Best Albums of 2023

Yasmine Medjdoub

Even as we move deeper into 2024, these year-end retrospectives provide a welcome opportunity to reflect on the albums that soundtracked our lives in 2023. Impact’s Yasmine Medjdoub dives deep into two albums that resonated deeply with her, highlighting the artistry that left a lasting impression over the past year.

2023 was a year overflowing with musical gems. From Lana Del Rey’s melancholic masterpiece ‘Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd’, to Victoria Monet’s ‘Jaguar II’ which pulsated with soulful energy, to Kali Uchis’ ‘Red Moon in Venus’ painting a dreaming soundscape. Even Nicki Minaj returned with the highly anticipated ‘Pink Friday 2,’ proving her reign as the queen of rap. While each album release deserves its spotlight, two resonated particularly deeply with me, carving a distinct space in my 2023 listening experience.


In February 2023, British pop star Raye released her debut studio album ‘My 21st Century Blues,’ a cathartic liberation cry after years of industry battles. Free from the constraints of her old label, Raye pours her heart and soul into 15 raw and unflinching tracks, solidifying her arrival as a genre-defying talent with something profound to say.

“I think women do stereotypically face a lot of pressure to seem like they’ve got everything together… so I wanted to create a story that was very blunt and honest about that time in my life.”

What makes this album truly remarkable is its eclectic nature

Gone are the pop hooks crafted for others; ‘My 21st Century Blues’ pulsates with an unfiltered honesty that resonates deeply; Raye confronts demons both personal and societal, laying bare her struggles with addiction, the lingering scars of sexual assault, and the suffocating pressures of body image. A particular gem within this project is the track Escapism, featuring 070 Shake. This song delves into the theme of Raye’s struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, ultimately propelling it to the coveted position of Raye’s first UK No. 1 hit. What makes this album truly remarkable is its eclectic nature; it transcends the boundaries of pop, seamlessly weaving through various genres such as R&B, dance, electronic music, and jazz. Raye’s versatility and willingness to explore diverse musical landscapes contribute to the album’s rich and dynamic listening experience.

This genre-hopping isn’t mere experimentation; it mirrors the complexities of Raye’s experiences. Each track feels meticulously crafted, reflecting the nuances of her emotions and the diverse influences that have shaped her. The result is an album that feels both deeply personal and universally relatable. This sonic diary speaks to anyone grappling with self-doubt, societal pressures, and the desire to be heard. ‘My 21st Century Blues’ is not just a great album; it’s a triumphant debut from an artist finally free to express herself on her terms.


Doja Cat’s reign as pop royalty continues with the release of her self-written and fourth studio album ‘Scarlet’. This 17-track masterpiece transcends genre boundaries, showcasing Doja’s versatility and solidifying her position as a true musical force.

“You follow me, but you don’t really care about the music.

Gone are the days of questioning Doja’s rap credentials. ‘Scarlet’ is a bold statement, a middle finger to the haters and a testament to Doja Cat’s artistic evolution. Tracks such as Skull and Bones and Attention showcase her lyrical dexterity, spitting flows between playful and introspective storytelling. But Doja doesn’t stop there. She effortlessly blends R&B smoothness with hit tracks such as Agora Hills, Can’t Wait, and Often, showcasing her vocal versatility and creating an intoxicating soundscape.

The pop element that capitulated Doja to stardom isn’t abandoned, but it takes a backseat. Instead, it serves as a chorus hook or backing vocals, complementing the rap verses rather than overshadowing them. This sift showcases Doja’s growth as an artist, refusing to be confined to a single box and crafting her unique sonic identity.

The album feels like a conversation with Doja Cat

The album is not afraid to embrace controversy. Paint the Town Red, built on a sample of Dionne Warwick’s Walk on By, sparked outrage with its dark imagery. Doja Cat, ever the provocateur, followed it up with Demons, mocking the accusations and revealing her success. It’s a power move, showcasing her confidence and refusal to be silenced. The album feels like a conversation with Doja Cat, full of humour, vulnerability, and unapologetic self-expression.

‘Scarlet’ is more than just an album; it’s a declaration. Doja Cat is no longer just a pop star with viral hits; she’s a force to be reckoned with, a rapper who can spitfire with the best, and a singer with the potential to top any chart. ‘Scarlet’ is a testament to her talent, audacity, and unwavering confidence.

Yasmine Medjdoub

Featured image courtesy of @kobuagency via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @raye and @dojacat via instagram.com and in-article videos courtesy of RAYE and Doja Cat via YouTube . No changes made to these images and videos.

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