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The Year 2016 in Review
Author: Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

2016 was a terrible year for almost everyone I know. Yes there were bright spots, but if that wasn't an annus horribilus I don't know what is. Hip hop was never going to repeat the epic output that 2015 achieved, so with my realistic expectations in tow, I knew that most artists would probably sit this year out.

In truth, R&B probably had a far better year and infused elements of hip hop more successfully into multiple tapestries.

And so, 2016 gets a 6 out of 10 from me.

Peace and have a great 2017!

TOP 16 OF 2016

16) Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

To be honest, this was alright. If anything, I'm including it solely to highlight the fact that so many other publications have made it their album of the year. I don't get it, I really don't. I like Chance but (like J Cole) people are going OTT.

15) Drake - Views

I had to bump this constantly for the review I wrote. Since then? Not once. No spins. Nada. But there were some good songs and, obviously, some gigantic singles. It reminds me of Jay-Z's "Volume 2: Hard Knock Life" a bit - another album I simply never took to.

14) Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.

The fact that an album of out-takes from the best album of the previous year is still better than most of what came out in 2016 speaks volumes for the paucity on display over the past dozen months.

13) Skepta - Konnichiwa

I don't think this was the best UK rap album (see further down) but it was still a solid enough listen with some moments of inspiration.

12) Common - Black America Again

This was comfortably Common's best album for a decade. Easily. No debate. It's no classic but still a welcome return to form.

11) YG - Still Brazy

This was a solid album that I probably didn't give enough attention to at the time. I really liked his 2014 effort and this didn't have the brutal simplicity but brought enough to the table to warrant multiple listens.

10) Run the Jewels - RTJ3

It arrived on Christmas Day and pretty much obliterated a two-hour stretch of family feuds for thousands around the world. Not quite up to the previous LP but still keeps their remarkable run going, kind of like ATCQ in the early 1990s...

9) A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service

Speaking of which... This surpassed all of my expectations. A wonderful album, tribute and listen. So welcome, and that's putting aside all emotions. It is just dope.

8) Swet Shop Boys - Cashmere

A dope listen and awesome coming together of two incredibly different rappers. I LOVED spinning this, and clearly Riz has had one hell of a year.

7) M.I.A. - AIM

Everything that needed to be said can be referenced in my review, but let's just say this surpassed expectations and there is a lot of dopeness on display. If Maya leaves, we've lost a legend.

6) Rae Sremmurd - SremmLife 2

Some hate may flow my way for ranking this so high, but the genre we love is a multi-faceted one that appeals on so many different levels. Once again, they had a great year and achieved viral fame. Fun is allowed, especially when the world is going to pot around you.

5) Anderson Paak - Malibu

There can be no doubt that R&B (meshed with liberal infusions of hip hop) has had a far better year than rap. My top five will reflect this... This guy right here is a potential legend in the making, and there are multiple moments on "Malibu" which showcase his brilliance. He COULD be the Stevie of our generation. He is the hope.

4) Kanye West - The Life of Pablo

Yes, we are talking about a questionable human being who, at this point, is basically 80% trolling machine. But this was still an innovative and brilliant listen. If only he hadn't messed around with it so much, it may well have topped this list.

3) Kano - Made in the Manor

Damn fine album. Must listen. Nothing else to say.

2) Solange Knowles - A Seat at the Table

In a period of intense creativity in the black community, there have been some substandard "protest albums" - this was not one of them. So much better than "Lemonade" in every way, it hurts. We always suspected Solange had this in her.

1) Rihanna - ANTI

Best album this year. More hip hop than 90% of the rap releases in 2016. Rihanna is the captain of her own ship now, and it shows. This is a thousand times better than any of her previous seven albums, and it is THE album I've kept coming back to again and again. In fact, I'm writing this with "ANTI" on in the background. It's not even a perfect album, and that makes Rihanna 2.0 even more exciting as a prospect moving forward.

Originally posted: January 3, 2017

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