Fashionably-Early’s Top 50 Albums of 2016

10. Solange – A Seat At The Table

PURCHASE: iTunes || Amazon (CD, MP3, Vinyl)

Solange has successfully broke out of the shadows, the one shadow being her big sister Beyonce and the other being that infamous elevator incident when she was swinging her fists at Hov. She’s 30 now and her musical brain has reached its peak on her 3rd album. This album came 8 years after the previous one and it was surely time well spent. This album feels like a modern day album from a Soulquarian descendant as there’s help on here from Q-Tip, Questlove, Raphael Saadiq and so on. Luckily, more people than just I really related to this album as it truly does feel a little dated in certain realms. – Trixx


9. Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight

travis scott birds in the trap sing mcknight

PURCHASE: iTunes || Amazon (CD, MP3, Vinyl)

Travis Scott premiered this album on his .Wav Radio show on Beats 1 and I vividly recall myself dancing around my room to this album on first listen. A lot of critics have panned this album but i’ll fight to the death and say that this was one of the most fun albums of the year. Put ANY one of these songs at the function and the crowd will love it. Travis delivered with a collection of very dope songs on this album. – Trixx


8. Rockie Fresh – The Night I Went To…

PURCHASE: iTunes

Rockie Fresh had one hell of a year. The Chicago native went ghost for practically two whole years coming into 2016, where he snapped out of his dry-spell and dropped three EPs, a mixtape, and countless loose tracks throughout the year. The leading project from the year was Rockie’s The Night I Went To… project.

A free release in January, the project was eventually re-released on retail mediums in May. The 11 track project has Rockie at his to-date peak for rapping matched with his tremendous ear for production. Rockie isn’t always the most energetic artist but he demands your undivided attention every time he steps into the booth. The project boosted his first radio attempt in ‘Call Me When It’s Over’ featuring Chris Brown, which made minor radio noise but didn’t sound like an easy radio copout. Mixed in the tracklist are eclectic bangers like ‘Come Again,’ ‘Down To Roll’ and the remix for ‘Your Life’ featuring label-head Rick Ross and good buddy Casey Veggies. ‘Addicted’ is an experimental track that is unexpected from the MMG artist but a much-appreciated switch-up from the norm. Rockie is at his finest on reflective tracks like the opener ‘The Landing,’ ‘Thought About It,’ and project’s closer ‘December Rain.’ Rockie is giving out life advice on these tracks that is worth more than $7.99. With the followup to Electric Highway and his debut retail album due out in 2017, expect Rockie to be right back up here on the list next year. – malbin


7. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

PURCHASE: iTunes

Simply put, Kanye West’s 2016 was a mess. Beyond his Donald Trump endorsement, various cancelled tour dates and his commendable stint in rehab, the main culprit was his album The Life of Pablo. The album’s rollout was a complete brick, along with the execution of the ‘living album’ that consisted of many updates to the album. The album itself feels and sound like a mess but the type you feel yourself always bringing yourself back to.

Packed with contributions from Chance The Rapper, Kirk Franklin, The-Dream, Kid Cudi, Desiigner, Rihanna, Young Thug, Chris Brown, The Weeknd, Ty Dolla Sign, Vic Mensa, Frank Ocean, Sia, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, Sampha, and nearly 100 other vocalist and producers, this album feels like a very conscious effort to combine as many sounds as possible. The album featured some of the year’s brightest moments – most notably Chance’s show-stealing performance on the album’s opener ‘Ultralight Beam’ and the sampling of Desiigner’s ‘Panda’ on ‘Pt. 2,’ which eventually propelled the freshly signed G.O.O.D. Music artist’s single to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The quality of rapping on the album took a deep dive, with questionable bars cluttered throughout the album, most prominent on the album’s standout banger ‘Father Stretch My Hands.’ The album’s biggest shock factor comes from ‘Famous’ – which has Kanye taunting Taylor Swift.

The messiness of the album and questionable bars really are not strong enough to hold down the peaks of this album. ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1’ and ‘Pt. 2’ are undeniable bangers, while ‘Waves’ is a cinematic, Chance The Rapper-penned anthem. The aforementioned ‘Ultralight Beam’ is one of the greatest songs in Kanye’s storied discography, and fans got flashback to the past with his Kendrick Lamar-assistd ‘No More Parties In LA.’ Mix in the energetic Post Malone and Ty Dolla Sign assisted ‘Fade,’ thought-provoking cuts ‘Real Friends’ and ‘Saint Pablo,’ and somber cuts such as ‘FML’ and ‘Wolves,’ and you have one hell of a collection of songs. The album is polarizing and far from perfect, but it’s hard to deny the great moments on the album. – malbin


6. K. Roosevelt – Neon Haze

K. Roosevelt Neon Haze

PURCHASE: iTunes

K. Roosevelt left fans without new material for over two years following the release of his tremendous Journey EP. With little notice, the HS87 affiliate dropped two singles – ‘Familiar Energy’ and ‘Motion’ – from his album Neon Haze. The album came to use at the beginning of September, which was the perfect time of the year for the album to hit us.

Neon Haze was a necessary progression for K. Roosevelt, where he shows off his electronic production mixed with the perfect sprinkle of real instruments. The album feels like an end of the summer soundtrack. The album itself is pretty self-explanatory with it’s top notch production and relatable songwriting. This type of production is something you dream of other popular R&B artists attacking (namely Miguel) but K. Roosevelt seems to have a stranglehold on the style. Led by the writing, this album stays a constant high across all 14 tracks. This album starts at the top of a mountain and never reaches a valley. – malbin

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