20 Best R&B Albums of 2017

Sharon Jones, Khalid, SZA, Miguel and more

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Jhene Aiko, 'Trip'
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19. Jhene Aiko, 'Trip'19/20

19. Jhene Aiko, 'Trip'

Jhene Aiko's most memorable moment of the past few years – that notorious "eat the booty like groceries" line on Omarion's 2014 hit "Post to Be" – suggested that her next album would be more of a sex-drenched affair. Yet Trip is just as atmospheric and woozy as her earlier solo work. Far more focused than 2014's disappointing Souled Out, she dabbles with psychotropic drugs under the guidance of an ever-present, disembodied male voice, while mourning the death of her brother, resulting in music full of sadness, sensory overload and wonderment. Gauzy sing-alongs with Rae Sremmurd's Swae Lee on the melodically charming "Sativa" and current rapper-boyfriend Big Sean on the roller-skating boogie-funk of "OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive)" won't boost her reputation for sometimes-vaporous vocals. But by effectively connecting a descent into self-medication – one which eventually turns frightening – with real personal loss, she's made an album that feels timely and, perhaps, timeless. M.R.

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