I have listened to music for my whole life — like, lots of it. I also always looked at my mother’s Walkman as an exotic gadget I wanted in my life. At some point, as I was finishing primary school, my mother gave me as a present the Discman that changed my life. Since then I was putting on CDs and listening to them in whole. I was buying CDs, downloading pirated ones and exchanging albums and mixtapes with my friends.
This is pretty much how I listen to music until today for the last twenty years. Nine out of ten times, I am listening to a whole album from the beginning to the end, whether that’s on a streaming service or on a turntable. It helps me concentrate and it helps me escape at the same time — it flows. This is how I enjoy listening to music.
Here we go then. Without further ado, let me present you the twenty one albums I favoured most during the past year. You will find both old and recent records, spanning across different genres and a few of them with common artists.
Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind
This album was such a good piece of music. Visceral and dark as any Slipknot album should be, with amazing drums, vocals and a coherent aesthetic. Highlight: Solway Firth, which is also accompanied by a great music video.
Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill
This is classic album I enjoy putting on on my turntable. I always look for something novel in music. The amalgamation of punk rock and hip hop in this album just blows my mind. Highlight: Fight For Your Right, especially if you take into account that its lyrics are parody.
Eric B. And Rakim - Paid In Full
For me, this album is where everything started for the hip hop I enjoy listening to. The way Rakim rhymes these long and complex patterns over with a jazzy approach is just mesmerising. Highlight: I Ain’t No Joke.
Imiskoumbria - Gynaikologies
Imiskoumbria are for me the most important Greek artist, since the 90s and certainly the OGs and zenith of greek hip hop. Gynaikologies is exactly what it claims; an album about women, one of the most difficult subjects to touch. Highlight: Amerikana.
Cordae - The Lost Boy
I learned about Cordae through Logic’s Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind album. He spits some of the best bars you can hear today and this full album, lives up to this standard. Highlight: RNP (feat. Anderson .Paak).
Rammstein - Untitled
I used to hate Rammstein. Now I just love them and this album is such a great come back. I won’t forget how Deutschaland struck me, along with its music video. Highlight: Deutschland.
Kraftwerk - Die Mensch-Maschine
I bought the vinyl version of this album from Bilbo in Leuven and I pop it in my turntable from time to time. The aesthetic is just top. I am just sad I can’t find a not ridiculously expensive German version in vinyl. Highlight: Das Modell.
Dr. Dre - 2001
This is one of the albums that accompanies me for years already. Especially when I feel I am losing control of my life. It’s all about the come back, after tremendous difficulties and still surpassing yourself. Highlight: Still D.R.E. — if the album could be compressed in a song, it would be that.
Django Reinhardt - The Best Of Django Reinhardt
This was my intro to jazz; a music genre I used to despise. This compilation of swingy guitar leaks opened up my mind for more jazz to come. Also, the Django web framework, my personal choice for web development, is named after Django Reinhardt. I ought giving his music a chance! Highlight: Minor Swing.
Clutch - From Beale Street To Oblivion
Although not my favourite Clutch album, I listened to one of its tracks in a Sons of Anarchy episode — I think it was You Can’t Stop Progress and gave me a different perspective on this whole album. Highlight: You Can’t Stop Progress.
Mastodon - Leviathan
I started listening to this album while taking sailing during fall 2018. Every time I listen through the whole thing, I feel I am on a ship trying to find my way around Moby Dick. The riffs are astounding and the aesthetic stellar. Highlight: Seabeast, especially the outro.
Logic - No Pressure
I was sad to hear that Logic would retire. Thankfully he didn’t and he even dropped another album after this. What made this album stand out to me was that it felt like one coherent piece of art, not just a collection of tracks, and this always gets me. Highlight: Celebration.
Bring Me The Horizon - Post Human: Survival Horror
This was just wow. If I ever participated in a metalcore album, I would want it to sound like this — ominous, visceral and from the future, not the past. The riffs and vocals are just top notch here. Highlight: Ludens.
Mike Shinoda - Ziggurats
This is the first time since The Rising Tied that Mike Shinoda dropped an album with such competent rhymes. I could remember him spit good stuff even before Linkin Park and always hoped he would do this again. This album (EP) is exactly that; great rhymes, punchlines on top of very interesting beats. Highlight: Genius Bar.
Linkin Park - Reanimation
This is my favourite Linkin Park album by far. Taking a masterpiece like Hybrid Theory and remixing it to a new album that resembles nothing like the original, while maintaining a coherent and its own original aesthetic is almost impossible. Yet, they pulled it off. Highlight: Ppr:Kut.
Massive Attack - Mezzanine
This is a pure masterpiece. The combination of eerie sounds and vocals, with electronic elements and physical instruments just immerses me. Whenever I put on this album, I feel like it lasts for ten minutes. It’s my top choice when I need to concentrate. Highlight: Group Four.
Eminem - Music To Be Murdered By (+ side B)
This was such a great come back from Eminem. Also the Hitchcock theme did so good service to this album. The bars are there, the hooks are there, the beats are there. There is nothing to miss and lots to enjoy. Highlight: Yah-Yah (feat. Royce da 5’9”, Black Thought, Q-Tip, Denaun).
Marilyn Manson - The Pale Emperor
Probably my favourite Marilyn Manson album from their whole discography. The aesthetic and consistency of this album just makes me trip in a great way. I always admired Marilyn Manson for his versatility and did not expect him to pull off such a great execution on an almost blues rock album. Highlight: Cupid Carries A Gun.
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
I am emotionally entangled with this album. I would listen to it while cleaning during my shift, when I was serving in the navy and it was also given to me as a birthday gift from one of the very few most important people in my life. It’s a classic staple of my life. Highlight: Swimming Pools (Drank).
GZA - Liquid Swords
This is a masterpiece. The bars, the coherence, the eerie aesthetic combined with martial arts is just unsurpassable. I can’t even comprehend how RZA pulled off this production style and GZA his rhymes and cadence to a better result than 36 Chambers. Every person listening to hip hop should at some point listen to this album. Highlight: Living In The World Today.
Yelawolf - Mud Mouth
This is the album I listened to mostly during 2021. Yelawolf managed to create such an original sound that is loyal to hip hop first and then country, while avoiding all that hick hop corniness. It’s a real psychedelic trip, like he intended it to be. I was sad to miss ordering the vinyl version before it sold out. Whenever I listen to this album, I feel I am riding my Harley to the countryside, free — nothing there to stop me. This album was my soundtrack for 2021; positive, confident, free. Highlight: Mud Mouth.