Best EPs of 2016

EPs are to albums what starters are to main courses. Or, at least, that’s how it has traditionally been. These days, EPs take all kinds of forms, from two-track 12” records to mini-albums.

In the past, I’ve included selected EPs within my main album round-up. Now it’s time I gave these releases a spotlight of their own.

Soultress Lianne La Havas, house artists Disclosure and Snakehips, rapper Lizzo, enigmatic R&B singer Abra, and so many more have released some superb EPs. As always, I wanted to include more – especially the aforementioned artists, as I have had many of their tracks on repeat this year. But here’s my choice selection of 10 which have stayed with me, and all offer something special in their own right.

10. Sinead Harnett – Sinead Harnett EP
9. Flawes – Ctrl EP
8. Shakka – The Island EP
7. Throwing Shade – House of Silk EP
6. Marie Dahlstrom – 0.0 EP
5. Kojey Radical – 23Winters EP
4. Jodie Abacus – For Real Life and Not Pretend EP
3. Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW EP
2. Jorja Smith – Project 11 EP
1. Kesley Lu – Church EP
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Common – Black America Again review

The ever-dramatic race for the White House was more controversial than ever this year – and we all know how it ended now. But the arrival of the 2016 US Presidential Election was also the chief reason behind Chicago rapper Common releasing his eleventh studio album, Black America Again. It’s an invigorating record for the turbulent times that America, and the world, are facing. Continue reading

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

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition review

Danny Brown is one of hip hop’s comfortable outsiders. Atrocity Exhibition is the Detroit rapper’s fourth studio album. It is a bizarre ride through Brown’s mind that’s dark and raucous, but also adventurous and challenging. Continue reading

Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade review

Isaiah Rashid had his sights set on becoming a preacher before his stepbrother’s copy of OutKast’s ATLiens led him into the wild and wicked world of hip hop. A member of the Black Hippy collective, and stable mates with fellow Top Dawg signees, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar, Rashid’s sublime EP, Cilvia Demo, set the wheels in motion for this a much-anticipated full-length debut.

Considering the personal and professional struggles the rapper has since admitted he was facing during its creation, it’s a wonder that he finished The Sun’s Tirade at all – let alone to such a compelling level of quality. Continue reading

Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered review

Kendrick Lamar was the man of the moment in 2015. To Pimp a Butterfly was a masterclass of conscious rap addressing the extreme racial discrimination that continues to play out in the US, and beyond. Untitled Unmastered isn’t a follow-up: it’s a collection of polished demos and experiments that are powerful and additive in their own right. 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

Ray Blk – Durt review

Ray Blk is a badass. The south London MC and singer has been honing her skills in the school of life, and came through this year with scorching songs that have won her plaudits galore, including MOBO nominations as well as a place on the BBC Sound of 2017 list. Continue reading