Guest Post: Top 5 Albums of 2016

Before I go any further, I have to point out that “theread” is already taken by Kid Fury and Crissle with their fantastic podcast “The Read”. Great podcast by the way, which I recommend to anyone who wants to add another podcast to their listening schedule. Thought I’d get that out the way now —and no, pronouncing it “thread” and having a .ca domain doesn’t abscond you from what you’ve done. And “you” know who you are.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that 2016 was a year in which we lost a number of artists who truly embody the phrase “G.O.A.T”.... but you’re here for the list:

5. PartyNextDoor, PartyNextDoor 3

PartyNextDoor’s (aka PND, Party, P, Jahron Brathwaite, and Do-rag Jesus) selection in the top 5 isn’t solely for his PartyNextDoor 3 project. PND can easily be considered the most stabilizing R&B factor when it comes to the OVO Sound™. Since Nothing Was The Same, PND has been responsible for the most notable R&B tracks on various subsequent projects. On his own accord, PND’s numbered iterations carry a particular rhythm and vibe that goes further than any mainstream Drake project. While it might be odd to mention Drake here, it kind of goes along the line of “give credit where credit is due.” It’s a cruel world where the man who wrote “Work” needs the help of MuchFACT to fund his own videos. Now you tell me who is “Not Nice”?

4. Frank Ocean, Blond(e)

Frank has ducked the masses for the greater part of the 4 years between Channel Orange and Blond, and social media quickly tired of the constant hoax release dates for his second album. But where any other artist would’ve been slandered through and through for it, not Frank. It felt like once everyone heard “Nikes” all was forgiven. On top of that, another appearance from Andre 3000 affirms, once again, Frank Ocean’s place in musical hierarchy.

3. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book

The first time I heard “Ultralight Beam” in early February, my first inclination was that this could be Chance’s year. While Kanye allowed Chance to have a platform on a masterpiece of a song. Chance made a masterpiece of an album. He changed the Grammys’ rules to allow for a more inclusive approach to which albums can be considered for one of the most highly coveted awards in music. The album is filled with an addictive mix of uplifting gospel and hip-hop — you can’t help but imagine the sun rays and the breeze flowing through the car with “No Problem” blasting on all the speakers.

2. A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from here….Thank you 4 your service

18 years later and a Chappelle-hosted SNL gave us a new ATCQ album. After the week that was in early November, getting a new dose of ATCQ felt nostalgic. This is a quintessential ATCQ album, which, coming 18 years after their last release, is no small feat. The idea of Phife Dawg spitting bars with bite and Q-Tip commenting on the current state of affairs, rapidly trading verses on top of classic east coast/jazzy beats, is exactly what we needed in 2016.

1. Solange, A Seat at the Table

Last year, I chose Kendrick Lamar’s How to Pimp a Butterfly as my album of the year. The racial injustices against black men ignited a fire among those who are oppressed. Several of Kendrick’s tracks were used as a rallying cry for the black experience and how truly beautiful and powerful it is. This year, Solange’s A Seat at the Table provides a similar, but more subdued take on matters. But don’t take ‘subdued’ to mean anything less than powerful. The soulfulness found throughout this album is calming, but packed with a sense of urgency. Narration by Master P helps set the table for this album of the year. 

- Aaron Samuel

Amy Sanderson14/12/16, Guest Post