The magazine hails the 27-year-old singer, who earned five Grammy nominations. “From relative obscurity, New Jersey artist SZA rose to prominence with witty songs marked by gorgeously sparse R&B production and ironclad melodies; there’s a reason stars like collaborator Rihanna and labelmate Kendrick Lamar are fans,” writes TIME. “Her takes on hookup culture and the pursuit of an authentic life are vividly articulated, too. Like all the best artists, her experience is so specific that it rises to the level of universality: She may be one of a kind, but she’s speaking the truth of a whole generation.”
The TDE celebration continues at No. 2 with Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. “Lamar came through with the most scathing—and necessary—hip-hop of the year on the insistent, incisive DAMN.,” says the magazine. “‘HUMBLE.,’ the album’s biggest hit, is raw and repetitive, but that minimalism is what sets Lamar apart; he doesn’t need gimmicks to elevate the power of his art. With blistering social commentary and deep introspection, Lamar harnessed his remarkable energy into songs that struck a chord with his biggest audience yet, earning DAMN. double platinum status and top Grammy nods.”
The top 10 continues with a varied mix of genres, but includes Khalid’s American Teen at No. 4. Albums like Lorde’s Melodrama (No. 5), Kesha’s Rainbow (No. 7), and Taylor Swift’s Reputation (No. 9) round out the top 10.
Recently, Kendrick’s DAMN. was named the year’s best album by Rolling Stone, who placed SZA’s Ctrl at No. 20.
TIME Top 10 Albums of 2017
1. SZA – Ctrl
2. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
3. Perfume Genius – No Shape
4. Khalid – American Teen
5. Lorde – Melodrama
6. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
7. Kesha – Rainbow
8. The xx – I See You
9. Taylor Swift – Reputation
10. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream