2016 was a rough one. No one knows what lies ahead (misery and despair no doubt) so I will try to reflect on what didn't suck about this past year.
For me, one beam of light in the dark cloud of 2016 has been music. I want to share with you what I really liked!
Before you dive in, please note that I am not a professional music critic. If you want that type of year-end list, there are many. Mine is based solely on my personal music taste (heavily hip hop) & therefore I know I am excluding a lot. I promise what's here is worth listening to. Feel free to shame me in the comments for what I have forgotten.
THE BEST Music of 2016 IMO:
Anderson Paak: Malibu
If you haven't listened to Anderson Paak by now, I'm not sure what you're waiting for. Here's a good place to start.
A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service
Tribe is back, and this album does not disappoint. From stinging political commentary to the final rhymes of the late Phife Dawg, 18 years seems like it was just long enough to wait.
Beyonce blessed 2016 with a genre defying album and another stunning set of videos. I saw her when she came to Chicago and was unsurprisingly blown away even after waiting in pouring rain. Bow down.
Childish Gambino: Awaken, My Love
Donald Glover has had an incredible year. He has proven himself as an artist unafraid to push boundaries and challenge himself. This album is unlike anything he has previously put out, and if you like funk, it will fill you up. Also, watch Atlanta if you haven't already.
Frank Ocean: Blonde
Read my review here.
Kanye West: The Life of Pablo
RIP Kanye once and for all. You have no idea how hard it is to finally abandon his fan club. That unfortunately doesn't change the fact that this album was pretty fantastic and his live show was basically a grown up sing along. I'll miss you Yeezy.
The features on this album are reason enough to give it a listen. I also recommend his mix, 0.001%
Kendrick Lamar: untitled unmastered.
If you liked TPAB (if you didn't, you and I would probably not get along), but you were thirsty for more, Kendrick delivered.
Local Chicago talent destroyed this year. Noname has been around and featured on local projects for some time now, but her debut mixtape made big waves. Diddy Bop is one of my top played songs of the year.
NxWorries: Yes Lawd!
This. Album. Is. So. Good. NxWorries is Anderson Paak and producer Knxwledge, so if you couldn't get enough after Malibu, this is your next move. Paak is certainly a star on the rise, and this album will transport you to the stars.
Saba: Bucket List Project
Saba is more than Chance's sidekick. Listen to his first mixtape, Comfort Zone, and then listen to BLP, and you will see an artist that is true to his own sound, while progressing into a star in his own light.
Solange: A Seat at the Table
This album blew me away. It is thematic and relevant and gorgeous, not to mention Solange wrote and produced the entire thing. If Beyonce is our God, Solange is our priest.
Whitney: Light Upon the Lake
Yeah I'm aware these are the only white dudes on my list—you mad???????? White dudes ruined 2016. That being said, this is the type of album that paints pictures so vivid you are present in the scene of the songs. Another win for Chicago.
Blood Orange: Freetown Sound
Isaiah Rashad: The Sun's Tirade
Michael Kiwanuka: Love & Hate
That wasn't enough for you? Here is my list of my favorite 2015 albums. It is shorter.