Last music list of 2016… I didn’t listen to as many albums this year as I wanted to. With that being said, there are albums not on this list that I believe, if I would have listened to in full, would have made the cut. So, these “honorable mention” type albums include “99.9 %” by KAYTRANADA, “Blackstar” by David Bowie, “Malibu” by Anderson .Paak and “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” by A Tribe Called Quest, and more. Now the 14.
14. “Light Upon the Lake” by Whitney
13. “22, A Million” by Bon Iver
12. “Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino
11. “Ology” by Gallant
10. “A Seat at the Table” by Solange
9. “Coloring Book” by Chance the Rapper
8. “Wildflower” by The Avalanches
7. “The Life of Pablo” by Kanye West
6. “Blonde” by Frank Ocean
5. “Lemonade” by Beyoncé
4. “Freetown Sound” by Blood Orange
“Freetown Sound” is an impeccable autobiography of Dev Hynes. His words carry much importance, as well as the slam poetry samples and inspiration he gains from across his home city of NYC. Hynes’ production carries listeners into his world and “Freetown Sound” is an escape, but not to your dream world. Rather, “Freetown Sound” is an escape to a world you need to see, and you might want to stay in for a while. And once you leave “Freetown Sound,” you’ll have inspiration to carry with you.
3. “Cashmere” by Swet Shop Boys
Heems and Riz, also known as Swet Shop Boys, joined forces to create this absolutely incredible album that provides a voice for a rather quieted perspective. Heems, an American-Indian, and Riz, an English-Pakistani, discuss racial injustices and oppression over middle-eastern inspired beats that are too good to turn away from.
2. “Endless” by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean released two collections of music this year after a signifiant hiatus that had many wondering if he’d ever put anything out again. His debut “Channel Orange” had a massive impact on the music community, putting an added pressure on the potential music he may release. Over the summer, a strange live stream appeared of a workshop that, after weeks, gained a soundtrack. Shortly after we would realize that this live stream was Frank Ocean’s project “Endless.” Later, the album “Blonde” would drop and please Ocean fans across the world. While I do love “Blonde” without any doubt (it’s number five on this list), I connected with the music from “Endless” much more. Songs including “Slide on Me,” “Rushes” and “Higgs” are too good not to be talked about, and the “album” as a whole is this beautifully memorizing soundtrack. While the tracks from “Endless” are totally unavailable for streaming, purchase, download, etc., this just makes “Endless” an unaccessible masterpiece.
1. “Atrocity Exhibition” by Danny Brown
Nothing in the world ever has, or ever will, sound like Danny Brown’s “Atrocity Exhibition.” The album is dirty, raw, exposing, honest and brash. While it may not be for everyone, it is undeniable that Danny Brown created a piece of rap music that changed the game forever. But it’s hard to say this album changed the game, because no other rapper can even play this game. Danny raps over beats that are so unusual and hysteric that it’s unimaginable how he even found a flow. But he didn’t just find his flow, he destroyed it. His lyrical content is both excited and terrified, as the album depicts the ups and downs (mostly downs) of his substance abuse. When I first listened to this album, I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) focus on anything else. “Atrocity Exhibition” demands your attention and throws things you’ve never heard before at you with lightning speed. You feel worried, inspired and in awe of Danny Brown from the first second of track one, all the way to the end of “Hell For It,” and just about every moment of your life after you’ve heard this incredible album.