2016, oh 2016!?! At least you brought us some great music. The following records were our favorites this year. In no particular order, here are our ten…
Czarface – A Fistful of Peril
Inspectah Deck, 7L, and Esoteric continue to display amazing chemistry with their third album. Inspectah Deck has a post-Wu outlet for his talent and it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.
Highlights: Czar Wars; Dust
Elzhi – Lead Poison
Elzhi took quite a while to finish this Kickstarter funded album, but it was worth the wait. Lead Poison is introspective and creative. Who else would pen a story about becoming a bloodthirsty vampire?
Highlights: Two 16’s; Introverted
Skyzoo & Apollo Brown – The Easy Truth
Apollo Brown creates such a beautiful soundscape for Skyzoo. Simply a great listen from beginning to end.
Highlights: A Couple Dollars; Innocent Ambition
Royce 5’9 – Layers
After the heralded PRhyme project with DJ Premier and his work with Slaughterhouse, Layers is a very well crafted solo project by Royce 5’9.
Highlights: Tabernacle; Shine
Ugly Heroes – Everything in Between
Honest and thoughtful, it’s a delight to listen to Red Pill and Verbal Kent over another beautifully produced album by Apollo Brown.
Highlights: Today Right Now; Notions
Smoke Dza & Pete Rock – Don’t Smoke Rock
Pete Rock is simply superb on “Don’t Smoke Rock.”
Highlights: Black Superhero Car; Milestone
Masta Ace – The Falling Season
The 50 year old wordsmith continues to certify his legacy as one of the best. The beats on this album are a treat, as well.
Highlights: Mathematics: Story of Me
Torae – Entitled
This album stayed on rotation for much of the year. Solid album. Definitely one of our favorites.
Highlights: Imperial Sound; Get Down
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got if From Here…Thank you for Your Service.
A wonderful bookend to one of the greatest hip hop groups ever.
Highlights: We the People…; Whateva Will Be
Common – Black America Again
Common’s Black America Again is timely, soulful, and poignant. A true return to form.
Highlights: Home; Pyramids
Ras Kass – Intellectual Property: SOI2
A complete surprise. The beats on SOI2 serve as a proper platform to Ras Kass’ lyricism.
Highlights: Paypal the Feature; Constant Elevation
Okay, that was eleven.
These didn’t make the list, but are worth a listen:
Termanology – More Politics
There are a few great moments on More Politics (Just Politics, I Dream B.I.G., and We’re Both Wrong), but some of the beats and hooks are underwhelming.
Reks – The Greatest X
Too damn long, but there are an album worth of fantastic tracks on the 2016 release.