By Cameron Deuel
My “Best of 2016” Google Doc has three tabs: 1. To Listen, 2. Best of, and 3. Rations (my monthly music newsletter). (my monthly music newsletter). In the past six months, dozens of new albums, mixtapes, EPs, and singles have been fed through columns, some graduating from one tab to another, in an effort to concentrate the finest works of the year into one list.
I’ve tried to summarize my music taste for years with a scatter-shot of mish-mashed genres and by attempting to find the perfect triangulations via household names, but the truth is that I’m addicted to perspective. My two favorite releases of the year are perfect examples.
Lemonade floats above the rest of my list like Heaven over Earth because it’s an ambitious, fully realized body of work that requires its listener to excavate modern day issues and audit their own disposition. I’ve hardly written about this album because it, like most amazing things in this world, was not created with the average straight white male in-mind. However, this doesn’t mean my demographic cannot gain something from Lemonade. It’s an elegant reminder that listening is an enormous part of participating in a conversation.
Chance The Rapper made the gospel album Kanye promised the world. The Chicagoan is a game-changer for a number of reasons but his greatest strength is how hard he stands for his hometown. Everytime “Juke Jam” plays, he transports his listener to an adolescence they likely never inhabited. His flow transmogrifies to match his featured guests to the point where he could convincingly overpower them. If you listen hard enough to “Smoke Break” you can hear Future gasp in disbelief.
The following list was originally shared in my June edition of Rations, and highlights the best releases of this year. The numbers only mean something to me but the names are crucial. I hope you find something different or reconsider an album you’ve already written-off but, most importantly, I hope you hear the voice of someone else.
16. Fucko – Dealing with The Weird (Black Numbers)
15. El Guincho – HiperAsia (Everlasting)
14. Young Thug – Slime Season 3 (s/r)
13. Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp (Yellow K Records)
12. Rihanna – ANTI (Deluxe) (Roc Nation)
11. KAYTRANADA – 99.90% (XL)
10. Tacocat – Lost Time (Hardly Art)
9. Yung Lean – Warlord (YEAR0001)
8. Jessy Lanza – Oh No (Hyperdub)
7. Sales – Sales LP (s/r)
6. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered. (Aftermath)
5. Mitski – Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans)
4. Anderson .Paak – Malibu (Steel Wool / OBE / Art Club / EMPIRE)
3. Mal Devisa – Kiid (s/r)
2. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book (s/r)
1. Beyoncé – Lemonade (Parkwood/Columbia)