I’ve put this off for far too long, and with good reason, but with Big Sean dropping his much anticipated fourth studio-album tomorrow, kick-starting the cycle of new music for the year, I Decided (pun-intended) to finally do this. The music deserves attention too.
Okay, let’s get to it.
2015 was a stellar year, to say the least, when it came to music. Modern-day rap activist Kendrick Lamar tugged at our heart strings and minds with his poetic juxtaposition, becoming the voice of the voiceless in the land of the free in his highly-acclaimed third studio-album, To Pimp a Butterfly.
Indie singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens reminded us just how mortal we are, dedicating his album Carrie and Lowell to his late mom, and making us (well me) shed a few errant tears in the process.
Legendary Icelandic pop star Björk perhaps made the biggest, albeit the most subtle, splash in the sea of 2015 music, by showing us just how pure words from the heart can be through the emotional tapestry of Vulnicura.
And who can forget how Mbongwana Star showed us almost visually through their music just how colorful the African continent, and to be specific, Congo, can be, and usually is.
2016 certainly had a lot to live up to, and in many aspects, well, it failed. I’m not going to get too wrapped up in why 2016 was an awful year, because I did enough of that in my other blogpost, 2016: Greatest Year of My Life, feel free to check it out. Let’s stick to the music; the music didn’t give me heartburn and depression.
Despite the magnanimous failures of 2016, to be honest, last year served up some tasty tunes.
I’ve been following this young man for a while now, and ever since I heard him on No Sucka MC’s Contest about a year ago, he’s never ceased to amaze me. His effortless flow, aggression and wordplay far outweigh other rappers far older than him.
His first official mixtape, Eraser Shavings, now available for free on his website http://tokenhiphop.com or for purchase on iTunes, is still one of my preferred albums for when life gets a bit much.
One for the future.
Okay, I’m pretty sure it’s a bit obvious that this category was made specifically to honor this great man, but it had to be done.
To be honest, before last year, I had no idea who David Bowie was. It wasn’t until I heard about his album and his passing that I sat up and took notice, and take notice I did.
After hearing his final album, Blackstar, it occurred to me why people were so sad about his passing (well, obviously but because he was a human and when humans die, we get sad but, you get what I mean). The music on Blackstar is almost near perfection, with tasty guitar licks and incredibly focused lyrics from a man who knew it was his final hurrah, he certainly went out with a bang.
Davie, you will be missed.
Sarkodie vs M.anifest
Haha, you were expecting me to say Drake vs Meek Mill huh? And you’re probably asking who M.anifest or Sarkodie are. Don’t worry, all will be revealed…right now.
In my homeland of Ghana, while Meek Mill was getting compulsively raped by “rapper” Drake, a huge beef broke out between two of Africa’s best and most talented rappers, Sarkodie and M.anifest.
The two incredibly skilled emcees threw unapologetic jabs at each other in two highly-acclaimed tracks namely, Kanta from Sarkodie, rapped over the Desiigner Panda beat and godMC, by M.anifest, showing us his extensive vocabulary in the process.
Where Drake vs Meek Mill ended up like a match between Barcelona and Swindon Town, this beef is still undecided to this day and that makes it worth a look in.
BEST NOISE OF THE YEAR:
Desiigner – Panda
Don’t look at me like that; we all know Panda is noise. The only difference between this noise and the Bad and Boujee noise is that, Desiigner’s noise is infectious.
The man who seems not to use full words anymore took the whole music world by storm with his mega mega mega hit Panda, and for good reason; this song is catchy as heck.
Let me just end this in typical Desiigner fashion…
Ay, ay, ay, ay, Panda, Panda, ay, get, get, get!
BEST ALBUMS OF 2016
Yes, we’re here; when I finally elevate some artists work over others for the purpose of a blogpost. Oh, I’m kidding; these albums actually deserve their accolades.
I’m going to give out awards for music I actually like and listen to, for obvious reasons, so don’t bite my ear off if you don’t see your favorite EDM albums listed here. Dance music makes me sick.
You know what, just so that my EDM fans don’t send curses to my dm’s, I’ll do a category.
Alright, here they are:
BEST RAP/HIP-HOP ALBUM:
Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
When I first heard this album, being the unbelievably prudish and pretentious person I am, didn’t really see what the fuss was all about.
What does a Coloring Book have to do with gospel music? Why the heck does cursing appear on a gospel album? Is this gospel? What is Justin Bieber doing on here without bursting into flames?
Then, after a few, open-minded listens, it hit me; realization.
No, not my realization, well, yes, I realized what the album was about but I’m not talking about my realization but Chance’s realization.
Wait, let me try that again. Stop interrupting me.
On this whole album, Chance seems to be in a celebratory mood, but celebrating where he’s at, or a realization of what’s truly important to him right now.
Aha, that’s better.
With a slew of stellar guest appearances, all which gel perfectly with the atmosphere of the album, and classic Chance style rapping and singing, this album shines far above the rest of the hip-hop offerings we had last year.
BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM:
Lemonade – Beyoncé
I still don’t know what Lemonade means or stands for, but what I do know, is that this is a dense album. Queen B always had an amiable voice, that we know, but from this album, arguably her best, we see a side of her we’ve not been introduced to; visionary Bee.
She takes the mantle of the voice of all women, shifting genres and juggling features and showing us that dang, women be fierce!
BEST POP ALBUM
Joanne – Lady Gaga
No more Gaga, oo-la-la, and I’m fine with that.
Ditching the well-preserved meat suits and wacky outfits, Lady Gaga shows us that behind the weird, there’s a person.
Joanne is unbelievably deep, and even more surprisingly stripped back, raw (not meat) and human coming from her, but as talent goes, this is what we’ve expected for years from her and look forward to more real music like this and less, well…
Eminem’s face just says it all.
“Yo, is this real, or am I just really, really high right now?”
BEST ROCK ALBUM
David Bowie – Blackstar
Well, I’ve already handed this album a short review and this great man so much well-deserved praise so I doubt I need to do much more except say, kudos, and rest in peace, David.
BEST EDM ALBUM:
Virus – Excision
Okay, I’ll be completely honest with you guys; if it wasn’t for my friend, who is an EDM fan, I’d never, ever, no way in heaven, gone near this album, but I did, and it was completely worth my time, I think.
Even though it took some willpower to shed a few of my preconceived notions, I honestly enjoyed this collection of really well-made music and it deservedly sits atop the tree for this years electronic dance music offerings.
Now, check out the complete list of my top albums for 2016.
I rated them based on five categories I have affectionately named the C.V.P.A.F. (Coherence, Vocals, Production, Atmosphere and Features.) and then proceeded to give an average of the categories scored, rating them over 100, before coming up with this list.
Sorry the list isn’t as extensive as I’d have hoped. I had a little time to listen to A LOT of music, and in a hurry, compiled the list, leaving out some well-deserved entrants, like Isaiah Rashad and Iggy Pop. But, I believe this list is still worth it’s weight in beans.
Here it is, my top albums of 2016, beginning at 35.
Chance sits proudly atop the tree.
And now, it’s time for the final category:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR (2016)
Usually, it’d have just made sense to hand this to the album which had the highest review of the year, but for some odd reason, I just couldn’t give this one to Chance. So as a result, while following my gut, and those noodles I ate last night, I award the Album of the Year for 2016, the album which was just head and shoulders above the rest in all categories, especially influence, to…drum roll please.
Young Thug’s No My Name Is Jeffery!
It’s Beyoncé, with Lemonade.
Rounding off what was a marvelous year for the audiophiles, let’s vibe to some Freedom.
Now that 2016 has been laid to rest, 2017…show us what you’ve got.