Migos took over the world in 2017. Undoubtedly one of the biggest acts in hip-hop right now and arguably the biggest group in the world, their album Culture’s title only became more and more accurate as the year went on, with hits like the star making ‘Bad and Boujee’ with Lil Uzi Vert and then tracks like ‘Slippery’ and ’T-Shirt’ on which they showed they don’t just make hits, they can rap like the best. The sequel, Culture II, is due early this year and if they can pull off a repeat of their success in 2017, there’s no reason to think they’re going anywhere any time soon.
SOPHIE has produced tracks for the likes of Charli XCX, Vince Staples and even Madonna and put out a compilation of a few early singles back in 2015, Product, containing the sugary pop with weird, plastic textures on tracks like ‘Lemonade’ and ‘Bipp’ that make her stand out from the rest of the PC Music clan. For her new album, SOPHIE seems to have refocussed her music around herself, singing on the more traditional and structured ‘It’s Okay to Cry’ and appearing and performing a dance in the video for ‘Ponyboy’, which slaps harder than anything she’s ever put out before. Whatever she produces, it’ll be a unique and innovative hybrid of pop and experimental electronic unlike anything else.
I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside was one of 2015’s best albums, a short, morbid trip painted through Earl’s excellent lyrics and simple yet stellar production. The former Odd Future member has promised new music in 2018, saying “don’t think I haven’t been at work”. On the strength of his catalogue, whatever’s he’s been cooking up for this long is sure to be great.
AM may have had a somewhat mixed reception (I think it’s second best only to Favourite Worst Nightmare), but there’s never going to be a time when the UK doesn’t go mad for new Arctic Monkeys. Little is known about the project as of yet, but with rumours of Kevin Parker from Tame Impala producing, we could be hearing a more psychedelic sound from Arctic Monkeys, something they’ve dabbled in before with Humbug but likely a more synth based approach befitting the influence of Parker.
Charli XCX’s follow up to Sucker has been delayed more times than I can count, instead choosing to put out a couple of mixtapes that have championed some of the artists more on the fringes of pop and rap, particularly artists with queer and sex positive themes like CupCakke and Brooke Candy. There have been a couple of label backed singles from the album proper like ‘After the Afterparty’ with Lil Yachty and ‘Boys’ which was one of the best tracks of 2017, accompanied by one of the best videos. It feels like Charli has always been held back a bit by her label and she hasn’t been shy about making these complaints in the press, so hopefully the label have learned their lesson considering the critical success of her mixtapes, and will have been a bit more hands off with her latest full length, whenever it eventually surfaces.
2017’s biggest breakout track ‘Bodak Yellow’ is yet to find itself an album to call home and with the release of new single ‘Bartier Cardi’ with 21 Savage it’s clear the Queen of the Bronx is gearing up to release her first full length album. Although her roots in reality TV and as an Instagram celebrity make it easy to dismiss Cardi’s rap aspirations as a mere cash in, her rate of improvement has been unprecedented even from ‘Bodak Yellow’ to her features on tracks like Migos’ ‘Motorsport’ and the purposefully corny ‘Finesse’ with Bruno Mars. Not to mention her X factor, her fun and enigmatic personality that shines through on every track she’s on. Don’t try and tell me you don’t feel like the baddest bitch in the room whenever ‘Bodak Yellow’ comes on. A bit more variety may be needed for a full length album, but this could very easily expose some of her weaknesses a la Lil Yachty’s debut Teenage Emotions. Then again she could make an album full of ‘Bodak Yellow’ clones and I wouldn’t be that disappointed.
According to Kevin Shields a new MBV is “100% coming” in 2018. This is the band that made Loveless. That’s reason enough to be excited.
Having finally broken away from being the guy that XXX is mates with, Ski Mask the Slump God is due a massive 2018. Out of all of the countless rappers that broke out on Soundcloud this year, Ski is easily one of the most unique and interesting voices. His flow is so quick and off kilter, but always very clear. Like a lot of rappers on a Soundcloud come up, there’s a lot of material out there but a lot of it is unfocussed, minute and a half tracks with a hook, a verse, the hook again and that’s it. These tracks might do the job on the come up, but now it’s time to get a bit more commercially focussed, hopefully the tracks will be a lot more developed and well rounded on his debut. We’ve seen that Ski can thrive on tracks like this with tracks like ‘BabyWipe’ off of his last mixtape, so there’s every reason to expect a star making debut.
The torchbearer’s of blackgaze (a crossover genre of black metal and shoegaze), Deafheaven haven’t released anything 2015’s well received New Bermuda, which went in a more chuggier direction than 2012’s beautiful Sunbather. While nothing’s been announced yet, they’re the best at what they do and they’re always adding new elements to their sound. If they come out with a new album for 2018, it’s a shoe in for the year’s Top 10 Metal Albums lists that will surface come December.
A kind of edgy pick, but while the dramatic sonic left turn of 17, the heinous allegations of domestic violence (detailed by Pitchfork here) and general social media fuckery have split X’s fanbase and caused him to be mired in a near constant storm of controversy, he still has a group of die hards eagerly awaiting his next project (around 5 million followers on Instagram). While I thought 17 was complete wank (apart from ‘Jocelyn Flores’), there’s no denying that he has a huge reach. He claims to have several albums ready to be released so it’s almost certain that something will surface in 2018, although it’s reception will largely depend on whether he is cleared of the domestic violence charges. If he’s convicted, then no doubt a smaller group of die hards will still lap up whatever surfaces, but if he’s cleared, then the sky’s the limit. What the album will be like is another matter entirely. It could be all out bangers like his breakout track ‘Look At Me!’, emotional rap laments like ‘i met the devil in miami…’ or more 17-esque emo-folk tripe. Whatever it is, it’s sure to make waves whether they be positive or negative.
Words by Jack Hollis