Written by Frequency 21
2016 ey. We are sure that many will not speak of 2016, similar to Vodlemort’s name in any Harry Potter film. Nonetheless, the world of music has been exceptional; opening up with the death of Bowie and later on in the year Prince, we’ve had musical artists across the spectrum tear down President Trump and even saw Frank Ocean come out of hiding. As music years go, this was quite a full and special one; imagine it’s something like a ‘leap year’ special with all the guest stars you could want.
We’ve whittled down the immense number of music this year to our top 10 albums of 2016. In no particular order, check them out below!
Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
MTV artist of the year, Kit Kat advert superstar and all round nice guy, Chance The Rapper is definitely worthy of a spot in our Top 10. From the sound of the gospel-inspired, church going rapper, to the ethos of his music (its all free!) and his amazing collaborations, Chance has taken 2016 and made it his little b***h. Not only has Chance paved a new way for emerging artists, who do not want to sell their music, to be recognised by the likes of the Grammy committee. Coloring Book is Chance’s third project, following on from Acid Rap, the real reason Chance shot to fame so very quickly.
Standout Tracks: No Problem (Ft Lil Wayne & 2Chainz) and All Night (Ft. Knox Fortune)
Credit: Chance The Rapper
Skepta – Konnichiwa
Purely on power of music and movement of a genre, Skepta’s Konnichiwa is definitely THE biggest album of 2016, especially from a British point of view. Before 2016, Grime was a fairly underground genre; you know if you know kind of atmosphere. For many Skepta fans who have recently joined the movement, the sound of Grime was very difficult to really access if you weren’t south of Nottingham. We can now say that by the end of 2016 Grime is accessible to millions over the world from the US to Japan and even the north of the UK! With features from Pharrell, A$AP Nast, Wiley, BBK and Chip; the album boasted the best of British talent, almost an ode to the grinders and also Grime’s ability to crossover and hit the mainstream in the UK and the US. It’s a dream many have had and Skepta’s ability to see it through only gives more hope for Grime artists all over the world.
Standout Tracks: Ladies Hit Squad (Ft. D Double E and A$AP Nast) and Man (Gang)
JMSN – It Is
Still a name that isn’t as huge as it should be, JMSN definitely won this year’s soul and R&B album challenge. A 13 track story of one boy’s transformation and coming of age, filled with pain, love, lust and sheer regret; you may need a tissue after listening to the whole thing. Pulling on classical strings, brass and keys to a more upbeat sound with kick drums and heavy bass, JMSN really proves his natural musical prowess and ability to really make any song his. Above all, it is in fact JMSN’s voice that sticks out throughout all of his music. Silky, smooth and full of sex; JMSN is the new Barry White, not as deep but with just as much emotion. Seeing JMSN live in Birmingham in November, really topped off our love for the singer and after his collaborations with the likes of Kaytranada and Kendrick Lamar, Ab-soul, Domo Genesis and Ta-Ku; 2017 will only be more of a masterclass from this talented musician.
Standout Tracks: Fuck U and Hypnotized
Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo
It’s difficult to know where to start with the words ‘Kanye’ and ‘2016’. From dropping one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year, to numerous beefs, befriending Donald Trump and cancelling a tour for psychiatric aid; it is safe to say that 2016 may not quite have been Yeezy’s year, but his latest effort, The Life Of Pablo managed to capture the hearts and souls of many, even turning some haters into lovers (but maybe haters again). The album was originally supposed to be called Waves and the name changes up until it’s release in February really kept fans on their toes. Finally, TLOP was available after a live stream of his launch in Madison Square Garden featuring Yeezy’s new clothing range. Although some may say the event fell slightly flat, the music was/is beyond lit. From features with the likes of Future, Chance, The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign and Kendrick Lamar; Yeezy has taken his seat as a producer and concocted something beautiful and inspiring, something beyond the facade of his celebrity. From Ultralight Beam’s gospel sound to Fade’s rhythmic tribal banging and Famous’ naughty lyrics, the album delivered on it’s promise for sure. The album has been nominated for several Grammys and deservedly so.
Standout Tracks: Ultralight Beam (Ft. Chance The Rapper and Kirk Franklin) and I Love Kanye
Bon Iver – 22, A Million
Contemporary indie-folk band Bon Iver released their long-anticipated album 22, A Million, back in September, and when we say long-anticipated, we mean Bon Iver had not released a full-length body of work since 2011, when they released the self-titled Bon Iver, so naturally the hype was real. 22, A Million was teased through the release of two singles in August, 22 (OVER S∞∞N) and 10 dEATh bREasT. These tracks gave us the general vibe of the album, which was a great stylistic shift from the moody ethereal guitar folk that we had been getting previously from the band. 22, A Million saw Bon Iver taking a much more experimental sound with their work. It relies heavily on electronic production and experimentation, with loops and samples structuring most of the tracks. Frontman Justin Vernon’s vocals are as beautiful as ever, sometimes being altered, tuned to different pitches, yet still evoking great emotion. To find out more, check out our review of 22, A Million here.
Standout Tracks: 10 dEATh bREast and 29 #Strafford APTS
Look out for Part 2 of our Top 10 Albums!