If there is one thing that this past year proved is that even in the middle of a pandemic, music is still a universal language. 2021 saw the release of some of the biggest and best albums of the, dare I say it, the past couple of years.
Here is our list, in no particular order, of the biggest and best albums of 2021.
Doja Cat, 'Planet Her'
Doja Cat made it very clear that she did not come to play when she released her third studio album. The singer, rapper, songwriter and producer proved that she has all the talent needed to make it in this cut throat business.
Working again in the pop, rap and R&B realms, she dabbles in afro-beat, dance hall and other global genres.
Adding the final touches to this sonic stew are Doja Cat’s shape-shifting vocals and moods, playful sense of humour and gift for choosing guest features such as SZA for the loveably sexy Kiss Me More and Young Thug on the falsetto-propelled Payday.
A Grammy nominee for album of the year and best pop vocal album, Planet Her validates Doja Cat and shows that she is here to stay.
Kanye West aka Ye, 'Donda'
On one of the year’s most-anticipated and most-hyped sets, Ye (Kanye West) returned with an avant-garde hip-hop-meets-gospel homage to his late mother Donda, which he revealed during a trilogy of stadium listening sessions.
Ye confronts his personal demons and yearns for mercy without two key women by his side following his separation from wife Kim Kardashian for nearly two hours on his 10th Billboard 200-topping project.
Giveon, 'When It's All Said and Done... Take Time'
Giveon is the gift that should never stop giving. This breakout R&B phenomenon combined his two 2020 EPs and added a new track, All To Me, to land his full-length mainstream breakthrough with When It’s All Said and Done…Take Time.
He makes being smooth and edgy at the same time look easy. Also known for his collaborations with Drake and Justin Bieber, this Los Angeles crooner serves seductive vocals that you can’t help but want to keep listening to.
Drake, 'Certified Lover Boy'
Days before the album was released, its artwork was shared on social media but millions of people. Proving that his fans always want more from this Toronto rapper. Certified Lover Boy is Drake’s sixth studio album. It sees him address the ongoing struggle to balance fame, vulnerability, and at the centre of it all, love.
Clocking in at an hour and 26 minutes, the 21-track project brings together a range of high-profile features, including Jay-Z, Young Thug and Kid Cudi, showing where Drake’s business and personal relationships stand.
The album marked Drake’s tenth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, living up to its considerable pre-release hype with the best first-week numbers of the year to that point. No surprises there.
What a roller-coaster of emotions from start to finish and a few surprises, too. As Adele mines the depths of despair from her recent divorce, and her ultimate healing with 30, she also cements her status as a timeless artist who has no desire to cater to trendy whims or even produce ‘TikTok’ music, as she recently said in an interview.
She’s just at ease as a ‘40s jazz chanteuse gently singing to a delicate Erroll Garner piano interlude on All Night Parking as she is vamping over the handclapping rhythms of On My God (the surprises I spoke of earlier).
Lil Nas X, 'Montero'
Since bursting onto the scene with Old Town Road in 2019, Lil Nas X has commanded an image of pure queer confidence, which is admired by many and hated by some.
Never pulling punches and always going bigger, the superstar made his name by being music’s biggest provocateur at the moment. Whether it’s through sexually-charged lyrics, hysteria-inducing music videos, and online trolling, Lil Nas X taking no prisoners.
His debut album was a shock to everyone. While he was known for Old Town Road, no one knew what to expect from a full-length album. Filled with themes of isolation, self-discovery and acceptance of identity, Montero fittingly stripped back the veneer of Lil Nas X and introduced us to Montero Lamar Hill, a 22-year-old who shot into the spotlight.
This article first appeared in Saturday Insider, Dec 18, 2021