Shit man, 2016 has been one of the worst years ever. As I write this now, we’ve just lost Carrie Fisher who played Princess Leia in Star Wars (RIP). Not to mention other greats like Prince, Muhammad Ali, Phife Dawg, my man Craig Sager and many more. There’s also been a ton of tragedies, one of the biggest being the United States electing reality star Donald Trump to lead their country for the next 4 years. And my Instagram crush got pregnant by someone that ain’t me…what a sad year.
Even so, there’s still been a lot of good to come from this year. Memes were at an all time high this year (I’m an addict) and we got a TON of good music too. So much music came out this year, I still have a bunch of albums to peep going into 2017 (let’s hope 2017 does shit right). As a result, I came up with my top 10 albums of 2016. I obviously didn’t listen to every last album, but of the most popular, I feel this list is one of the most accurate in terms of influence, style, creativity, and polish. So without further ado, here’s my top 10 albums of the year!
HM) Naked – Wolfe de MCHLS
This project was so close to making the list, but I couldn’t push it over anything else so I decided to give it an honorable mention instead. Wolfe de MCHLS (believe it’s pronounced Michaels) is an upcoming artist out of Brampton that released this incredible body of work at the beginning of the month. I believe he started off as a producer and moved into the artist realm afterwards. He’s got a bit of that PARTYNEXTDOOR vibe going on this project, but he demonstrates a range of sounds from dark R&B to futuristic sonics. Definitely a kid to look out for on the come up. Project is on point.
10) I Told You – Tory Lanez
If you didn’t know who Tory Lanez was before, he definitely told us with his debut album “I Told You”. What a year the mandem from Toronto had, seen? Tory flipped a classic and turned it into his single “Say It”, which blew TF up. He then flipped another classic (one of my all time favorite songs) and dropped Luv which also did numbers. He then took one of Drake’s biggest hits, remixed it, and had that shit bumping to the point where you can’t even listen to the original anymore cause the remix is that good. While it was a little different than what I had expected, Tory’s debut album was a success and definitely put him on the map. It’s an album that features his experience of trying to make it in the rap game. A troublesome kid who lost his mother at a young age and felt he had to take care of his own by getting street money. Tory Found solace in music and dedicated his life to achieving his dream. You hit that intro and combust into flamesss. It’s like 3 tracks in one. Had me looking like this:
Next time he gotta cut those skits though, they were cool on the first listen, but I sent them straight to the Recycle Bin afterwards.
9) Layers – Royce Da 5’9
A lot of people probably slept on this album, but it was one of my favorite’s to drop this year. Royce da 5’9 gives us his most introspective album yet. Layers unveils who Royce is as a person and how he dealt with many different aspects of his life from trying to become an artist, to having his first child and losing his grandmother on the first day. He gets really deep on this project whiles keeping his delivery dope, his great flow and his banging bars. There’s so many layers (pun intended) to this project that I still find new meaning to his bars to this day. Tabernacle is also one of the best story telling songs I’ve ever heard and sets the pace for the rest of this album. As opposed to Tory’s project, the skits on Layers are well thought out and entertaining so they don’t take away from subsequent listens (shoutout to Lincoln).
8) Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ – Kid Cudi
I actually knocked off Kevin Gates’ Islah to make room for this. While Islah was great, I’m a huge Cudi fan and this project has been a great experience. The man on the moon is back with the sound we’ve all grown to love. It’s not a perfect project by any means, there’s a couple of songs that seem experimental and out of place, but the majority of the songs on this album are strong. Cudi also enlists some hip-hop powerhouses in Andre 3000 and Pharrell, who both bring their styles to form
Voltron cohesive songs with Cudi. Even Willow Smith makes a surprise appearance that led to one of the better tracks on the project. Cudi touches on a lot of different topics on this. The most prominent being the frequency of love and focusing on being a better version of yourself whiles uplifting others. It’s a nice positive message that makes each listen enjoyable. It goes a long way, especially considering the type of year 2016 was and where we’re all trying to go.
7) Malibu – Anderson .Paak
New artist alert! Anderson .Paak’s debut album Malibu was one of the most surprising albums this year. Prior to this project, I’d only heard AP on Dr. Dre’s Compton project where he definitely flourished with his vocals. Malibu did not disappoint. The jazz, soul, r&b, and hip-hop fusion made for a new sound, but it still manages to sound current with a hint of nostalgia. There’s great cohesion between each song on this album and AP’s vocals slide ever so smoothly on each of the tracks which makes for an easy and enjoyable listen. The content is also prolific on Malibu. AP speaks of his past experiences with his family, female interests, and his life growing up. You can definitely tell AP has influenced other west coast rappers such as Kendrick Lamar with his sound as well. Lastly, AP is hands down one of the greatest performers of our generation.
6) Jeffery – Young Thug
Prior to this album I wasn’t a fan of Young Thug. He had a couple of hit songs which slapped in the whip or at the club, but all that mumbling had me scratching my head at WTF I was even listening to. Thug was also the epitome of Gangstalicious, which I got nothing against, I’ll let him live. However, Jeffery was absolutely one the best projects of 2016. Even with the odd roll-out where he had different titles for each track before he decided to settle on naming each one after an artist he was inspired by. Each song has it’s own style, which shows just how versatile of an artist Thugger is. For example, Future Swag is an entire song using Future’s flow. His vocals are melodic and instruments themselves which is quite a feat and a big reason why people enjoy his music. The best thing about Jeffery is that you can understand what he’s saying on this album so you don’t feel as dense after each listen. I had this project on repeat for a week straight, and still peep it to this day.
5) Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
What an experience this album is. Chance took us all to church with his verse on Ultra light beam, then decided to give us the gospel with Coloring Book. Whiles this project was a great body of work and one that features a multitude of sounds, it is one of the harder albums to digest. I really didn’t appreciate this project until I really gave it a chance after a couple weeks of it’s original release. It’s like that song you always skip in your playlist rotation, but one day you decide to listen to it and it turns out to be some heat. Chance’s style is so quirky and unique that it really makes this project stand out in the sea of dark trap music. Coloring Book is a fresh wave of sound that cleanses the soul.
4) Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight- Travi$ Scott
This might be my most played album of 2016. Travis really leveled up on this. Birds in the trap is one of the most cohesive albums I’ve ever heard. You could play this album all the way through and just vibe from start to finish. The first 5 songs all sequence beautifully and the production is also incredible. Off top, the beats on “coordinate” and “way back” bang. Obviously not the most lyrical, but featured artists like Kendrick and Andre 3000 provide a lot more depth to their respective songs. The way this album was put together is why it’s got #4 on my list. All we need now is the tour dates.
Pops’ pick: Coordinate (feat. Blac Youngsta)
3) Starboy – The Weeknd
Already did a review for Starboy (link to the left) and I appreciate everyone who checked it out. This got number 3 on my list and it’s definitely one of the best projects to come out this year.
2) ANTI – Rihanna
This album could have easily been number 1. It was not an easy decision coming in at number 2 especially since it’s Rihanna’s best work yet and a lot of that is due to the creative freedom she had during the creation of ANTI. Rihanna had a hand in a lot of the writing for this project which really elevated the content of her music. The range of styles from rock to pop to hip hop and of course the Caribbean hit “Work” show off Rihanna’s impressive vocal range and creative ability. It’s a phenomenal feat that created a beautiful body of work called ANTI. This project really elevated Rihanna into the upper echelon of artists.
1) A Seat at the Table – Solange
Don’t think anyone expected this, I sure as hell know I didn’t. When Solange dropped this surprise album I never thought “Solange makes the type of music I’d want to hear”. I had no clue Solange could even sing, especially considering her sister is the most famous singer on the planet so she should be doomed to her sister’s shadow. But not the case. This project was my number one pick for 2016. It’s not my most listened and I don’t find myself listening to it on the regular, but as an entire body of work I feel it’s immaculate. The rich content, powerful production, and immense story telling make for such a soulful experience. Solange enlists the wisdom of Master P on the skits who discusses the trials of being a black artist in the industry and realizing the power that artists have. Additionally, Solange’s vocals are so crisp they rival that of her sister Beyoncé (get at me BeyHive). This is a very empowering album, and it definitely motivated me to be better this year.
Thanks for the read guys, I appreciate everyone who peeped my blogs this year and hope that our 2017 is even better!