Written By: Keith Collins 

Before I begin, I would like to say a few things… I am a native of Houston, and I remember growing up watching Street Flava and Hot TV, music shows dedicated to the Houston music scene. The sound has changed but has kept the same H-Town feel. Artist like Breona Michole and Q. Guyton who experimented with different sounds and music create a lane for themselves. To the veterans in the game like Slim Thug who still produces quality music even in a genre that viewed as a young man’s game. I am grateful to have been raised in this city, and I am thankful for artists like yourselves who keep working and producing. So without further delay, here are some of my picks for top albums of 2017.

Q. Guyton- Baby Blue Collar: 4 out of 5

Earlier this year the rapper, director, and owner of ANF Visuals dropped his latest project. It was a productive year for him performing at SXSW, collaborating with other artists, gracing magazines, and being a part of short films.

His latest album, Baby Blue Collar, gave listeners a broad range of sounds. Songs like “Choo Choo” with a fast pace vibe, to chill tracks like “One Time.”

His mature content is heard on every track. Even on a song like “Choo Choo.” When it starts off, you assume it’s a song to get loose. Then he starts his verse saying “Politics that’s the main goal, politics that’s the main goal.

Q. Guyton has a great ear when it comes to collaborations, knowing the right artist to add to a song. On “Peace and Chains” he teams up with fellow Houston artist Buddie Roe going back and forth both showcasing their talents. Towards the end of the project, “Shots” he raps over a saxophone and gunshots with, Allie adding a simple soothing but powerful “la-di-da.”

Overall, Baby Blue Collar is a project that did not disappoint. From the instruments to the storytelling of Q. Guyton, this is for sure an album you can play back again and again.

Le$- Midnight Club: 4.5 out of 5

This year Le$ put his foot on the gas and didn’t let up, releasing multiple tapes to the public. On Midnight Club, he collaborated with Houston DJ Mr. Rogers to release a project for those who love to cruise.

Track after track gives a laid-back feel, mixed with samples that fit perfectly. On “45 South,” you hear Outkast’s “West Savanna” and of course Childish Gambino’s “Redbone.” On track eight, DJ Mr. Rogers slows down Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO” and creates magic.

With witty lyrics like, “Can’t be treatin’ Whataburger bitches like they Pappadeux” on the track “Switch’d,” Le$ provides just enough to each song. His laid-back flow similar to Curren$y complements well riding the wave of the beat.

Le$ was on a mission this year; living by the motto he spoke on the last track “Dreamin,” “You want it, gotta go and get it.” The playback on this album is excellent; not one track will leave you disappointed. 2018 is a whole new year, who knows what Le$ will make out it.

Breona Micole- Metanoia: 4 out of 5

This summer Breona Micole released her first project Metanoia, which means either a transformative change of heart or a spiritual conversation. She added Q. Guyton, Buddie Roe and others to take us on a journey through her mind.

The length of her tape is 19 minutes long, but in that short time, you get a lot out of her. The production on the album is filled with lush, melodic sounds. “Eunoia” gives an indie electronic vibe, while “Collision” gives a chill vibe and then turns into house music during the chorus.

Breona Micole is proving she can create great music in any genre when either rapping, singing or a poetry type flow. Like when she says, “Candy coated clouds, hummingbirds peeking at my window/Ocean breeze, the trees and melodies is in my mental.” That shows her versatility as an artist and her willingness to not be placed in a box. Hope there is more on the way from Breona; her ceiling is as high as she wants it to be.

Bigg Fatts: Memoirs of the Kitchen Staff: 4.5 out 5

Bigg Fatts dropped his latest album this fall giving the hustlers, trappers, and those on their everyday grind, some heat to listen to. Memoirs of the Kitchen Staff portrays the hunger, pain, and wisdom of a man wanting nothing more than what he deserves.

Fatts lyrics can at times go over the average listener’s head. On the song “Power,” he says things like “My hustle knows no limit. I never needed a hookup” and “See I’ve done struggles enough/So don’t be actin’ like you got it; I’ll put snow in your bluff.”

His content connects with a wide audience. On his Instagram, there is a family driving and jamming his song, “Note 2 Self.” On this track, he delves into the realm of religion and who is the almighty, with lyrics like “There is no God but you,” while Bigg Fatts gives his opinion on the subject.

So “If you don’t want some fat nigga, eatin’ all in the videos, smackin’ all on the tracks and shit. Come to Fat Boy Records.” The energy throughout the project gave you a sense of what Bigg Fatts was feeling as he was saying it. The artists he included held their own, fitting perfectly into his visions. If you have not press play, go ahead and give this tape a listen as you hear the Memoirs of the Kitchen Staff.

GT Garza- Sometime in L.A: 3.5 out of 5

It looks like GT Garza took a trip to the West Coast to find some inspiration for this project. Earlier this year he released The Illest, which came in at #29 on iTunes; a proud moment for the Houston artist. He followed that up with, Sometime in LA, this fall production including Javie Lopez on the beat, Bruce Bang, and TrakkSounds.

GT had some bangers, like “Watch Out,” which has a soulful feel to the track. Garza lets people know he is coming. His bars are something serious and to be respected. On the same track, he says, “Purple on my whip, like it cut off the circulation.” His cadence and flow go over each track well, especially when he is telling his story on “Don’t Forget About Me.”

2017 has been a good year for GT Garza; I can only imagine what he has cooking for next year.

Z-Ro – Codeine: 4 out 5

The Mo City Don has returned and blessed us with a new album. After many talks of his last album, No Love Boulevard, supposedly being his last, he pulled a move out of Brett Favre’s playbook.

Doing what he does best, Z- Ro stays in his lane which is focusing on the flaws of others. On the track, “My City,” Joseph McVey speaks on out-of-towners taking the Houston culture and appropriating it for a profit. Also calling out local DJs for not putting on Houston artists, “DJ’s spinnin’ out-of-town records like the hometown music boo-boo.” Also other songs “Wanna C Me Fall” and “Hold Up Bitch” giving the same sentiment.

Recently he had a falling out with his ex-Just Brittany and in his song “Still A Player,” he says, “I was really tryin’ baby, but I’ve been wanting to chunk the deuces for so long.”

As always he does give wisdom, like on the track, “You Ain’t Gotta Worry.” All in all, this is a great album, 15 tracks long, but the quality of each song makes it enjoyable through and through. Welcome back, Joseph McVey.

Slim Thug- The World Is Yours: 4.7 out of 5

Slim ended this year with his second album of 2017 with, The World Is Yours. The project is 15 tracks long, with features from Big K.R.I.T, Rick Ross, Z-Ro, and J- Dawg to name few.

Never been one to follow trends, Slim continues to speak as a man with wisdom and knowledge. With tracks like “Boss Talk” and “Run For It,” Slim is putting his listeners on game. “It’s good to stay lowkey, keep people out your business/Cuz the same ones talkin’ tough be the same ones to turn witness.” “Every year something new that’s boss like tradition/Meet with the mayor in the mornin’/No more cookin’ in kitchens.” A standout on the album was Cam Wallace who appeared and produced on five tracks.

On the last track, “What’s Next,” Slim speaks on the accomplishments he has achieved in his career as an established artist and businessman. The world is his to conquer, and the only direction for Thugga is up.