A Year in Music: 7 of My Favorite Music Releases of 2021

2021 was… a year, to say the least.

A lot happened last year, and I hope I’m not the only one who felt like keeping up to date with music was the last thing on my mind. Let’s be real, I couldn’t even keep up with my blog. However, I did find come across a few albums that stood out to me in 2021. So without further ado, here are 7 of my favorite album releases of 2021 (along with some honorable mentions).

Heaux Tales

Jazmine Sullivan

January 2021

Favorite Songs: Bodies (Intro), Pick Up Your Feelings, On It, Lost One, Girl Like Me

I just want to preface this by saying that Jazmine Sullivan’s voice is a force to be reckoned with and there’s not many people who are seeing her vocally. Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales is the first new album I listened to in 2021, and she delivered a combo of hard hitting lyrics and mind blowing vocals on this project. Pick Up Your Feelings, which was one of the album’s singles released in November of 2020 is one of – if not the best vocal performances on the album, as well as my favorite songs. Topics like love, infidelity, sexuality, and heartbreak are explored on this project through song lyrics, as well as the skits that appear throughout the album. On this album, Jazmine collaborated with 3 other talents: Ari Lennox (On It/ Ari’s Tale), Anderson .Paak (Price Tags), and H.E.R. (Girl Like Me). Heaux Tales recieved its fair share of praise through accolades like the BET and Soul Train Award for Album of the Year, as well as 3 Grammy nominations for Best R&B album, Best R&B song, and Best R&B Performance for “Pick Up Your Feelings”.

Slime Language 2

Young Stoner Life

April 2021

Favorite Songs: Slatty, Ski, Solid, Came and Saw, Diamonds Dancing

Slime Language 2 is Atlanta- based record label Young Stoner Life’s second studio album. Founded by Young Thug in 2016, Young Stoner Life (often shortened to YSL)’s roster includes Gunna, Lil Keed, Karlae, Lil Duke, T-Shyne, BSLime, and more- who make an appearance on the album. One of my favorite thing about this album is that I’ve always enjoyed when record labels/ music collective’s release group albums- as it’s reminicent of Bad Boy Records in the 90s, or Young Money in the 2010s. While all of YSL had their moments on this album, I feel like Gunna really shined on this album and showed his rapping abilities on songs like Slatty– and once I pressed play on the album and heard it start with this song, I knew I was in for a treat. An extensive list of features can be found on this album like Drake (Solid), Travis Scott (Diamonds Dancing), Lil Uzi Vert (Proud of U), Rowdy Rebel (Came and Saw), and more. This album did a pretty good job at introducing the record label as a whole and putting the label’s newcomers out there.

SOUR

Olivia Rodrigo

May 2021

Favorite Songs: brutal, traitor, deja vu, good 4 u, enough for you

SOUR is the debut album by 18 year old Disney star Olivia Rodrigo, who’s first single drivers license became a viral hit due to the buzz surrounding Olivia’s breakup with a fellow castmate. SOUR dives into the ups and downs of being a teenager like heartbreak, confusion, and just overall sadness, which as the album’s title suggests- is sour. Though I can’t really relate to this album as a 25 year old, I just know if this album dropped between the years of 2012-14, teenage me would have been crying and throwing up on the first listen alone. Olivia started the album off with brutal– which describes the previously mentioned teenage confusion perfectly. On songs like traitor, good 4 u, and enough for you, Olivia not only delves into the feelings that follow a breakup, but also begins to blame herself and her imperfections for it all. SOUR was a great debut album that is well deserving of its Grammy nominations for Album, Record, and Song of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best New Artist.

Planet Her

Doja Cat

June 2021

Favorite Songs: Woman, Need to Know, I Don’t Do Drugs, Alone, You Right

2021 was a HUGE year for Doja Cat. The release of her third studio album Planet Her, in addition to her performances at the 2021 Grammys, Bilboards, and VMAs (which she also hosted) for sure solidified Doja Cat’s title as that girl. Planet Her not only gave us hit after hit, but also came with amazing visuals on the album’s corresponding music videos. The internet also contributed to the album’s success, as TikTok dances/ trends were created for the songs Woman, Need To Know, and Kiss Me More. In addition to internet success, Planet Her was Doja Cat’s first ever album to debut at #2 on the Billboard 200, and also placed #1 on the Top R&B Albums chart- and earned a total of 5 Grammy nominations.

TEMPORARY HIGHS IN THE VIOLET SKIES

Snoh Aalegra

July 2021

Favorite Songs: IN YOUR EYES, JUST LIKE THAT, TANGERINE DREAM, VIOLET SKIES, DYING 4 YOUR LOVE

TEMPORARY HIGHS is Snoh Aalegra’s third studio album- which describes the highs and low of love and heartbreak, and how it feels to go through the motions. Snoh Aalegra’s previous album -Ugh, those feels again made me a fan of her voice, as well as it’s ability to bring her lyrics to life and invoke emotion. This album features Tyler, The Creator (NEON PEACH/ IN THE MOMENT), James Fauntelroy (ON MY MIND), and The Neptunes who produced IN YOUR EYES. Overall, I think this album is a great listen, and so do the Grammys- as TEMPORARY HIGHS recieved a nomination for Best R&B Album.

The Melodic Blue

Baby Keem

September 2021

Favorite Songs: trademark usa, range brothers, family ties, booman, durag activity

The Melodic Blue is without hesitation my favorite album of 2021. I will never forget when family ties was first released as a single, nor will I forget how I had it on repeat for days. Baby Keem is definitely a different breed, and this album solidifies it. Baby Keem’s music is a sound like no other- his ability to switch beats and adjust his flow to match is impressive and not something many artists can do. What he did on trademark usa and range brothers is still unbelievable to me to this day. I truly believe that the first song on an album sets the tone and trademark usa was a perfect introduction to this project. This album features Kendrick Lamar (range brothers/ family ties), Travis Scott (durag activity), Don Toliver (cocoa), and Brent Fiyaz (lost souls), which was simply icing on the cake for me. I already considered this album to be great, but seeing Baby Keem live in NYC on The Melodic Blue tour elevated my appreciation for this album even more. I’m so excited to see where the future takes Baby Keem, because I truly believe artists like him are what music was missing.

Still Over It

Summer Walker

November 2021

Favorite Songs: Bitter, No Love, Reciprocate, Constant Bulls***, Unloyal

Still Over It is Summer Walker’s second studio album, and serves as a follow up to her first album- Over It. On this album, Summer Walker describes her relationship with producer London on da Track, as well was what ultimately led to the end of it. The anticipation surrounding Still Over It to garner the most album streams in a day by a woman artist on Apple Music. The album starts with Bitter, where Summer Walker puts her feelings on the table, and is followed by a narration by Cardi B, offering Summer advice on how to manuver the rumors and social media drama regarding Summer’s pregnancy. Summer also teams up with other artists including JT (Ex for a Reason), SZA (No Love), Ari Lennox (Unloyal) Omarion (Screwin), and more. The album ends with Ciara’s Prayer, which plays into the ongoing meme where people ask Ciara the exact prayer she asked God to be given a man like her husband, Russell Wilson. Another reason why I like this album is that I admire Summer’s vulnerability and how she allowed herself to put all of her emotions and experiences out there for her fans.

Though these 7 albums are for sure favorites, the 3 albums below were for sure in heavy rotation in 2021, but aren’t necessarily “favorites”:

Orange Print

Larry June

June 2021

Favorite Songs: Wait on Me, 6am in Sausalito, Intercepted

RY RY World

Mariah the Scientist

July 2021

Favorite Songs: Walked In, RIP, Brain, Revenge, Always N Forever

Certified Lover Boy

Drake

September 2021

Favorite Songs: Champagne Poetry, N 2 Deep, In the Bible, Knife Talk, Get Along Better

Overall, 2021 wasn’t a groundbreaking year for music, at least not for me. However, these mentioned albums definitely left their musical mark in 2021, and I’m excited to see what releases we’ll be able to experience this year.

Happy New Year to all reading this, and I wish you nothing less than a prosperous 2021!

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