5. SOLANGE – ‘A Seat at the Table’
On September 30, Solange released her third studio album. She created a spectacular body of work that somehow manages to feel both inclusive and intimate. Rather than trying to please everyone, Solange made what she needed to hear—”this shit is for us,” she sings on “F.U.B.U.” The resulting album is an open invitation to anyone who can relate. She demans a seat at a table she’s rightfully earned as well as a spot on my list of best albums of 2016.
4. Kamaiyah – ‘A Good Night in the Ghetto’
Kamaiyah holds it down for her hometown Oakland on her debut mixtape ‘A Good Night in the Ghetto’ with an array of vintage Bay slappers. The tape is heavily influenced by the rap and R&B of the ’90s, but her approach is all her own. It’s carefree and effortless. It pays homage to the bay and captures the vibe of a backyard BBQ on a warm summer day with a 40oz in hand, surrounded by your closest homies.
3. THE WEEKND – ‘Starboy’
Although I feel that no project from the Weeknd can top his debut mixtape ‘House of Balloons’, Starboy is a stellar album. It’s not his best release but it is his most confident. He has refined his edgy pop sound that he struggled with on ‘Kiss Land’, and has fully formed the alternative R&B niche that he made popular back in 2011. ‘Sidewalks’ featuring Kendrick Lamar is a groovy player pimp anthem, that acts as my favorite track on the album.
2. KANYE WEST – ‘The Life of Pablo’
If anyone had lost faith in Mr.West after his polarizing ‘Yeezus’ album, I feel that he was able to redeem himself with the release of ‘The Life of Pablo’. Kanye West has had quite the year, constantly claiming headlines throughout 2016. But once we get past the character of Mr.West and begin to dive into the music – where it began – we are reminded how he has been able to remain so relevant for over a decade; The man makes good music. Notable features can be found on the album such as The Weeknd, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, and Young Thug which is a testament to his spot in the industry and his ability to round up some of the greatest artists in the game. Several tracks act as a score of certain memories I’ve made through the year – I can’t listen to ‘Waves’ without thinking of Coachella. For that reason, TLOP has earned it’s spot in my top 5 of 2016.
- FRANK OCEAN – ‘Blonde’
Nowadays it seems that most albums don’t shoot for longevity. Most might redeem a few months of notoriety before being drowned out by the rest. In this “fast food” age of music, it’s difficult to create a body of work that can past the test of time. It seems the wait for new music from Mr.Ocean was worth it – Blonde felt like a moment that really mattered. His songwriting connects on a personal level, beyond Instagram captions and Twitter quotables. With every listen of the album, I find that it reveals more and more. He’s got the ability to make every detail intimate and relatable, even whilst dealing with heavy topics such as the burden of fame or sexuality. I still feel that theres more to discover with the album moving into 2017 and for that reason, Blonde has become my favorite album of 2016.