Kendrick Lamar has been the most consistently creative music maker of the past few years. This year’s “Damn” isn’t his best album; it’s not as adventurous and versatile as 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.” But it’s still the best album of 2017. He’s more personal and less musical. And we’re able to better appreciate his rhyming and flow this time around.

However, the Los Angeles hip-hop hero was less impressive in concert in St. Paul than on record in 2017. By comparison, Chance the Rapper, the pride of Chicago, was totally fresh, spontaneous and musical. He gave one of the most exciting arena hip-hop performances I’ve ever seen. But it rated as only my second-best concert of the year. Tops was Guns N’ Roses, never one of my favorite bands, but they exceeded expectations. They were focused, passionate and generous, playing more than 3¼ hours at a time when many fans probably expected Axl Rose and his reunited crew to phone it in for a big payday.

Best albums

1. Kendrick Lamar, “Damn”

2. St. Vincent, “Masseduction”

3. Margo Price, “All American Made”

4. Randy Newman, “Dark Matter”

5. Sam Smith, “The Thrill of It All”

6. Lorde, “Melodrama”

7. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, “Lotta Sea Lice”

8. Chris Stapleton, “From a Room Vol. 1” and “Vol. 2”

9. Khalid, “American Teen”

10. Rhiannon Giddens, “Freedom Highway”

Best concerts

1. Guns N’ Roses, U.S. Bank Stadium, July 30

2. Chance the Rapper, Xcel Energy Center, May 12

3. Chris Stapleton, Xcel Energy Center, Oct. 7

4. Lizzo, the O’Shaughnessy, March 31

5. Gary Clark Jr., the Palace, Aug. 3

6. Bob Dylan, Xcel Energy Center, Oct. 25

7. X, First Avenue, Sept. 13

8. U2, U.S. Bank Stadium, Sept. 8

9. Liv Warfield, Shelby J & Judith Hill, Dakota Jazz Club, March 18

10. Peggy Lee musical biography, Guthrie Theater, Sept. 25