Top 10 Albums of 2016

What a year seems to be the phrase of 2016. However, I believe two great moments came from this year. A slew of audio pleasing albums and the Black Olympics. I've already written about the Black Olympics in an earlier blog post - These Olympics were about; however, I do want to address my thoughts on the best of 2016 musical albums. As such, let's begin with honorable mentions. 

HM: Blond – Frank Ocean and Views - Drake

I struggled a lot to put Blond on the list or in the honorable mentions. The largest reason for this is that it doesn’t feel like Channel Orange. Blond is a series of experimentation with sound, lyrics and voice that doesn’t always work, Self-Control and then does work fairly well Ivy.  As such, there is a lot of filler and about six or seven songs I like. Even out of those there are about three that sound like decent Frank Ocean songs.

My first view of Drake’s album was that it was boring.  I usually look to a Drake album for fun and club bangers. However, this album eventually began to grow on me in listening to it used for dance class at my school or distinct videos. As such, I ended up liking the album enough to put it on my list. There isn’t one standout track, but I do enjoy the occasional Caribbean moments throughout.

 

10. Malibu – Anderson.Paak 

 Malibu was a late entry and I enjoy the lack of genre definition of the album and Anderson Paak for that matter. I originally thought Paak was in the hip-hop field considering his guest features on other albums; however, he has a style all his own. However, the album is inconsistent which prevents me from placing the album higher. Still if you want something that you probably haven’t heard before try out Malibu.

Malibu was a late entry and I enjoy the lack of genre definition of the album and Anderson Paak for that matter. I originally thought Paak was in the hip-hop field considering his guest features on other albums; however, he has a style all his own. However, the album is inconsistent which prevents me from placing the album higher. Still if you want something that you probably haven’t heard before try out Malibu.

9. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

  Thom Yorke and his crew continue to be longtime stays in the game of make albums that change the way you hear their music. This album is no exception from the trance of Daydreamin to the up tempo of Burn the Witch, the album works better than In for Kings does. Still, occasional this blend makes it hard for you to tell why you may have such difficulty sonically perceiving the differences in the songs.

 Thom Yorke and his crew continue to be longtime stays in the game of make albums that change the way you hear their music. This album is no exception from the trance of Daydreamin to the up tempo of Burn the Witch, the album works better than In for Kings does. Still, occasional this blend makes it hard for you to tell why you may have such difficulty sonically perceiving the differences in the songs.

 

8. The Life of Pablo – Kanye West

 Kanye West’s album could’ve been better, but it also could’ve been worse. Another listen through makes me appreciate the flows on 30 Hours, Chance’s cameo on Ultralight Beams, and the later included Saint Pablo. I also enjoy the absolute bangers in this album with Famous and Fade. At the same time, there are a few tracks one can skip like Freestyle 4 and I Love Kanye. Overall, it is another fairly solid run for Kanye though.

Kanye West’s album could’ve been better, but it also could’ve been worse. Another listen through makes me appreciate the flows on 30 Hours, Chance’s cameo on Ultralight Beams, and the later included Saint Pablo. I also enjoy the absolute bangers in this album with Famous and Fade. At the same time, there are a few tracks one can skip like Freestyle 4 and I Love Kanye. Overall, it is another fairly solid run for Kanye though.

7. Lemonade – Beyonce

  While the initial shock of Queen Bey’s support for Black Lives Matter has worn off from the Formation video, the album and it’s messages of infidelity, maturity, and relationships are what kept the album alive after its TIDAL drop and highlights of police brutality.  As such, the album goes through a large amount of ranges from ballads to country songs. This goes along with a diverse set of guest features from the guitars of Jack White to the melancholy of James Blake. This experimentation, word of music for the year, and the themes ofmistrust will have you coming back to the album.

 While the initial shock of Queen Bey’s support for Black Lives Matter has worn off from the Formation video, the album and it’s messages of infidelity, maturity, and relationships are what kept the album alive after its TIDAL drop and highlights of police brutality.  As such, the album goes through a large amount of ranges from ballads to country songs. This goes along with a diverse set of guest features from the guitars of Jack White to the melancholy of James Blake. This experimentation, word of music for the year, and the themes ofmistrust will have you coming back to the album.

6. ANTI- Rhianna

 Out of the big name stars dropping albums, Rhianna’s was easily the best due to its experimentation gone well.  She has few guest features to distract from her strength in changing her writing and vocal style. As such, we get the dancehall vibes of Work that harkens back to Rude Boy, the sumptuous sensations of Woo, and the 80s pop influenced Kiss it Better.  As such, it is a fun and enchanting album that shines over the other big stars.

Out of the big name stars dropping albums, Rhianna’s was easily the best due to its experimentation gone well.  She has few guest features to distract from her strength in changing her writing and vocal style. As such, we get the dancehall vibes of Work that harkens back to Rude Boy, the sumptuous sensations of Woo, and the 80s pop influenced Kiss it Better.  As such, it is a fun and enchanting album that shines over the other big stars.

5. Awaken, My Love – Childish Gambino

  Childish has had a year from writing and acting in a show that took risks, to taking those risks even further with his music and going into the R & B, soul and funk genre.  While Childish can rap, it’s a feat that he is able to pull off an entertaining album that only has a few mistakes. As such, this album truly shows Childish’s talents. Whether you've got the funk of Redbone or the Motown vibes of Baby Boy it's a unique statement.

 Childish has had a year from writing and acting in a show that took risks, to taking those risks even further with his music and going into the R & B, soul and funk genre.  While Childish can rap, it’s a feat that he is able to pull off an entertaining album that only has a few mistakes. As such, this album truly shows Childish’s talents. Whether you've got the funk of Redbone or the Motown vibes of Baby Boy it's a unique statement.

4. Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper

  Besides this album getting me through Southeast Asia, there are some excellent flows on this album found on Summer. At the same time, Chance is clearly having fun here as well as in the songs All Night and No Problems. Chance also does something different in his gospel rap creations.  While I am not religious, hearing gospel and his usage of biblical themes creates a surprisingly entertaining album that has almost no faults.  I will only expect more hits if Chance continues this path.

 Besides this album getting me through Southeast Asia, there are some excellent flows on this album found on Summer. At the same time, Chance is clearly having fun here as well as in the songs All Night and No Problems. Chance also does something different in his gospel rap creations.  While I am not religious, hearing gospel and his usage of biblical themes creates a surprisingly entertaining album that has almost no faults.  I will only expect more hits if Chance continues this path.

 

3.  The Sun's Tirade - Isaiah Rashad

   Released with much less fanfare than the rest of this list, but this is one of my favorites. I'm still able to listen to it all the way through and it's another solid hip-hop album from Isaiah Rashad that connects as well as Clivia Demo did. Free Lunch, 4 Dis Squaw, and AA are some favorites, but A Lot and Park do well for lyrics and rhythm. Rashad has several great verses and flows revolving around coming up from nothing and some braggadacio that is more than the weed-infused Clivia Demo. Still, some of the lyrics and moments go into mumble rap, which makes it stumble as a whole. Along with this TDE's production (yes he is with Top Dawg Entertainment) is consistently strong throughout the track. If you haven't heard of the album or Isaiah Rashad for that matter you must give him a listen.     

 Released with much less fanfare than the rest of this list, but this is one of my favorites. I'm still able to listen to it all the way through and it's another solid hip-hop album from Isaiah Rashad that connects as well as Clivia Demo did. Free Lunch, 4 Dis Squaw, and AA are some favorites, but A Lot and Park do well for lyrics and rhythm. Rashad has several great verses and flows revolving around coming up from nothing and some braggadacio that is more than the weed-infused Clivia Demo. Still, some of the lyrics and moments go into mumble rap, which makes it stumble as a whole. Along with this TDE's production (yes he is with Top Dawg Entertainment) is consistently strong throughout the track. If you haven't heard of the album or Isaiah Rashad for that matter you must give him a listen. 

 

2.  A Seat at the Table – Solange

 Solange’s album is at first listen an entertaining R & B production, but as you listen to the lyrics and understand the underlying theme of the skits it becomes clear that Solange has made a more revolutionary album than her sister. Nearly all the songs deal with either female or Black empowerment in the struggles that Solange faces in a day to day life. As such, there are many cameos in the skits about the variety of perspectives of celebrating Blackness. Furthermore, songs like FUBU and Cranes in the Sky continue to push the uphill battle, but inevitable rejoicing of being Black.  A well-thought out and woke album overall. 

Solange’s album is at first listen an entertaining R & B production, but as you listen to the lyrics and understand the underlying theme of the skits it becomes clear that Solange has made a more revolutionary album than her sister. Nearly all the songs deal with either female or Black empowerment in the struggles that Solange faces in a day to day life. As such, there are many cameos in the skits about the variety of perspectives of celebrating Blackness. Furthermore, songs like FUBU and Cranes in the Sky continue to push the uphill battle, but inevitable rejoicing of being Black.  A well-thought out and woke album overall. 

 

1. We Got it From Here……Thank you 4 Your Service

  A Tribe Called Quest – In a refreshing move ATCQ released an album that is at once brand new and simultaneously old school in its vibes for album made nearly 20 years after their last album.   Coupled with the fact that Phife appears on several tracks with amazing verses only enhances the album. Furthermore, there are some fun guest features that make for a unique hip-hop sound supported by Q-Tips production.  In particular, Kids has a great feature by Andre 3000 and Mobius has probably Busta Rhymes best verse in the album. Lastly, We the People is the true Tribe headbanger that is simply everything they are and more.

 A Tribe Called Quest – In a refreshing move ATCQ released an album that is at once brand new and simultaneously old school in its vibes for album made nearly 20 years after their last album.   Coupled with the fact that Phife appears on several tracks with amazing verses only enhances the album. Furthermore, there are some fun guest features that make for a unique hip-hop sound supported by Q-Tips production.  In particular, Kids has a great feature by Andre 3000 and Mobius has probably Busta Rhymes best verse in the album. Lastly, We the People is the true Tribe headbanger that is simply everything they are and more.

Well that's my list, tell me what you think.