Best albums of 2016: top 10

Here we go. The top 10. Every one of these albums is a veritable buffet of sounds and sensations. There’s love, there’s soul, there’s rhythms and words to help you reach higher.

A special mention must go to Xylaroo for their debut album, Sweetooth, which appears to be the best 2016 album practically no one has heard.

What have your albums of the year been? Tweet me with your thoughts via @aarnlee.

10. Xylaroo – Sweetooth
9. Skepta – Konnichiwa
8. Nao – For All We Know
7. Frank Ocean – Blonde
6. Shura – Nothing’s Real
5. Billie Marten – Writing of Blues and Yellows
4. Alicia Keys – Here
3. Solange – A Seat at the Table
2. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
1. Anderson Paak – Malibu
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Best albums of 2016: 50 to 41

This year’s albums of the year round-up kicks off with R&B hot sauce, fuzzy garage rock, smooth jazz and hypnotic 80s-influenced pop. Here we go…

50. Exmagician – Scan the Blue
49. Daughter – Not to Disappear
48. Rihanna – Anti
47. NxWorries – Yes Lawd!
46. Katy B – Honey
45. Hinds – Leave Me Alone
44. Gregory Porter – Take Me to the Alley
43. Kaytranada – 99.9%
42. Boulevards – Groove!
41. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
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A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service review

A Tribe Called Quest are one of the pillars of 1990s hip hop, with hits such as ‘Electric Relaxation’, ‘Award Tour’ and, perhaps their biggest crossover, ‘Can I Kick It?’. Work on this album, Quest’s first album in 18 years, and their final, had been underway when member Phife Dawg passed away on March 22, 2016.

This loss shook the world of music, and, understandably, the remaining Quest members – Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White – are still coming to terms with it. However, in Q-Tip’s words, armed with Dawg’s “blueprint of what we had to do”, the Quest members reformed, tapped up old friends, such as Busta Rhymes, as well as the likes of Talib Kweli, André 3000, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak, and have delivered a sublime hip hop buffet. Continue reading

Kaytranada – 99.9% review

Kaytranada is only 24 years young, but already this Canadian whiz kid has been become one of the most sought-after producers of the moment. His debut album, 99.9%, includes features from GoldLink, AlunaGeorge, Syd tha Kyd, Anderson Paak, Vic Mensa and others. It’s a moreish album held back by some slight, but noticeable, structural flaws. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: GoldLink – See I Miss Pt 2 (ft. Marsha Ambrosius)

GoldLink - See I Miss Pt 2 (500x281)It’s a been another heavy in an especially sober year. Compiling a playlist of activism songs is not far from my mind at this point in time. I fully intend to share thoughts on some albums and songs that can help one get there mind together amid all this ongoing chaos. Soon…

Right now, though, the new music bullet train is speeding on. This week’s pick is US rapper GoldLink. Continue reading

NxWorries – Yes Lawd! review

NxWorries (Anderson Paak & Knx), 2015 (1914x1072)An album like Yes Lawd! does not come around every year. It’s a collaboration between Anderson Paak and Knxwledge, two tirelessly creative musicians who, as Stones Throw puts it in the album’s liner notes, are no “stranger to the head-down hustle”. Both are in heavy demand right now, having worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Dr Dre, and released their own solo work (Malibu, Hud Dreems) to great acclaim. So Yes Lawd! is a special bonus. Paak and Knx have put together a 19-track mix of songs, skits and snippets for you to kick back and chill. Continue reading

Anderson Paak – Malibu review

Anderson Paak, Facebook, Nov 7, 2015 (960x540)Anderson Paak’s Malibu is incredible. This multi-disciplined singer, rapper, songwriter and producer has been living a breakout year, appearing on tracks by Schoolboy Q, Kaytranada, Snakehips and Mac Miller to name but a few. Malibu, with its flavoursome grooves and relatable hooks, is the type of album you’ll want to listen to from end-to-end, and shout about to all your friends. Continue reading