Here are the few albums I couldn’t stop listening to in 2016. Grammy predictions later!
13. A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
You won’t get excited while listening to this, you won’t feel too good, it won’t change your mood but you won’t be able to stop the music if it’s playing and that’s been the case with Radiohead always. Not their best product so far but one of the best music this year. Daydreaming is my favourite track from this album followed by Identikit …
12. Blonde by Frank Ocean
Frank has had a hand in varied kind of music, for instance: ‘rushed but good’ (Lost, Orange), old school but with a fresh rapper (Earl’s Sunday), fresh music but with an experienced player (Jay Z’s Oceans) and melancholy with pop fusion in Thinkin Bout You. Blonde is Frank Ocean’s album worth waiting for. Tracks like Nike and Pink + White are rock solid. The album is heavily backed by electronic keyboard which is Frank’s strongest musical ability apart from his writing skills. This album is in no way better than his previous one but something that was able to keep his hardcore fans busy for sometime.
11. The Colour in Anything by James Blake
The world expected a bit better than The colour in anything but JB didn’t disappoint his fans with this music for sure. It’s a really long album and he has put in a lot of quality work in tracks like Timeless and I need a forest fire (which is a great collaboration with Bon Iver and proves their great chemistry).
Tracks like Modern Soul, Waves know shores, My willing heart and the colour in anything are some of the albums great listen too.
10. Wildflower by The Avalanches
This album will go in the books if they ever make a book on the art of sampling music. I didn’t expect them to release an album this year even after a confirmatory track with Danny Brown. It took them 16 years to release this album, I wouldn’t say it was worth the wait because 16 years is more than an entire career of a lot of musicians. Frankie Sinatra is my favourite track from the album and I fail to understand why it’s not a BIG radio hit. The album is a good listen overall but some of the tracks like Going Home are over worked for sure and they don’t fit well in the album. Tracks like Subways, Colours and “Because I’m me” are works of art.
9. The Life Of Pablo by Kanye West
My first Yeezy track was “Jesus Walk” and I can’t imagine a better way to put that song, make it so entertaining yet so spiritual and effective. JW still is my top 10 Kanye West song. Since then I’ve seen Kanye experiment with music more than any other artist of his generation and with all those experiments he has been able to entertain us. Kanye IMO has been Hip Hop’s (not rap music) biggest influencer with his wide range of artistic abilities.
That being said, Life of Pablo didn’t disappoint me either. The gospel touch in “Ultralight beam” to the Kanye being Kanye in “Famous”, from old school touch in “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA” to ‘earlier Kanye’ touch in “Wolves”. The album isn’t the best Yeezy album till date but kick start 2016 pretty well.
I thought a few tracks like “Highlights” were over cooked but overall dope beats, dope music, dope production, dope collaborations in the entire album.
8. 4 Your Eyez Only by J Cole
J Cole is one of the realists in the game and he has the ability to produce the finest music (without features). The story telling ability and to deliver a very conscious music are some of J Cole’s biggest strength and he used both of them quite heavily in this album. He sounds more motivated in this album than his previous work (although his previous work is better than this one). Probably because he is narrating and sort of doing it for someone else. I wouldn’t say J Cole has delivered a classic but it’s a good album and deserves to be in top 15 this year.
Another problem with him is that the expectations are always is 9/10 so even if he delivers an 8.5 it feels like a 7. Deja Vu, Immortal and Change are my favourite tracks from the album.
7. In My Mind by BJ The Chicago Kid
BJ The Chicago Kid delivered the best of Soul this year. Honestly, this album is one of the best debut album I’ve heard in a while. The earlier version of Church by Chance is my favourite track from the album followed by The New Cupid (Kdot bias). The album very much deserved the Grammys and if it hadn’t been nominated I would’ve been very surprised. I predict him to win at least one Grammy this year. The simplicity of the album is it’s biggest strength and I think the album was quite powerful even if you remove the big name collaborations.
6. We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest
We don’t believe you ’cause we the people … This album could’ve been better delivered at the right time. It’s great lyrically and musically as well. Collaborations from André 3000,Elton John, Kendrick Lamar and Busta Rhymes were great. My top tracks were Dis Generation, Moving Backwards, We the people and Kids. This albums serves as a good bridge between old and new form of rap music. This is one of the very few albums that you can listen to multiple times in a day and still discover something new every time.
5. Coloring Book by Chance the rapper
I was hoping this album to be in top 3 but then the album #1 happened. I remember that this album changed the mood of the Chi-city. It was playing in every car and then it became radio friendly too. Chance as an artist demands respect from everyone in the music industry and rightly so … to achieve so much without getting signed by a record label is an achievement. His manager must be the busiest man on earth. Chance is a true Kanye prodigy and he has proved it with this album. It’s been Chance’s year and everyone from Chicago is proud of him.
4. Blank Face LP by School Boy Q
This album is a genre in itself. It was my favourite album of the year when it got released. Q being Q went too dark and probably that’s why it wasn’t a big radio hit. Tracks like Dope Dealer, Groovy Tony, Tookie Knows II and Ride Out were pretty dark depicting gang-life. The best description of this album is “This album is a psychedelic maelstrom of cautionary tales, presented in the form of acid flashbacks in Q’s mind” by hotnewhiphop.com. My favourite track is John Muir, second to best being That Part the Black Hippy Remix. The album is TDE’s best this year and proves the talent in Black Hippy.
3. Atrocity Exhibition by Danny Brown
DB through this album has cemented himself as the best Detroit rapper right now. The potential in Dany Brown was always known but this album is a classic which I am sure no one expected. The sad part is that it hasn’t been nominated. Nonetheless Drake’s Views and DJ Khaleed have (sales talk). Tracks like Lost, Pneumonia, Ain’t it funny and Rolling Stone are out of this world – perfect delivery, wonderful samples, well mixed and produced. This album has a song that features Kendrick Lamar, Ab Soul, Earl Sweatshirt alongside Danny Brown and it ain’t the best song of the album- need I say more?
2. Malibu by Anderson .Paak
According to AP himself the reason for “.” in his name is that he likes paying attention to the details and this album is quite detailed. .Paak as an artist is quite talented, his live shows are the best in R&B right now. Reportedly Dr Dre has put his money on him and the last time he seriously messed with artists they ended up being the best two lyricists/rappers of our generations (M & Kdot). I wouldn’t want to talk too much about the album, I’d rather have you check him out yourself.
My best tracks were Without You, Come Down, The Waters and ‘Room in here’ from the album.
1. Telefone by Noname
Noname is the name, remember the name!
She is the girl that you probably didn’t notice when Chance was the musical guest on SNL.
Take “Ultralight beam” -> make it raw, like how gospel music should be -> improve Kanye’s verse and that is Noname for you in a sentence. Her album has 10 songs and at one point of time all her songs were on my Daily Rap Dose playlist. My favorite Noname track is Forever. Not so surprisingly this album has put her into Complex list of best 2016 rappers.
*Didn’t consider Vince’s and Kendrick’s album in top 10 because they weren’t a full album per se.
||Blank Face LP
||Chance The Rapper
||A Tribe Called Quest
||We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
||BJ The Chicago Kid
||In My Mind
||4 Your Eyez Only
||The Life Of Pablo
||The Colour in Anything
||A Moon Shaped Pool
||Reflections in real time
||Untitled Unmastered [Mini Album]
||The extraordinary pleasure of being someone else
||Prima Donna [Mini Album]
||Awaken, My Love!