Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Our Thoughts :: Top Albums of 2016?

The annual tradition continues as with previous years.  A panel of 7, we all took some thought and finalized what made the cut for us individually.  Check out our Top Albums (projects) of 2016 after the jump!
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Don't judge me by my over all the place musical taste. As I have gotten older, I have learned to give all music a chance. If you listen to it with a open mind may find something you like.  With that said, here are my 2016 Top Albums....

1. Chance ~ Coloring Book

2. Dave East ~ Kairi Chanel

3. Fabolous ~ Summertime
Shoot out 2
4. Lil Uzi Vert ~ The Perfect Luv Tape
5. Donald Glover ~ Awaken My Love

Honorable mentions

The LOX ~ Filthy's beautiful

J-Cole ~ 4 Your Eyez Only


I’ve started this list like 5 times. 2016 was a weird year for music… there was a lot of albums that I was looking forward to but ultimately was underwhelmed with and a lot of stuff that at the beginning of the year that wasn’t on my radar that ended up blowing my mind. So I’ve been trying to figure out how best to order the list. I think I’ll start with the 5 best albums (in no particular order) that just hit for me, and then I’ll round it out with the 4 albums that for me came out of nowhere and really blew me away.

Top 5:

Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered. 
In what probably comes as no surprise to anyone whose bothered to read my list the last few years (admitted Kendrick Stan) this worked for me for a number of reasons. One, I’m an artist the process of workshopping a song, recording different ideas and variations and understanding the beauty of what gets left on the editing room floor plus the loosies Kendrick had been dropping in his TV appearances made this hype of the year for me. I was so excited to listen and it did not disappoint. Although I will say as far as the recorded versions of the TV stuff as with most things I prefer the live version still.

 Anderson Paak – Malibu
Having just really been turned on to Anderson at the beginning of the year (late I know) … I was ultra-excited to find out he had something coming out soon. Malibu was perfect for my growing Paak fandom. Musical, sonically eclectic and produced in recorded wonderfully. It was exactly what I was looking for out of the album and stayed in heavy rotation for a long time.

 Big Krit – XII/XII
Yeah Yeah it’s a mixtape but I was majorly excited about it and DAMMIT was this exactly what I needed from my favorite underrated Southern Artist. This freebie I would have paid for more than once the very few things are to me derivative and at the same time amazingly fresh. Krit to me is one of those things, building on the backs of the amazing southern artist and producers that came before him Krit’s sound is lush as shit. It’s thick, and to me it smells like an after hour’s joint and good dank. His stories are vivid varied and layered. This was a good album.

Rihanna – Anti
In what will probably go down as my standout pick of the year…. This is an album I went to with strictly my DJ Hat on looking for what was gonna bang for the summer, and came away with thoroughly and pleasantly excited about everything on the album that wasn’t a party joint… In what might be one of the most honest moments of an amazingly honest and in your face career I point you to James Joint (shouts to Fauntleroy). Took just short of 2 mins for her to have a more real song and moment than many artist ever hit.

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
So in what will go down as probably the most hyped album of 2016, this was a bit of a rough album for me. I freely admit I left Kanye Island right around Yeezus (while I can see the genius, it just didn’t have the same appeal to me). So here’s my take away from this album. Musically productions wise while parts of it feel unfinished I loved every bit of it. There was sample flipping galore on this record not to mention that the mixing even if unfinished was better than most people dream of achieving… Lyrically it was…. it didn’t reach me… and in hindsight now it def seems like his first cry that something wasn’t quite right in his world. But in a moment of meta and music nerd glory I love Kanye might be one of the most enjoyable self-deprecating and at the same time obnoxiously arrogant interludes of all time.

Top 5 WTF was that and why didn’t know about it sooner list:

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
Where was this dude … and why didn’t he do this sooner… I have been a casual listener to Bino since the beginning nothing he had every grabbed me grabbed me but I thought it was cool. This shit right here nigga… hit my head and wouldn’t let go. I am a huge Funk fan, a huge George Clinton fan, and while I might not be old enough to truly have enjoyed them in all their mothership glory… This for me was how you pay homage. I’m not sure where he was in his head or what possessed him to make this record but I’m glad he did… and I hope he does a couple more just like it.
Game – 1992
In what really shouldn’t have been a surprise to me (I have never really been a huge Game fan) this was a wonderfully thought out album that I only picked up because a friend up mines did some production work on it. It sounds like 1992 it feels like 1992 and Game is at his best in my opinion. While it didn’t get a bunch of shine this was a great album.

Solange – A Seat at the Table
While the over composition of this album wasn’t much of a surprise, I’ve been aware of Solange’s body of work for some time. The depth of this album the thought put into the composition and the interlude interviews, just really took me for a loop, and truly enhanced the record.

Tory Lanez – I Told You
This was more a surprise to me cause I didn’t see it from the singles. I thought this was just another radio joint. But after really diving in it and giving it some listens this one for me, was the R&B 2016 needed.

 Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
Man was this a breadth of Fresh Air. Chance did the damn thing on this record. It’s relatable but amazingly personal. Its spiritual, it sounds great. You can hear the name in the songs each one has a different color to its tone, and lyrically its strong. This was a wonderful addition to the summer for me.

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(In this order)
1. ScHoolboy Q- Blank Face

(The two albums are neck to neck, but I'll give it to Ye because the production was insane)
2. Kanye West- Life of Pablo

3. Chance The Rapper- Coloring Book
4. Dave East- Kairi Chanel
5. Solange- A Seat at the Table (Yea yea, sleep if you want, this album goes)

Honorable Mentions
J. Cole- 4 Your Eyez Only (Dope album, but it came out soooo late in the year that it can't be in the top 5)

Rae Sremmurd- SremmLife 2

Rihanna- Anti

1. Fabolous- Summertime Shootout 2

2. Big K.R.I.T- 12 For 12

Top Songs (No Particular Order)
1. Rae Sremmurd- Black Beatles
2. Desiigner- Panda
3. DJ Luke Nasty- OTW (The Tony Toni Toné sample was crazy!!!!!)
4. Jeezy- All There
5. Lil Uzi Vert- You Was Right

7. Fat Joe & Remy Ma- All The Way Up
8. DJ Khaled & Drake- Free (Goes...Plus I also have a hop to it)
10. Tory Lanez- LUV (How he flipped the "Everyone Falls in Love" joint)


Rap Albums
Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 3

Travi$ Scott - Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight

Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
J. Cole - 4  Your Eyez Only

 A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

Royce da 5'9" - Layers

Honorable Mentions 
Bas - Too High To Riot

The Game - 1992

Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
Big K.R.I.T. - #12For12

Lloyd Banks - All Or Nothing: Live It Up

G-Unit - The Lost Flash Drive

Fabolous - Summertime Shootout 2 [The Level Up]

Twenty 88 - Twenty 88
Childish Gambino - "Awaken, My Love!"
The Weeknd - Starboy

BJ The Chicago Kid - In My Mind

dvsn - Sept. 5th


Top 5
1) Schoolboy Q- Blank Face
2) Kanye- Life of Pablo & Beyonce- Lemonade tied

3) Drake - Views

4) Ab Soul- Do What Thou Wilt

5) Tory Lanez - I Told You

Honorable Mention
Big Sean &Jheno Aiko- Twenty88

1) Meek - DC4
2) Dave East - Kairi Chanel
3) Future - Purple Reign

4) Wale - Summer On Sunset

5) Jacquees - Mood

Honorable Mention 
Fab Summertime Shootout PT. 2

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1. Don't Smoke Rock by Smoke DZA & Pete Rock 
 a supremely slept on project that needs more rotations in the whip. S/O to DEHH. Wanna hear one of Rick Ross' best guest verses of 2016? Listen to "Black Superhero Car."

2. Malibu by Anderson .Paak
Soulful. Groovy. Even a lil' bit raunchy. .Paak covered all his bases & dropped something truly meaningful. 

3. Blank Face LP by ScHoolboy Q 
listening to this one took me on a emotionally charged trip to the West Coast. The production throws in a nice blend of dark, moody tunes and gangsta boogie beats.  

4. Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight by Travis Scott 
I'm a sucker for Travis Scott ad-libs, bass heavy soundscapes and a collection of the best the South has to offer. "PICK UP DA PHONE BABAY...IT'S LIT!"

5. 99.9% by Kaytranada 
 producer extraordinaire Kaytranada knows just how to lessen a brotha's stress with his brand of music. Listen to "Bus Ride" while you're riding the bus. You'll zone out so hard, fam...


1. Thirst 48 Part II by Boogie

2. Summer on Sunset by Wale 

3. Crown by Rapsody 

4. Famous Lies and Unpopular Truths by Nipsey Hussle  
5. Bobby Tarantino by Logic 

1. Wait A Minute by PHresher feat. Dah Dah and Curly Savv  
2. Two Days by Boogie
3. Used to This by Future feat. Drake



I agree with Stix.  I was underwhelmed with a lot of albums this year..  However.. the ones that made MY cut are albums I related to.   I could FEEL them.  I felt they felt ME.  
I normally do only 3 favorites from an album, but some I couldn't narrow down.  

Top 5

Tie 5.  I'm a Piece of Shit- Father
"Why don't you love me daddy? *moan"
That's how it starts off.  What can I say?  I enjoy randomness and a certain kind of filth.  A certain kind I can't think of a word to describe it.  At the same time, Father makes it so swaggy.  I enjoyed this album.  At one point in time, this got constant rotation on my end.  It, ironically, was a calm.
"Hate everyone.. but I'ont wanna be alone".
  Favorites ::  Why Don't U, Big Emblem Benz, Lanes.

Tie 5.  A Moon Shaped Pool- Radiohead
"Dreamers.... they never learn."
It had been nearly 10 years since they've released another album and with all their old cuts I listen(ed) to nearly daily, I was excited about this.  They've still got IT and didn't disappoint.  Overall, it had a set tone of that reflecting the album cover.  Gray.  Melancholy.  From 1992- present, #ThomYorkeKnows.  The sentiments are real.  "Broken hearts can make it rain..."
Favorites ::  Burn the Witch, Daydreaming, Decks Dark, Identikit, and finally a studio version of True Love Waits.

4.  Indigo- River Tiber
"I've been floating soooo high.  No, I'm not coming down".  
Cosmic and euphoric.  Often times, it would take me to a comforting place away from reality.  I can listen with my eyes closed and not have the urge to open them for a split second..  Lost in another atmosphere realm.  Floating.  "I cannot show you the way... we are on different planes."
Favorites :: Acid Test, Motives, Flood.

Tie 3.  The Colour in Anything- James Blake
"I'd rather you choose me everyday".  
I was fond of Blake's amazing voice before, but I honestly can't tell you what led me to listen to this album.  I normally stray away from most feelings shit and won't even bother to give those types of albums a listen.  However, I was blown away with this album as it had a different approach from what I thought.  From start to finish... the penmanship and sounds were mesmerizing; Pain and love beautifully executed.  Besides the fact that to present, I've played Modern Soul 33747485 times.... this album deserved recognition at all heights.
"I had no idea... the difference between.. the way I saw your face.. and the way it was."
Favorites :  Modern Soul, Choose Me, Radio Silence, Points, Love Me in Whatever Way, Always.

Tie 3.  Lemonade- Beyonce
"You'll never recreate her, No."
You could not tell me I didn't write this album (with the exception of Daddy Lessons, Sandcastles, and All Night).  Her music is normally empowering, but this form of liberation I most appreciated.  "She worth every minute".  From the cultural tracks, to the unapologetic moments of 'talking shit but can back it up', to the moments of addressing heartache.  This was le shit.  And the visuals to match?  Just as powerful and captivating.  While I can't listen to it through its entirety, I was in a random slump for a few reasons at that time.. and Lemonade pulled me right out of it.  
"I'mma keep on running cause a winner don't quit on themselves."  
Favorites :: Don't Hurt Yourself, 6-inch, Freedom.

2.  99.9%- Kaytranada.
"You see me shining nigha!?"
Talk about a feel good album.  It makes me want to dance.  It makes me reflective.  It makes me happy.  The track listing order was perfect.  No matter what mood I'm already in.. 99.9% is elevation in a good way.  Oh and btw Ellz...I've listened to 'Bus Ride' many a time on my train rides to and from work.  The zone is definitely a one of a kind experience.  "I do it for the thrill... for the rush". 
Favorites :: The entire album 

1.  Do What Thou Wilt- Ab Soul
"We don't wanna hear that wack shit no more!"
Exactly how I was feeling before hearing this.  Soul showing his eyes on the cover said enough.  HARD.  "I'm too emotional for that, but I don't show it".  After listening to this album, I was actually compelled to comment on Soul's IG photo and thanked him.  The lyrics and word play are unmatched.  Nice selection of production too.  Not one song seems out of place.  Personally, this album spoke my thoughts, feelings, personality, raunchiness and sentiments.  The resonation is pretty deep.  I truly felt.. someone gets it!  "They ain't me.. and I ain't them".  The moment I heard 'Lonely Soul'.  The double entendre just to have the Angie Stone 'Brotha' flip for a song about 'The Law' of life follow.  It's unparalleled.  THANK YOU, Soul-lo.  Can't wait for this tour..  See ya then.  "She got the whole world in her hands..."
Favorites :: Too many to narrow down

Wild Card

1992- The Game
"Ask yourself... what color is the flag ? {red, white, and blue}.  Now what two colors did we pick?  I'm talkin bout, we, as black people.  What two colors?  Think about it!  We picked red and blue.   What's left?  White!  You damn right nxgha.  We killin each other homie....."  
This album surprised me all the way.  The Game is very capable of making good albums, as he has done before, but this particular one is in a different class.  The title, artwork, and songs all tie into each other.  A story (still relevant today) is told.  I separate 'conscious rap' and 'real shit' because of how each is delivered.  I'll use a quick example.  Lauryn's 'How you gon win when you ain't right within' (conscious) can easily be turned into (real shit) by 'How you gon win homie when ya fucked up on the inside?'.  I wrote that to explain my logic of the two.  If you didn't get it then, you'll grasp it later (*refers to My Cardi B and Beyonce reference).  This was a nice blend of both.  Not only a sweet selection of production complementing the story telling, but this album has a feel.  I couldn't figure out exactly where to place it on my top 5, so I gave it its own category.  This album bangs.  Truly a standout.

Honorable Mentions:

Malibu- Anderson. Paak
His voice is so distinct. I love it.  This was a good year for him.  His career just keeps on rising.  
"Your Heart don't stand a chance".  
Favorites : The Bird, Without You, Your Prime, Put Me Thru, Heart don't stand a chance..

Carrollton Heist- Currensy
Set the scene.  This dropped when the bad snow storm hit.  Obviously, we couldn't drive, BUT you know the corner stores were open.  So... I made my rounds of walking to that, the carry out, and the Grocery Store all with this on repeat.  It is perfect for gray weather.  Chill.  "Let me out right here " 
Favorites :: Black Rally Stripes, Vibrations, Disappearing Ink, Inspiration, Fat Albert, Mack book, 500 pounds of Gas.

Passion, Pain, and Demon Slayin- Kid Cudi
I was really liking this album and then it went downhill for me lol.  It was almost as if I was listening to a 2 disc project.  With that being said.. I enjoy disc one. lol (add 'Surfin' and 'The Guide' though).  That 'Releaser' hit my soul so hard.  I wasn't ready.  "My eyes are glowing mood rings you're boring".  
Favorites :: Releaser, By Design, Frequency, The Guide, Distant Fantasies, Baptized in Fire.

Purple Reign- Future
THIS should have been the album instead of the other.  Crankage with some hidden gem quotes in between.  "I dedicated every damn thing to this".  
Favorites :: Wicked, Never Forget, Salute, Bye Bye, Run Up, No Charge

Blank Face- Schoolboy Q
I'm not a fan of the album in its entirety.  The few songs I like tho are FLAMES.  John Muir and the dopest verse I've heard 40 water Fonzarelli ever spit was on this album.  It had to make this post for those alone.  "Bailing through the muthafxckin street ya'll".  
Favorites :: John Muir, Dope Dealer, Overtime, Torch, Lord Have Mercy, Groovy Tony, That Part.  

Life of Pablo- Kanye
The anticipation was high.  The presentation was crazy.  To sell out Madison Square Garden for a listening party!?  Hype.  Nuts.  When I FIRST heard this album, I was blasting it.. grooving.. washing the dishes.  cleaning.  having a moment.   Within a week,  I hated it.  Couldn't stand to hear it and didn't listen for months; I'll spare you why.  It was no denying on my end that the Pastor T.L. Barrett sample was still supreme, but I had no desire to revisit Pablo.  To fast forward and summarize, I was out somewhere and heard 'Fade'.  Spidey senses were tingling.  What is this!?!?  Talk about a JAM.  I heard it again somewhere else and decided to revisit this album that had been since re-released with a new tracklisting order and  new songs and/or version of them.  Much much better!  I still only like half of the songs, but 'Fade' and 'Saint Pablo' brought me back.   

and well like I said, that Pastor T.L. Barrett is still supreme...

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