Gozamos music contributors put together this list of artists to highlight some of their personal favorite releases of 2017. Whether trying to survive #45s first year in office, or just trying to get through this thing called life, this playlist is as diverse as our team and covers genres from Latin alternative and folk to hip-hop and gospel vibes. The diversification shines bright on this one.

Add your favorite 2017 picks in the comments, and raise a toast to the music of 2018!

Catalina Maria Johnson

Artist: Kamasi Washington
Album: Harmony of Difference
Song: “Truth”

Jazz may never be the same after Kamasi Washington, and his six-movement suite, “Truth”, a “six-movement suite” is clear evidence of the saxophonist’s immense talents. The piece is an epic and expansive yet intimate and reflective, heart-stirring, gospel-vibe laden ode to the truth of the beauty in our differences.

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Jorge Drexler
Album: Salvavidas de Hielo
Song: “Movimiento”

After dozens of repeats, the wonder of this delicate anthem has not diminished for me. Drexler sings a homage to the most human characteristic – our incessant desire to move, whether to seek a better future elsewhere, or simply out of curiosity or in search of adventure. The tune builds to a chant that proclaims: “I’m not from here, but then neither are you!

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Artist: Residente
Album: Residente
Song: “Guerra”

Residente aka Rene Perez Joglar traced his DNA to China, Armenia, Georgia, Ghana and other lands as well as his homeland Puerto Rico and the brilliant rapper-producer reflects all of these in his brilliant first solo album. The self-directed videos for the album are spectacular, and “Guerra”, which include scenes from a Syrian refugee camp, is a tour-de-force piece where despite heart-breaking images and hard-hitting lyrics, we end up in an uplifted space where Residente’s rhymes shine a light against the darkness of these bleak times.

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Ilene

Artist: Ibeyi
Album: Ash
Song: “Deathless (feat. Kamasi Washington)”

Among the many odes to women on Ibeyi’s second album, Ash, is this song that speaks to women’s resilience, our power of love and (re)creation, and a refusal of those who seek to destroy us.

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Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Album: DAMN.
Song: “ELEMENT.”

On yet another years’ best album, Kendrick alludes more to self-love in the face of anti-blackness, the prison-industrial complex, and cycles of violence and neglect.

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Señor Lebowski

Artist: Gift of Gab feat. R.A. The Rugged Man and A-F-R-O
Song: “Freedom From Flowing”

“Rejoice! Rappers are rapping again!” I grew up on one part rap and one part house music (and a little bit of everything else thrown in). Gift of Gab’s “Freedom From Flowing” (featuring Afro and R.A. The Rugged Man) speaks to that first part, the way I remember radio and hip hop music in the 90’s. With the kind of verses that make take a step back, cup your hand over your mouth and say “whoa!”. The beat, intelligent lyrics and three rappers partnered on the mic.  Its the a testament to what hip hop should be.

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Artist: Audry Funk
Song: “No Me Representas”

We’re fast approaching 2020 and still a few men in power are deciding the fate of many. This is especially true for women’s rights. From control over their own bodies to sexual assault in the workplace and epidemic rapes and femicides; enough is enough was a long time ago. No matter your sex or race, we need to stand up for each other in this world because the few in power aren’t doing it. For me, Audry Funk’s “No Me Representas” fits these times when the #MeToo and #NiUnaMas campaigns have also brought further light to the situation.

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Artist: Coco Sountrack
Song: Recuerdame

It wasn’t the killer song of the year but it was symbolic. The movie that brought out thousands of Latinos to theaters in the US also gave us a story and theme song that connects deeply with most persons who migrated to this country; many of whom were sitting in those audiences. The movie may have been about Día de Los Muertos but it, and the song attached to it, is symbolic of the immigrant struggle. “Recuérdame” also tells of the emotional hardship that many undocumented immigrants go through, crossing to a new world, leaving spouses, relatives and children behind; unable to return unless they have a special permission. It wasn’t until recently that family members had more than a photograph of their spouse or parent to look at, and the occasional phone call. It couldn’t be more evident to me than when the song says, “aunque tenga que emigrar”. And, like the movie, those migrating persons are tracked on a database enforced by border agents.

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Terry

Artist: Kendrick Lamar (feat. U2)
Song: “XXX.”

Honestly, I could’ve picked just about any song off of DAMN. No one is doing it better in the game than King Kendrick. XXX. is a brilliantly strong commentary on American hypocrises and double standards. Plus, with this joint you get three songs in one!ELEMENT. goes H.A.M. too, but I can only pick one on this list. Luckily, we don’t live in a world where I have to only choose one, because DAMN. is 2017’s best hip hop album, hands down…
Side note: If Bono had been doing these types of features over the years, I probably would’ve been a way bigger U2 fan. He sounds hella nice in this capacity…

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Artist: Father John Misty
Song: “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution”

Sort of a blueprint on what’s wrong with the world, and he ends with this sentiment: “There are some visionaries among us developing some products to aid us in our struggle to survive on this godless rock that refuses to die.” Mic. Meet floor…

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Artist: Joey Bada$$
Song: “Land of the Free”

Channeling the revolutionary tactics of both Dead Prez and Bob Marley, while reigniting the fire of old school hip hop lyricism for a 21st century audience.

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The Ponderers’ Fanita Banana

Artist: Chicano Batman
Song: “Freedom Is Free”

Freedom is free. A soulful anthem to life and hope that challenges the harsh times with a glimpse of electrifying danceable funk, r&b rhythms and with their peculiar 60s & 70s influence.

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Artist: Juana Molina
Song: “Paraguaya”

Paraguaya marks the whimsical return of Juana Molina, flirting with her usual simplicity and an unknown darkness. This track flatters with an amount obscure electronic tones and with a droll story full of ancestral spells and magic. 

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The Ponderers’ Angelfuk

Artist: Natalia LaFourcade
Album: Musas

Whether exploring the intricacies of love lost or paying tribute to Latin America’s most revered songwriters, Natalia LaFourcade has a gentle, deliberate and hypnotic way of luring you into each of her musical wanderings and Musas is no exception. Joined by the legendary duo Los Macorinos, this is an exceptional anthem to the golden-era and folk music of Mexico.

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Artist: Como Asesinar A Felipes
Album: Elipse

Seriously, this was my reaction after hitting play on the majestic soliloquy of experimental jazz and hip-hop that is, Elipse… “What the &*#^#% @*#&#^@#^ *@&*@&#&^%@$@%@%@?!? Where have you been all my life?!?! Where have you been hiding, Como Asesinar A Felipes?! I want more!”

Listen to the album, friends… that is how you get to my cold, dark heart. It’s beating, once again.

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Artist:  Cocó Cecé
Album: Bestias de Ciudad

Um, I’m not necessarily into cute-panda-pop or sunshine-and-butterflies-music, however, there are always a few exceptions and newcomer Coco Cece, with her debut of Bestias de Ciudad, which chronicles her adventures in Mexico City from Juarez, seems to have lured me to the bright side… at least momentarily.

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Artist: Antenna The Band
Album: Bicicleta

Antenna has always had a precise way of highlighting the alternative sounds of Latin rock music and it’s no wonder that their 2017 EP release, Bicicleta, showcases new sounds on a whole different level. It’s exciting to watch these Chicago musicians shine and we can’t wait to hear what’s next.

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Artist: Los Poetas
Album: Cartas Vol. 1

Conscious lyricism with dope beats and loads of Latinidad make Los Poetas a mainstay in this music lover’s library. Oh, the fact that they pay homage to salsa… uff…  #Palabra

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Artist: Ondatropica
Album: Baile Bucanero

You can easily hear and feel the power of the journey Mario Galeano and Quantic took to record Baile Bucanero. Between Isla de Providencia and Bogota, these two powerhouse producers dove deep into the underground of South American sonidos bailables and reinterpreting those into Ondas bien trópicas. Tu sabes, just listen.

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David Morales

Artist: Trivium
Song: “The Sin and The Sentence”

Few songs released caught my attention, The Sin and the Sentence offers that raw energy that trivium always brings with their songs with out sacrificing creativity. Matt’s vocal talent continues to improve each year.

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Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
Song: “The Fortress”

As a long time fan of Queens of the Stone Age, I was estatic to find out that they were releasing an album this year. the album has many great songs but the one that struck me the most was The Fortress.

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Artist: A Perfect Circle
Song: “The Doomed”

After what seemed like an eternity, A Perfect Circle released a new single. Like many of their songs, The Doomed can be seen as political commentary. The Doomed asks listeners to question their own indifference to current events.

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Daniel Martinez

Artist: Smino
Song: “Anita”

This song was one favorites this year. It has that old school feel with a new school approach. It’s not hip hop and it’s not r&b it’s right in the middle.

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Artist: Supa Bwe
Song: “Up Right Now ftg Xavier Omar”

This song rides the line between R&B and Hip Hop. It’s soulful, romantic, and uplifting.

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