In no particular order, here are the 20 rap/r&b albums released in 2016 we couldn’t stop playing this year.
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Some of y’all might know him as Breezy Love Joy while others may have discovered the man on Dr Dre’s Compton. All of that don’t really matter. What matters most is that Anderson .Paak is the voice we heard EVERYWHERE this year and it was very necessary. If that soulful slightly broken voice hasn’t touch your heart yet, sorry but you ain’t got no soul !
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service
Almost 30 years after the release of their first album, A Tribe Called Quest bows out with a highly political album, a musicality that transcends time and a beautiful tribute to Phife. Legendary isn’t it ?
Beyoncé – Lemonade
With Lemonade, Queen Bey uses her intimate relationships with her husband and her family to deliver a history of black women resilience and struggles. Powerful.
Blood Orange – Freetown
Prince left us this year and we’re sure that if there is one album he would have validated in 2016, it would have been this one.
Chance The Rapper – The Coloring Book
Nominated for 6 Grammy awards without the support of record label, a friend to some of the biggest hip hop artists of our time, Obama‘s daughters’ favorite rapper and also the man behind one of the biggest tracks of the year (“No Problem”), Chance The Rapper just had a memorable year. A subtle mix of hip hop and gospel energy, The Coloring Book is the blessing that the rap game truly needed in 2016.
Common – Black America Again
On this new album, Common reunited with long-time friend and collaborator Karriem Riggins and it was the best way for him to get back on track. His old school flow and his wise rimes depict a history of Black America with a rare authenticity. Great come back !
Frank Ocean – Blonde
Fans have been waiting for too long so Frank had to make it up to them and release not one but two albums. Between Endless and Blonde, our hearts aren’t torn at all. Blonde has seduced us. Finally rid of R&B codes and conventions, the crooner asserts himself as a free and liberated artist. He invites Beyoncé to sing background vocals, Kendrick Lamar to make ad-libs, and French producer Sebastian for a narrated interlude. If he confused many, he now also has the hearts of those who have always admired rules breaker. Hats off !
Kamaiyah – A Good night in the ghetto
The album we played all Summer Sixteen. Good vibes only.
The Life of Pablo
At first, we thought Kanye had been a little bit lazy on this one. But from “Ultralight Beam” to “Father Strech My Hands” and “Famous”, Yeezy once again succeeded in blessing us with the soundtrack of an era.
Kaytranada – 99,9%
Montreal-based producer and beatmaker Kaytranada released his first studio album this year featuring Craig David, Syd and Little Dragon among other notable names. A master in the art of making heads shake et booties bounce, Kaytra is certainely one of the most talented musician of his generation.
NoName – Telefone
Women in rap are often urged to choose between being labeled as hypersexual like Nicki Minaj or tomboy like Young MA. Noname refuses to box herself into a category and delivers a soul infused rap that is sweet and bitter at the same time. The gifted lyricist tackles subjects such as black men’s mortality rate in Chicago, abortion or just the desire to be happy even when everything is dipped in doubt.
PartyNextDoor – P3
There’s a R&B album that was released this year that came straight from the OVO vault somewhere in Canada. And no it wasn’t from Drake.
Rihanna – Anti
We had to wait 7 albums to finally get THE music we always wanted Rihanna to make. Living up to her Bad Gal Riri nickname, the Bajan beauty proved she could do so much more than cheesy pop songs aimed at teenagers. Thank you.
ScHoolboy Q – bLankface LP
TDE label has been really active this year with albums being released by almost every artists on the roster (Where is SZA though ?). With Blank Face, ScHoolboy confirms that standing right next to Kendrick he’s the second in command.
Skepta – Konnichiwa
From London basements to the prestigious Mercury Prize, UK grime is finally getting the worlwide exposure it deserves. Thank you Skepta (and the BBK extended family).
Solange – A Seat At The Table
The Knowles sisters went hard this year. After Beyoncé had every women get in formation back in April, Solange invited us to seat at her table and discuss what it is to be Black, to be a woman, to be depressed and misunderstood and all of the above at the same time. Very necessary.
Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight
With idols such as Lil Wayne, Young Thug and Kanye West, Travis Scott has emulated a lot. But with this new album, it sounds like he’s finally found his own voice. Good job.
YG – Still Brazy
Compton’s very own Bloods-associated rapper YG represented West Coast rap better than anybody else this year and gave us the utlimate political party anthem “Fuck Donald Trump”. Bless !
D.R.A.M – Big Baby D.R.A.M
When you’re validated by both Beyoncé and Erykah Badu and even get bit by superstars like Drake, chances are they see something in you that is undeniable : pure genius.
Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
Thank you Hip Hop Gods for rappers who still have a little bit of sincere extravagance in them.