2016 was a terrible year for loss.. George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie and even Carrie Fisher passed away amongst many other huge influencers in the public eye. But with all of that loss came an extensive array of releases this year. So we can at least soak our wounds in the sultry sounds of music. Since there were so many fantastic releases this year, it helped mend our hearts with something beautiful. When I was given the task to pick my top ten, it took me this long to actually formulate a list I was happy with because music just kept being released. But I am not at all complaining.. So read below to see my Top Ten of this year! (many genres included)
This list goes in order; least favorite being 10, favorite being number 1.
10. Much Love – Microwave
Genre: I would say they’re a mix between soft and indie rock mixed with a prominent pop punk influence.
Originally I was going to put Catfish and The Bottlemen’s The Ride, but this album seemed way better suited to make my list. Microwave was a band some of my friends showed me, and I fell in love right away. I actually went to see them the other weekend and they are SO good. I’m talking like if you ever get a chance to see these guys, do it!! They have a fantastic energy about them and their smooth melodic sound pairs well with that rock feel they bring. Check out the tracks, Dull and Lighterless to get a good taste of why I chose them. These tracks really speak to me on a lyrical level, as well as capturing me with instrumentation. This whole album is pretty much gold, I highly recommend.
9. Between You and Me – Belmont
Genre: Pop Punk, Easycore.
These fellas are a kick ass band from the windy city of Chicago. Whenever I see these guys live I seriously get the most hyped, they are truly incredible. Taz (vocals) is an awe-inspiring writer and his lyrics will hit you in the gut, in the best way. Together these guys are extremely talented. But even if you look at them as separate entities, they’re all highly endowed in their skills. Brian is seriously an out of this world drummer and you can see that capacity and energy when he performs. Taz is just super passionate about every single word he sings. Alex on Bass will most definitely make you jam your heart out with his funky sways and the enjoyment on his face. Sam kills it with the assists on vocals and most definitely shreds. Matt their guitarist bring such a sense of light to this album, and their band on stage. I urge you to listen to 731 and Shackles . These guys are great, so buy their music or check them out on Spotify.
8. I am Satan – Posture and the Grizzly
Genre: Pop Punk, Punk.
I found this album all thanks to my Spotify discover weekly, and I am so happy that I did. This album really took me by surprise in the best way, and they have a smaller following than I would’ve guessed. Every track on this album has a completely different emotion to it, and contributes to the story it’s trying to tell. Going from I am Not a Real Doctor, to I Am A Real Doctor. The way this album is organized, each track contributes to the power of the overall message. The lyrics are what captivated me the most with this band because they really bring out just pure, raw emotion and that’s what I hold close to with music. Check out the songs Elliot and I Am a Real Doctor.
7. The Devine Feminine – Mac Miller
Genre: Rap, Hip-Hop mixed with an RnB feel.
When I first started listening to Mac Miller I wasn’t that big of a fan until Macadelic, and then after that he just kept coming out with amazing music. This album is something completely different than what we’ve heard from Mac before. It’s a smoother RnB orientated tape, and I love it. Usually, I would be too shocked by Mac going this far out of his comfort zone, but then I think about his alter ego Larry Lovestein and realize it’s not out of his element at all. It took a while to get into this album though, but when I did- I really fell in love with it. It seems that happens to me with a lot of Mac’s music. I just love the direction he took with this, from lyrical content to production it snuck it’s way up to the number seven spot for me. Check out the tracks God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty ft Kendrick, and We ft CeeLo Green. Buy it!!!
6. AM Paradox – Brent Faiyaz
Genre: RnB, Hip-hop
This was another album that was all thanks to Spotify’s discover weekly with the song Allure, which isn’t on this tape but you definitely need to listen to it. ‘AM Paradox’ brings a sensual, deep and dark aura to the RnB genre. It sounds familiar but like nothing you’ve ever heard all in the first listen. This tape is extremely captivating from start to finish. You really feel his energy with each song and it’s just something you can genuinely vibe with. The skits sprinkled into the tracks are also lighthearted and not annoying like most are. Usually I hate when artists incorporate skits, but Brent does it well. He’s also associated with a group called Sonder and they’re also fantastic. He made it all the way up to number 6 because I listen to this on the daily. So, listen to Brent Faiyaz and tell all of your friends about this guy because he’s prodigious. Check out my favorite tracks, No One Knows and Insecure.
5. Malibu – Anderson Paak.
Genre: Rap, Hip-Hop, Funk RnB.
This album is just a general masterpiece from start to finish. The first thing that captivates me about Anderson Paak is his voice and he definitely uses it to his advantage with this album. Each song brings a completely different feel, and expresses a separate emotion. His voice is just something extremely unique and I’ve never heard anything like it. The tone of this album, changes throughout but stays true to that funky, RnB style. The instrumentation and production is what really sold me on this. It just feels really good. It’s one of those albums you can listen to on a hot summer day and enjoy life. Check out my favorites; Heart Don’t Stand A Chance and The Dream.
4. We Got It From Here, Thank You For Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest
Genre: Hip-Hop, Rap.
This is an album I didn’t suspect was coming, but I’m so glad it did. The first time I listened to this tape I had a smile on my face the entire time. It brought back that nostalgic 90’s hip-hop feel that I’ve been longing for since their last release. This stayed very true to their sound which is extremely hard to do when hip-hop is constantly changing. Most artists tend to adapt to the current style of hip-hop thats inconsistent in nature, but Tribe kept it true to their nature. They incorporated not only genuine hip-hop into their music but also current issues and events. We The People really captivates you from the start and continues to solidify the point with the chorus. Tribe really does a fantastic job at standing out and bringing back the feel us hip-hop heads have been waiting for from the start. Favorite Tracks are We The People, Moving Backwards and Kids. Check them out on Spotify !
3. The Sun’s Tirade – Isaiah Rashad
Genre: Rap, Hip-Hop.
TDE member Isaiah Rashad truly killed the game with this release. He brought back a sound I personally thought was lost and never coming back. Much like Tribe, he sent us back to a time when hip-hop relied on solid production and lyricism. He really brought me back to the Curren$y age where vibing to music was the only thing on our minds. Rashad really made me feel nostalgic for the hip-hop era that I truly fell in love with. Even live this guy really encompasses what hip-hop should be about. It’s no surprise he got signed with TDE and I think it was the best decision for Top Dawg, he really adds something different to the label. Each member brings something different and they all had releases this year, and Rashad made my list over Kendrick and Schoolboy because I genuinely think it’s better than both of those releases. Why? These tracks will paint you a nice picture, Wat’s Wrong, Stuck In The Mud and Silkk Da Shocka .
2. Blond – Frank Ocean
Genre: RnB, Rap.
Finally! The long awaited release of Frank Ocean’s album arrived and I was not disappointed. I’m also a huge Frank Ocean fan and have been since his ‘Lonny tape’, so it’s no surprise this made #2 for me. This is an album I actually bought instead of streaming it on Spotify or other outlets. This album is unparalleled to any other RnB release this year. Frank incorporates every aspect of his unique style and beautiful lyricism then puts it together all into one project. Nikes is probably one of my least favorite songs on the tape so when I heard that as the first track I become extremely skeptical of the album as a whole… then I heard Ivy and was through the roof for this project. Ivy is my absolute favorite song on this album partially because it reminds me of the ‘Lonny tape’ and ‘Nostalgia Ultra’ so much. The production on this is just wild to me and was honestly what really sold me. Also, the Elliott Smith inspiration and lyrics he used at the end of Siegfried broke me down, in a good way. Frank Ocean consistently delivers, it may not always be on time but he does the damn thing. This tape is just breathtaking. Ivy, Siegfried and Nights are my favorite tracks. Find them on Spotify too, or seriously, buy the album.
1. Do What Thou Wilt – Ab-Soul.
Hands Down, the BEST album of 2016. Ab-Soul isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but regardless of that factor he kills the game with this tape. After ‘These Days’ I was skeptical he would ever go back to the analytical, world skeptic, powerful lyricist he was back in the ‘Control System’ Days. But he proved me wrong and I think he really proved us all wrong with this tape. I love the fact he toys with the idea that God is a women. He introduces new ideas and continues to blow our minds with advanced metaphors and hidden facts. Ab really holds true to his style of rapping and hip-hop and incorporates some amazing features into the mix. My favorite rapper in TDE kills it again with this album and it’s something you have to listen to at least three times over to catch all the metaphors and wordplay he incorporates into each and every track. My favorites, and this was a hard pick would have to be; Raw, Now You Know, Evil Genius and The Law. Buy the album or stream it on Spotify and or Apple Music!
Parallels – Underestimate
Misadventures – Pierce the Veil
Awaken! My Love – Childish Gambino
The Home Inside My Head – Real Friends
The Getaway – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Anti – Rihanna
Manic – Knockout Kid
Everything You’ve Come to Expect – The Last Shadow Puppets
P3 – PartyNextDoor