There’s a lot to be said about the year 2016. Aside from everything that has happened, one thing that stayed consistent was the quality of music. It was a star studded year as far as album releases go, and to put together a Top 10 list was much more difficult than you think. Looking all the way back to January 1st to today, I’ve compiled what I believe to be the top 10 albums of 2016:
- Anderson Paak – Malibu
I was a little late to the Anderson Paak movement, that I can admit. I was introduced to this smooth but rugged California native through his features on Dr Dre’s 2015 album, Compton. Further investigating his music lead me to become more of a fan, and his 2016 release, Malibu, did not disappoint. Malibu is best described as the perfect companion to waking up on a balcony in Newport on a Summer morning. Anderson sets the vibe just right, and you can coast through this album all the way through. If you missed out on this beautiful funk/soul piece of work, check it out now.
Favorite Track – “The Waters” – Feat. BJ The Chicago Kid
- DRAM – Big Baby Dram
Big Baby Dram made quite the splash in 2016, headlined by the wild success of his hit “Broccoli”. DRAM did not disappoint when he dropped his debut album in October. Apart from this dude being as real as it gets when given the chance to chat it up with him, his music is the perfect reflection of the happy-go-lucky personality he prides himself on. He can give you songs to pregame to like “Broccoli” and “Cash Machine” and then give you something for the after party with “Wifi”. If you’re looking for relatable music that will make you smile, this is the album for you.
Favorite Track – “Wifi” – Featuring Erykah Badu
- Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing Mcknight
Travis Scott may have pushed back the album release date quite a few times, but it was worth the wait. The album fairs better on the front half, but doesn’t lack drastically towards the end. I have found myself favoring more songs than others, but the quality is so high in those that it makes it worth listening throughout. I mean anytime you can garner a feature from Andre 3000 and Kid Cudi on the same album, you must be well respected in the game. Travis unique style, and key features make this a must listen.
Favorite Track – “All Through The Late Night”
- Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Bruno Mars made quite the splash this year when he dropped the track “24K Magic” this fall. A slightly different feel from previous Bruno albums, this one feels like it hopped right out of a time machine from the late 70’s. It’s a short but sweet kind of album also. Only nine tracks, but each one packs a punch that will have you snapping, singing, and two stepping right along. Oh, and for those nights where you’re just kicked back with a bottle of wine…and maybe a guest…there’s a song on there just for you. The production on this album alone makes this a must have in all Top 10’s for 2016.
Favorite Track – “Versace on the Floor”
- Drake – Views
Coming in to 2016, Views was definitely seen as one of the most hyped album releases. Long teased, and coming fresh off the success of Hotline Bling, and his feud with Meek Mill, Views fell somewhat short amongst critics. Personally, I enjoyed the album. I wouldn’t claim it to be Drake’s best album, but it didn’t prevent me from listening to it repeatedly for weeks after its release. Aubrey has a way of reinventing himself in certain ways with each album release, and here it appears his curveball was the introduction of dancehall. “One Dance” and “Controlla” were major hits on radio and in the clubs. Both very dancehall influenced. If anything it appeared that the criticism of Views motivtated Drake, because he has consistently released new music since then.
Favorite Track – “Feel No Ways”
- Beyonce – Lemonade
When Beyonce releases an album, everyone listens. Now, when the album comes out? Every lyric is dissected. In an age where a minor subliminal message can lead to every bit of speculation, Lemonade did not fall short in doing just that. All of the rumors swirling that Jay Z had cheated on Beyonce, and all the questions about their marriage proved to just not be true. Bey knew what she was doing though, because it was one of the most talked about things of the year. Don’t let that take away from the quality of the music though. Bey killed this. She touched on just about every genre of music…even a little bit of country. If you love passion and dramatic desperation, this album will have you singing along at the top of your lungs.
Favorite Track – “All Night”
- Frank Ocean – Blonde
When Frank disappeared after dropping “Channel Orange” I don’t think any of us were prepared for it to be FOUR YEARS until he dropped his next album. I mean, it felt like a looong four years. So needless to say, the anticipation for this album was insane. After being teased of a release date with the internet trying to decode blog posts like something out of National Treasure, he finally dropped Blonde. It was a week long production on Apple Music, but I feel it mostly lived up to the hype. On this, Frank dabbles in some different voice styles (and voice changers) with a final product that didn’t really have a standout hit, but indeed felt like a complete project. He’ll have you in your feelings and two stepping on one of my favorite albums of the year.
Favorite Track – “Self Control”
- The Weeknd – Starboy
Abel wasted no time following up his MAJOR album “Beauty Behind the Madness” in 2015. His first single “Starboy” came out to high appraise, and definitely felt like a different vibe from his previous work, further indulging into the electro/pop genre. Every song from start to finish has you moving with the vibe toeing between Daft Punk and Michael Jackson. It’s been out over a month and I still find myself consistently listening to it from start to finish. If you need an extra motivation boost to clean the house or just simply a pregame playlist, go ahead and throw on “Starboy”.
Favorite Track – “Reminder”
- Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
What a year for Lil Chano from the 79th. Chance began the year having his hands on one of the most anticipated projects of the year, and even started off on the wrong foot with major Kanye fans (see #BlameChance hashtag). But, if we’re talking opportunists, Chance took his verse on “Ultralight Beams” and gained a tremendous amount of new fans. Fast forward to the release of “Chance 3” now known as “Coloring Book” and you have yourself a damn near masterpiece. The mixture of church choirs, gospel feel, and soulful/fun loving lyricism was perfect for a fairly melancholy year in pop culture. This album felt like a true coming out party for this talented artist, and I have a feeling 2017 we’ll be seeing plenty more of him. Cheers to the feel good album of the year.
Favorite Track – “Blessings”
- Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo
I knew this was going to be the album of the year for me the second I finished listening to it. I couldn’t believe the production , the mixture of gospel and braggadocious lyricism that Mr. West brought to this album. The usage of features perfect for each track. The first time I listened to “Waves” though?! Ouuuuweeee! Thank you Chance! Speaking of Chance, his verse on “Ultralight Beams” introduced him to a much larger audience, and boy did he take that opportunity and run. You can feel the passion on this album. Desiigner can also thank Kanye for introducing “Panda” to the masses with the first peak at it on “Pt. 2”. This had everything you love about Kanye. He even pokes fun at the fact that people “miss the old Kanye”. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve listened to it front to back, and how many more times I will continue to do so. Say what you want about the man, but this was a masterpiece. Thank you Kanye. I, too, feel like Pablo.
Favorite Track – “Waves”
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