The most hotly-anticipated awards of the year are here. Put your hands together for the NeighbourHOOD Grammys.
The Grammys went ahead and got it wrong again; but fear not… the NeighbourHood Grammys Committee are back at it again for a third year to restore balance to the streets and ensure that credit goes where credit is due!
Album of the Year | DAMN., Kendrick Lamar
“Sit down (lil’ bitch), be humble”
Nominations | Flower Boy, Tyler the Creator | More Life, Drake | Laila’s Wisdom, Rapsody | Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples
2017 had a plethora of amazing hip-hop albums, which only made it more difficult for us to choose a single album to give this award to. Vince Staples came through with an electro-inspired sound, further pushing the boundaries of the genre. Drake’s More Life, only served to remind us of the versatility of his artistry, while delivering the bangers we’ve come to expect. Tyler, the Creator delivered a surprisingly mature album, discussing themes including depression, loneliness and his sexuality on this smooth, introspective, self-produced album. Rapsody cemented her position as a top rapper with a carefully curated album that vibrated positivity, enabling listeners to empathise with Rapsody’s pride, and encourages those who struggle with being “black and ugly”, to do the same. However, the winner has to be Kung-Fu Kenny with DAMN., which is the only word suitable to describe this album after giving it a listen. K. Dot always finds a new way to reinvent his sound, not being shy to take risks or experiment and it’s yet to fail him, delivering another strong album that is not only sonically pleasing, but lyrically intriguing.
Honourable Shoutouts | 4:44, Jay Z | Culture, Migos | Wins & Losses, Meek Mill | Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, 2 Chainz | ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, Joey Bada$$ | 508-507-2209, Joyner Lucas | Process, Sampha
We haven’t seen honesty this real and a flow as versatile as that on Joyner Lucas’ 508-507-2209 since good kid m.A.A.d. city.
Song of the Year | ‘Bodak Yellow’, Cardi B
“Said little bitch, you can’t fuck with me, if you wanted to”
Nominations | ‘Chanel’, Frank Ocean | ‘T-Shirt’, Migos [Culture] | ‘Live up to my name’, Baka Not Nice | ‘Im so Groovy’, Future [FUTURE]
There was no shortage of tunes to pick from in 2017. There were the bangers, from Baka’s ‘Live up to my name’, a clear product of the OVO sweatshop, to Migos’ ‘T-Shirt’, a trap anthem released in what will probably go down as the best year of their career. ‘Chanel’ is one of Frank’s best solo performances, and strongest expressions of his sexuality to date on a song. It also features the hard bar that rappers hadn’t clocked despite the years they’ve been talking about buying Chanel bags: “See both sides like Chanel”. Future’s unique flow on ‘I’m so Groovy’ makes it such a fun song to vibe to, but there was one clear winner for song of the year. Cardi B’s remix of ‘No Flockin’, ‘Bodak Yellow’, took the music industry by storm, like a Caribbean hurricane in January, and stood head and shoulders above the rest. The song has almost become synonymous with female empowerment and we’re lowkey starting to get tired of women pointing at us and screaming “Said little bitch, you can’t fuck with me, if you wanted to”.
Honourable Shoutout | ‘Do not Disturb’, Drake [More Life]
The 6 god ends his More Life escapade with an open and honest look back at his thoughts and feelings as he was writing Views. Snoh Allegra’s ‘Time’, was heavily sampled in the production and gives the track a level of vulnerability that is rare, even for Drake. “I was an angry yout’ when I was writin’ Views / Saw a side of myself that I just never knew / I’ll probably self destruct if I ever lose, but I never do”.
R&B Album of the Year | CTRL, SZA
“My man is my man is your man, heard it’s her man too”
Nominations | Process, Sampha | Freudian, Daniel Caesar | Morning After, dvsn | Sonder Son, Brent Faiyaz
It could be argued that 2017 was a better year for R&B than it was for hip-hop, with a sudden resurgence of new and creative sounds for what was thought to be an already mature genre. Brent Faiyaz’s Sonder Son managed to bring the old school ‘90s R&B sound into a new age. Daniel Ceasar’s Freudian is sure to have been played at weddings around the world. dvsn managed to encapsulate everybody’s relationship problems into a single album with Morning After, containing situations so specific, I thought my ex had personally phoned them to complain. Sampha’s Process was iconic, expressing the emotions of loss, love and growth within multiple tracks. He uses his unique voice to tell the story of his mother passing away and only served to prove why Drake has him involved in all of his projects. However, there could only be one winner. SZA takes the award with her debut album, CTRL, an astounding album written almost entirely from the perspective of a sidechick. For too long, the women on the side have been neglected in the music industry and SZA’s album plays a pivotal role in shining a light onto their plight, raising awareness and starting a necessary dialogue on proper mistress management.
UK Album of the Year | Gang Signs and Prayer, Stormzy
“I phone Flipz then I tell him that he got this / This is God’s plan, they can never stop this”
Nominations | Common Sense, J Hus | FR32, Wretch 32 | NO BULLSHIT, Avelino | Leage of my Own II, Chip
The UK Music scene has recently been thrust into the global limelight and, therefore, great bodies of work were essential to maintain momentum and show the world the best of what UK rap & grime could deliver. Fortunately, they did deliver with some stellar projects, from Avelino’s NO BULLSHIT, to Chip’s extensive League of my Own II, where he proves yet again that he doesn’t run out of bars. Wretch produced another solid album with FR32, but the discussion for best UK album had two clear frontrunners. J Hus’ Common Sense and Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer are both spectacular bodies of work, especially considering they are both debut albums. Common Sense has a song for every mood and vibe and is such an enjoyable and easy listen, ranging from afrobeat inspired bangers to suprising introspective moments about Hus’ life and upbringing. Stormzy took the streets of the UK to church with big momets such as ‘Blinded by your Grace’, ‘21 Gun Salute’ and ‘100 Bags’. This was probably the hardest decision that the Committee had to make and, althought we still aren’t entirely sure that we’ve got it right, we have decided that Stormzy is the winner.
Collab Track of the Year | ‘Biking’, Frank Ocean ft. Tyler, The Creator & Jay Z
“God gave you what you could handle / (Gave you what you could handle)”
Nominations | ‘Slide’, Calvin Harris ft. Migos & Frank Ocean | ‘It’s a Vibe’, 2 Chainz ft. Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz & Jhené Aiko | ‘Raf’, A$AP Mob ft. Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti & Frank Ocean | ‘Crew’, Goldlink ft. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy
Collab tracks are always surrounded by a lot of anticipation and, in 2017, it was no different. ‘Crew’ deserves nominations for 2016, 2017 and 2018 – the song just oozes sauce. ‘Slide’ was probably the summer banger, bringing only good vibes. ‘Raf’ marked the triumphant return of the Mob. ‘It’s a Vibe’ featured our hippy bae, Jhené, whose sultry vocals helped 2 Chainz knock this song out of the park. However, ‘Biking’ was our winner. ‘Biking’ is the return of the Jay Z and Frank Ocean combo with the addition of Odd Future partner, Tyler. Never have all three been on a track together, but ‘Biking’ shows the chemistry we’ve seen on songs like ‘She’ and numerous tracks from Jay and Ocean. The theme of bikes is held throughout a song full of double entendres. Jay comes through with a standout prelude to the vocals of Frank, which deliver on the lush production. The hook is a stand out for the track, along with Tyler coming through with one of his best verses to date, enabling him to add ‘Killed Jay on a Track’ to his CV.
Honourable Shoutout | ‘Bahamas’, A$AP Mob ft. Lil Yachty, ScHoolboy Q, Smooky MarGielaa, KEY!
‘Bahamas’ deserves its honourable shoutout off the basis of three absolutely amazing lines: “Your wife wanna throw me vagina / I fuck on your aunt, ya mama”, A$AP Rocky, “New Shades, Gosha / Got me looking like a Beatle”, A$AP Ferg and, finally, quite possibly our favourite line ever, “Let a Groovy nigga in it”, ScHoolboy Q.
UK Newcomer of the Year | Not3s
“I am so fly like Aladdin / I steer the ship, I’m the captain”
Nominations | Jorja Smith | Ray Blk | Mabel | Hardy Caprio
Plenty of new names surfaced in the UK in 2017. Mabel had a sleeper hit with ‘Finders Keepers’ which shot her from being unknown, even in the underground, to being one of the top prospects for the UK. Ray Blk won the BBC’s Sound of 2017 Award, and Hardy Caprio had an absolute banger with ‘Super Soaker’. However, the top two contenders for the Committee were Jorja Smith, whose recent work with Drake and Preditah have catapulted her into the mainstream, and Not3s who has had a succession of strong singles followed by a very solid EP. In the end, the decision was made to award Not3s, while we eagerly anticipate Jorja’s debut album.
Feature Verse of the Year | Dave – ‘Peligro’, Giggs [Wamp 2 Dem]
“Big cougar ting on all fours / Man, it feels like I’ve got a tiger tryna tackle me”
Nominations | Young Thug – ‘Sacrifices’, Drake [More Life] | XXXTENTACION – ‘Roll in Peace’, Kodack Black [Project Baby 2] |Kendrick Lamar – ‘Mask Off – Remix’, Future | Rihanna – ‘Lemon’, N.E.R.D. [No One Ever Really Dies]
For some reason, rappers seem to save their best verses for other people’s songs, and this year was no different, with lots of big verses being spat from guest appearances. You’re probably wondering what Rihanna is doing on this list. Well, although she is a singer, bad gal Riri came harder than most rappers on N.E.R.D.’s ‘Lemon’. As he eloquently put it, Young Thug was “talking neat like a geek” on Drake’s ‘Sacrifices’. Kendrick Lamar killed it as per and XXX spat a hype verse. However we decided to award Dave, one of the artists to watch in 2018, for completely killing Giggs on ‘Peligro’.
Honourable Shoutouts | Tyler the Creator – ‘Biking’, Frank Ocean | Cardi B – ‘No Limit’, G-Eazy [The Beautiful & Damned] | Mostack
Mostack killed features in 2017, linking up with J Hus, Mist, Not3s, Dave and more to drop banger after banger (‘Fisherman’, ‘Mash Up’ and ‘No Words’ to name but a few).
Producer of the Year | Metro Boomin
“If young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you”
Nominations | Murda Beatz | Southside | Zaytoven | Boi1da
In hip-jop, production is just as important, if not more so, than the lyrics. In the words of Committee member and Metro stan, Jamell, “Metro can do no wrong. Young Metro goes in every single time. Every single beat is just fire, straight fire, consistently.” There’s nothing more to be said, really.
Honourable Shoutouts | Steelbanglez | Jae5
The wavy afro-swing sub-genre blossomed and flourished in 2017 and these two producers have been at the forefront of this wave, battling it out for the title of UK Metro Boomin.
Debut Album of the Year | No Dope on Sundays, Cyhi the Prince
2017 was full of plenty of standout debut projects. Sampha, Stormzy and J Hus held it down for the UK with their stellar albums. SZA’s CTRL, Khalid’s American Teen, 6LACK’s FREE 6LACK and Daniel Caesar’s Freudian were all smooth R&B offerings. On the hip-hop front, Jaden Smith and XXXTENTACION produced surprisingly impressive debut albums in the cinematic SYRE and the short but potent 17, respectively. While Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert disappointed with their trash projects, Teenage Emotions and Luv is Rage 2, respectively, the Committee decided to award Cyhi the Prynce (aka Kanye’s ghost writer) for his effort on the excellent No Dope On Sundays.
Viral Song of the Year | ‘Man’s Not Hot’, Big Shaq
“The ting go skrrappp”
Although tracks like Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘XO Tour Llif3’, Future’s ‘Mask Off’ and Lil Pump’s ‘Gucci Gang’ sparked online hysteria with memes littered across social media, Playboi Carti’s ‘Magnolia’ and Kodak Black’s ‘Tunnel Vision’ sparked dance crazes, and Jay Z’s ‘The Story of OJ’ sparked a much-needed dialogue and social commentary, two tracks stand out as the most viral of 2017. Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’ became an anthem for female empowerment, but the NeighbourHOOD Grammys Committee has to award Big Shaq’s ‘Man’s Not Hot’. Michael Daapah (aka Big Shaq) was the man of the year in 2017 and everybody from my 4 year old cousin to my grandma knows “the ting go SKRRAP”.