BILLBOARD'S 50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2017 - VINCE STAPLES, BIG FISH THEORY
BILLBOARD'S 50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2017
You probably remember 2016 as the year of the Event Album, a seemingly endless stream of huge artists unleashing monolithic statements -- often from out of nowhere, and usually while you were still trying to digest the album dropped by a different megastar just weeks earlier. It was overwhelming enough to make us wonder if this was what every year was going to be like as a music fan: eleven months of hopping from major release to major release, with one month at the end to scramble to sort through it all.
Well, 2017 was much more merciful on us. There were event albums, sure, but fewer without warning -- to the point where one of the few legitimately big surprises was literally titled Without Warning (and still announced the day before) -- and not so many that seemed to stop the world on its axis, the way releases from Kanye, Beyonce, Rihanna and more did in '16. But that was fine: It just meant that we had more of a chance to search for personal favorites, and more time to spend with those we found. Not like the stars totally let us down, either -- from commercial breakthroughs to solo bows to artistic rebirths to however the hell we're referring to More Life these days, our best and brightest certainly still made an impact, just without sucking up all the oxygen in the pop universe around them.
Between the records that announced their presence with authority to the ones we're still trying to get to come out of their shell, here are the Billboard staff's 50 favorite albums of 2017.
18. Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory
Vince Staples isn’t one to hold his tongue. The Long Beach rapper has released a project every year since 2014’s Hell Can Wait EP, each with whip-smart critiques of the racism and gang violence that rocked his own upbringing. But on Big Fish Theory -- his second album proper -- Staples looks forward, dissecting the trappings of his own celebrity (“glass shoes ain’t made to walk,” he admits on “745”) and the prejudiced society surrounding it (quipping “Obama ain't enough for me, we only getting started" on "BagBak"). All this is delivered through bass-bloated, house-leaning soundscapes that see Staples breach Detroit techno, so much so that the rapper says he deserves a Grammy for electronic album of the year. Keep at it, Vince -- we’re listening, and learning. -- T.C.