Best Of 2016
Anthony Hamilton What I’m Feelin’ Hamilton’s seventh studio album stuck to his throwback style and delivered a fulfilling collection of 12 songs. The Hamiltones, his backup vocalists, added to the album and raised their own profile with fun videos like their quick creation of “Put Some Respeck On It” in response to the viral interview given by Birdman.
Ro James Eldorado Ro James’s Eldorado had fans calling him D’Angelo for the Millennials. But James’ sound owes more to hip-hop and soul than the church and the appeal of his G-Funk styled “Permission” drew several listeners into an album that needed no fast forward option on their player of choice.
Beyonce Lemonade Beyonce’s Lemonade was a great pop triumph that even had a country song. The excitement of “Formation” and the whole album was added to with the well-executed Lemonade videos.
Solange A Seat At The Table Solange unapologetically celebrated Blackness with one of the best R&B albums of the year. Sampha, Master P., Questlove, Q-Tip and Raphael Saadiq are some of the artists who contributed to Solange’s Black bohemian R&B paradise.
Maxwell blackSUMMERS’night Maxwell’s blackSUMMER’s night is the second in a trilogy and comes after a six-year break. The falsetto is all grown up and matched well to songs that haven’t endeared him to fans as much since his debut Urban Hang Suite.
Corinne Bailey Rae The Heart Speaks In Whispers The Heart Speaks In Whispers is the follow-up to 2009’s The Sea and Bailey Rae treads deeper emotional ground. She also had the fortune to write the beautiful “Do You Ever Think Of Me” with Valerie Simpson.
Ugly Heroes Everything In Between Apollo Brown, Verbal Kent and Red Pill personified the sound of the midwest with reality raps, old soul samples and the dim ambiance that comes from having winter four months out of the year.
A Tribe Called Quest We Got From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service ATCQ achieved the miraculous feat of returning to music after 18 years with their sound completely intact and contemporary. The album is their Swan Song with the late Phife Dawg and they effectively address politics and love with their standard rhythmic ingenuity. Andre 3000’s guest appearance demands a new Outkast album.
De La Soul and The Anonymous Nobody… De La Soul’s and The Anonymous Nobody… was completely funded by fans in 2015 and the album came out a year later. Snoop Dogg, Damon Albarn and Estelle are a few of the artists who appeared on the project and help create the group’s ninth album. The hour-long journey proves that De La Soul is still inspired and not done yet.
Omar I Want It To Be It’s been three years since The Man and anything new from Omar was overdue. I Want It To Be is a four-song EP of Omar’s trademarked ’70’s soul meet world rhythms sound. The EP is an appetizer for his eighth studio album that had an original release date for the fall.
Tall Black Guy Let’s Take A Trip Tall Black Guy pledges allegiance to the groove and revels in building them with elements of funk, soul and minimal jazz. The trip is a cerebral daydream, a car ride and people dancing close and slow on the dancefloor.
Eric Roberson and Phonte Tigallerro Frequent collaborators Phonte and Eric Roberson made a perfect R&B album for the summer. Whether rapping or singing both of them approach romance with care and a little humor. On the sonic front, they use a lot of ’80’s music for their foundation.
Common Black America, Again Common dedicated the whole album to the state of Black America and addresses everything from slavery to Black love. Syd, Karriem Riggins and Stevie Wonder are a few of the artists who grace Common’s vision for a better Black world.
Childish Gambino Awaken, My Love! Donald Glover’s rap alter ego brings P-Funk and Prince to the Millennials with a blatant love for Parliament-Funkadelic. Awaken, My Love! moves in the opposite direction of Because The Internet and holds tight to Funkadelic’s ’70’s output.
Bruno Mars 24K Magic Bruno Mars brings ’80’s funk and R&B into 2016 and succeeds at having a good time instead of being stuck in the conventions of the time.
Chance The Rapper Coloring Book Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book used gospel and jazz as the bed for its inspirational messages. The Chicago rapper set a new standard with Coloring Book because it earned extraordinary attention from the music industry for an independent album.
Oddisee The Odd Tape Oddisee accomplishes the rare feat of making an interesting instrumental project. Explorations of jazz and soul come together and easily flow into a relaxing beat tape.
Stephen Marley Revelation Part 2: The Fruit Of Life Stephen Marley’s Revelation Part 2 consciously courts hip-hop, ’60’s soul and a bit of dance music. Marley is keen to collaborate with other artists without losing his credo and sound. Waka Flocka gives a surprise standout performance that makes Revelation Part 2 that much more memorable.