2016 has come, and as it’s on its way out we can’t finish the year off without a “Best Of” list. So from all genre’s here are my top 6 albums of 2016, and I even tossed in a few honorable mentions because this year was just mind-blowingly amazing music wise.
The hype leading up to Anti almost had me a little on the fence about how the album would actually go. Even more so because all the singles we got, in my opinion, didn’t seem to mesh with one another. It felt kind of like throwaway tracks. But when Anti was a Tidal exclusive, I definitely signed up for the free month subscription and gave it a listen. Once I heard SZA on the intro track it was a wrap for me. This was an album of growth for Rihanna, and I couldn’t have been more proud of it. Of course we got our typical Drake feature on Work (WHICH IS STILL A BANGER). And we even got a Tame Impala cover, which put a lot of people to check out their discography which I thought was cool also. Anti has definitely been in rotation all year long, and Pose definitely became the anthem that’s on a never ending loop in my head.
James Blake- The Colour In Anything
James Blake has always been an artist that touches my spirit just right. I’ll never forget what I was doing when I first listened to this album. It was an almost magical moment. The Colour In Anything didn’t hold back with the moodiness and came at the perfect time. This album was a great way for me to balance the summer I had. Everyone loves a good breakup song/album, and James Blake definitely went above and beyond with this one. I could not hold back the tears by the time “I Need A Forest Fire” starts playing. Because let’s face it, you’re sad and heartbroken then you hear Bon Iver’s voice telling you to basic set it on fire and start all over? Yeah, You cried too.
The Lumineers- Cleopatra
I’ve always loved The Lumineers because they remind me of home and love when it’s sweet. Cleopatra is an album that tells a story. The album from start to finish made me feel like I was moving forward, and when it ended I felt complete. A little homesick for my small town Texas skies, but complete nonetheless. The Lumineers have a really special way of stirring up those gentle emotions inside of you. And for that reason Cleopatra was definitely a hit for me in 2016.
Leave it to Beyonce, to not only drop another great album, but for the visuals to be a freaking movie. Lemonade is the perfect soundtrack to being hurt in a relationship and realizing that you’re still the shit, and wholeheartedly owning your femininity. I watched Lemonade the day after it was released from start to finish, glued to my seat and not saying a single word. And immediately watch it all over again, this time with my mom, except this time both of us stuck to the couch holding our breaths. When it was over, all we could get out was, “Wow”. Lemonade helped me to channel my inner boss lady and I sent out more than a few “I can do bad all by myself” messages. (Still not ashamed btw!) Lemonade could have been interpreted a few different ways, but it definitely was a hit all across the board. We were all wondering how Beyonce could have possibly topped “Beyonce” and she definitely showed us with Lemonade.
Anderson .Paak- Malibu
If 2016 has been good to anyone, it’s definitely been Anderson .Paak! If you love feel good music, being able to get up and dance, and just raw talent Malibu is it. Malibu dropped and I couldn’t think about anything at work the next day except which way would put me in the most traffic heading home, so that I could listen to the album more than once. From start to finish Malibu has you grooving, slowing it down at times but bringing it right back up. What made Malibu even better is that it translated so even more beautifully live. Malibu hands down is a classic album, that I still feel like is under appreciated. Malibu could even make it’s way onto a list for 2017, honestly.
Last but not least…
Solange- A Seat At The Table
2016 being the year we elected a new president, racial tension becoming seemingly more prevalent than before, #blackgirlmagic and #blackboyjoy amongst countless other things, A Seat At The Table could not have come at the most perfect, if not crucial time. We got a feature from God’s sweet angel Sampha, we got to get a check-in from Master P, and everything that we as black people have been feeling was put all on the table with this album. From Weary, to the breathtaking Cranes In The Sky, Don’t Touch My Hair (and I still don’t think I can tell people that enough), to FUBU, Solange fucking killed it. What makes this album even better is that this album seemed to catch nearly everyone off guard. Solange found her lane and put her foot down on the gas in it. A Seat At The Table is also another hands down classic album.
- Frank Ocean- Blonde
- Kaytranada- 99.9%
- Blood Orange- Freetown Sound
- Chance the Rapper- Coloring Book
- Zayn- Mind of Mine
- Kanye West- The Life of Pablo
“ Awaken, My Love”
Review Written By Brandon Morales
There have been many attempts in music to imitate the greats. Yet in the end countless artist just end up stealing the famous classic sounds we all know and love, leaving no distinct sound of their own left to be found on their album. But not Childish Gambino. The actor, writer, rapper, and so much more has now finally released his new album “Awaken, My Love”, which is not only a complete throwback and nod to the artist before him. But an unexpected left turn in his musical career, embellished with both a unique and quirky style of singing, not to mention a falsetto that Prince would approve of. The former community star has created a soulful, funktackular, epic of his own, and as the lovable Questlove put it, “Dude, I cannot curb my enthusiasm!”.
The opening title “Me And Your Mama”, is a track full of starry melodies and a powerful choir driven hook. This almost bluesy, funk, rock track shows off Gambino’s new style of singing in full effect. The song builds up with layers and layers of instruments adding on to it, eventually ending leaving the listener wanting more. The second track “Have Some Love” is clearly influenced by Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That” with messages of love and unity combined with backing vocals on the chorus but takes an immediate left turn with Donald showing off another new style of delivery that’s used more frequently throughout the rest of the album. On this track Donald sets a funky groove and doesn’t let go of it. This is evident on Gambino’s next two tracks “Boogieman” and “Zombies” both more downbeat but still rocking a steady groove. On this track Donald talks about the troubles of racism, life and success. The choir on “Booogie Man” is heavy and adds a lot to the song. “Zombies” however has the choir in the background harmonizing underneath the guitar. It’s at this point in the album that it becomes very apparent that Donald is singing about the boy from his previous EP and album before. Continuing the narrative of “The Boy” as Donald named him on this album is never confirmed, however the listener could take away from the tracks on this album that Donald is in fact singing to his newborn child.
The album continues through a hard rock driven beat of “Riot” and the funky neo-soul like single “Redbone”, into the poppiest song of the album “California” catchy and almost incoherent. Donald sings and mumbles his way through another instant classic like its nothing. Donald then ends the album with moody and beautiful songs and messages to his child about living life to the fullest and following your dreams no matter what.
The production on this album is nothing short of amazing thanks to Donald’s trusted producer Ludwig Göransson. Use of so many instruments has never been done on a Gambino record before along with such melody driven songs. Donald is even playing on this album! Donald went into the making of this album saying it was an exercise in feeling and tone. Full of love, fear, envy, and sadness this album has plenty of feeling. There may be effects on Donald’s voice throughout this album, but it’s nothing short of self aware. Donald uses effects on his to help embody the futuristic sound and help it mix with the classic late 70’s funk this album was made after. The effects on Donald’s voice also help create a trance and allow the listener to be taken into Donald’s world. The most important thing to remember about this album is that it’s an album of layers giving you a new experience with every listen.With beautifully catchy and meaningful lyrics sung over a never before heard style presented by Glover this album is by far his best and without a doubt a one and only.
Follow Brandon on Spotify @ ” jamesgatz1920 “
Single of the week! Up every Monday.
This past Sunday we all had to set our clocks back an hour. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely feeling this time change. What I’m feeling even more is this velvety, ode to love single from Toronto based singer-songwriter, Daniel Caesar featuring mega babe, Kali Uchis.
“Every time I look into your eyes, I see it. You’re all I need.” If this doesn’t make you want go and curl up with bae, I don’t know what will. For all of us who are without boos at the moment, go ahead and pour yourself a glass of wine, put the song on repeat, and just know that one day future boo will be whispering these lyrics in our ear sooner or later.
Happy Monday everyone!