This past year has been full of new music and some great albums. In case not all of them made it on your radar, or you need to be reminded, here’s a list of the the best albums of the year.
Written by Laiya (@laiyasworld)
So, it’s almost the end of the year. Before you bust your brain open trying to think of the perfect gift for your loved one, why not give the gift that keeps on giving? What am I talking about, you ask? How about one or more of the 10 Best Philly/A-Philly-Ated Albums of the Year? And my list has something for everyone!
(In no specific order)
1. Nikki Jean – Pennies In A Jar
Creative Ambassador Nikki Jean may not be a Philly native, but I’m sure she’ll agree that her years spent in the Philadelphia music scene definitely helped mold her as a singer/songwriter. Pennies In A Jar is Nikki’s debut CD, and it sets her apart from anyone else on this list with her mixture of soul, pop and folk.
2. Eric Roberson – Mister Nice Guy
Eric Roberson. Another “A-Philly-Ated” singer/songwriter who has been in the game for some time now. This New Jersey native’s initial claim to fame as a songwriter can be heard on some of your favorite albums from 112, MusiqSoulchild, Carl Thomas, Dwele and more, but his catalog of at least 7 studio albums includes a mix of the most beautiful ballads and blends of house and soul music. If you don’t believe me (or if you really do) check him out for yourself. Please!
3. Marsha Ambrosius – Late Nights & Early Mornings
Are we sure Marsha is from London? Because her soul is pure Philly! This Creative Ambassador had one of the most anticipated solo releases since Lauryn Hill, and she didn’t disappoint! From her honest and blatant ballad “I Hope She Cheats On You With A Basketball Player” to her beautiful ballad that turned into a poignant video “Far Away,” she somehow manages to put our love stories into the words we couldn’t find. Now that’s talent!
4. Kindred the Family Soul – Love Has No Recession
Isn’t it time we got some love advice from a couple living the example of some good lovin’? Well, Kindred gave us a 4th chance to get to know love in that fantasy way (it’s there 4th studio album), but more importantly, in that practical way. Aja and Fatin Danzler, married and parents of 6 children, continue to not only sing about love, but to be true examples that love (and hard work as Aja would say) can indeed conquer all!
5. The Roots – Undun
What do I need to say about The Roots album besides, “You don’t have it yet? What’s wrong with you?” The Roots continue to move us with there 11th studio album. I believe that entitles them to the title of the most releases from any hip hop group (don’t hold me to it, unless its right). I consider them hip hop’s fine wine, they just get better with age.
6. Betty Wright and The Roots – Betty Wright The Movie
Oh you didn’t know that The Roots released two albums this year? Well that’s what I’m here for! Usually when a project is “produced” by The Roots, it really means that it has been touched by the combination of band leader Questlove and keyboardist / Grammy Award winning producer / Creative Ambassador James Poyser. This is The Roots’ second collaboration album with a music legend (the first Al Green). For the last decade, Ms. Betty has been using her talents for teaching. She has been the vocal coach on American Idol for quite some time now, along with some notable private sessions for voices like Joss Stone and Jennifer Lopez, but this is her time to shine!
7. Common – The Dreamer / The Believer
Common has put his work in as an “A-Philly-ate”. He has done countless records and shows with The Roots, as well as appearing with Jill Scott and Marsha Ambrosius on other projects. He is truly an artist we can depend on for a quality album, and one of our favorite reflections of the evolution of hip hop. Just when we think that we’ve heard our favorite Common album, he puts another in the ring.
8. Dice Raw
Calling yourself “The Greatest Rapper Never”ï»¿ takes a certain type of ego/candidness that only Dice Raw can exude. Why do I say that? Well, Dice has quietly be refining his MC skills since he was scooped up by The Roots at the age of 16. Unlike most, he didn’t run when his solo debut (Reclaiming The Dead, released in 2000) didn’t meet sales expectations. He wrote instead! For the last few years, Dice has been at the helm of most of The Roots projects, as well as writing and conceptualizing songs for Jill Scott, John Legend, Young Jeezey and more. Is he really just that good? Listen for yourself!
9. DJ Drama and Meek Mill – Dream Chasers
Meek Mills. All this talk and not even a debut studio album yet! However, he has managed to catch the ear of TI and Rick Ross. Oh and did I mention his debut mix cd (narrated and mixed by Philly’s own DJ Drama) has already sold 300,000 copies digitally? Meek is making the most out of what some would think is his last chance of chasing his dreams. It feels like its just the beginning.ï»¿
And, Questlove’s pick for Philly Album of the Yearï»¿:
Drum roll please…
10. Jill Scott – The Light of the Sun
Is it just me, or is Jill Scott always in my head? Every time she puts a new album out, it feels like at least half of the songs are a reflection of my life or how I feel. Get out of my head, Jill! Wait. Actually, I take that back, because no one can sing what I feel, like Jill. And, this album doesn’t disappoint. As we evolve, so does Jill. Jill gives us the true story of a real woman, and there is so much more to tell! This album is perfection. ‘Nuff said!