Back to the homepage


In this day and age, booming upstarts are becoming billed stars at a quick pace. In 2017, we witnessed this fact via a slew of stellar debut albums from artists who basically broke ground with their standout projects. Here, REVOLT celebrates the debut projects from the new class of creators who altogether proved that #FirstTake is the charm.

Over a year ago, I wrote that Daniel Caesar’s “Get You” was not just unapologetically, but earnestly a love song. Turns out, it wouldn’t end up being an outlier on the then-forthcoming Freudian. The entire project, expertly fine-tuned at just 10 tracks, explores with abandon love at all its stages and at all its turns. Caesar is grateful and enraptured and satiated…and then desperate or dismissive or burdened. And as relationships (or lack thereof) are the running narrative, so is gospel the rooted musical inspiration amidst the R&B. It Midas-touches every track, sometimes in Kirk Franklin interpolations, and other times in choral harmonies and enveloping organs and delicate piano-playing, and it ultimately makes the album both familiar and inviting. Because who hasn’t, or won’t, experience such? When music seems to frequently document affection—temporary and lustful, at that—through a woozy, debaucherous haze, Freudian was welcomed for its clarity.

By Danielle Cheesman

Something special happens when an artist mediates on personal hardships through melody. In 1994, Mary J. Blige turned heartache into a masterpiece (My Life). In 2011, Adele shared her pain and saw gain (21). In 2017, Kehlani accepted her hardships and turned it into a positive. SweetSexySavage finds the singer at her most vulnerable and self-confident — and to think, she does this all on her debut album. In analyzing the lows and highs, pain and joy, doubt and certainty within her personal universe, Kehlani comes out self-assured. In her contemplation, she is blunt, unflinching and finds recourse over sweet, exuberant, and dreamy production. The end result is beautiful bliss.

By Ralph Bristout
In 2017, New York had a new reason to Milly Rock and it was because of “Magnolia,” the platinum hit by ATLien Playboi Carti. Produced by Pi'erre Bourne, the record peaked in the top 30 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and was a standout from the 22-year old’s debut mixtape, Playboi Carti. Released through A$AP Rocky’s AWGE imprint, Young Carti’s self-titled project came equipped with lots ofswagger which dripped from the production; melodic, off-kilter and carefree flows; and his signature ad-libs (“Ooh, ooh”). Whether riding solo on tracks like the airy “Location” and the syrupy “Half & Half” or having his big bros Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert pull up with him on tracks like “New Choppa,” “Wokeuplikethis*” and “Lookin’”, Carti can be heard coasting throughout the 15-track tape. Playboi Carti is a promising start for the XXL Freshman who has already had to wake up to rappers sounding like him.
By Kai Acevedo
A Boogie wit da Hoodie’s parents damn well knew what they were doing when they decided what to call him when he was born. Given the birth name Artist, the HighBridge Bronx native has become one of the most viable new MCs in hip-hop on the strength of his auto-tune laced melodies, fetching hooks and subject matter that his core easily taps into (getting money, getting girls, breaking up with girls and getting new girls, and stunting on his haters). Boog’s first ever traditional LP, The Bigger Artist (a follow up to his debut mixtape The Artist), dropped in late September, debuted number four on the Billboard Top 200 album charts and in less than two weeks, the 22-year-old had five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. His biggest hit this year is “Drowning,” but he’s bathing in success.
By Shaheem Reid
There’s something nearly tangible about Khalid’s voice. It’s simultaneously syrupy and grating, it’s enveloping and affecting, and it could not be mistaken for another’s. So it was a blessing to discover that “Location,”, his break-out single from last year, a tale of teen love tested by technology, wasn’t a fluke; that we could hear that same distinctive drawl across 15 tracks of one of the year’s most sonically- and thematically-cohesive LPs, American Teen. For just under an hour, Khalid sings his alt-pop and artsy R&B on behalf of himself, his generation, and their shared experiences: under-the-influence adventures, rose-colored chemistries, euphoric raging, empty pockets, missed connections, loneliness and loner-ism, outsiderdom. But, despite the album’s title, those aren’t exactly moments that fail to ring true for folks twice his age either. So he closed the generational gap with his sweeping sincerity. Well, that, and no one can deny the feel-goods that come with the sounds of 80s synths, propulsive dance beats, and sing-alongs.
By Danielle Cheesman
“Anybody can see the kid got it,” J.I.D. says at the beginning of “General,” the first official track of The Never Story. It’s confident talk for a debut, but the new signee of J. Cole’s Dreamville crew backs it up. The former college hooper doesn’t sound like his Atlanta roots, with a high-pitched voice reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar and a nimble-flowed, ultra-lyrical style that sounds more connected to the East Coast. But like all signees of Dreamville so far, J.I.D. has the charisma and the bars to hold his own.
By William E. Ketchum III

Amine exudes the kind of confidence that could rival anyone of your favorite established rap stars. The Portland rapper is the kind of guy who brings the life to the party and with one cadence turn a cloudy day into a sunny one. All of these examples capture the essence of Good For You, an album that delivers light in a year that was often shrouded by darkness. The songs are bright, the melodies are even brighter, and the guy’s flow is as smooth as butter. Whether its lamenting on heartbreak (“Wedding Crashers”), contemplating life’s rainy days (“Sundays”) or setting off the feels  (“Dakota”), Aminé knows how to take the good with the bad and combine them into a gumbo that’s good for you, too.

By Ralph Bristout