This list is my compilation of some music you know, and some that you need to. Don’t come for me.
H.E.R.- “Vol 1.”
There’s something magical about an artist that is able to hide behind the veil of their artistry and allow their work to shine without the distraction of aesthetics. For RCA’s budding superstar H.E.R. , that mystery coupled with a tender tone made her one of the most buzzed about artists for the latter half of this year. All we know of the singer (rumored to be MBK/RCA’s Gabi Wilson), is the nostalgic R&B sound she brought back to mainstream music with her self titled debut H.E.R. Vol 1. Honest, emotional and extremely sultry, the project seemingly serves as an audio diary, unloading the her daily desires and encounters via a signature monotone that’s powerful without being overdone.
Must Listen Track: Facts
BJ The Chicago Kid- “In My Mind”
If we’re discussing the strong resurgence of soul in 2016, you can’t leave BJ the Chicago Kid out of the conversation. Appropriately debuted under the MoTown Records imprint, BJ’s In My Mind project combines the soothing sounds of old school soul, overtly sexy lyrics that could be the reason for the “hey big head” text you received at the turn of cuffing season. From his 6 minute serenade on “The Resume”, to his morning after mantra “Church”, BJ managed to give you the feels and hopefully get you some in one seamless body of work.
Must Listen Track: The Resume (feat BIG K.R.I.T.)
Ro James- “El Dorado”
Armed with rockstar swagger and a killer falsetto, the Indiana imprint Ro James has an underrated hit on his hands with El Dorado. Featuring his steamy single “Permission”, he matches our desire for soothing melodies while giving us just enough grit to satiate our indescribable craving for bad boy appeal.
Must Listen Track: GA$
ELHAE – “All Have Fallen”
So this isn’t an album- it’s a mixtape but it’s so good that it holds the number 3 “Most Played” spot in my iTunes library. If you haven’t heard of Elhae, I’d advise you to press play on All Have Fallen as soon you finish reading this. The Georgia born artist whose name stands for Every Life Has An Ending, used his tender vocals to curate an 11-track storyboard of the rise and fall of a love that left him desiring nothing more than a girl he could truly be friends with. Including the Kehlani assisted “Doesn’t Matter” and “Love a Ni**a” this album is an anthem for the cool cats that need love too.
Must Listen Track: Needs
BAS – “Too High To Riot”
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a fan of the underdog- and this year Bas proved he is anything but. The Dreamville emcee took the world by storm with his second studio album Too High To Riot, a stoner themed collection the celebrating the successes of people of color, whilst challenging modern stereotypes. Far from the shadows of the label’s founder J. Cole, Too High To Riot took Bas and tha albums many features on 2 sold out tours- nationally and internationally. He said this would be Dreamville’s year, and I’d say mission accomplished.
Must Listen Track: Black Owned Business
Anderson .Paak –“Malibu”
2016 has been an amazing one for Anderson .Paak and it started with the release of his third album Malibu. The album is filled with gems that attest to our current conversations, while giving us a timeless catalogue of hits. “Silicon Valley” cleverly adds to the debate of intelligence beyond beauty, while “Room In Here” layers an air of seduction over a jazzy tempo. Accompanied by his band the Free Nationals, .Paak’s choice of live instrumentation makes him a standout among other breakout stars this year, and desrvingly and a bevy of feel good records, Malibu has a little something for everyone; from jazzy dance tracks to memorable lyrics.
Must Listen Track: “Without You” (feat Rapsody)
Chance the Rapper- “Coloring Book”
Do I really have to say anything? Chance is our musical homeboy, whose wit and unparalleled artistry has broken through every barrier you can imagine placed on a young, black indie artist. Coloring Book is an audio testimony for us all- that needs no dissecting. His frequent wins this year is a reminder to take a Chance (pun intended) on any dream that you have, because they’re all worth chasing.
Must Listen Track: Just press play.