Top Songs and Projects of 2023 [Staff Picks]

'How Do You Sleep At Night?' – Teezo Touchdown

In commemorating an exceptional year saturated with musical innovation and emerging talents, we are pleased to present our curated selection of the top 50 songs and top 25 projects for 2023. Esteemed for their artistic prowess and sonic brilliance, these highlights have been carefully chosen by our dedicated staff. Notably, the following list is not arranged in any particular ranking, but rather represents a collective celebration of our favorites.

Among the myriad of outstanding releases, noteworthy mentions include Jordan Ward's captivating "IDC" and Teezo Touchdown's introspective project, How Do You Sleep At Night?. As we bid adieu to 2023, join us in relishing these musical gems that have left an indelible mark on the year gone by.

Staff Credit: Olive Soki, Riley Furey, Milly Wensley, Samantha DeCarlo, Sundhya Alter, Nico Corbo, Ian Hansen, Marissa Duldulao, Kieran Kohorst, Preston Breck, Vincent Merry, Noah Schwartz, Perry Avgerinos

Top 50 Songs of 2023

"Think Fast" – Dominic Fike, feat. Weezer

Dominic Fike’s "Think Fast" combines all the phenomenal elements of his artistry, showcasing an incredibly catchy chorus, soaring electric guitars, and lyrics that delve into his personal relationship struggles. The interpolation of Weezer’s “Sweater Song” injects an additional dose of 90s rock into this track, making it an unforgettable summer hit.

"Superbloomer" – Arcy Drive

“Superbloomer” is one of the best songs of the year, coming from one of the most promising bands of the year. Whether it’s their carefree aura, their dream tour bus, or their pure musical ability, our Top 50 list would not be complete without an addition of their music.

"All My Life" – Lil Dirk, feat. J.Cole

I would be remiss to not include “All My Life” considering it had me in a chokehold for weeks after it dropped. This is both a nod to the unreal run of features J. Cole has had in the last year, and a direct appraisal to the content of the verses. Not only does J. Cole’s verse about artists who have come to an early death hit harder than any commentary I’ve heard on the matter, but “All My Life” is truly just one of the best rap songs to come out of this year.

"a little more time" – Role Model

ROLE MODEL made massive waves over the past few years, and as his music has risen to prominence, he has surprisingly released a lot less. And by less, I mean one song in all of 2023. At face value this was a bummer, but on the flip side, “a little more time” was my most listened to song of the year. We can always want more from the artists we love, but sometimes less is more – and that has proven to be true with his latest release.

"Never Learned To Dance" – Medium Build

Hearing Medium Build for the first time changed the course of my music taste in 2023. From the moment “Never Learned To Dance” came on shuffle, I knew that this concoction of artistry and emotion was everything I needed out of music. And with a sound that is most potent for the fall and winter months, I can’t imagine he’ll be leaving my rotation anytime soon.

"Bleeding Out" – Chance Peña

While trekking the picturesque mountains of Colorado last summer, a profound connection with this song took root, transforming me into an avid enthusiast of Chance Peña. Ironically, it was during a 30-hour drive from California to Texas that the captivating melody of "Bleeding Out" came into existence, making it a poignant companion for long car rides.

"Crazy" – ALX

ALX kicked off 2023 with an impressive bang, unveiling "Crazy" as his first release of the year — an instant topper on his Spotify profile. Being a long-time ALX enthusiast, the anticipation for new music was well worth the two-year wait. The icing on the cake was the electrifying performance of "Crazy" at the latest Sheesh Show, making the whole experience even more exceptional.

"Roommates" – Malcom Todd

"Roommates" marked the pivotal moment when I truly became a fan of Malcolm Todd's musical artistry. The song's discovery unfolded through the captivating promotion on social media, showcasing a distinctive and remarkably impressive approach for an emerging artist. This track not only stood out, but also established Malcolm Todd as an artist with a unique and promising trajectory.

“Cast Out” – Moses Ideka

Moses Ideka appeared on the scene in 2023 with his incredibly dynamic debut single “Cast Out.” Fusing his own production chops with intricate gliding synths and drum work with his velvety vocal timbre, Ideka has struck a balanced sound that is quite addicting for R&B and electronic lovers.

"3rd Wheel" – Nate Traveller

"3rd Wheel" by Nate Traveller is nothing short of addictive. This track will effortlessly find its place among your favorites as soon as you add it to your playlist. With its easy-going vibe, it's just one of the many gems in Nate Traveller's collection of songs.

“Georgia Walks” – Hans Williams

Hans Williams is a household name within the Sheesh community, with his profound lyricism and addicting, husky vocal tone. Gifting listeners “Georgia Walks” back in October, Hans left us with a chanty anthem to sing along to through the new year, holding us off until his next release.

"bake" – Amindi, feat. Jordan Ward

A collaborative record from these two artists is like the TV crossover from your childhood that you remember even to this day. Their indelible alchemy strings together Amindi’s eccentric lyrical virtuosity and Ward’s sultry charm – delivering a song that feels the product of our generation's penchant for nonsensical tracks by creatives just being creatives. As two of the most emerging and promising artists to come out of 2023, Amindi and Jordan Ward offer their strongest attributes on this record, a testament to what they will do in the next couple years.

"Homiesexual" – Daniel Caeser, feat. Ty Dolla $ign

This track is best described as an old-fashioned love confessional written in the tune of R&B’s most petty lingo. The record does what Daniel Caesar does best, put forward innocently sedated synths enlightened by hooks that reveal blunt and unforgiving wordplay. Daniel Caesar and Ty Dolla $ign might be the only two able to romanticize Male-toxicity and petty digs at previous lovers by layering swirling harmonies and catchy melodies.

"the ride-" – Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty’s 2023 project Let’s Start Here. was met with initial hesitation from his devoted fans, but if there’s one thing that's clear from album it’s that individually it’s songs are an exploration of psycho rock, A24 synth pop and silky funk sounds that feel like a deep dive into Yatchy’s own personal evolution. "the ride-” is an emotionally heightened exploration of the thrills of love and loyalty, accompanied by Teezo Touchdown, the two artists ride echoes of psychedelic bliss and get lost in the forthcoming void. Tracks like these are reminders of the evolving rap game and it’s exciting to hear Yachty at the forefront of such a movement.

"On My Mama" – Victoria Monét

Unapologetically declarative of the potential it holds, this song is the entrance track for an artist on the brink of their industry breakout. Witty songwriting amid cheeky references to female self-love and motherhood give way to blaring horns and groovy synths, Monét wants every woman to feel good about themselves, this song acts as acting affirmations to get us there. Accompanied by a revival of 90’s R&B dance and sound, “On My Mama” is just that, timeless and irresistibly catchy.

"Dancing Circles" – Sampha

The third track off of Sampha’s victorious comeback record Lahai, “Dancing Circles” is a stand out track. Emotive and armed with fiercely visual lyricism, Sampha tastefully captures the unique experience of catching up with someone with whom you’ve shared important life moments.

“Brush w Faith” – bar italia

2023 brought not one but two bar italia albums to us – how lucky we are. And although there are many singles off of both respective albums that have already swayed their listeners, “Brush w Faith” highlights all of the beautiful qualities that make the bar italia so special.

“Heaven” – Cleo Sol

Smooth as butter and as nurturing as mother natures touch, “Heaven” is an unforgettable and truly heaven sent cut from Cleo Sol’s recent record.

“Pet Rock” – L’Rain

If you haven't given a listen to L'Rain's recent record, I Killed Your Dog, this single will definitely convince you to give it a chance. A master-grade mix between strokes-esque alt rock and neo-soul “Pet Rock” is one of those tracks you can’t help but listen to on loop for days on end.

"Die Today" – EARTHGANG, Spillage Village

It’s always a good time when EARTHGANG the whole Spillage Village collective get together to create something new. “Die Today” is such a laid back, feel-good tune, it’s upbeat, fun, and the chorus is addictive.

"flippin shit" – AG CLUB

Off the back of a successful year in 2022 with their album Imposter Syndrome, I was excited to see what 2023 would bring for AG Club. “flippin shit” off the two track single “2MORE” was one of those songs that you discover and instantly play on repeat. The bass in the production is addictive, the lyrics are funny and witty, and overall this feels like a playful freestyle.

"Two Tens" – Cordae, feat. Anderson .Paak

For me, “Two Tens” was another one of those track you just want to replay off the first listen. The duality of Anderson .Paak’s distinctive voice with Cordae’s storytelling flow creates a dynamic where these two are almost having a conversation within versus and it works so well. The production is steady, jazzy, and a good vibe for this fun tune.

"the grudge" – Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo is an artist who captures the young female experience so perfectly in her lyrics. She is genuinely making music that puts emotions and feelings into words that you just can’t find yourself. When I immersed myself in "the grudge," it unexpectedly revealed a profound connection, a testament to Rodrigo's ability to unveil relatable aspects that transcend initial expectations.

"Beama" – Shenseea, feat. Lola Brooke

Crafted by the talented London on da Track, "Beama" seamlessly weaves together Shenseea's vibrant Jamaican heritage with Lola Brooke's distinctive Brooklyn-style rap. The result is a dynamic synergy of their aggressive and powerful verses, blending the realms of rap and reggae into a pulsating, high-energy track.

"Something Real" – Post Malone

Post Malone gets vulnerable on “Something Real,” opening up about substance abuse and the use of money to mask depression. Featuring layered vocals and a choir, the track has depth and personality. The song was featured as ESPN’s 2023 college football anthem.

"THIS YEAR (Blessings) [Remix]" – Victor Thompson, Gunna, Ehis 'D' Greatest

The song "This Year (Blessings) - Remix" reflects on 2023 and expresses gratitude to the blessings throughout the year. The rap artist Gunna explores melodic afrobeats creating an intriguing new sound.

"THANK GOD" – Travis Scott

"THANK GOD" stands as the second track on Scott’s new album UTOPIA, encapsulating the fusion of boundary-pushing experimentation and hit songwriting featured throughout the entire album. Its spacey intro, accompanied by a throbbing sub-bass, eventually guides the listener into one of Travis’ best beat switches, where he fearlessly spits at speeds rarely seen from him in recent years.

"S91" – KAROL G

Colombian superstar, KAROL G, exudes confidence on the powerful anthem “S91.” She explores themes of resilience and growth while facing the envy of others. Karol G was Spotify's ninth most streamed artist in 2023.

"found me" – Kinrose

Kinrose dropped one of the most underrated projects of 2023 with his bouquet EP, and the closing track “found me” shows exactly why. The track is upbeat yet beautiful, the beat decorated with strings, piano, and backing vocals over groovy drums and shakers. Kinrose’s vocals sit perfectly on top of this instrumental as he raps about work, purpose, and finding himself. These themes of self-discovery are highlighted most in the song’s sticky hook as he repeats: “I was looking all around for you, finally found me.” This track is a massively underrated gem that you must check out if you haven’t already.

"Look What You Did" – Reuben Vincent, feat. Sonny Miles

Back in January, North Carolina rapper Reuben Vincent dropped one of the year’s most soulful hip-hop projects with Love Is War. With features from Rapsody, Ant Clemons, Reason, and more, the album is highlighted by beautiful instrumentals and in-depth lyricism, my favorite track being “Look What You Did” with North Carolina collaborator Sonny Miles. This track combines guitar, piano, and synths into a luscious backdrop for Vincent to dissect love, infidelity, and mistrust. Sonny Mile’s chorus is the perfect fit, smoothly repeating thoughtful lines like “I held you down when you needed” before an in-depth verse of his own. This song is a beautiful, sensual representation of the complications of a relationship and has not left my rotation throughout the whole year.

"Flow State" – Casper Sage

2023 was an absolute breakout year for Nashville-based artist Casper Sage, culminating in his smooth yet psychedelic Synthesis+ EP in August. “Flow State” is an absolute highlight of this project, an amazing exploration of peace and clarity over rich R&B instrumentation. The song’s themes of going with the flow and finding purpose in a complicated and confusing world are beautifully embodied by its lyrics as well as its calming production. This track also might have one of the year’s best hooks in the beautiful and catchy “I wanna flow like the water” refrain. With songs as amazing as “Flow State,” Casper Sage is a must-watch artist for 2024.

"Ribbons" – Ryan Beatty

Ryan Beatty’s Calico is a standout project of 2023, an intimate, emotional album with fantastic production all around. The album’s intro track perhaps best represents its weight. “Ribbons” might take the crown as the most heart-wrenching song of the year. The track’s motif of “Ribbons running down your face” is striking, highlighted further by lyrics of seeping loneliness and uncertainty. The track's instrumentation is what makes it truly beautiful, starting with a slow, quiet piano and escalating into swelling strings and vocals as the song abruptly ends. “Ribbons” is a hard-hitting intro to an absolutely must-listen album overall.

"nite" – Chase Shakur

This R&B song by the talented artist from Atlanta, Chase Shakur, is a must-listen. Shakur delivers a nostalgic R&B sound with his impressive vocals and romantic lyricism. This subtle upbeat and mood-setting track is off of his latest album, it’s not you, it’s me…it’s love.

"WHY WAIT?" – Yoshi T., feat. Cisco Swank

Yoshi T. is an artist you should check out if you love contemporary hip-hop and listen to artists such as Earl Sweatshirt, Saba, or Mac Miller. The Japanese-American artist abstractly crafts this song with Cisco Swank, a producer and rapper from Brooklyn. All the instruments perfectly blend in with each other creating an idealistic sound.

"Food for the Soul’ – it’s murph

"Food for the Soul" is described by it’s murph as “tech with a side of mellow,” and I couldn’t describe it any better. With snippets on TikTok and creative marketing strategies, it’s murph captured our attention with this track, and his unique approach to creating electronic music with loads of personality is second to none.

"Jack" – Journey Montana

This singer and actress born in Los Angeles and raised in New York showcases her skills in songwriting through her songs. On “Jack,” she sings about her independence and sticking to self-love and self-worth rather than giving wasted energy to someone else. Her vocals make her sound addicting and will have you leaving the track on repeat.

"plz don't cut my wings" – MIKE, feat. Earl Sweatshirt

Notable artists, MIKE and Earl Sweatshirt both have rap flows that smoothly blend together. The slow and symphonic beat amplifies a grateful sound. It’s always a pleasure to see these two collaborate and influence each other over the years as they both leave a greater impact on the sound of hip-hop.

"Suspended" – Sampha

I could have put any song from Sampha’s second album, Lahai, and it would have been valid. This is one of the most angelic songs of the year and hearing it live in concert is just as beautiful as it sounds on DSPs.

"Futbol" – Rahill

Rahill is my pick for the most underrated artist of the year. It was hard to narrow it down to one song, but “Futbol” takes the cake. It is the kind of track you want to listen to with beautiful scenery. There is a vintage psychedelic feel with a modern touch that makes the track perfect.

"Impossible" – Teezo Touchdown

While a lot of people love Teezo for his quirky melodies and infectious energy, he also has a special knack at songwriting. I listen to this track almost every morning, and it is the perfect track to start the day and get some confidence early in the day.

"IDC" – Jordan Ward, Joony

Jordan Ward came out of nowhere this year and ended up being one of my most listened to artists this year. “IDC (with Joony)” was my favorite track on his album, FORWARD, and it is a groovy vibe, showcasing their incredible chemistry.

"Chapter 2: Meaningful Violence" – Sideshow & Alexander Spit

As a sucker for abstract, experimental beats and witty story-telling samples, "Chapter 2: Meaningful Violence" by Alexander Spit & Sideshow possesses a recipe to fit my palate. Spit’s samples vary from television show snippets regarding dealing elicit substances to a slowed down, warped sample of Summer Walker’s 2021 track, "Insane." These unique samples and abstract beats form the perfect background for Sideshow to elucidate the precarity of his lifestyle, the struggles of his ancestors, and his physical or spiritual coping mechanisms.

"Burfict!" – JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown

Deviating rather significantly from my customary music choice and from the customs of music in general, for that matter – JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown’s Burfict is one of the best tracks on one of the best albums this year. The song is grandiose, chaotic, and for lack of better terms, GOES HARD. From the outset, Danny Brown’s unique voice and delivery coupled with impressive trumpets and Peggy’s distorted, fast-paced production set an adrenaline-pumping tone that continues through Danny’s catchy Chorus and Peggy’s hilarious yet threatening bars.

"Vin Skully" – Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist

"Vin Skully" is my pick of the bunch from a supremely cohesive and enjoyable album; much like the majority of Earl’s music, the songs tend to grow on the listener with time. I undoubtedly enjoyed unpacking Earl’s witty lyricism and energetic delivery of abundant baseball bars. As always, Earl and The Alchemist are a dynamic duo and the repetitive yet charming background vocal sample of Ralph Graham is the cherry on the cake.

"Pillars" – Navy Blue

Undoubtedly, "Pillars" stands out as the most emotionally resonant among my song selections. While it was released earlier in the year and might be overlooked due to recency bias, its enduring impact is undeniable. Navy's artistry, marked by vulnerability and compelling storytelling, transcends time, inviting listeners to connect with him on a profoundly human level. As someone who lost a grandfather during childhood, I found a deep resonance with Navy's expression of mourning. Now, with only my grandmother remaining, I can keenly empathize with his yearning to maintain an emotional connection with his own grandmother.

“Cartoon Earthquake” – Blondshell

It's the dealer's choice which track from Blondshell’s self-titled debut record is worthy of nomination among best tracks of the year. Here, we’ll settle on “Cartoon Earthquake,” a bonus track from the album’s deluxe release. Not only does it reinvigorate the album as a whole, it points its focus on a question central to Blondshell’s thesis: how far are you willing to go for love and acceptance? And, perhaps more essentially, is it worth putting faith into?

“Time Ain’t Accidental” – Jess Williamson

The intro and title track of Jess Williamson’s revelatory new album places us firmly in the space of loving, wandering, and discovery that hosts all tracks that follow. A tone-setter to say the least, it’s a weightless song that doesn’t pressure you into repeat listens, but nonetheless demands it. By Williamson’s design, none of this is coincidental.

“Still Got It” – Troye Sivan

The organs of “Still Got It” offer a stark change of pace from other tracks on Sivan’s Something To Give Each Other, making it a stand-out in more ways than one. Sorrowful and sincere, it’s a far cry from the bruting sensuality of Sivan’s new sound. A look inside his sobering come-down from a debilitating rush, it’s hard not to endear yourself to the lingering sentiment of the track.

“Knockin" – MJ Lenderman

In a sort of epilogue to 2022’s Boat Songs, “Knockin” forms itself to Lenderman’s one-of-a-kind story telling – simple and profound in an ultimate paradox. His nod to Guns N’ Roses “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” in both the title and opening lyrics of the track pay off big time in the song’s final stretch, a euphoric refrain partnered with an elevated guitar performance. It’s one of the more invigorating listens of the year, as it's impossible to argue against the strength of Lenderman’s writing and across-the-board performance.

"Nuisance" – patrick witkowski

“Nuisance," by patrick witkowski, is a cute summer indie rock track that could easily find its way onto a 2000s rom-com soundtrack. The endearing lyrics, set against a driving instrumental with engaging chord progressions, create an undeniable hit, with patrick appearing relatable and vulnerable throughout the song.

Top 25 Projects of 2023

How Do You Sleep At Night? – Teezo Touchdown

In 2023, Teezo Touchdown had a standout year with features on major albums like Travis Scott’s Utopia, Drake’s For All The Dogs, and Don Toliver’s Love Sick. Known for his eclectic style in mainstream hip-hop, Teezo, a Texas native, solidified his position with a diverse skill set showcased in his first studio album, How Do You Sleep At Night?. The album defies expectations with tracks ranging from hard-hitting anthems like "OK" to smooth R&B grooves like "Sweet," featuring exciting beat switches. Standout singles include "You Thought" and "Familiarity," highlighting Teezo's versatility over rock-heavy instrumentals. Tracks like "UHH" showcase creativity with 80s-inspired drums and guitar. The album explores various moods, from the upbeat "Mood Swings" to the somber reflections in "Neighborhood" and "Impossible," delving into struggles and external doubt. Teezo's rich vocals, coupled with diverse production from collaborators like Tyler Cole, SADPONY, and BNYX, make How Do You Sleep At Night? one of the year's most creative works.

Sunburn – Dominic Fike

You should have known this album would be included in our Top 25 before even reading this list. There are only a few things in life that are inevitable in life; death, taxes, and Dominic Fike getting his well deserved praise on Sheesh. All bias aside (or as much as I can push away,) Sunburn was one of the most well-rounded projects of the year. It has the hits, it has dream collaborations, and it has a mixed bag of genres littered throughout. We had to wait 2+ years for this project to release, and if you ask anyone here at Sheesh, it was well worth the wait.

FORWARD – Jordan Ward

When Tyler, The Creator tells me to listen to something, you bet I will. In an age of virality and singles, it was refreshing to hear something as creative as FORWARD, by Jordan Ward. Tracks like “IDC,” “FAMJAM4000,” and “WHITE CROCS,” will surely get you vibing with Jordan Ward’s sound.


Of course I could have picked any of the other albums on this list to cover, but it’s time we give the art of the movie soundtrack its flowers. In a year where there were some Billboard Hot 100 hits that came from both this album and Barbie, it’s clear that mainstream movies now have more claims to fame than just the movie itself. On top of that, tracks like “Self Love" and "Home” have been mainstays in my playlists for months, and through using direct vocal samples from the movie – this project served us a better story than most projects released this year.

Where Do We Go From Here? – ASTN

From start to finish, this 8-song R&B project is nothing short of perfection in my eyes. It has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of my musical preferences, claiming a perpetual spot on repeat since its release. What elevates the special status of this project for me is not just the impeccable composition but the unforgettable experience of attending the release party in LA. Witnessing ASTN perform it live for the first time at our Sheesh Show added an extra layer of magic that ensures this musical journey will stay etched in my memory for a long time to come.

Jackman. – Jack Harlow

When reflecting on the standout albums of 2023, Jackman. is among the first to grace my thoughts. This project has become a vessel for countless cherished memories, eternally holding a special place in my musical evolution. Jack Harlow's authenticity shines through, signaling a commendable evolution in his artistic trajectory. What sets Jackman. apart is Harlow's genuine self-expression, and lyricism. In fact, it propelled Jack Harlow to secure a prominent spot in my top 5 most streamed artists of 2023.

A Brief Nirvana – Khamari

In 2023, Khamari finally scratched the surface of his destined breakthrough moment – with his brilliantly elegant album A Brief Nirvana. With tracks like “These Four Walls,” “Right My Wrongs,” and “Doctor My Eyes,” Khamari emerged into the mainstream spotlight, garnering attention for the subtle echoes of Frank Ocean's distinctive qualities woven into his sound. Yet very much so his own artist and individual, Khamari possesses one of the most genuine and promising R&B voices of the decade.

Like..? – Ice Spice

In a matter of a year, Ice Spice has managed to trademark her own catch phrase, ignite a cultural renaissance of mainstream drill, and acquire this generation's most prized crown as our very own “Princess Diana.” Her breakout EP Like..? is a case study for the aforementioned accolades, a project where her ability to craft exhilarating hooks have both instant virality and staying power, her familiar snippets working their way into new forms of lingo even a year after its debut. Yet aside from her clever wordplay and enthralling nonchalant delivery, the EP is a testament to the ever evolving limits of the music industry, one that Ice Spice embraces with a versatility of the people and for the people, there’s no way to avoid her or her music and for that reason this EP is among those worthy of top project of the year.

Fountain Baby – Amaarae

Describing Amaarae’s 2023 project Fountain Baby as experimental is deeply misleading, but only because the adjective implies something still being worked on and this project is polished, confidently ambitious and abundantly dynamic. Weaving through themes of intimate desire and emotional complexity, Amaarae finds the truest version of herself through indulging in the fantasy of ethereal melodies and dreamy hooks. Somewhere in the middle of afro fusion and pop, Amaarae prefers to resist both genre and societal conventions. Rather than dwell on the dangers of the world that she hints at throughout the project, she turns complex thoughts into velvety spectacles, strong enough to make you forget about the world around you as you become immersed into hers.

UTOPIA – Travis Scott

Travis Scott's highly anticipated UTOPIA marks a significant milestone, especially considering the five-year gap since the release of ASTROWORLD. In this album, Travis diverges from merely replicating the trap music formula that propelled him to stadium and radio success and instead, introduces a bold shift into the realm of experimental hip-hop. While delivering crowd-pleasing hits like "MELTDOWN" and "I KNOW?," Travis boldly explores the boundaries of the contemporary trap scene in 2023 with tracks like "MY EYES" and "MODERN JAM." UTOPIA, akin to the enduring appeal of ASTROWORLD, possesses all the elements of an album destined to remain a staple in the playlists of fans for years to come.

Tomorrow’s Fire – Squirrel Flower

The follow up to her breakout record Planet (i), Tomorrow’s Fire solidifies Squirrel Flower as a proficient and evocative songwriter. Somewhere between alt-rock and the boot gaze valley, Tomorrow’s Fire offers a starry eyed musical experience sure to make you want to laugh, cry and dance all at once.

Halo – Bakar

Bakar delivered exactly what I’ve been wanting to hear from him ever since the immense popularity of his 2019 EP Will You Be My Yellow?. Although he released the album Nobody’s Home just last year, it didn’t quite resonate with me the way Halo did. The production is amazing, Bakar really gets personal in the storytelling aspects of the album, and it feels like a project that genuinely came very naturally into existence.  

Red Moon In Venus – Kali Uchis

Kali Uchis crafted an ethereal, sensual, and beautifully feminine collection of music on her album Red Moon In Venus. The music radiates confidence, security, and plays with a perfect balance of both Spanish and English showing Kali in her truest self. Some stand out tracks for me would have to be “Hasta Cuando”, “Moral Conscience”, and “Worth The Wait."

Desire, I Want To Turn Into You – Caroline Polachek

Another post breakout album, Caroline Polachek’s Desire, I Want To Turn Into You might be one of the most important records to come out this year. Ethereal and experimental in nature, backdropped by an impressive vocal performance, Polachek offers an irresitably accurate depiction of the highs and lows of desire.

SET IT OFF – Offset

Offset's second solo endeavor, SET IT OFF, unfolds across 21 tracks featuring collaborations with notable artists such as Travis Scott, Don Toliver, Latto, Cardi B, and more. The album kicks off with the opening track, "ON THE RIVER," which cleverly samples Kirby. Offset's signature high-pitched cadences, coupled with his masterful use of autotune, contribute to the album's unique and unmistakable sound. SET IT OFF not only highlights Offset's prowess as a rapper and collaborator, but also serves as a testament to his adventurous spirit, exploring a diverse range of sounds and influences.

Nostalgia – Rod Wave

Rod Wave explores love, loss, and personal growth in his 2023 release, Nostalgia, a record that tells the story of his life within each track. Highlighting a few standout tracks, Nostalgia features memorable songs such as “Checkmate,” “Love For A Thug,” and “Long Journey.” The album includes appearances by 21 Savage, Sadie Jean, and Wet. With Nostalgia, Rod Wave proves that he is a master storyteller as well as a musician of diverse interests.

I Love My Girl, She's My Boy – Between Friends

I Love My Girl, She's My Boy, the third album from sibling duo Brandon and Savannah Hudson, is pure fun in an album. The 14-track album covers a spectrum of emotions— love, obsession, frustration, and heartbreak. Energetic tracks like "What’s up," "Redlight," and "Smiley" feature catchy hooks over vibrant guitar and punchy drums, while "Bruise" and "Lotto" offer a laid-back yet engaging vibe. Brandon's production ties the album together with straightforward instrumentation and electronic elements. The album concludes strongly with the upbeat "Sloppy stella" and the drumless, deescalating "Bb." The title track beautifully summarizes the project's themes, reflecting on the duo's youth and growth over an LCD Soundsystem-type synth instrumental. In a year of experimentation, I Love My Girl, She's My Boy stands out as one of 2023’s most exciting albums.

Take What You Need – Amindi

Amindi has been on the rise with her recent album, Take What You Need. From breakup anthems to chill R&B playlists, this project has everything in between. The album has features from Jordan Ward, Kenny Mason, monte booker, chlothegod, and more. Amindi shows vulnerability as she doesn’t hesitate to say what’s on her mind with each track.

And Then You Pray For Me – Westside Gunn

Griselda’s very own Westside Gunn does not disappoint with his latest album And Then You Pray For Me, following his Pray for Paris album sequel. With each bar, Gunn is telling a story along with a mesmerizing beat. He also collaborated with other great storytellers of rap such as, JID, Conway the Machine, DJ Drama, Denzel Curry, and more. Gunn truly mastered the blend of trap and minimalistic rap with this album maintaining consistency from his other projects.

Love Sick – Don Toliver

While a lot of people have said this is Don Toliver’s weakest album, I don’t think that is saying much due to how strong his discography is. Love Sick still has that nice blend of psychedelic trap that he was brought up on and smooth R&B. Songs like “Private Landing,” “Company Pt. 3,” and “No Pole,” (a deluxe addition) are all highlights of what make this album great.

Ways of Knowing – Navy Blue

Angeleno rapper, skateboarder, and visual artist, Navy Blue, released a heavenly, soulful, and introspective album titled Ways of Knowing, in March 2023. Navy’s rapping and vocals are supported by English producer, Budgie, whose penchant for uniquely soulful samples and cohesive production evidenced in, The Good Book (an earlier album), are on full display in Ways of Knowing. Budgie’s production serves as the ideal introduction and backdrop to Navy’s sincere reflections upon his family, past relationships, and self-worth. Navy elucidates his sense of empowerment as he takes the reigns of life and proceeds with a cautious optimism that pays homage to every detailed lesson learned from his ancestors, both past and present.

Lahai – Sampha

Lahai is the long-awaited second studio album from South London singer, songwriter, and producer, Sampha; coming six years after his critically acclaimed first studio album, Process. Lahai’s soundscape is entrenching and inviting as the maximalist sounds remain astoundingly refined and complimentary of Sampha’s silky vocals. Overall, Lahai is unconventional yet enchanting, as the layering of synths, drums, and keys creates a sonic soundscape that is unique and memorable, and assuredly embodies six years of work. Sampha’s painstakingly detailed artistry is becoming all the more rare in a musical landscape moving at ward speed: Cherish Sampha and cherish Lahai.

10,000 gecs – 100 gecs

With each release, the lore of 100 gecs grows tenfold – a scale up from 2019’s 1,000 gecs, you’re sure to register a visceral reaction of some dimension upon pressing play. To embrace the madness is the biggest favor you can do for yourself. Forget the rules, the norms, and the ruling body that presides over music, and declare anarchy in the name of 100 gecs.

Honey – Samia

Hyper-specific but never exclusionary, Samia’s Honey intricately explores the memories and visions of the album’s author. Each emotion – jealousy, pain, insecurity, wonder, empathy – is poignantly presented, at times giving the impression of invasiveness on behalf of the listener. For every moment this thought may appear, Samia is there to assure us we are welcome, that it’s for the benefit of all involved for these songs to exist. Among all dynamics at play, there is no shame, guilt, or reservation in the album’s DNA.

This Is Why – Paramore

Paramore makes a compelling comeback with their latest album, This Is Why, delving into internal conflicts within the band and grappling with societal pressures and broader issues. With almost two decades of music-making under their belt, Paramore not only retains their ability to craft rock hits but also ventures into more mature and introspective themes. Hayley Williams, in particular, shines through with poignant lyricism, navigating past band dynamics and offering a critical examination of her own journey. While This Is Why may not attain the same mainstream success as its predecessor, After Laughter, its unwavering willingness and passionate exploration of deeper themes undeniably showcase its artistic merit.

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