It’s LIST TIME!!! It’s that time of the year where everything winds down and we reflect back this year. Too bad it’s 2016 because this year sucks……in just about almost everything and even in music, whether it be the hit songs this year are not really that good or the many deaths of famous musicians like David Bowie, Prince, Phife Dawg, Shawty Lo (yeah, he’s gone, too) and Prince B from P.M. Dawn (yes, I’m a fan of old 90s’ hip hop with a unique soulful twist).
Thankfully, I don’t cover the top 100 or shit like that, but since I have made my full foray into music this year, I have been checking out some albums in 2016 and like any other list thing I do, I have find 10 to be worthy to my ey—well, ears.
OK, I’m just going to put this out there. I do not have albums like Lemonade or Blackstar on here and no, I don’t think they are bad albums. Just ones I didn’t check out or listen to as much as other people. Oh, and one rule and one rule only…..it’s my list, my choice of albums I choose, my taste, that is all and now on to the list.
JUSTICE // WOMAN // Electro, nu-disco, funk // Ed Banger Records/Because
Favorite Songs: “Safe and Sound”, “Pleasure”, “Stop”, “Randy”, “Love S.O.S.”
French electronic music duo Justice has been on my eye since I heard their first album, Cross, and was amazed by the majority of that album. Audio, Video, Disco on the other hand……not one I go back to in terms of listening but when I heard the first track on their 3rd album Woman, I was curious about this album and…..it’s not Cross levels but this shit is still solid (and a far better effort than AVD) and they provide some groovy electro tracks that I can get lost into their magnificent sound and it reminded me why I check them out in the first place. For those that wanted a good Justice record for a while, I’d easily recommend this.
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST // WE GOT IT FROM HERE… THANK YOU 4 YOUR SERVICE // Jazz Rap // Epic/SME
Favorite Songs: “The Space Program”, “We the People…”, “Solid Wall of Sound”, “Kids…”, “The Killing Season”, “Lost Somebody”, “Conrad Tokyo”
Like I said, 2016 has been savage when it comes to celebrity deaths and of course, Malik ‘Phife Dawg’ Taylor was unfortunately one of them and 8 months following his death, ATCQ announced their final album was coming in November. It was recorded in secrecy and Phife did contributed to tracks before his death so it wouldn’t feel like they’re just trying to do a quick cash-in. In short, this album was pretty good with a lot of strong production and sharp lyrics from everyone especially the roster of guest stars from Busta Rhymes, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson. Paak (We’ll get to him later on). One of the tracks I keep on repeat is “The Space Program”. Tribe went out on a good note with this album and many hip-hop heads (whether old, young, whatever) can enjoy it.
KA // HONOR KILLED THE SAMURAI // hip-hop // Iron Works Records
Favorite Songs: “Conflicted”, “Just”, “Mourn at Night”, “Destined”, “Ours”, “Finer Things / Tamahagene”
An hip-hop album that feels like a cinematic experience and yet it’s only 36 minutes of music and that is completely great with me. I have admit that I’ve slept on KA for some time, although I heard one song of his a while back and to me, I like his style of rapping and production of that track and on this album, it works. I like the subject of growing up in Brownsville and surviving there along with borrowing themes of Japan’s samurai culture and how parallel it could be. I love the unique production on this as the absence of drums made it more eerie, somber and you get so sucked in there. Bar none, “Mourn at Night” was the most haunting song in the album and also my favorite. Ka made a unique hip-hop album this year and personally I think I should dig more into his catalog soon.
S U R V I V E // RR7349 // Electronica // Relapse Records
Favorite Songs: “A.H.B.”, “High Rise”, “Wardenclyffe”, “Sorcerer”, “Copter”
If you wonder why this sounds like this album feels like any 1980s new wave horror movie score from a John Carpenter movie or out of Blade Runner…….OK, I’m going to stop beating around the bush. Two of the people in the outfit (Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein) are composers to the Netflix hit of the year, Stranger Things. The album carries an abundance of the synth new wave sound that fits into an neo-noir thriller and I’ve been attracted to that type of sound around some artists in the electronic field and S U R V I V E did just that.
CLAMS CASINO // 32 LEVELS // electronica, hip-hop, alternative R&B, cloud rap, witch house // Columbia/SME
Favorite Songs: “Be Somebody”, “All Nite”, “Skull”, “Thanks 2 You”, “Into the Fire”, “Ghost in a Kiss”
When listening to a song, I often admire the production more than the actual performer/singer (but they are important, too) and producer-curated albums are something that has always fascinated me because I want to see how their style is handled with various artists. Enter producer Clams Casino, who has made tracks for artists like Danny Brown, A$AP Rocky (and Ferg), Vince Staples among others and with his signature spacey, airy and eerie production style and we got that in his debut album from Columbia and I definitely went on repeat on various songs on this album from A$AP Rocky and Lil’ B’s “Be Somebody” to Samuel T. Herring’s “Ghost in a Kiss”, two tracks that has that Clams style but in different ways…although it is a multi-genre album so no shit it’s going to be different.
BADBADNOTGOOD // IV // Jazz, electronic jazz // Innovative Leisure
Favorite Songs: “Confessions Pt. II”, “Lavender”, “Chompy’s Paradise”, “Hyssop of Love”, “In Your Eyes”, “Cashmere”
Funny how the title of this album is IV but it’s my number 5 favorite album of the year. Ever since listening to their collaboration with Ghostface Killah, Sour Soul, last year, I have checked out a few of their projects and they have a good influence in hip-hop mixed in their jazz and those two do go together like chocolate and peanut butter and going into IV…..I definitely got what I wanted from them but even more tracks I keep replaying over and over and over. My top favorite from this is “In Your Eyes” featuring vocals from Charlotte Day Wilson as it hits both that jazz and soulful feel to it and the “Hyssop of Love” with Mick Jenkins, a very underrated MC who also made a decent album this year. Keep up the good work, BBNG. I enjoy hearing more from you.
NxWORRIES // YES LAWD! // hip-hop, R&B, soul // Stones Throw
Favorite Songs: “Best One”, “What More Can I Say”, “Kutless”, “Lyk Dis”, “Can’t Stop”, “Get Bigger/Do U Luv”, “Scared Money”, “Sidepiece”, “Another Time”
Well, I know for some time a lot of people were bitching about this year’s XXL Freshman List, which I get because the majority of them kinda suck (especially the ones with Lil’ in their name) but I did find 2 artists whose projects I actually like. One of them has 2 projects this year and yes, it’s Anderson. Paak and this is the collaboration of him and producer Knxwledge for Stones Throw. You know, the label that brought us artists like J Dilla, Dam-Funk, Madlib, etc and with Yes Lawd, I did sense that feel when listening to something from that label and it works. The groovy and slow jam production from Knxwledge absolutely hits it home for me and I’m just going to say it right now….Anderson. Paak can sing and rap better than those who tries to do it and not make it a chore to listen, isn’t that right, Drake and J. Cole? His content was also interesting talking about him wanting to make it big in music and just tracks that’s get you in the mood. Oh, and shootout to them for putting that “Get Your Shit Together” line from Rick and Morty into one of your songs. Speaking of Rick and Morty, when’s that 3rd season tho? But, yes, NxWorries and Yes Lawd…..hell yes.
DANNY BROWN // ATROCITY EXHIBITION // Experimental hip-hop // WARP
Favorite Songs: “Downward Spiral”, “Tell Me What I Don’t Know”, “Really Doe”, “Ain’t It Funny”, “White Lines”, “Dance in the Water”, “From the Ground”, “When It Rain”, “Get Hi”
They have been some great experimental hip-hop albums in the recent years from artists like clipping to Shabazz Palaces to Flatbush ZOMBiES and then there is Danny Brown….and going back and forth to his latest album made me love it more and more and more and….yep, this is some music to jam to, to bang your head to, to act out your craziest fantasies to from the hard-hitting posse track “Really Doe” with Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt to the energetic and frantic banger “Ain’t it Funny”. Also, the content does let you know Danny Brown has seen and been into some grim and really fucked-up shit……hell, it makes me worry for the guy. But I can say this….this is the way to do an exceptional experimental hip-hop album.
ANDERSON PAAK // MALIBU // R&B, hip-hop, neo-soul // Steel Wool/OBE/Art Club/Empire
Favorite Songs: “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance”, “The Season/Carry Me”, “Am I Wrong”, “Without You”, “Lite Weight”, “Room in Here”, “Your Prime”, “Come Down”, “The Dreamer”
Anderson. Paak is such a breath of fresh air when it comes to R&B and hip-hop because this album is so amazing. I had a hard time either putting this or Yes Lawd on the top spot but while both albums have some astonishing production, the content here is more fascinating and joints like “Am I Wrong”, “Without You” featuring Rapsody, who delivered a fire verse and “Lite Weight” with top-notch production from Kaytranada *wink wink*. Both projects of his made me a fan of his and I can’t wait to see what next thing he comes up with.
And before we get to #1…..
COM TRUISE // SILICON TARE EP // Electronic, synthwave, chillwave // Ghostly International
Yeah, it’s an 5-song EP but more Com Truise is good for this Hybrid and now….I just need another album from him.
NONAME // TELEFONE // hip-hop // Independent
10 tracks that’ll make you feel all warm and easy. No, it’s not ‘sugary happy’ but more of “reminiscing about the good times way back” without it feeling corny or sappy. Also “Diddy Bop” is my jam.
MICK JENKINS // THE HEALING COMPONENT // hip-hop // Cinematic
Once again, I find Mick Jenkins to be an underrated MC because his debut album (he’s only done a mixtape and EP) was very impressive with the themes of love.
IVAN AVE. // HELPING HANDS // hip-hop // Jakarta
Smooth and dope album from Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave and I got one thing to say on this: “Obedience”…..I can listen to that song all day song.
LITTLE SHALIMAR // RUBBLE KINGS: THE ALBUM // hip-hop // Mass Appeal
Possibly the only soundtrack in this list that I liked in full and can actually listen to the whole album without hating on some tracks. Also, great cuts from acts like Run the Jewels, Ghostface Killah, Ka among others and this was free on Adult Swim. I suggest you cop that shit!
NITE JEWEL // LIQUID COOL // synthpop, chillwave // Gloriette
Hmmm……yeah, I can definitely chill with this album. Oh and…..
NITE-FUNK // NITE-FUNK EP // R&B, chillwave // Glydezone
An solid EP of Nite Jewel with funk musician Dam-Funk and their mix does have me focused on their stuff.
DENZEL CURRY // IMPERIAL // hip-hop // C9
Once again, this is an XXL freshman of 2016 that has made a good project this year with fire in his production and in his bars.
SCHOOLBOY Q // BLANK FACE LP // hip-hop // Top Dawg Ent./Interscope
KENDRICK LAMAR // UNTITLED UNMASTERED // hip-hop // Top Dawg Ent./Aftermath/Interscope
Yeah, I put these two together since they are both from Top Dawg and both albums to me are plenty good. I would say the length of Blank Face went over long but with cuts like “Groovy Tony”, “Kno U Wrong” and “Ride Out”, I was still satisfied with it and UU was leftovers from To Pimp a Butterfly but, hey, these are good leftovers and something to hold on us until his next album.
And now the moment you have been waiting on……
This was the one album that I have been putting on repeat almost every day since its release. I didn’t really expect to enjoy this as much as I did.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…….Kaytranada.
KAYTRANADA // 99.9% // Electronica, hip-hop, alternative R&B, synthpop // XL Recordings
Favorite Songs: Basically the whole album
This is the album that’s made for a guy like me. A guy that likes to mix the genres into one big meaty music stew and everything about it just sounds so right. Now I heard little of Kaytranada before hearing this album as I heard a track he made for Freddie Gibbs a while back and this album gels so well with most of my musical tastes from the hip-hop/jazz fusion tracks like “Bus Ride” with Karriem Riggins and “Weight Off” with BadBadNotGood to the instrumentals like “Track Uno”, “Lite Spots”, “Despite the Weather” & “Lite Spots”. Hell, there’s a Craig David feature on here and I can’t remember the last time I heard something from him (I know he’s big in the UK but not much of a crossover here). The verses from Vic Mensa and Anderson. Paak (who stay winning!) were excellent and even the more pop-sounding songs I can definitely vibe with, like “Together” and “You’re the One”. The album has that extravagant feel to me that I had to put this on stop. I know most people aren’t really into this album but I think if you’re looking for some solid production (like myself), then you’ll love 99.9% as much as I did….and that is why it is my #1 album of the year!!!
I DID IT!! I’ve made an top 10 albums list for the first time!!!! I hope 2017 can deliver some great albums as well.
If you want more about my opinions on music, you can hear me on Decibel Boost Podcast on Surreal Resolution with me along other hosts Rob and Alex talk about the latest in new music and music news…and often get insane.
This is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and I’m gonna listen to more of Kaytranada.