My Top 10 Albums Of 2016
It was hard making this list. And honestly the top three picks could be switched around making each of them the top albums of the year. With that being said, “Aww Here It Goes!”
10. H.E.R. — Vol. 1
There is no mystique about music artist today. Everything is on social media for us to eat up. How they look and dress, where they’re from, what label they’re signed to — it can go on and on. All those things help but what should always be recognized is the TALENT. With H.E.R. all we have is the talent. No one knows how she looks. You can’t find any pictures of her on social media and no music videos have been released. It’s similar to when The Weekend first came out. All we know is that H.E.R. has a beautiful voice and her songs are amazing. The talent is there. Once the mystique is gone everything else will be icing on the cake.
9. Bruno Mars — 24k Magic
I like risk takers. I like artists who are versatile. That’s Bruno Mars. Bruno could easily make generic pop/alternative songs but with every album he switches it up. On 24k Magic Bruno tapped into the old school picking up where he left off on “Uptown Funk.” There’s 80s and 90s R&B, g-funk, glossy slow jams, James Brown vibes and a nice touch of auto tune that would make Roger Troutman smile. With only nine songs this album will be on repeat.
8. A Tribe Called Quest — We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your service
Who knew that we would get a brand new record from the Tribe? Who knew it was possible after watching their Michael Rapaport directed documentary? But surprisingly Phife, Q-Tip, Jarobi, and Ali patched things up to the point where they could make music together again. Consequence and Busta Rhymes also make several appearances throughout the album and it’s only right, they’re family. Nonetheless, the music is good. Really good. Not like its good for them because they’re old or they haven’t released an album in 16 years. If this was a debut album they’d be one of the best new groups out. They still got it. Now unfortunately Phife passed away March 2016. But a good amount of the album was already recorded before he left us. By the time the album was released later this year it became a tribute to Phife.
7. KAYTRANADA — 99.9%
A couple of years ago I started getting more into house music listening to whatever I came across on Soundcloud and Youtube. Kaytranada is one of the artists I came across. He’s a DJ/Producer that makes hip hop, soul, and house music. On this debut album we get collaborations with Craig David, Goldlink, Vic Mensa, Phonte, Anderson. Paak, and Little Dragon. He also supply’s instrumental tracks for listeners to zone out and struggle rappers to practice their flows. He’s my new favorite producer. Listen and you’ll see why.
6. Isaiah Rashad — The Sun’s Tirade
I don’t remember Isaiah’s last project, Cilvia Demo, being so melodic. I knew he could rap and craft songs but with this new album he’s awakened. He’s more poetic, introspective and versatile this time around. He’ll go from crooning to outright rapping and back, flowing melodically all over the place. But make no mistake, Isaiah is a lyricist. And with spacey, soulful, trunk rattling production you’d be a fool not to slap this in your ride.
5. Anderson .Paak — Malibu
Sometime in 2015 a friend showed me NxWorries’ “Suede” video. After watching I became a fan of Anderson .Paak — I was hooked. I played that video over and over again. Soon after that Dr. Dre’s Compton came out and Anderson was all over that. At the top of 2016 Anderson drops Malibu and I’m ecstatic. He’s singing, rapping and playing the drums showcasing how talented he is. His voice is soulful and distinct, you could hear the gospel roots when he speaks. Whether its gritty hip-hop, retro soul or pop you’ll have a good time.
4. Frank Ocean — Blonde
Finally, he dropped the album. He didn’t just drop one album though, he dropped two! Was it worth the wait? Yes. Frank is great songwriter and vocalist. If you liked the last album, you’ll like this one. There’s more alternative soul, psychedelic pop and hip hop produced by Pharrell Williams, Malay and Om’Mas Keith. Andre 3000 returns with a crazy verse as usual. And the fascinating subject matter just pulls you in. You may not get everything at first but with each listen you’ll catch something new.
3. Chance The Rapper — Coloring Book
Chance made a lot of history this year like being nominated for Grammys and charting on Billboard, all while still being an independent artist. I’m sure he’s going to stay independent too. He’s still singing and rapping uniquely like his previous mixtapes but what I like about this one is the gospel influences. On this project he’s letting his roots bleed through his music. What we hear is a flawed human being expressing his relationship with God and sharing his life thus far. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day Chance the Rapper turned into Chance the Pastor.
2. Childish Gambino — Awaken My Love
For those who live under a rock Childish Gambino is Donald Glover. Yeah, the Donald Glover who wrote for 30 Rock, starred in Community and created Atlanta. He’s also a music artist who raps and sings. This new album is Gambino’s The Love Below, his 808s and Heartbreak. Maybe even St. Elsewhere. It’s an incredible left-field change that no one expected. The album is `70s funk, soul inspired — that music that your parents or grandparents listened to. You can hear the influences of George Clinton, Sly and the Family Stone, Prince, Al Green and more all over this thing. The production from Ludwig Goransson is remarkable. You see the growth and range from Gambino’s first EP to now. We should always expect the unexpected from Donald Glover. He’s a creative genius. Quoting him, “I’m not interested in making niche shit.”
1. Kanye West — The Life Of Pablo
I may have played this album the most in 2016. To me this album gives us a bit of every previous Kanye project. Do you remember his early mixtapes (Get Well Soon, I’m Good) when he was freshly signed with Roc-A-Fella? That’s what “No Parties In LA” sounds like. And that old College Dropout Kanye we miss? You can find him on “Real Friends,” and “30 Hours.” If you liked the stadium music from Graduation then you’ll love “Highlights,” and “Waves.” And obviously “Fade,” sounds like it belongs on 808s and Heartbreak. You catch my drift?
What’s crazy is that the album was never released for sale. It became a Tidal only exclusive so everyone had to subscribe to the streaming service just to listen. Updates were made to the album even after it went public online with Kanye calling it “a living, breathing, changing, creative expression.” Later the album became available on all streaming services and more updates were made after that. It’s not his best album but its still enjoyable. And I enjoyed it from top to bottom.
Before it dropped the album title changed from So Help Me God to SWISH to Waves (which started a beef with Wiz Khalifa) to the final title, The Life Of Pablo. Pictures of the tentative tracklist was posted online daily with signatures of every artist who showed up to the studio sessions. The album was never released for sale. It became a Tidal only exclusive so everyone had to subscribe if you wanted to listen. Updates were made to the album more than once with Kanye calling the album “a living breathing changing creative expression.” Later the album became available on all streaming services and more updates were made after that. The song “Famous” sparked more controversy with his frenemy Taylor Swift.
The production was great, the collaborations even better. It’s not his best album, but that’s all right.