1. Anderson .Paak – “Malibu”
If there was an artist to nominate as this year’s breakout star it has to be Anderson .Paak. Following stealing the show on Dr. Dre’s Compton last year, .Paak popped into 2016 with the amazing Malibu, which was praised heavily from both fans and critics. The album slides into my favorite spot behind the power of tracks like the BJ the Chicago kid assisted “The Waters,” dance cuts like “Am I Wrong” and smooth sounds like “Room in Here.” Not a single bad track to be found at all.
2. Chance the Rapper – “Coloring Book”
Call me a homer but Chance the Rapper released the best hip-hop album of 2016. The star for the Southside Chi native shined bright all year long. Bringing in all his friends – from Kanye West to Kirk Franklin – Chano delivered a piece of work that spawned radio hits and club tracks like “No Problem” and had Ty Dolla $ign crooning about your blessings. The release was just magnificent.
3. Ty Dolla $ign – “Campaign”
I am admittedly a part of the Ty Dolla $ign’s stan club. When I first heard that his latest album would be titled Campaign falling in line with the Presidential Election I was skeptical. I am here to apologize and say that I will never again in life approach any Ty Dolla project with skepticism. From front to back Campaign delivers and the stretch from “Juice” to “My Song,” including the favorite “Zaddy” is Ty at his peak hit making.
4. DVSN – “Sept 5th”
Appearing out of nowhere, DVSN delivered OVO’s strongest album. The combination of singer Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85 originally just went by a math symbol until their appearance at SXSW’s Fader Fort provided a proper introduction. As far as their Sept 5th album, it is full of quality R&B, which is needed in that genre today, and fitting for late nights along or with another.
5. Nx Wxrries – “Yes Lawd!”
Look who is back, Anderson .Paak. If Malibu wasn’t enough to hold down my ears this year the artist tag teamed with Knxwledge to form the group Nx Wxrries. Their most popular single effort, “Suede” sounds like it gets a facelift and the rest of the album is served up as a quick hitter of ear alluring vibes. Just as you soak into a track, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and brings you another that is just as good. I dare you to play “Best One” just once and go about your day without saying “Yes Lawd!” in good moments. It won’t happen.
6. BJ the Chicago Kid – “In My Mind”
The resurgence of soul was strong in 2016 and one of the catalyst for the outpour was BJ the Chicago Kid and his In My Mind album. Fans of BJ may have been hooked on by Pineapple Now-Laters, the MAFE Project or his dazzling features but newcomers were able to find out the Chicago singer is the future with his official debut album. What’s amazing about In My Mind is while “Church” is such a strong record, you can easily craft a five favorites from the album and not include it. BJ finds himself right in prime position with a Grammy nom by doing what many aren’t able to do and flat out singing.
7. Travi$ Scott – “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”
Yeah I know, you can’t stop thinking about the commercial with Brian McKnight on the piano either. The latest from Travi$ Scott made me, a casual fan, add this album into a deep rotation. It plays as a cohesive, instant head nod that even blends in the albums singles in flawlessly. No feature comes off as wasted or unnecessary and Travi$ has raised me beyond casual status.
Continue below to check out the favorites of one of the fastest rising voices in hip-hop, Jason Holzman.