10 songs of #blackboyjoy from 2017

December 22, 2017
71 Picks

With so much fuckery in the world, it’s easy to get lost. Here’s an antidote: 10 songs of #BlackBoyJoy.

1. Thundercat – “Tokyo”

Thundercat’s Drunk is an epic album-length expression of “oh shit, this is awesome!” It’s the musical equivalent of inviting your friends over, dumping all the toys on the floor, and not giving 2 shits about the consequences. Even in its most serious and poignant moments, there’s an optimism that things can and will get better. The whole album could qualify for this list, but Thundercat’s love song to Tokyo gets it with the first “yes!”

2. Benjamin Clementine – “Jupiter”

Casting himself as an alien from Jupiter with super powers, Benjamin Clementine takes a break from the heart break and frustration of his impressive I Tell a Fly to wish peace and joy for this sad blue marble. Strains of harpsichord, whistles, and a damn theremin jut in and out. It’s out of this world in the best way.

3. KOTA The Friend – “Like Water”

“Give a fuck about hate / only hate war” KOTA The Friend spits on the blissed out “Like Water.” It’s a song about taking the time to appreciate the good things in life that’s absolutely infectious. And that video. Why’s he got a parrot head? Who cares, it’s awesome.

4. XamVolo – “Feels Good”

Borrowing a Thelonious Monk riff, XamVolo’s “Feels Good” is pretty much right there in the title. “Feels Good” is a hook filled anthem of joy, pure and simple.

5. Shiftee – “Drop Top (ft. Cakes Da Killa)”

There’ve been songs about driving around on a summer day with a fling as long as there have been cars and summer days. Over a beat by Shiftee, Cakes kills this one, giving it the attitude and deft delivery that only Cakes Da Killa can.

6. Junior Astronomers – “That’s Why”

Bummed out indie rock quartet Junior Astronomers may not peddle joy by default, but “That’s Why” from their massive Body Language is a defiant call to live your dreams and ignore all the people who tell you “no.”

7. Kamasi Washington – “Humility”

Kamasi Washington emerged over the past few years as the jazz legend of a generation. Following his career making performance on To Pimp A Butterfly with the sprawling, ambitious The Epic, Washington set the stage for this year’s masterful Harmony of Difference. “Humility’s” soaring horn section gives way to some of the most inspired solos on the EP.

8. Talib Kweli – “Traveling Light (ft. Anderson .Paak)”

A beat from Kaytranada brings out the best in Talib Kweli. Sounding more joyful than he has in years, the poet laureate celebrates road life on “Traveling Light.” At his best, Kweli has always found a way to tie social criticism with a love of life that inspires change.

9. Frank Ocean – “Chanel”

Don’t let that piano intro fool you. This song is pure joy, and the current record holder for the greatest bi anthem of all time. “My guy pretty like a girl / And he got fight stories to tell.”

10. Moses Sumney – “Self-Help Tape”

With skittering guitars like butterflies in your stomach, Moses Sumney closes his latest Aromanticism with a statement of hope. “Imagine being free / Imagine tasting free / Imagine feeling free / Imagine feeling”