Say what you will about a lot of ish that happened last year but I think most would agree it was an amazing year for music. I’ve been jammin’ consistently through the ups and the downs. What? Trump ’bout to be president? Word well I’ma check out this new J. Cole. Say what? You breaking up with me? *Turns on Anderson .Paak, sings/dances the pain away*
Keep in mind I use the term loosely and all of these are not official studio albums. So in no particular order:
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Favorite Tracks: The Waters, Come Down, Silicon Valley
Let’s be honest, we all know it was the year of .Paak. Homie had a breakout year and dropped two fire albums and killed all his features. Malibu dropped in January and is still getting mad spins today like it just came out. I also had the pleasure of seeing him perform last year and it’s definitely going down as one of my favorite concerts of all time. This album is hip-hop, soul, funk, and much more. When this joint comes cross my playlist it’s mandatory that I turn into a Soul Train dancer.
Solange – A Seat at the Table
Favorite Tracks: Cranes in the Sky, Don’t Touch My Hair, F.U.B.U.
This was definitely one of the most talked about/acclaimed albums of the year and rightfully so. Solange has been my favorite Knowles for several years now. She was one of the very few non-rap albums that was getting play from me at the time Sol-Angel dropped. I really appreciate all she put into this album and I’m glad that Solange was able to get her just due with this project. And I’m the current state of race relations in this country helped attribute to that. But even outside of that, this is an amazing album through and through and I definitely have to give props for the skits with my ghetto hero Master P. This is inspiration.
Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love
Favorite Tracks: Redbone, Terrified, Stand Tall
Donald Glover had a huge year too. Dropping one of the greatest shows I ever seen, Atlanta, and then following up with this dope album. I truly had a hard time picking just my 3 favorite songs. Really the only song I don’t love on this album is California, I like it but it’s skip-able. But the album still gets play front to back. I know a few folks that don’t like it because he doesn’t rap on it and they’re not fans of funk, but I love it. I picked up where Donald was going with the first two singles and was all in. Clearly the funk has got a hold of me and it won’t let go. AAHH STAY WOKE!!
J. Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only
Favorite Tracks: Ville Mentality, Neighbors, 4 Your Eyez Only
Maaannnn!! Y’all just don’t know how hype I got when Cole dropped them two singles! Granted they’re not actually on the album (which makes sense, they don’t quite fit) it doesn’t matter because homie deliver big on this album. A beautiful dedication album that tells painful yet impactful story touching on important issues along the way. I wouldn’t have expected any less from the young GOAT. It may not be as “hype” an album as some folks may have wanted but everything is not meant to be party music. But at least you have Foldin Clothes to bump while you cater to your ol’ lady.
Nick Grant – A Seat at the Table Plus One
Favorite Tracks: Hair Care, Fubu
This is one of those projects that is not an album but it’s fire enough none the less. It’s a 4 track EP that’s a cover of sorts of Solange’s release. Nick (shouts out to the home state!) is definitely one to watch and I’m calling it already that he’s the best up and coming. Been watching him since he dropped the Royalty joint witch Cyhi and had the pleasure of attending a listening party for his upcoming debut a couple months ago. Let me tell you, I almost want to put that joint on this list for 2016, but I’ll have to wait for next year. If you haven’t heard of dude, this project will be a great intro into the type of lyricism and flawless flow to expect. Go check out his older project ’88 and then pick up Return of the Cool when it drops Jan. 13th.
Ab-Soul – Do What Thou Wilt
Favorite Tracks: Beat the Case, Lonely Soul, God’s a Girl
Soulo Ho! At one point in time all members of Black Hippy have been my favorite but Soul held the title the longest off the strength of Control System. His last album was a bit of a disappointment so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one but I ended up being very pleased. Soul has always been one to speak on theories and religion and that might be hard for some of faith to swallow. A large part of this album speaks on God being a woman, and the title itself is from an atheist, so I can see this as being “blasphemous” off rip for many. But you have to take that with a grain of salt because “aint nothin’ wrong with a righteous man.” D.W.T.W. delivers an introspective look into life, religion, and history to unpack as well as pushing some relatively feminist ideals but it may be hard for some to see that past the wrapping paper.
Noname Gypsy – Telefone
Favorite Tracks: Shadow Man, Reality Check, All I Need
Noname is someone I’ve heard (primarily through Chance and nem) but I just never paid attention to until this year (same goes for Eryn Allen Kane). She has my favorite part of all on Chance’s Coloring Book on the last half of “Finish Line/Drown.” But when my homie sent me “Diddy Bop” I immediately had to check out the whole project. It was one of those rejuvenating albums for me. So fresh and original, it gave me a natural high. I live for moments when I discover new music like this. I’m officially a Noname fan and I will keep my ears wide open for future releases.
Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
Favorite Tracks: Dressed Like Rappers, Wat’s Wrong, 4r Da Squaw
I’ll be honest, I was a bit surprised by how much I love this album. I like Isaiah but I wasn’t that concerned with his album release. But mayne, he came with the heat. Definitely has some head-nodders throughout. This is a perfect album to vibe out to and sip on some brown and do whatever. Write, play Mario Kart, politic with a lady, you can do whatever man! Shouts out to Chattanooga for coming through with the talent. Hopefully we’ll get something from his homie YGTUT this year.
Nipsey Hussle – Slauson Boy 2
Favorite Tracks: Ocean Views, Status Symbol 2, I Do This
Neighborhood Nip came through with a banger of a mixtape this year! (Low-key Crips needed that, Bloods been dropping too much heat lately) Nip will go on his Marathon Monday stints where he drops a new song every Monday for however long and we usually see these songs get tied together nicely on a mixtape at some point. So when I came across “I Do This” I was ready for the mixtape to drop (I don’t frequent hip-hop sites like I used to so I tend to miss a lot). Anyone that knows me knows I will always have a special place in my playlist for west coast gangbang rap. It’s some of the earliest rap I listened to outside of Sugarhill Gang. This joint has been getting consistent spins since it drop and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Esperanza Spaulding – Emily’s D+Evolution
Favorite Tracks: Judas, One, Elevate or Operate
Let me play you a sad song. I fell in love instantly when I randomly heard one of Esperanza’s songs a few years back. Been yearning to see her in concert ever since and finally had the opportunity last year. The show was pretty soon after this album’s release and I hadn’t gotten around to really checking it out. The sound of this album was a lil different ant I wasn’t ready for it yet. So I wasn’t too jazzed (sleight pun) about hearing it live. Around that time I was getting to know my soon to be ex. We planned to go out that night and I couldn’t get another ticket so I skipped the show. Initially I wasn’t too upset because I was love-struck at the time. It wasn’t until a little later when I realized how dope the album was that I started feeling regrets. Then when me and ol’ girl split some months later, I was really pissed at myself and still am. I’ma feel this way until I get a chance to see her again. I’m not missing that joint for nothing!
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here
Schoolboy Q – Blank Face
Rapsody – Crown
Terrace Martin – Velvet Portraits
Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine
D.R.A.M. – Big Baby D.R.A.M.
Khary – Intern Aquarium
Like – Songs Made While High
NxWorries – Yes Lawd
Termanology – More Politics
I know that’s basically another top 10 for honorable mentions, but like I said, it was a good year. Let me know what you thought of my list and what were some of your favorites?