2016 was a rollercoaster year for music. We had to deal with the losses of so many great musicians. But on the positive note, we were blessed with new music from many of the best new artists and legends alike. This year featured releases from powerhouses like Beyonce, Rihanna, Drake, and The Weeknd. We also saw newer artists like The Chainsmokers and Chance The Rapper really break out and start taking over their respective genres, getting their music out to the masses to wide acclaim. We saw DJ Khaled taking the world by storm on Snapchat equate to huge album sales. The Broadway show Hamilton was such a huge hit, artists from all genres collaborated on a mixtape that was as good as any collection of music put out this year. The year also brought us new music from legendary acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Metallica, and David Bowie. And all people around my age were able to step back to our angsty teenage years with new projects from Sum 41, Blink-182, and Green Day. Truly a remarkable year for music. With all the music I listened to, there was so much I liked that it was very difficult to pin down my 5 favorite projects. But I came up with a list that I think represents the best of what 2016 had to offer me. That said, I have to mention a few that were absolutely great that just missed the cut: Isaiah Rashad’s “The Sun’s Tirade,” Travis Scott’s “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight,” and J Cole’s “4 Your Eyez Only.” Without further ado, my 5 favorite albums of 2016 are:
5) ScHoolboy Q- Blank Face LP
This album straight up bumps. Q brings that infectious gangster music that is somewhat lost in today’s hip-hop scene. The album is groovy, with songs like “Big Body” and “Dope Dealer” guaranteed to get people moving. It features artists like Kanye, Anderson Paak, and Jadakiss, but never feels like it’s not a ScHoolboy album. He maintains control and provides a very cohesive project that proves he is TDE’s number 2 behind Kendrick.
4) Jon Bellion- The Human Condition
If you had told me before the year that Jon Bellion’s album would make my top 5 list at the end of the year, I’d have said that was highly unlikely. But man did this kid bring the heat on his debut album. Bellion isn’t really like any artist out there. His music is a blend of pop, rap, and soul. He kind of does it all really. His music is for lovers of all music, and there really isn’t a better compliment I could give him. I loved this album when it came out and love it just as much when I listen to it now. A top 5 album this year for sure.
3) A Tribe Called Quest- We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service
After the passing of Phife Dawg, the world wasn’t sure what would become of A Tribe Called Quest. They hadn’t put out music in years and now they were down a man. The 25th anniversary of their classic album “The Low End Theory” was coming up and still no plans were made for a celebration. Then rumors started spreading and just like that, ATCQ dropped what become one of the best albums of 2016. It is a masterpiece. A send-off to Phife, yet he leaves his mark all over the album. A goodbye to rap, but a well constructed project that doesn’t sound rushed at all. I didn’t really know what to expect when I first pressed play, but whatever those expectations were, these dudes surpassed them.
1) Chance The Rapper- Coloring Book
Not really much of a surprise here. Chance absolutely dominated 2016, crushing guest features on songs from Kanye, Macklemore, Skrillex, and more. Oh, and he put out his third mixtape that just about blew every other album out of the water. His gospel-influenced instrumentals, intelligent wordplay, and surprisingly melodic singing all combine to make this year’s best album. I’ve been listening to it year round and have no intentions of stopping. By the way, all of Chance’s music is free. And he’s doing this all on his own…independent from any label. Chance is a remarkable artist and an even more remarkable human being. I look forward to so much more from this kid in the very bright future.
1) Anderson Paak- Malibu
“Garrett, you just told us Chance had the best album of 2016, how can Anderson Paak be number 1 too?” Because this is my list and I make the rules. I have two number 1 albums this year because I have listened to each of these albums countless times and I honestly can’t decide which I like best. They’re so unique from each other, it felt right naming them both number 1 anyway. If Chance was this year’s MVP, Anderson Paak was a close second. He was everywhere, featured on numerous albums and songs throughout the year. His voice is so special and unique and his music has a vibe like nothing else on the market right now. You throw this on and you immediately feel like you’re in south Cali, chilling on the beach with the water at your feet. “Malibu” is an album you need in your life if you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to it already.
And that is my year end wrap-up. Hope you all have wonderful 2017s. Maybe I’ll check in on you throughout the year. Long Live Music. Till next time. Deuces.