same Room, a live studio album recorded over two days at RAK Studios in London, is mostly comprised of reinterpretations of the Los Angeles artist's beautiful 2016 LP, Have You In My Wilderness, occasionally blending in tracks from her 2013 cult classic Loud City Song and 2011 debut Tragedy. But that's all right-angle thinking. Holter's always been fascinated by acoustics and their imperfections—her first release, Live Recordings, is an engrossing mash of the synthetic and organic, songs played loudly in a room next door with radio transmissions butting in. In The Same Room captures that odd grandeur in a more straightforward fashion, with Holter behind the piano, minimal backup, and a microphones in front of it all. On Loud City Song, "Horns Surrounding Me" led with its rattles and synths, but here it's graceful and soft, with swelling strings and a grand piano and Holter's voice in a whisper, not a cry. "Vasquez" is uncluttered with its bass now out of the water and the drums more clear and assertive in their quick-fire jazz fills. If you really want to follow the loop, there's "Betsy on the Roof" which started on Live Recordings with a microphone's white noise and Holter's compressed voice buried in the buzz; on …Wilderness it became a howling lament fit for an gilded, empty ballroom; here, it's hushed and melancholy, sung through a jilted character who's moved passed agony and into some melancholy reminiscence. — Alex Robert Ross | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music


It is almost intimidating that Laura Marling's career is as vast and lengthy as it is. Marling has always sung as though she's lived five lifetimes, and yet she began her career at 16 and is only 27 now. Her age isn't as impressive as the depth of the work she seeks to produce. On her sixth studio album Semper Femina, Marling pivots deeper into a psychological spiral, interrogating gender, relationships, what it means to be a woman, and to love women. It's less of a tribute record to women, though songs like "Nouel" and "The Valley" stand as great examples of that. Semper Femina is more a testament to love and to openness and all of the things that come with that, like seeing someone through hardship ("The Valley," "Wild Fire") to the self-awareness to be better in relationships ("Next Time," "Nothing Not Nearly.") —Sarah MacDonald | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music

Lingua Ignota—"unknown language" in Latin—is a wholly fitting nom de plume for Rhode Island artist Kristin Hayter. Her compositions tread at the edges of the known extreme musical pantheon, creating and destroying expectations within the space of a breath or a choral harmony. Shades of power electronics and death industrial's bleak scrapings collide beautifully with liturgical notes, dreamy neoclassical melodies, and memories of past traumas; the interplay between harsh and light conjures a sort of sacred geometry, and Hayter's rippling, often operatic voice holds high court amidst the glorious decay. Her debut EP, Let the Evil of His Own Lips Cover Him, flew under the radar when it was quietly released back in February, which is a tragedy; the album stands as one of 2017's strangest and loveliest documents. — Kim Kelly | LISTEN: Bandcamp


Lor Scoota had already established himself as Baltimore's most promising rapper since first launching his Still In The Trenches mixtape series in 2014. Last year, the rapper also known as ScootaUpNext promised that he'd be taking a turn from the series to release Live from the A, a project that would encompass everyday life on his native West Baltimore strip, Pennsylvania Avenue a.k.a. The A. Due to Scoota's unfortunate murder in June of last year, the tape was postponed and finally saw a posthumous release this April. Like much of his earlier work, Live from the A is a combination of sharp shit talking, forbidden love stories, and ready-made confidence boosters for the summertime car ride. As he says in his "All Eyes On Me" track, "When they calling you Up Next, you know you somebody." Probably true. — Lawrence Burney | LISTEN: Soundcloud

Mar's Fill Your Lungs has only been out since May 20, so one might argue that it hasn't even existed long enough to qualify as "overlooked"—but rules are made to be broken, and bands like Mar don't exactly spring fully-formed from the surf every day. The Providence, Rhode Island duo hurtle themselves into waves of apocalyptic sludge and dire noise with zero regard for their own safety; the riffs come fitfully, lurching and pulling like a rabid dog straining at his leash, as vocalist Kay Belardinelli exorcises her demons in real time, gasping for air and calling down thunder. The lyrics tackle the pain and power of recovery and trauma, imbuing the album's aggrieved, menacing character with a deeply personal bent that only deepens its sense of overwhelming darkness. — Kim Kelly | LISTEN: Bandcamp


There's an interlude at the end of The Drum Chord Theory's ostensible single, "Dent Jusay," where Matt Martians and his bandmates discuss the logistics of sneaking weed into a venue with a friend. They assure her that it's cool, that there will be plenty of bud and lots of instrument cases to put it in, that they have a blunt rolled, etc. If there is a thesis to the album, it is pretty much that section—although, if you prefer slightly different phrasing, the 51-second track "Found Me Some Acid Tonight," faithful to its title, could also work. The Drum Chord Theory is a ready-to-play stoned jam session with friends, something to throw on for lazy afternoons and hazy late nights. Pianos, funky basslines, and snatches of vocal melodies drift in and out, creating grooves and blowing them up just as quickly, pulsing with the indistinct intimacy of the best kinds of studio outtakes. In the age of the algorithm, The Drum Chord Theory is defiantly organic, a lived-in record that you're almost certain you heard before at some warm, half-forgotten gathering of friends. —Kyle Kramer | LISTEN: Soundcloud

When Milk Music dropped Mystic 100's with little fanfare in April, it came as a surprise to most who had been following the Olympia, Washington band. But their third album is simply astonishing, as it dials up the influences of Neil Young's Zuma, Dinosaur Jr., and the Kirkwood brothers and adds more of their unique punk, classic rock, and psyched blues. Tracks like, "Twists & Turns & Headtrips," head further out from city limits, to that mysterious space between Washington forest and Californian desert. That place where people live in cabins and where there's always weird shit in the tea. Take nine-minutes out of your day to listen to the Crazy Horse-like "Crying Wand" and get acquainted with Milk Music. – Tim Scott | LISTEN: Bandcamp


Nef the Pharaoh is one of the most charming young rappers in the game, and his debut The Chang Project is a high-flying, floating project that feels and sounds like ocean air. The Bay Area rapper, who's been deemed up next by fellow Bay brethren E-40, has a quick witted flow that feels effortless, as demonstrated on the slippery "Back Out" and bouncy "Bass Head," the project's two standout tracks. There's a lot of talk about What Rap Means these days—young versus old versus new versus whatever the fuck versus whatever the fuck else—but sometimes a kid comes along who is simply just really good at rapping, and not afraid to have fun. That's Nef—soaring and not looking back. — Eric Sundermann | LISTEN: Soundcloud

Who can say if this record has been overlooked. We all have different music tastes and in some circles, Nite Jewel is queen of the dance. Still, let's talk about Real High because it's a record imbued with the sense of the year's mid period, those moments when opportunity becomes reality, when life can feel like more than the sum of its parts, and all those other platitudes that feel like being in love—whether that's with yourself, with someone else, with the idea of relinquishing the past and looking forward to the future, or simply leaving the house in shorts for the next four months and returning home in the morning scented with the breeze of the good life. What we're saying is: Real High is some beautiful, reflective, poetic—yet also fun!—summer music shit. — Ryan Bassil | LISTEN: Bandcamp


PartyNextDoor is nothing if not inconsistent. While there are peaks of superb songwriting instinct ("Work") and experimental instrumental meddling ("Brown Skin") he also is a habitual offender of overlong songs and generally 'da fuck' lines like "mixed bitch, but she fuck with white" that are delivered with such seriousness it crosses into humour. On COLOURS 2, the follow up to his 2014 EP of the same, he doesn't change any of those elements but there's a focus in these songs that he hasn't displayed outside the songs Drake steals, in years. For instance, "Peace of Mind" follows a tight, nearly hookless churn of the usual narcissism and self loathing but is kept brief only allowing space for the downtempo production to ride to it's end. That's not to say this EP is spectacular; it isn't, (in fact most of the songs border on filler) but the implication that an overlooked project is always a hidden gem is a false one. Sometimes good is just good enough and deserves a listen. —Jabbari Weekes | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music

Pumarosa's debut single "Priestess" arrived in 2015 as a slow-burning experimental dance jam, clocking in at seven minutes with a cacophonous sax solo. Amidst pop's short attention spans, it took chutzpah to release something like that as your band's first song. Two years later, that audacity is also what makes Pumarosa's first LP The Witch so compelling. It's a debut marked by the kind of breadth, style, and statement of a band on its second or third album. As the title suggests, The Witch explores female perspectives and relationships, less in the Lana Del Rey boutique empowerment sense than the historically persecuted, systemically forged outcast sense. Frontwoman Isabel Munoz-Newsome's howl sticks in your ears, wrapped around rhythms and melodies drawn from post-punk, space rock, psych, trip-hop, art rock, and experimental. The result is something like if Siouxsie and the Banshees had been contemporaries of Spiritualized and Radiohead—surreal and mythic, stark and anxious, an album of paradox that gets more addictive with each play. — Andrea Domanick | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music


If there is any justice in this world (an idea which, in fairness, is under debate) Ragana's You Take Nothing will be remembered as one of the defining heavy music albums of 2017. The day after the United States elected a bigoted petty tyrant for its king, the Oakland duo released the album's title track as a charity single to raise funds for the water protectors at Standing Rock; "You Take Nothing" was the first new music I heard that day, and the power and fury woven into its spare notes struck me hard. Ragana's effortless command of seemingly disparate genres—the two vocalists and multi-instrumentalists skip from black metal and doom to shoegaze, sludge, screamo, and riot grrrl—speaks both to the power of their DIY anarcha-feminist message, and the cathartic value of their songs. By any means necessary, using any weapon that comes to hand, Ragana is here to force you to listen—and you'd do well to acquiesce. — Kim Kelly | LISTEN: Bandcamp

Pop music is at its best when it is playful, yet not naive, and when it has a holistic approach to style and sound. Toronto's RALPH not only created genuinely great pop music on her debut self-titled EP, but she also created a cohesive aesthetic and atmosphere that plays just as much of a role as the sounds do. RALPH is like a print you'd find on a 70s Emilio Pucci dress: kaleidoscopic, bright, and inherently fun. Though RALPH is a succinct six song EP that tackles classic themes in pop (love, angst, wayward love interests), it still lands impressively. "Tease" is a glam-rock-y, diva-inspired tune about a wandering man circulating a group of friends; "Cold To The Touch" is a true pop anthem; while "Lit The Fire" is the hidden gem of the group, a ballad that could easily fit in the 80s as much as it does now. — Sarah MacDonald | LISTEN: Soundcloud


The most energetic song on Jaguar Palace is called "Had a Revelation" and it doesn't articulate a revelation. It's a burnt-edged country-inflected psych song that opens with two existential questions: "Just to find satisfaction / Do you lose clarity? / Is the truth worth saving / If a lie's what you need?" It ends with a dog-tired admission: "Had a revelation, I just can't find the time." Shane Renfro's debut album as RF Shannon is a cosmic and sun-slow record, composed out of a Texas desert, that wonders about everything. But while his hallucinations are abstract, the questions are real—death, decisions, disillusionment, death again—and Renfro follows each one as far as it'll take him. I figure that it's best to this a dozen times while contracting heatstroke in a ghost town somewhere in the Southwest and questioning the nature of existence, just to get on Renfro's level. If you can't do that, there's the yearning slide-backed chorus of "New Weimar Train" and the swirling flutes and dulcimers of the 11-minute "Hotelvilla" to get you halfway. A few fully formed revelations too. The best one's hidden at the top as a capsule philosophy to fight against: "Easy thing / Easy thing / Easy thing, to pretend." — Alex Robert Ross | LISTEN: Apple Music

Ryuichi Sakamoto - async
The "comeback" album is easy to pull off when your only obstacle is either a hiatus or a dip in public acclaim. It's substantially tougher to do when your adversary is death itself. All-around music legend Ryuichi Sakamoto recovered from cancer and Japan's 2011 earthquake to compose async, an album that successfully reconciles the many sides of his artistry. On the grand opening requiem "andata" and the solemn, beautiful "solari," the mood is funereal as organ-like synths carve out deliberate melodies with jazzy ease. At other points, async is discordant and disquieting, with pieces sometimes consisting of nothing but electronically manipulated percussion that skitters and clangs. It's a dark album, but ultimately comforting; sampled human voices provide warmth throughout, guiding the listener and possibly Sakamoto himself through the prospect of finality. — Phil Witmer | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music


Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else - Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Spencer Radcliffe is a bizarre kid who doesn't like to talk to the press and makes music that sounds like someone who doesn't like to talk to the press—which is to say, Enjoy the Great Outdoors is a slow-moving, glacial-like shoegaze-y record that sounds like it fell out of a cloud in the sky from 1997. The sludgy, introspective album is one made for 4 AM spliffs after a night out when you're absolutely blitzed and wanting to really think about why you drank 27 beers when you're 27 years old. It's a record made for people who don't like to talk. So shut up and listen. — Eric Sundermann | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music

There is a certain kind of pop punk that garners media interest these days and that brand of pop punk—how do we put this politely?—sucks some series butthole. Of the non-butthole-sucking variety, though, are the Dopamines, who truly embody the drunken heart of the genre on their fourth LP, Tales of Interest. The Midwestern anti-heroes have made a comeback that no one was expecting after a seven-year gap, and don't seem to have matured whatsoever as songwriters (to their benefit!). The band that once famously sang about washing 13 Vicodins down with 30 Keystone Lights has put forth 14 (mostly) new tales of scumbaggery served lukewarm. Tales of Interest is a refreshingly unpretentious slice of sloppy punk. — Dan Ozzi | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music

Interplanetary Class Classics is the debut record from the Moonlandingz, a supergroup made from members of Fat White Family, Eccentronic Research Council, and sometimes Sean Lennon. On paper it sounds… OK? In your head however, pumping at dangerous volume, it sounds like falling into a plughole amidst all the sludge, hair, and drugs to have washed from your body, as though this record is capable of removing mind from matter. Which is a really good thing. Fans of Suicide or the Cramps or anyone opposed to homogenized rock music should see this record as an absolute must in their collection, or else forever be lacking in its hurriedly brilliant spirit. Then there's the final track, a six-minute epic featuring input from The Human League's Phil Oakey and Yoko Ono. You will not hear anything else like this in 2017. — Ryan Bassil | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music

You may not have noticed when Genesis dropped back in March, because like much of the music Terius Nash has been making as The-Dream in his post-Def Jam years, it was released without much fanfare. The ten-song project is the soundtrack to The-Dream's 2016 short film of the same name, though the album didn't see the light of day until this spring. In spite of its quiet release, it's worth your attention. It's the logical evolution of where the famed producer has been taking his sound. That is to say, it's darker, it's grittier, it's moodier, and it sees him experimenting with the lower reaches of his vocal range, toying with electronic beats, and pushing the boundaries of his signature pop-R&B sound. Highlights include "Bury," a collaboration with SBTRKT, which also appeared on the electronic artist's 2016 project, Save Yourself; "Virtuous," a song that features Wiz Khalifa and asks the age-old question of whether one wants to be a "wife or a girlfriend"; and "Cardinal Sin," which, in true Terius fashion, discusses being attracted to another person when you're in a relationship. It is not likely to go down in history as The-Dream's best effort, but it's nice to hear him trying something a little bit different. — Leslie Horn | LISTEN: Spotify, Apple Music

In 2017, the line between mixtape and official album is still a tad blurry when it comes to independent artists. But with labels figuring new ways to grab artists early in their progression, vintage style mid 2000s-like mixtapes are resurfacing. Enter DC's WillThaRapper, an artist with significant regional buzz and a new deal with Republic Records. With a rap style that can be directly traced to the relentlessness of Chicago's drill scene, he has made a name for showing the ability to maneuver and fit onto an array of production styles. That remains true on his Beat Bully 4 tape, the newest installment of a series of him doing just what the title suggests. Take "Shorty Shorty" for example, a seemingly autobiographical story over Desiigner's "Timmy Turner" about a young man from the struggle trying to create a better life for his family. — Lawrence Burney | LISTEN: Soundcloud

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