My Top 10 albums of 2016

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Here are my top 10 favourite albums of 2016.

As it was a struggle to even narrow it down to 10 in the first place, I won’t bother trying to put them in order because respectively they are all so unique and are all number one in their own right.

First! This one is a given.

  1. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

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It’s his eighth studio album and was released on February 14. The album features a wide array of guest vocalists, including The Weeknd, Chance The Rapper, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown, and more.

The album was supported by the singles Famous, Father Stretch My Hands and Fade.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, becoming West’s seventh consecutive number one album on the chart and the first album to reach top spot through streaming. Rolling Stone dubbed it both a mess and masterpiece that challenges you to fit together the pieces of his psyche.

Favourite songs: Ultralight beam, Fade, No More Parties In LA, Real Friends.

Next is purely obvious also, being anything that Drake does is nothing short of gold.

2. Drake – Views

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It was released on April 29, 2016, and was supported by the five singles: Hotline Bling, One Dance, Pop Style, Controlla and Too Good. All crazy successful hits.

The album nonetheless achieved chart success, remaining at number one on the US Billboard 200 for 13 weeks.

One Dance became Drake’s first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single as a lead artist, spending 10 weeks at number one.

Recently he also became the very first to break an Apple Music record with 1 billion streams with this album.

Favourite songs: Feel No Ways, Weston Road Flows, Fire & Desire, Grammys.

This next one isn’t so mainstream and you may not be familiar with this artist, but he is definitely on the up. And this album is amazing!

3. SANGO, SPZKRT, Xavier Omar – Hours Spent Loving You

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Released on August 4. A short and sweet album with only 7 tracks.

These artists are DJs and artists from Soulection which was founded in 2011 in Los Angeles and is a global platform moving culture for musicians on the rise.

The album has been described as quite thematic and needless to say it revolves around the human to human love relationships. It’s a beautiful collaboration. Perfect to listen to on a night where one needs to reflect.

Favourite songs: The Motive, Hipster Girl.

4. KAYTRANADA – 99.9%

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The debut studio album by Canadian electronic music producer KAYTRANADA, released on May 6, 2016.

The 15-track album features guest contributions from the likes of Anderson, Paak, Vic Mensa, Syd, Craig David, and AlunaGeorge. Kaytranada described the untitled EP as “abstract-feeling” and “uptempo, neo-soul,” and was aiming to “make it as funky as possible.”

Kaytranada has won the 2016 Polaris Music Prize for the album. The album received critical acclaim upon its release.

Favourite songs: Got It Good, You’re The One, Glowed Up.

You may guess which album is next when I say he kept us waiting for years…

5. Frank Ocean – Blonde

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It’s his second studio album. It was released on August 20.

The album features guest vocals from Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, André 3000, and production from Frank Ocean himself, as well as Pharrell Williams, Tyler, The Creator and more.

The album was supported by the single Nikes. It received widespread acclaim from critics and charted at number one on the US Billboard 200. The songs on the album were collectively streamed more than 65 million times, second behind the streams for Views by Drake during that week.

Favourite songs: Pink and white, Solo, Solo (Reprise), Self Control, Ivy, White Ferrari.

Next is Chance the Rapper with Coloring Book. I think many of you would agree.

6. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

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It’s his third mixtape, released on May 12, exclusively on Apple Music. It was produced by his group The Social Experiment, Lido, and Kaytranada, among others. Chance also collaborated with Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Ty Dolla Sign, Kirk Franklin, and the Chicago Children’s Choir.

It was the first album to chart on the Billboard 200 solely on streams, peaking at number eight, while receiving widespread acclaim from critics who praised its fusion of hip-hop and gospel sounds.

Described as “the first true gospel-rap masterpiece”. He is the first recording artist to have a streaming-only album to chart on Billboard.

It wouldn’t be a top 10 without the lyrical genius K.dot making an appearance.

Favourite songs: Juke Jam, Blessings, All We Got, Smoke Break.

7. Kendrick Lamar – Untitled unmastered  

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A compilation album released on March 4, it consists of previously unreleased demos that originated during the recording of Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly, continuing that work’s exploration of politically-charged and psychological themes, as well as its experimentation with free jazz, soul, avant-garde, and funk styles.

The album is based on his views on the struggle with issues of racism, identity and self-worth and the desire to possess the world or destroy it. Upon its release, the compilation album received acclaim from music critics, and it debuted atop the US Billboard 200.

I wouldn’t be true to myself or my love of music if I didn’t place De La Soul’s latest album up in the mix.

8. De La Soul – and the Anonymous Nobody

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Their ninth full-length album was released on August 26. It was described as one of the most thrilling, wide-ranging rap releases of the year. In their home country of the United States, it debuted at number 12 on the Billboard 200 marking the fifth highest debut of the week. It was the seventh best-selling album of the week, selling 21,000 copies. The album was the first De La Soul album to debut at number one on the Billboard Top Rap Albums. The album was also streamed 2 million times in the first week.

Favourite songs: Memory of, Greyhounds, Sexy Bitch, Exodus

These last two are very late entries only being released both on September 30. But after jamming them I just couldn’t leave them out, they are too good. First none other than Craig David.

9. Craig David – Following My Intuition

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His sixth studio album with 17 tracks on the deluxe edition. It’s his first in over six years.

It features the likes of Big Narstie, Blonde, Sigala, Hardwell and Kaytranada. It has his classic garage-tinged pop sound and slick R&B ballads which we all love.

Following My Intuition wastes no time cementing his new-found relevance, the opening three songs racing through EDM, garage and drum ‘n’ bass, and features the energised mash-up of Fill Me In and Where Are Ü Now. This album is destined to top all kinds of charts so watch this space.

Favourite songs: Got It Good, Couldn’t Be Mine, Sink or Swim.

And lastly… Solange. I can’t even deal with how good this album is. I’ve been listening to her since way back and this album I feel is the realest of all.

10. Solange – A seat at the Table

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Her third studio album was released on September 30. The album features collaborations with Lil Wayne, Sampha, The-Dream, BJ the Chicago Kid, Kelly Rowland, and Tweet among others.

In a statement, Solange described the new album as “a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing.” Raphael Saadiq was heavily involved,helping write many of the tracks.

Favourite songs: Don’t Touch My Hair, Cranes In The Sky, Mad, Weary.

 

Shoko Kurata
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