Our Fav Albums of 2016
KCSO started towards the end of a great music year. Most of what we listen to is in the Rap/Hip Hop/R&B genres. Therefore, we didn’t get to review and discuss our favorite music. Here are our favorite albums for 2016, in no particular order (and because I hate having to rank).
Come on now. If you don’t like this album, you’re not a human. As a woman, this album is empowering. As a Black person, this album was inspiring in a difficult year. Thoughtful lyrics, genre-bending, heartbreaking, and healing. I thought Beyoncé was her magnus opus, Lemonade smashed that thought. Misogynists hated this album because of its stronger #BlackGirlMagic and positive messages for the Black community at large. Well, boy bye!
The Life of Pablo—Kanye West
The end of 2016 appears to be a difficult one for Kanye. Prior to its release, Pablo was described as a gospel rap album—Indeed, it is. Ultralight Beam and Wolves played heavily in my rotation all year. The video for Fame featuring Teyanna Taylor broke the Internet and got us all in the gym. Despite his rocky relationship with the Grammy’s, I hope this album (and Ultralight Beam as a song) get the recognition it deserves. This album gives me hope that once healed, he can continue to be great.
Coloring Book—Chance the Rapper
Chance had such an incredible year. Hit album while on an independent label. The album is carefree and fun while serving strong beats and lyrics. Shifting from fair-weather friends on Summer Friends to Kanye-esque gospel infused rhythms of Blessings, he delivered. Although he had a lot of features, the features were appropriate and not overwhelming. I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more of Chance in 2017.
We impatiently waited for Ocean's follow-up to the incredible 2012 Channel Orange album. Intertwining various styles while still remaining an R&B album is a feat that Ocean does well. Telling stories from his emerging adulthood and romantic successes and failures while also contemplating on the impact of fame is an emotional roller coaster, which made for an interesting album that requires several listens.
A Seat at the Table—Solange Knowles
The Knowles sisters wanted us to cry, then heal us this year. Coming in the 4th quarter of 2016 was the long awaited Solange album. Again, Solange proves she is a masterful songwriter and her harmonies rival one of her proclaimed influences, Brandy. The instrumentation on this album is intricate and beautiful to where I find something unique upon each listen. Everyone raves about Cranes in the Sky, but I equally love Where Do We Go and F.U.B.U. The Interludes also tell remarkable stories of struggle and triumph from Matthew Knowles, Tina Knowles, and the most interesting, Master P.
In a year of strong albums, Ms. Fenty’s ANTI stood its ground. Unconventional and breaking away from her popstar mold, this album was unique and eclectic while remaining cohesive. Yes, Work was the earworm of 2016 that everyone could dance to. However, this is so much more depth to this album. Everyone is sure to have their own favorites, but tracks that continue in rotation include Kiss It Better, Woo, Needed Me, and Love On The Brain—the latter where Rihanna demonstrates the vocal flair we’ve wanted from her. After ANTI, it will be interesting to see where she goes next.
24K Magic—Bruno Mars
We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service—A Tribe Called Quest
Their 6th and final album after an 18-year hiatus and the death of Phife Dawg this year, Tribe gave us one of the strongest hip hop albums of 2016 like they never left! Both Volumes are perfection from start to finish and, like Lemonade, lyrically it was just what we needed to heal this year. Thank you Tribe for your contributions to hip hop. You would be missed, but we won’t stop listening.
Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye has been riding a good wave since the success of Can’t Feel My Face. His smooth falsetto made this another cohesive yet unique R&B album for this year. Shifting from both light and dark themes in the album, Starboy takes me back to his House of Balloons days while giving us modern production. Standout tracks like Starboy, Party Monster, Secrets, and the Kendrick-assisted Sidewalks show off his range both in vocals and production.
Hard II Love—Usher
So, I haven’t disclosed this on KCSO. I’m a huge Usher fan. HUGE! I had to sneak this one on here without running it by Chantee ;) This was such an underrated album in 2016! In his 8th studio album, Usher stepped away from the EDM beats from the last few years and gave us pure R&B. Although I’m not a huge fan of the sole single, No Limit (the youths love it though), Downtime and Tell Me highlight why Usher still has that It Factor.
We are King by King
Mad Love. by Jojo
Trapsoul by Bryson Tiller
Know-It-All by Alessia Cara (her Grammy snub hurts)
Awaken, My Love! by Childish Gambino (haven’t listened to it enough, but could easily move up!)