By Wes Davis
I had a lot of trouble deciding on the best albums from this exciting and emotional year for music. The deaths of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen represent the end of an era where artists stood behind their music, seen best by Bowie’s persona of Ziggy Stardust. However, we are starting to see a revival of this idea that the music can speak for itself. Look at Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, and Chance the Rapper’s gospel album, Coloring Book. Despite the modesty in some artists, we are reminded that fame exists and it is intoxicating. As I listened to Life of Pablo I could feel Kanye’s desire for redemption from the people and his knowledge that God’s grace can set him free from his sins. Life of Pablo goes from praising and thanking God in “Ultralight Beam” to pleading for forgiveness in “FML”.
Despite there being a plethora of great Indie albums this year, like Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, Whitney’s debut album Light Upon the Lake, Mitski’s Puberty 2 and many more, I kept finding myself coming back the Hip Hop and rap albums released this past year. From underground Chicago rappers like Joey Purp to Kanye. Without a doubt, 2016 is a big year for the hip hop scene. West Coast hip hop in the past year has been heavily influence by Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 To Pimp a Butterfly, prominently seen in Anderson Paak’s Malibu and Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade. Childish Gambino’s recently dropped album, Awaken, My Love has unexpected throwback sound for the young rapper, bringing the west coast groove and ’70’s rock to the hip hop scene, with his sound and his transition from “word-play” rap to this hip hop groove makes it one of my favorite albums this year. So it makes sense that many of Top 10 albums this year revolve around the hip hop genre.
- Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
- Bon Iver, 22, A Million
- Kanye West, Life of Pablo
- Solange, A Seat at the Table
- Frank Ocean, Blond
- Conor Oberst, Ruminations
- Anderson Paak, Malibu
- Noname, Telefone
- Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial
- Childish Gambino, Awaken, My Love