Albums of the Year: The Cannon Extended Version


Ben Burton, Writer

Though I only name 3 albums in my article in The Cannon, there was a lot of other music that I couldn’t discuss.  For starters, this edition of the article has my top five albums rather than my top three, and I will also mention some of my honorable mentions from this year. 


This year personally was a really exciting year for music. Some of my favorite artists such as Kanye West, Baby Keem, Tyler, the Creator, Billie Eilish, Brockhampton, J. Cole and many more released music this year. I also found some smaller artists that released new music this year that I am really excited to see what they do next.


  1. Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish


When ‘Happier Than Ever’ came out this summer I was really excited to listen. I have been a fan of Billie Eilish since her work on the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack and have loved all of her music since. Her second studio album reminds me of her EP Don’t Smile At Me in the sense that her 2018 album When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? was so dark and ominous and that this LP really comes back to that ‘sad girl’ music. I really liked a lot of the production on the album, she and her brother Finneas did a really good job on all of her projects to keep the production interesting. The drums combined with the soft organ on the song ‘I Didn’t Change My Number’ makes it sound almost like a 2000’s soul/R&B song. I also really like the angelic vocals on ‘GOLDWING’. In the first half of the song, it sounds like it is going to be a very mellow, almost gospel-like song, but the beat switch in the second half makes this song a really interesting listen. 




The greatest boyband since One Direction Brockhampton returns to the music scene after their melancholic, R&B-influenced album ‘GINGER’. On their latest album ROADRUNNER, we see the Brockhampton boys return to their classic sound but with a twist. Per usual, this album features electronic-influenced production with lively and ecstatic verses from the usual members such as Kevin Abstract, Merlyn Wood, Joba, and Matt Champion, but we also get a handful of impressive features from some very unexpected artists. A$AP Ferg sheds some of his musical style onto the song ‘BANKROLL’ as we see many of the Brockhampton members taking on Ferg’s style.  Throughout this album, it is really fascinating to see the group really showing off their eclectic ability, being able to make songs like ‘I’LL TAKE YOU ON’ where we see Brockhampton making their own version of an R&B song with a feature from Charlie Wilson, and hopping on the current electro-pop trend on songs like ‘OLD NEWS’ and ‘COUNT ON ME’. But I think seeing Brockhampton do what they do best is my favorite part of the album. ‘BUZZCUT’ featuring Danny Brown has to be one of my favorite songs from this year with its aggressive nature and Danny’s bombastic verse. Not to mention the work they did on this LP with Ryan Beatty, who is arguably one of my favorite artists. Overall, Roadrunner is exactly what I needed from Brockhampton: a little bit of everything. 


  1. Melodic Blue – Baby Keem


I fell in love with Baby Keem’s music after hearing his hit songs ‘ORANGE SODA’ and ‘MOSHPIT’ on TikTok. After listening to his 2019 album Die For My B**** I was obsessed. I really loved the arrogant and energetic nature of the songs on this album. On The Melodic Blue, Baby Keem continues to deliver his loud and aggressive flows on songs like ‘trademark usa’ and ‘family ties’, but he also gives us some more laid back songs, like the pop classic ‘16’. 


Unlike Keem’s other albums, The Melodic Blue is a more playful album. On ‘range brothers’ featuring Kendrick Lamar, Kendrick and Keem go back and forth on a verse cracking jokes, mentioning TikToker MikeCakez’s viral videos. My personal favorites from The Melodic Blue are ‘vent’, ‘scapegoats’ and ‘family ties’. 


  1. Donda – Kanye West


If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am an unapologetic Kanye West fan. On his latest album Donda, I really like how he has a very eclectic mix of songs, similar to a previous album The Life Of Pablo. I enjoyed how Kanye helped artists develop a new sound that they could move forward with, like Don Toliver’s stunning verse on ‘Moon’ or the many verses from Vory throughout the album. 


 I also really enjoyed the song ‘Jail’ where Kanye and Jay-Z return on a song after not collaborating since 2011 on Watch The Throne. Kanye is known for pushing back albums well past their expected release date, and I think with this being a tribute to his mother Donda West, he wanted it to be perfect. Adding onto the process of the album, the deluxe version Kanye released in November made me really happy to see, because some of my favorite songs he played at the listening party were added to this deluxe version. Kanye West’s Donda is a blueprint for the future of rap. I think that Kanye really used features on this album not to just throw high-profile artists on his album, but to help them achieve a higher platform and even improve their sound. 


  1. Call Me If You Get Lost – Tyler, The Creator


On Tyler, The Creator’s 2021 album Call Me If You Get Lost, Tyler worked with DJ Drama to take on a 2000’s rap inspired persona and sound. Many people were quick to criticize the album because of DJ Drama constantly yelling out random phrases throughout the project. But in a tweet early in Tyler’s career, he expressed he wanted to make a Gangsta Grillz Tape, a series of albums that DJ Drama has been known for. Tyler does a really good job of making his own version, combining his sound with the classic sound of 2000’s rap. Whether it’s Tyler’s verses or the samples and production, Call Me If You Get Lost is a constant reminder of Tyler’s 2000’s Hip-Hop influence. 


Similar to Kanye’s Donda, Tyler puts artists on a sound that you wouldn’t expect to hear them on. For example, on ‘WUSYANAME’, Tyler has rapper NBA Youngboy taking on an R&B persona, something we have never seen before from Youngboy. I also appreciate that Tyler collaborated with Lil Wayne again. Hearing Wayne rap as if he is a bebop jazz artist is something so left field that it left me speechless after listening. 


With this album being the first time Tyler has really rapped since his 2015 album Cherry Bomb, I think Call Me If You Get Lost was simply a reminder that Tyler can still outrap your favorite rapper. 


My first honorable mention is Indigo De Souza’s stunning psychedelic pop rock album Any Shape You Take. Indigo De Souza is an artist that I discovered over the summer and I fell in love with this album. The song ‘17’ is a song that has been on my playlist and on repeat since I found it and I really love the autotune vocals. 


Another honorable mention goes to the duo Silk Sonic and their album An Evening With Silk Sonic. When Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars came together under the alias “Silk Sonic” and unveiled their first song “Leave The Door Open” the anticipation grew as I became obsessed with this song. I really like how the two advertised their music with the 70s soul and jazz look and also did a really good job of making their songs sound like old jazz at its finest. The only problems I had with the album was when I was scrolling through TikTok one day and someone made the comparison that An Evening With Silk Sonic sounded like music from an Old Navy or Gap clothing commercial and I can’t look at the album the same. 

My third honorable mention is Faye Webster’s I Know I’m Funny haha. I found this album in the beginning of the school year and it quickly became one of my favorites. Webster’s childlike vocals and the jazzy and almost country-like instrumentals come together for a really calm and soothing listen. My favorite songs from this album are ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’, ‘In A Good Way’ and ‘Kind Of’.

My final honorable mention goes to J. Cole’s The Off Season. This was an album that went through my listening cycle but after giving it a re-listen recently, it became one of my favorite albums of his. I think that The Off Season is just J. Cole’s music at its finest, but it’s so much more. I really enjoyed the samples and production on the album and the features complemented the album well. My favorite songs from this album are ‘m y . l i f e’, ‘l e t . g o . m y . h a n d’ and ‘i n t e r l u d e’.