Top 6 Albums of 2016

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.

#6:

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Rihanna- Anti

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.

#5

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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.

#4

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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.

#3

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Beyonce- Lemonade

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.

#2

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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…

#1

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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.

Honorable Mentions

  • 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
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“AWAKEN, MY LOVE”

“ 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.

RATE:10/10

Follow Brandon on Spotify @ ” jamesgatz1920 “

Episode 67 – Me No Conversate

Our longest episode ever is PACKED TO THE BRIM with that music talk you love so much. We had frozen margaritas too, so things get loud and ridiculous. Even more than usual.

Continue reading “Episode 67 – Me No Conversate”

Flatbush ZOMBiES – 3001: A Laced Odyssey Review

 

It’s cool…

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been sitting on this one for at least two weeks, trying to figure out how to go about talking about the album without sounding really middling. The gist of it is this: I like this album, but I’m not good at remembering what I like about it unless I’m playing it. No joke, I’m actually playing it in the background as I type this so I don’t lose track of what I want to say.

Friends of mine and listeners of the show whose tastes I trust have been telling me about this group for a while, and like I usually ended up doing, I added Flatbush ZOMBiES to the ever-growing list of “Artists People Keep Telling Jason To Check Out But Jason Will Get Around To It Eventually When He Stops Playing The Same Stuff Over and Over Again.”
One day, not even a few months ago, someone shared “Palm Trees” from their mixtape BetterOffDEAD and I wanted to beat myself up for not peeping them sooner. The next step was to check out the whole tape, and the whole time… I mostly found myself waiting on “Palm Trees” to come back around. I only remember that song and “222” if I’m being honest with you. That same sentiment, unfortunately, carries over to 3001: A Laced Odyssey.

Don’t let that last paragraph get you down. Again, I like this album. These guys can rap. Meechy Darko is strange but memorable (I specifically remember him from a cut on Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s Piñata) and they all do a pretty good job of moving with the beats here, a lot of which I think are great. There’s just nothing that truly STICKS out of all of this for me. And I’ve listened to this album five times trying to pull out enough to write some words down for it. Some of the beats feel hollow and the guys struggle to fill the void sometimes. But there wasn’t anything that was BAD, which is why I feel so weird about what I’m writing.

(For those that are new here, my general rule of thumb is that I don’t write or talk about music that I don’t like or that I wasn’t interested in to begin with.)

Anyway, that’s what I walked away with after listening to this new album. I realize it’s not much. There were a lot of great moments here, like with the intro, “Bounce”, “A Spike Lee Joint” (my personal favorite), and some beats like “Ascension” and “Trade-Off” really bang. There was also a lot of fluff here to extend the runtime, like the interlude “Fly Away” and the last eight minutes of “Your Favorite Rap Song.”
Would I ask someone to turn this off if it was playing in the car? Not at all.
Will I be peeping their next project? Definitely!
Can I confidently suggest this album to a friend? Not really.


You happy, Dom?

Favorite Tracks:
Bounce, A Spike Lee Joint


 

Have you listened to this album yet? Am I crazy or do you feel the same way? Did I listen wrong? Drop your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading. And check out the new episode of the podcast while you’re here!

Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution Review

I’m not going to pretend like I wasn’t skeptical about this album…

I am a huge fan of Esperanza Spalding. One of my favorite jazz albums is her Grammy Award-winning 2008 album Esperanza and I’ve gone on record many times to say so. Between collaborations with Algebra Blessett and Janelle Monáe and covers of Michael Jackson songs, I’ve been sold on her for years now. But earlier this year, Esperanza released two singles from her new album —”One” and “Good Lava” — and afterwards, I found myself lost on how to feel. She’s always been known to shift sounds from album to album, but the sheer shock value coming from those singles, especially “Good Lava,” kept me at bay. I’d seen reviews from her tour that she went on last year in early promotion for this new project Emily’s D+Evolution and for some reason, a good number of them were negative, saying things like “everything was weird” and “there wasn’t any jazz.”

These people were right. This new album is definitely weird, and there really isn’t a whole lot of strictly by-the-books jazz to be found here, but I’ll be damned if my skepticism wasn’t misplaced. Emily’s D+Evolution is a great piece of work.

It starts off with the very song I turned my face up at (even though I quickly changed my mind on it after a full listen of the album), and slowly begins to ease you in to the world it’s building around you. There are loud guitar riffs, ridiculous drums, and skittish “pretty girl” flows everywhere. Each song gets better as it goes on – or maybe it’s that you grow more comfortable with the vibe with each track. I haven’t really figured it out yet, even after listening to it on shuffle. Once that initial “wow” has passed, a lot of the album becomes a lot easier to digest. There is a very childlike and bipolar quality to it as a whole, with songs shifting from protests to lullabies in mere seconds.

Esperanza’s soothing voice has always been a pleasant treat in her music, and even amongst all the chaos here, that still stands. Her voice is hypnotizing in songs like “Rest in Pleasure” and “Noble Nobles.” Oh, and did I mention that there’s a cover of a song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory here? There’s a lot to love about this album, and I honestly feel dumb for doubting that Esperanza Spalding could pull off something so strange. I’ll make sure to apologize when I see her in April.

Favorite Tracks:
Judas, One, Rest In Pleasure, Noble Nobles, I Want It Now


 

Have you listened to this album yet? What did you think about it (and what did you think of this review? It’s been a while)? Drop your thoughts down in the comments.

Thanks for reading.