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The 50 Best Albums of 2021

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Last year I was lockdown-brained enough to put together a ranked list of my top 100 albums of 2020. Since I'm slightly less sedentary this time around, I've decided to double down and go for a 50 album list. Disclaimer: the rankings are based on pure gut-feeling, not to be taken too seriously. I'll definitely change my mind about this list as I have about last year's (Jessie Ware at #88??) but the point is, these are 50 albums that came out this year which are worth your time. Here's a messy playlist with all the albums that were in consideration. And here's a more curated playlist with my top 3 tracks from each of the 50 picks:

50. Shelley FKA DRAM - Shelley FKA DRAM

Top Tracks: Something About Us, Cooking With Grease, Remedies

Genre(s): Funk, R&B

49. Yasuke - Flying Lotus

Top Tracks: Black Gold, Crust, Pain and Blood

Genre(s): Psychedelic Jazz, Experimental, Soundtrack

48. Half God - Wiki

Top Tracks: Never Fall Off, Wik Da God, All I Need

Genre(s): Underground Hip Hop

47. DRONES - Terrace Martin

Top Tracks: Leave Us Be, Tapped, Griots of the Crenshaw District

Genre(s): Jazz, Hip Hop

46. Solar Power - Lorde

Top Tracks: Secrets from a Girl (Who's Seen it All), Dominoes, Mood Ring

Genre(s): Pop, Indie Folk

45. 333 - Tinashe

Top Tracks: Bouncin, Unconditional, Small Reminders

Genre(s): R&B, Hip Hop

44. Tales from the Old Dominion - DJ Harrison

Top Tracks: Be Better, 2021 Disco, City Lights

Genre(s): Jazz, Funk, Hip Hop

43. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert - Little Simz

Top Tracks: Rollin Stone, Protect My Energy, How Did You Get Here

Genre(s): UK Rap, Alternative Hip Hop

42. Desire - Desire Marea

Top Tracks: Zibuyile Izimakade, The Void, Uncle Kenny

Genre(s): Experimental, Electronic, Dance, Operatic



Genre(s): Experimental Hip Hop

40. Vulture Prince - Arooj Aftab

Top Tracks: Mohabbat, Saanas Lo, Suroor

Genre(s): Sufi, Vocalist, Minimalist

39. The Plugs I Met 2 - Benny The Butcher

Top Tracks: When Tony Met Sosa, Plug Talk, Thanksgiving

Genre(s): Gangsta Rap

38. Conflict Of Interest - Ghetts

Top Tracks: Mozambique, IC3, Little Bo Peep

Genre(s): UK Rap

37. Absolutely - Dijon

Top Tracks: Big Mike's, Talk Down, Many Times

Genre(s): Indie Folk

36. The Melodic Blue - Baby Keem

Top Tracks: pink panties, range brothers, south africa

Genre(s): Trap

35. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST - Tyler, the Creator


Genre(s): Alternative Hip Hop

34. When Smoke Rises - Mustafa

Top Tracks: Stay Alive, Air Forces, Ali

Genre(s): Indie Folk, Vocalist

33. Daddy's Home - St. Vincent

Top Tracks: The Melting Of The Sun, Somebody Like Me, ...At The Holiday Party

Genre(s): Indie Rock, Art Pop

32. La Maquina - Conway the Machine

Top Tracks: Sister Abigail, Grace, Scatter Brain

Genre(s): Gansta Rap

31. CRAWLER - Idles

Top Tracks: MTT 420 RR, The Beachland Ballroom, King Snake

Genre(s): Punk

30. Nine - SAULT

Top Tracks: London Gangs, 9, Lights In Your Hand

Genre(s): Neo-Soul, Jazz

29. WEIGHT OF THE WORLD - Maxo Kream


Genre(s): Trap, Gangsta Rap

28. Shout Out! To Freedom... - Nightmares On Wax

Top Tracks: Creator SOS, Wikid Satellites, Wonder

Genre(s): Jazz, Trip Hop

27. Tempus - Issa Gold

Top Tracks: Options, Withdrawn, Jealousy

Genre(s): Hip Hop

26. Bo Jackson - Boldy James & The Alchemist

Top Tracks: Brickmile To Montana, Diamond Dallas, Illegal Search & Seizure

Genre(s): Gangsta Rap

25. Sling - Clairo

Top Tracks: Amoeba, Zinnias, Just For Today

Genre(s): Indie Folk

24. The YOD Fahim - Your Old Droog & Tha God Fahim

Top Tracks: Stretch, Disney World, WNBA

Genre(s): Underground Hip Hop

23. Blue Weekend - Wolf Alice

Top Tracks: Lipstick On The Glass, How Can I Make It OK?, The Last Man on Earth

Genre(s): Indie Rock

22. Magic - Nas

Top Tracks: Ugly, Wu for the Children, Wave Gods

Genre(s): Hip Hop

21. SOUR - Olivia Rodrigo

Top Tracks: brutal, deja vu, good 4 u

Genre(s): Pop, Emo Rock

20. Under the Lilac Sky - Arushi Jain

Top Tracks: The Sun Swirls Within You, Cultivating Self Love, Under The Lilac Sky

Genre(s): Electronic, Trance, Indian Classical

19. By the Time I Get to Phoenix - Injury Reserve

Top Tracks: Superman That, Top Picks for You, Postpostpartum

Genre(s): Experimental Hip Hop

18. Don't Go Tellin' Your Momma - Topaz Jones

Top Tracks: Amphetamines, Sourbelts, Gold

Genre(s): Hip Hop

17. Jubilee - Japanese Breakfast

Top Tracks: Paprika, Slide Tackle, Savage Good Boy

Genre(s): Indie Rock, Art Pop

16. damnshestamil - Priya Ragu

Top Tracks: Chicken Lemon Rice, Kamali, Santhosam

Genre(s): R&B, Hip Hop, Tamil Classical

15. We're All Alone In This Together - Dave

Top Tracks: Three Rivers, Both Sides Of A Smile, Heart Attack

Genre(s): UK Rap

14. Things Take Time, Take Time - Courtney Barnett

Top Tracks: Sunfair Sundown, Take It Day by Day, If I Don't Heat from You Tonight

Genre(s): Indie Rock

13. Planet Her - Doja Cat

Top Tracks: Naked, Get Into It (Yuh), Kiss Me More

Genre(s): Pop Rap

12. Haram - Armand Hammer & The Alchemist

Top Tracks: Black Sunlight, Falling out the Sky, Stonefruit

Genre(s): Underground Hip Hop, Abstract Hip Hop

11. Vince Staples - Vince Staples


Genre(s): Alternative Hip Hop, Trap

10. Epic Ten - Sharon Van Etten & Guests

Top Tracks: One Day, Peace Signs (By IDLES), Love More (By Fiona Apple)

Genre(s): Indie Folk, Indie Rock

9. Pray For Haiti - Mach-Hommy & Westside Gunn

Top Tracks: The 26th Letter, The Stellar Ray Theory, Marie

Genre(s): Gangsta Rap

8. Bring Backs - Alfa Mist

Top Tracks: Teki, Attune, Organic Rust

Genre(s): Jazz, Hip Hop

7. to hell with it - PinkPantheress

Top Tracks: Pain, Just for me, Nineteen

Genre(s): UK Garage, Dance, Liquid D&B, Pop

6. The House Is Burning - Isaiah Rashad

Top Tracks: Darkseid, RIP Young, HB2U

Genre(s): Alternative Hip Hop, Trap

5. ALPHA - Charlotte Day Wilson

Top Tracks: I Can Only Whisper, Mountains, Take Care of You

Genre(s): Alternative R&B, Soul

4. Black To The Future - Sons of Kemet

Top Tracks: Pick Up Your Burning Cross, Hustle, Envision Yourself Levitating

Genre(s): Experimental Jazz

3. TYRON - Slowthai

Top Tracks: PLAY WITH FIRE, focus, nhs

Genre(s): UK Rap, Alternative Hip Hop

2. Promises - Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra

Top Tracks: Movement 4, Movement 6, Movement 7

Genre(s): Experimental Jazz, Orchestral

1. Smiling With No Teeth - Genesis Owusu

Top Tracks: Don't Need You, Gold Chain, Smiling with No Teeth

Genre(s): Experimental Rock, Experimental Hip Hop, Experimental Folk, ...Experimental

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