When I heard about this one, I was excited. I mean, Gambino always played with several genres at once. So, hearing him go straight funk-rock on a project? Sign me up. AML was better than expected, still. It’s angry as hell and protest-worthy, but still aims to create peace and positive energy through music and love.
It’s new Maxwell, one of the original panty wetters. Do I really need to say more? It’s possibly his best albums (possibly, don’t shoot me for saying it). On top of that, it one of the best neo-soul-tinged albums I’ve heard in a minute. It’s beautiful without being cheesy. Plus, “Lake By The Ocean” is a panty-getter even though he’s not even trying. Additionally, it’s not just about getting the drawers, as Maxwell gives us an album that’s a pretty dope look into his world and the sequel world originally set up by BLACKsummers’night.
The Weeknd: Starboy
He did it. He finally fucking did it. The Weeknd went full supernova on Starboy, embracing the 80s as much as he does songs about coming down off a bag of blow and strippers. This project blows BBTM out of the water, in that it’s a lot more concise with its choices (while still giving us more music for our money). Sure, I don’t see people using “Sidewalks” or “I Feel It Coming” like they would, say, “Earned It.” But, the album is full of dancefloor-ready tracks, introspective looks at the price of fame, many religious overtones and The Weeknd embracing the pop stardom he’s received over the years while still remaining true to himself. Not too many artists can say that with a straight face. Well done, Abel. Well done, indeed.
I could’ve spat in the wind and picked out a True God piece just to be like “hey, DAR puts out dope-ass music, too. Let’s not forget about True, Ax, ‘Pollo, Speed, Dugee and the rest of the team.” But, nah. I actually listen to projects, friend or foe, and I then determine if it’s something I’ll ride out to for more than one or two sittings. Immortal Freedom contained a lot of elements that some of True’s other 2016 releases lacked. It’s a complete album that drops you off in the middle of the story. But like, say, Because the Internet, its own self-containment allows for a legitimately interesting story in its own right. We get True at his most-open since the D.O.A./SR2 days, talking about the effects family, friends, the lack of his daughter, and more are having on the DAR leader.. Plus, the man put two albums together on one project, just like After the Revival.
The album is classic in that it feels like that classic era Tribe, but still modern enough that it doesn’t have to rely solely on nostalgia. If you haven’t heard it, go do so. Now. Stop reading this piece and go listen to it below. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to hear Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar on an album which also features Elton John, this is the one for you.
Ab-Soul: Do What Thou Wilt.
Now, December 9th had a lot of heat drop. From Cole to Tech N9ne to Charles Hamilton, we got a lot of dope music. However, Ab-Soul’s project crept its way into my list because it’s unapologetic as hell about its messages. There’s a slew of philosophical and biblical imagery within this project that it takes several listens to completely unpack everything. On top of that, it’s Soulo (to me) at his best. I’ve found myself revisiting tracks off this project more over the past couple days than I’ve revisited some tracks this entire year.
The Chainsmokers: Collage EP
NxWorries: Yes Lawd!
Anything that Anderson .Paak touches turns into gold. He’s got the touch. But, this collaboration between him and Knxwledge is just…words don’t really describe it for me. So, I’ll just shut up and tell you to check it out.
Solonge: A Seat at the Table
You can’t talk 2016 without talking the sleeper hit of the year. No one was expecting Solange to drop an album this year, especially with, you know, Lemonade being a thing. But, Solange has never been one to stay along within the lines of convention. And because of that, A Seat at the Table is one of my favorite albums of the year. It’s sleek, it’s reflective, it’s floaty without being too dreamy. It’s damn near a perfect album for this year. It (like a lot of other albums this year) is revolutionary as hell and deserving of all the praise it’s received this year (and then some).