Year End in Hip-Hop: Top Albums

Its 2017 and ABAD is good at being timely. This write up was created by a good friend of ours, Miles, who is not only a dope-ass artist but he knows his music. Here is a list of top albums in 2016 with artwork created by the man Miles as well:

 

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  1. Untitled Unmastered, Kendrick Lamar

What is there to say about this album that hasn’t already been said? At a lean eight tracks, Kendrick basically double underlined what he taught us in 2015: King Kunta reigns supreme.

Notable Songs: Untitled 03, Untitled 07

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  1. Blank Face LP, ScHoolboy Q

This album really was/is a treat. A good mix of nostalgic LA hip hop (Big Body, Dope Dealer), H Y P E music (THat Part, JoHn Muir) and “conscious” story telling. (Black THougHts, THat Part Black Hippy Remix) As of the writing of this article eight out of seventeen songs have music videos, of all shapes sizes and colors, from the 22 minute Short film, comprised of three different music videos (with other songs included for background and split second cameos) to the colorful, trippy, groovy Miguel track that I’m sure we will all be sick of come summertime.

Notable Songs: Kno Ya Wrong, Tookie Knows II

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  1. Lemonade, Beyonce

YAAAAAAAAASSSSS QUEEEN. If you got fucking sick of hearing that this year, thats too bad. Beyonce is here to stay. Follow up to her massively successful eponymous album, Lemonade is an amazing genre blend of hip hop, R&B, Rock and roll and smashing windshields with baseball bats. Its also basically a huge middle finger to Jay-Z; no longer is the dynasty his.

Notable Songs: Don’t Hurt Yourself, 6 Inch

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  1. The Life Of Pablo, Kanye West

Oh, Kanye. This album is connected to a lot of key moments this year. Ultra Light Beam on SNL. Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden. The world realizing that Taylor Swift is a snake. Facts (Charlie Heat Version). Need I go on?

Notable Songs: 30 Hours, Famous

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  1. A Seat At The Table, Solange

When Solange announced she was dropping an album this year a lot of people thought it would be Lemonade pt 2. Imagine their surprise when this album was more in the vein of To Pimp A Butterfly. Solange didn’t invent being unapologetically black, but she did create a pretty great soundtrack to do so to.

Notable Songs: Mad, Don’t Touch My Hair

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  1. Cozy Tapes, A$AP MOB

Nearly two years after the death of A$AP Mob founder, A$AP Yams, the long awaited Cozy Tape Vol. 1 finally released in October of 2016. It’s 100% Bangers. With the exception of a skit or two, this entire album slaps. Featuring all the A$AP members you know and love (Rocky, Ferg, Twelvyy, Nast, etc) as well as pretty much everyone who has been popping off in the last few years from Tyler, the Creator to BJ The Chicago Kid to newcomers like Lil Boat and Lil Uzi Vert. Its good shit, man.

Notable Songs: London Town, Telephone Calls

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  1. Yes Lawd! – NxWorries

2016 has been Anderson .Paak’s year, if no one else. Hot off of being heavily featured on the long awaited third Dr. Dre album, he released his second solo album, Malibu, made an appearance on just about every hit juke jam this summer. I thought about including Malibu on this list (its still a good record), but it is far out-shined by this album YES LAWD!, from Anderson .Paak as the soulful yet dirty mouthed, MC and Knxwledge, the Producer whose songs drip with an old school aura, wrapped in an almost vaporware flair. If this list was top albums to have sex to 2016, this would be number one.

Notable Songs: Suede, Fkku

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  1. Telefone – Noname

You probably heard about Noname from her Chance The Rapper features too. Chi-town born and bred, Noname is not a female rapper-she’s just a rapper. Quiet and soft spoken, yet slinging complex rhymes loaded with heavy ideas, she almost evokes an Andre 3000 like aura. She’s not afraid to rap about things most people wouldn’t talk about, with a light that most people wouldn’t dare. Noname said it best herself: This album sounds like kiddies on the playground when momma was running up (ooouuu you about to get your ass beat)

Notable Songs: Diddy Bop, Sunny Duet

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  1. Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper

This boy just cant stop. After releasing his third mixtape in May, and becoming a father at some point before that, Chance has since appeared on Saturday Night Live a total of three times, he created a unique live experience for his hometown of Chicago, performed at the Fifth Camp Flog Gnaw carnival, as well as across the country and the world. Still unsigned, still unwaveringly positive, still 100% Chancellor, Chance the Rapper represents a major change in the music industry that will take some time to fully implement itself.

Notable Songs: Smoke Break, Juke Jam

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  1. The Sun’s Tirade – Isaiah Rashad

Isaiah Rashad was one of those names I had definitely heard of but couldn’t name a single song of. Probably because up until recently his only release was a single EP from back in 2014. The Sun’s Tirade is Rashad’s debut LP on the TDE label, home to Kendrick Lamar, SZA and Jay Rock (all of whom make appearances) making this the launchpad from which Rashad enters his spot light. There are also featured appearances from The Internet’s Syd, as well as Kari Faux which both make me very excited for future collaborations.

Notable Songs: Park, Wat’s Wrong

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  1. Cashmere – Swet Shop Boyz

A weird supergroup composed of a former member of NYC rap group Das Racist, and a critically acclaimed british actor/rapper; Heems and Riz MC rap about race relations in a post 9/11 world with a perspective often over looked in Hip Hop. You can also catch Riz MC in Star Wars Rouge One, and in the HBO Mini Series The Night Of, which also premiered this year. (I could write a whole other article about Riz MC alone, do yourself a favor and catch up with his work.)

Notable Songs: Zayn Malik, Shoes Off

  1. The Divine Feminine – Mac Miller

Say what you will about Mac Miller, he’s consistent. He released a killer mixtape in 2014, his first major label album in 2015, and in 2016 he does a bit of a pivot. At 11 tracks, this album is on the short but sweet side, emphasis on sweet. Mac’s production is pulsating and clean; his flows are refreshed, sideways and unexpected. His lyrics are dirtier and more explicit than ever and probably shouldn’t be played in the car with your moms; but not in an Eminem/Tyler the Creator way, but in more of a “vivid descriptions of pussy eating” kind of way.

Notable Songs: Planet God Damn, Stay

  1. Lost En Los Angeles – Kari Faux

After being remixed on Childish Gambino’s 2014 tape, STN MTN, Donald moved Kari Faux out to Los Angeles for a year while she worked on her debut album. Honest and straightforward as ever, Kari lays bare her insecurities in the intro track, and then without even missing a beat, candy colored production and dizzying swagger take you away into the album, not stopping until the very end, leaving you wanting more.

Notable Songs: Nothing 2 Lose, Don’t

  1. Blonde – Frank Ocean

Another album that is the product of the fight against the “music industry”, this album’s release was preceded by a visual album that fulfilled Frank Ocean’s various contract obligations, allowing him to release his REAL second album as an independent release. More conceptual than 2012’s Channel Orange, Blonde is really more of an R&B album than a hip hop release. Some thought that its genre classification would be cleared up when it was to be inevitably nominated for a grammy, which it was not, as Frank Ocean specifically did not file for it to be considered, despite it qualifying.

Notable Songs: Nights, Self Control

  1. Prima Donna – Vince Staples

After releasing his debut double LP Summertime ’06, in 2015, nobody really expected Vince Staples to release an EP not even a year later, complete with a ten minute long short film that features every song on the release and ties together and gives context to the theme of the album and what seems to be one of the themes of 2016: Fuck the traditional “music industry”.

Notable Songs: Big Time, War Ready

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