Top 10 Pop/Rock/R&B albums of 2016
Honorable Mentions: The Dream - Jewel EP (unreleased); Ari Lennox - Pho; The Weeknd- Starboy; Tory Lanez- I Told You; Tinashe- Nightride; Alicia Keys- Here; Childish Gambino - Awaken My Love!
10) Beyonce - Lemonade
Beneath all the hysteria and high drama the Beyonce album of 2016 was one of her least memorable in terms of music, yet it still had undeniable jams like Sorry, All Night, and Freedom, the latter of which her live performance with Kendrick Lamar was indeed a moment worth remembering. In fact the live showcase of 'Lemonade' at the MTV Awards was indisputably the best live performance of the year, yet it still amplified the music to sound better than it actually was, as next to shock value the replay value doesn’t really compare. In comparison the Beyonce 'untitled' album of 2013 was lightyears better than this one, yet mainly due to the storyline involved this will still be remembered as one of her most successful albums.
9) Frank Ocean - Blonde
The long wait might not have been all the way worth it, as similar to Beyonce’s 'Lemonade' the plot that surrounded the music is what was really talked about, and today the mystique behind the artist is what anybody really remembers. Still there are definitely some good records on the follow up to 'Channel Orange' - an absolute masterpiece that this album inevitably does not compete with - such as Ivy, Self Control, and Nights that all serve as a firm reminder of why Frank Ocean is worth all the recognition in the first place. The problem with 'Blonde' however is the filler, as there’s a lot of it, and despite 15 minutes of pure magic it has 45+ minutes of skits, interludes, and music not worth mentioning.
8) Usher - Hard II Love
After a short hiatus this one was somewhat surprising, only because Usher’s been in the game for so long and for that reason most would think his prime is behind him. Yet sure enough Usher had the smash hit of the summer, as No Limit was a certified smash even if pop radio wasn’t checkin for it. Furthermore records like Need U, Missin U, Tell Me, Rivals, & FWM are all quality no matter if even urban radio markets overlooked them, and even while 'Hard II Love' will go down as Usher’s least commercially successful album, it was also one of the best secrets in R&B for the year.
7) NxWorries- Yes Lawd!
Pretty much anything Anderson Paak puts his voice to turns to gold, and this collaboration project with producer Knxwledge is certainly no different. Regardless if some likened it to a R&B mixtape (if it’s all original music than what’s the difference?), it’s ultimately 19 records of pure heat highlighted by records like Lyk Dis, Get Bigger / Do U Luv, Khadijah, Scared Money, Suede, Sidepiece, and Another Time just to name a few… In essence 2016 was the year of Anderson Paak, and this body of work definitely helped solidify that.
6) BJ The Chicago Kid - In My Mind
One of the best kept secrets in R&B, this Chi Town artist put out a damn good album this year that he definitely didn’t get enough credit for. The name BJ The Chicago Kid has been recognizable in Hip Hop and R&B for years, yet to many he didn’t have a signature album of his own, which is now a narrative that is no longer on the table. ‘In My Mind’ is a phenomenal album with inspired music up and down it, highlighted by records like Love Inside, Jeremiah / World Needs More Love, The New Cupid, Falling On My Face, and Turnin Me Up, all of which was indisputably some of the best music that 2016 had to offer.
5) Solange - A Seat at the Table
One artist that definitely did get the recognition she deserved this year was Solange, who once upon a time was only recognized simply as Beyonce’s lil sister, and now thanks to this release she’s definitely cemented her own spot right beside her. Introspective records like Mad, Don’t Touch My Hair, & Where Do We Go all exemplify the best of what the album has to offer, not to be outshined however by Cranes in the Sky - which without a doubt is a legit contender for song of the year out of any genre. Ultimately both Beyonce & Solange dropped an album in 2016, and despite the fanfare this is the first time it's safe to say that the lil sister really won.
4) Rihanna - Anti
🔥🔥🔥 Kiss Me Better 🔥🔥🔥 Work 🔥🔥🔥 James Joint 🔥🔥🔥Needed Me 🔥🔥🔥Same Ol Mistakes 🔥🔥🔥 Love On The Brain 🔥🔥🔥 the whole album is 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 and Rihanna is definitely in the prime of her career 😊😊😊
3) Eric Roberson & Phonte - Tigallerro
The actual best kept secrets in Rap & R&B is Phonte & Eric Roberson, and if you don’t know you better ask somebody. Both of these artists have been on the scene for years (Roberson as a solo artist and Tay for being ½ of Foreign Exchange - and even more notably ⅓ of Little Brother - along with being a solo artist himself), yet this collaboration is easily their finest work in years. Every single record on here is good, soul music with a twist of good Hip Hop (a classic combination not tapped into enough), yet the standout records have to be Grow This Love, My Kinda Lady, Waiting 4 Ya, & 3:45; all of which showcase infectious melodies that will be sure to make grown folks come correct with their best outfits for the occasion. In some ways the music feels like a culmination of each of their respective careers, and true to form they both came together and turned in an album that’s undeniable heat.
2) Anderson Paak - Malibu
As stated above 2016 definitely was the year of Anderson Paak, and unlike the hype behind 'Lemonade' or 'Blonde', 'Malibu' was far more under the radar yet it most definitely delivered. Paak flexes on this and it’s scary, this guy is dangerous, and after witnessing his live performances it’s clear that he’s able to showcase his musical talents in more ways than one. While every record is 🔥🔥🔥 in it’s own right, the stand out records have to be Am I Wrong and Liteweight, both of which alone makes ‘Malibu’ a legit contender for album of the year. This is clearly only the beginning for Paak however, and 2017 will likely see Paak cross over into enormous mainstream success.
1) Bruno Mars - 24K Magic
From beginning to the end it’s the perfect album, no other way to describe it. Bruno Mars created a masterpiece… one that legitimately puts him on an iconic level… where nevermind the previous billboard success… this has now crossed over into a real respect in music with timeless records like Versace on the Floor, Straight Up & Down, Callin All My Lovelies, Finesse, etc. etc. …this gives him a place in history amongst the greats… only right to salute this man Bruno Mars and major respect due to his production team Shampoo & Curl… '24K Magic' is officially the best album of the year.