Top 50 Albums of 2016

2016 has been a year full of diverse and innovative new releases from a huge range of different genres, as well as this it has been a year where some of the biggest names in music (Drake, Beyoncé, Kanye West, The Rolling Stones) have brought out new daring material for their millions of fans to consume. Creating a top 50 list has been one of the most difficult things I have done and that is simply down to the quality of albums released this year. Who has been the big hit of the year and who has been unfortunate enough to not make the cut? Without further ado, let’s see what I have ranked as my 50 best albums of 2016, strap yourselves in.

50: Bruno Mars – 24k Magic (Released 17th November)

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The first album since 2012 release ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ for world renowned pop star Bruno Mars and he returned to the music scene with a bang. After his success on last year’s iconic hit ‘Uptown Funk’ with Mark Ronson, Bruno came back into the charts with his lead single title track ’24k Magic’ in October and gave us all a kindly reminder of the American singer’s swagger and soul with an upbeat anthem very reminiscent of ‘Uptown Funk’ and it was a huge hit. As well as this bounce track, we had a pleasant level of enjoyment throughout this project, whether it come from the slower but equally as catchy ‘Versace On The Floor’ or the toe tapping beat on ‘Chunky’, this album had a great feel good attitude to it and put smiles on the faces of many people who had the pleasure of listening to it. Another positive move in the playbook of Bruno Mars.

 

49: Viola Beach – Viola Beach (Released 29th July)

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The posthumous debut from this Warrington outfit is a thoroughly enjoyable indie anthem with great songs from start to finish. The lead singles are of course stand outs, with ‘Swings And Waterslides’ gaining great recognition even before the band were tragically killed in a car accident in Sweden while on the way back from a show. ‘Boys That Sing’ is a wonderful track with infectious instrumentation and a strong raspy vocal from lead singer Kris Leonard. It was recognised by Coldplay who decided to cover it during their headline performance at Glastonbury Festival in June 2016. As well as the lead singles we get great bopping styled tracks such as ‘Go Outside’ and ‘Call You Up’ which show a real readiness to perform and create positive music. Perhaps what is so heartbreaking about the loss is the potential they possessed and this album is evidence of that.

 

48: Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway (Released 17th June)

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The ELEVENTH studio album from California rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers comes five years after their fairly underwhelming ‘I’m With You’ album so there was a fair amount of pressure on the icons of rock to deliver. Well, the release of lead single ‘Dark Necessities’ says all you need to know about this album. A powerhouse funk rock hit with an immense bass riff from Flea and a catchy chorus, it was a great return indeed. ‘Dark Necessities’ is the highlight of the project but that doesn’t mean songs such as ‘Go Robot’ and ‘Dreams Of A Samurai’ don’t deserve recognition. This whole album had a great feel of welcoming lead guitarist Josh Klinghoffer to the band after a shaky debut album with him as part of the Chili Peppers. His talents are obvious in this project and he compliments the obvious passion and abilities of the other band members in this album which is one I still enjoy listening to now.

 

47: Future – EVOL (Released 6th February)

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Atlanta stalwart Future has enjoyed plenty of success recently with his 2015 releases ‘DS2’ and ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ (A Drake collaborative album) charting well and gaining critical acclaim for their hyped up sound. ‘EVOL’ was Future’s chance to continue his rise as one of hip-hop’s biggest sources of hard trap music and he didn’t disappoint. Whether it is the crazy beat on ‘Fly Shit Only’ or the bouncy hook on ‘Xanny Family’, Future Hendrix grasps all opportunities to go nuts and proclaim his style of mumble rap to us all in an efficient and eye-opening way. The standout on this project is definitely the Metro Boomin’ produced track ‘Low Life’ which features The Weeknd and has a real dark and mysterious undertone to it while still adopting all the principles which have made Future a household name in the genre. A worthy follow up to his immense 2015 work and now we wait to see what he has next for us. “If Young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gonna shoot you.”

 

46: Peter Doherty – Hamburg Demonstrations (Released 2nd December)

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This is exactly what we wanted upon hearing the news of this release, a stripped back list of poetic ballads from this country’s misunderstood wordsmith. The Libertines’ front man uses all of his wit and knowledge to craft a smooth album full of not only great songs but also very complex and out of the ordinary objectives. He knew this album wasn’t going to soar through the charts, in fact, other than maybe ‘I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)’ I don’t think there is a single song on this album you would consider a single, instead it holds the position of more of a playwright’s script. Emotional songs which convey struggle, adoration and jealousy in wonderful harmony. Not to mention that Peter’s voice sounds cleaner and crisper than it has for nearly a decade.

 

45: Drake – Views (Released 29th April)

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Now onto what could be my most controversial decision, not for the inclusion of Drake’s latest project, but for how low down I have put it; so let me explain the method to my perhaps madness. This album has the flow of a greatest hits album but the tracks on it aren’t greatest hits, not at all. There are 20 songs on this one and I personally enjoy 10 songs on it, most notably ‘9’, ‘With You’ and of course ‘One Dance’. There is also ‘Hotline Bling’ which was a colossal hit and I do still enjoy that song it just seems a bit novelty by now. Now it seems like I am trashing this album entirely and that isn’t my intention, because there are some fantastic songs on this album so it was literally impossible to leave this off the list. ‘Too Good’ with Rihanna is a classic collaboration between the dynamic duo and ‘Hype’ is a glimpse of that hard balling rapper Drake which people have craved for. ‘Controlla’ is a dancehall vibe and I love it but there are just a few too many duds on this one for it to be a serious contender for higher places. Still a fairly good project though don’t get mw wrong.

 

44: Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis (Released 8th July 2016)

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Scottish rock trio Biffy Clyro brought their usual balance of heavy guitar riffs on catchy rock anthems and heart pouring emotion onto slow acoustic cuts with this their seventh studio album and there’s a case to describe this as perhaps their second best album behind ‘Only Revolutions’ which was a decade ago now. ‘Wolves Of Winter’ is one of the best rock songs of the year with it’s raw energy and animalistic imagery which remains a constant feature through the album with songs like ‘Howl’ and ‘Herex’. ‘Medicine’ is another song which falls into the acoustic tear jerker category along with previous tracks ‘Machines’ and ‘Many Of Horror’ and it does a great job of doing so. All in all this album has a strong balance of genres and it demonstrates the best parts of the band all rolled into one, it also sounds absolutely remarkable live, too. ‘Mon the Biff!’

 

43: Solange – A Seat At The Table (Released 30th September)

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It is a face you may recognise and a name you could also recognise from the big story regarding an elevator bust up. Yes it is Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister and she’s here to give us her third and most commercially available album yet. It is also without doubt her best and most daring work to date, which is exactly why it has made it in this list. Not typically an album I would lean towards but the sheer intrigue of it made me want to hear what she had to say and I never looked back, it is a thoroughly enjoyable tale of empowerment and passion. The album debuted at number one on Billboard’s 200 and she also has a Grammy nominated song for lead single ‘Cranes In The Sky’ so it is safe to say this has been received very well indeed by many people. She has now become more than just a sibling to an icon as she begins to carve her own path of self-made superstardom. Make sure you listen to the Lil Wayne featured song ‘Mad’ which is the stand out for me. Be warned, however, this isn’t the last time a Knowles will be making an appearance on this list.

 

42: James Blake – The Colour In Anything (Released 6th May 2016)

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James Blake is such a polarising figure and this album is definitive evidence of this fact, with a spooky and eerie sound that progresses throughout the project. Standing at a modest 76 minutes long it’s quite an epic to sit through but it sure is worth it, with songs like ‘Timeless’ and ‘Radio Silence’ sticking in the memory as powerful works of music. I am also a big fan of the Bon Iver feature on the song ‘I Need A Forest Fire’ as the two musical directions seem to conjoin beautifully and create a futuristic sound to be proud of. I think the key word for this album is intriguing, mainly due to the whole style of it, it can be almost seen as lethargic in delivery but only in the best of ways. It is impossible to recreate the sound that James Blake possesses if your name isn’t James Blake and that is what makes this album so good. Quite possibly his best work to date and yet more proof that if you are looking for experimental sounds within new music, the United Kingdom is your place to go.

 

41: The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome (Released 2nd December)

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You’ll very rarely find me appreciate a blues album in this day and age, particularly one which is made up solely of covers, but that’s just what The Rolling Stones manage to do. A quite remarkable feat for them all to still be walking this earth let alone creating this good a sound at their ages and this album is a demonstration of their legacy and an almost immortality to their name. Keith Richards still has the knack to make some incredible guitar licks and partner that with 73 year old Mick Jagger who still sounds as fresh as a daisy, it’s like taking a step back into the 1960s and that is why it is absolutely deserving of a place in this list. A throwback to better times with a great cover album which does all of the original songs absolute justice and then some. ‘All Of Your Love’ and ‘Everybody Knows About My Good Thing’ are the memorable moments in this one. Long live the Stones.

 

40: Kings Of Leon – WALLS (Released 14th October)

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A bizarre album cover but there’s nothing bizarre about the sound they’re creating. Kings Of Leon have been one of the biggest names in rock music for over a decade and still sound as good as the first time we heard them as they continue to deliver catchy songs and memorable albums. This could be described as a return to form for the Nashville band as they shut up the critics of their previous couple of albums and return to a more ‘Only By The Night’ sound with a truly great rock album. The singles are stunning, particularly ‘Reverend’ and the title track ‘WALLS’ where lead singer Caleb Followill proves to everyone that he may have the smoothest rock and roll voice in modern day music. Along with the singles we also have ‘Muchacho’ which does adopt a slightly different angle for the band but works very well indeed. ‘Conversation Piece’ is another great song and all of these form together to make a great album. Past it? Washed up? You wouldn’t dream of it.

 

39: Mystery Jets – Curve Of The Earth (Released 15th January)

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How wonderful is this earth we live on? We take it for granted sometimes but luckily we have bands like Mystery Jets to remind us every once in a while just how lucky we are, even if they do spend the odd occasion on this album sounding like something from another planet (in a good way of course). This is a contender for one of the more obscure albums of the year but the talent on display here is undeniable, the opener ‘Telomere’ holds a great guitar riff alongside a pounding drum beat and a melodic vocal. The album itself is a daring move to tackle the prog-rock genre mixed in with classic ELO melodies and it works an absolute treat. ‘Bubblegum’ is perhaps my favourite of all the songs on here thanks to it’s progressive build up and the Tame Impala-esque keyboards being used in separate bridges. As a whole it is a wonderful concept album which manages to squeeze so much detail into so few tracks.

 

38: Young Thug – Slime Season 3 (Released 25th March)

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Young Thug’s rise to prominence has been admirable, a near unknown at the start of 2015 and now he is a flag bearer of the new era of hip-hop and not many albums can epitomise the new age of rap music quite like ‘Slime Season 3’. The opening track ‘With Them’ is probably a good enough reason alone for me to include this album on the list for it’s absolutely incredible bounce beat to it along with the hilarious lyricism Thugger uses, prompting the legendary Wyclef Jean to describe him as “the modern day Tupac” obviously for different reasons. Whether or not you agree with the statement, it’s hard to argue with his credentials and songs like ‘Memo’ and ‘Digits’ demonstrate his satirical nature along with his obvious talents as a mumble rapper. Nobody knows what he is saying but everyone knows you are going to bop to it so who really cares?

 

37: Jamie T -Trick (Released 2nd September)

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After his 2014 success with ‘Carry On The Grudge’ Jamie T continued his honour as one of Britain’s most talented songwriters. This album came as a surprise to many and it sure was a pleasant one. If you ignore the opening track ‘Tinfoil Boy’ this is actually a fantastic album from start to finish. Not only does it possess fantastic songs it also has a genius structure which you could say makes ‘Tinfoil Boy’ a bearable song. At the start we have this raw energy and passion which comes across as very extroverted and aggressive with songs like ‘Drone Strike’ but with every passing song we get calmer and calmer and by the time it gets to the ending songs like ‘Sign Of The Times’ and particularly ‘Self Esteem’ he takes a full circle and has a fragility unlike anything we have seen from Jamie T before. This fall from grace is documented gloriously and makes the whole album sound great but there are still stand out songs like ‘Joan Of Arc’ and my personal favourite ‘Power Over Men’.

 

36: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (Released 26th February)

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An artist who doesn’t get the credit he deserves, pure and simple. Macklemore has worked wonders ever since teaming up with producer Ryan Lewis and this is a fantastic follow up to ‘The Heist’, answering many questions we all will have had for him. The main aspect of Macklemore that sticks out with this album is his anecdotal side, whether it be regarding his daughter in ‘Growing Up’ with Ed Sheeran, or in the first track ‘Light Tunnels’ which tells the fascinating story of him winning the Best Rap Album at the Grammy’s from his side of the story. It is remarkably insightful and helps you understand the whole drama of the occasion and almost feeling sorry for the abuse he got for winning the award, which was of course completely unjust as he doesn’t choose who wins he is merely a competitor. Anyway, ‘Downtown’ is an absolutely banging anthem and ‘Dance Off’ gives us a chance to hear Idris Elba as a DJ, an iconic moment indeed. Now for the final song, ‘White Privilege II’ which is just stunning. A beautiful perspective of the Black Lives Matter movement and every single word he says is cold hard truth. We need more people like Macklemore in the world, not to mention he is actually a very good rapper. That Chance The Rapper feature on ‘Need To Know’ is gorgeous too.

 

35: 21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode (Released 15th July)

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Some of the hardest beats of the year tailor made for one of the hardest freshman rappers around at the moment. 21 Savage has developed quite the reputation not only for his hood lifestyle and upbringing, but also for his obscure style of rapping which never seems to falter emotively. ‘No Heart’ is a serious banger and definitely not one for the radio due to the seriously hardcore lyrics used but it creates not only a bouncing track but a very eye-opening insight into 21’s upbringing and so almost a level of understanding for why he raps like he does. ‘X’ featuring Future is definitely one of the biggest hip hop songs of the year mainly thanks to the catchy hook and huge beat Metro provides. Even if this one is only nine songs long, we have enough detail within it to understand what 21 is about why he really is called 21 Savage. It won’t be to everyone’s taste but sure is to mine.

 

34: Angel Olsen – My Woman (Released 2nd September)

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This may be the third studio album from Angel Olsen but it is certainly the one which got her recognised, a huge hit among critics and a certain in everyone’s top 50, including NME, Rolling Stone and Mojo. ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’ is as direct as the title suggests and it contains a very cool instrumental indeed, fantastic song and it is perhaps the highlight of an album which has very few low points. It is a wonderfully smart record which has been crafted with elegance and panache, no more so than on the songs ‘Woman’ and ‘Give It Up’ where she ignores the “sad girl” label she was given for her previous work and moves into a league of her own as a stand alone talent in her field of music. She certainly raises the bar on this one and it’s hard to fault this album which should have been much better received on a mainstream level than it was. While people were listening to The Chainsmokers, Angel Olsen was here creating this and that makes you question the legitimacy of mainstream music all together.

 

33: Vic Mensa – There’s Alot Going On (Released 3rd June)

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In usual circumstances, Extended Plays (EP) wouldn’t make this list but I had to make an exception for this from Chicago rapper Vic Mensa. It may well be only seven songs long, but there are albums in this list that are eight or nine songs long so there’s hardly much difference, not to mention that Vic demonstrates more depth and layers in this than most do in their full LPs. ‘Dynasty’ is an explosive start full of confidence and attitude as he labels himself “the next Ali” along with many other things including “The Fresh Prince” himself. Phenomenal flow from start to finish and it really is like this whole thing is just one song as his flow and bars work so well together. As well as his rise to fame, a big discussion point on this is the continual shootings in Chicago, particularly of innocent black people from police brutality, as we hear in ’16 Shots’ and the title track. Hard hitting, full of talent, great rapping, great production, the list could go on forever. You have to say that with rappers like Chance and Vic coming through, Chicago has big future coming up.

 

32: The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect (Released 1st April)

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You could be mistaken for thinking this is a different Alex Turner when hearing this album but it is in fact the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner along with Scouse born singer-songwriter Miles Kane. Their second album came very much out of the blue and we were all immensely eager for it given the diverse and challenging sounds they had on the first album. I can safely say with confidence that this album surpasses that album and becomes their best work by quite a distance. The singles sum this album and it’s variation up. ‘Bad Habits’ was their return hit and the pure aggression shown in the orchestra and Miles’ vocal was encapsulating alone. We then had the title track which sounded like a psychedelic Beatles song and Alex’s vocals fit the bill perfectly; soon after we had ‘Aviation’ which is perhaps their most radio friendly song on this album with a really cool riff and a catchy chorus. Elsewhere we have ‘Dracula Teeth’ which is a great song and the best of the bunch in ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ where Alex Turner manages to melt everyone’s hearts with his stunning vocal performance. Sonically this album is brilliant, roll on the Arctic Monkeys return.

 

31: ScHoolboy Q – Blank Face LP (Released 8th July)

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Top Dawg Entertainment’s own gangster rapper ScHoolboy Q came back with another album this year to follow up his huge commercial success ‘Oxymoron’ in 2013. He always seems to be overshadowed by fellow TDE member Kendrick Lamar but that is no slight on ScHoolboy because Kendrick is perhaps the best of his generation so this was Q’s chance to stamp his authority and continue a rise to the top of the genre. He certainly went a good way towards doing that with ‘Blank Face’ as he contains some of his best songs here with smooth West Coast vibes like ‘JoHn Muir’ and ‘Kno Ya Wrong’ which also provide some of his coolest bars and flows. ‘THat Part’ is a Grammy nominated track and that is an achievement in itself given that diabolical Kanye feature. ‘Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane’ is one of the hardest beats and switch ups this year and it is hard to ignore as a contender for the best of the year. If I could give one piece of advice, please avoid ‘Big Body’ as it is truly appalling. Other than that, ScHoolboy nailed it and put on an absolute rap clinic for the most part, not to mention the clever layered theme of ‘Blank Face’ in regards to what it means, whether it involves being anonymous or perhaps a disguise. Big work from a big artist who I am sure will continue to be prosperous in the hip-hop roster.

 

30: Blossoms – Blossoms (Released 5th August)

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The Stockport outfit have come a long way in such a short amount of time. After coming 4th in the BBC’s Sound Of new music list behind Jack Garratt, Alessia Cara and NAO they have never looked back and become the next in line for that Manchester crown which has such heritage and history. The album flew in at number one in the UK after immensely successful singles ‘Getaway’ and ‘Charlemagne’ which made the band soar to huge popularity. As well as these two they had other songs to catch onto the indie scene such as ‘Honey Sweet’ which is my personal favourite and the glorious acoustic track ‘My Favourite Room’. From local bars to a number one album in six months, absolutely colossal rise and it’s something they completely deserve because the music is great, simple as that. There really isn’t a weak spot on this album and it will provide a great foundation for this band to go on and do truly great things, watch this space. I say this because unlike the influx of other indie bands who become one hit wonders, there is something different to Blossoms, the synthesisers play a huge part in making the sound unique and Tom Ogden’s voice is fantastic. Remember the name.

 

29: Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine (Released 16th September)

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I’ve never been Mac Miller’s biggest fan it has to be said, but as soon as he heard the lead single ‘Dang!’ with Anderson .Paak I knew this would have serious potential and it sure did fulfil that potential. The production is both smooth and trippy, particularly in the album’s closing track ‘God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty’ where not only do we have Mac Miller putting in a great performance, we also have Kendrick Lamar doing a great hook and a rapid fire verse which steals the show. The key part of this album is definitely the beats as we get a great implementation of pianos and trap snares unlike what we have heard elsewhere this year; a bold move which paid off hugely in the end product. ‘My Favourite Part’ is a really smooth track with serious finger snapping swagger along with a nice mix between Mac’s hook and his verse which sound like completely different artists. The meaning of this album stands tall as a key reason for it’s success as Miller describes it as a learning process regarding women rather than it being a romantic album, it is like a presentation in what he has learned about the female gender. A real turn up for the books and one which Mac Miller can be very pleased with and it’s one I certainly enjoy.

 

28: Panic! At The Disco – Death Of A Bachelor (Released 15th January)

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The only one of the so called “pop-punk” bands to truly deliver this year and it has to be said that Brendon Urie does an absolutely fantastic job with this fifth studio album, it could be a contender for the best album they’ve ever done. The singles are catchy and while they do contain a classic sense of the band, they also have a modern feel to them which is something Urie has been able to create unlike his counterparts (Green Day, Blink 182 etc.). ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ is the best song on the album hands down, sheer energy and a twisted demonic feel to the track make it such an enjoyable listen, we also get treated to a glorious vocal performance, something which is almost guaranteed every single time he steps up to a microphone. ‘LA Devotee’ is a classic pop-punk anthem with an infectious chorus while the title track certifies Urie as a wondrous heartthrob of our times. The concept of the album is also very intriguing as we have this shocking climax to the album which questions how real this lifestyle that Brendon Urie has lived in the album is and that he is perhaps living lavishly to mask his true feelings of dark negativity. A brilliantly crafted piece of work and perhaps a bit unfortunate to not feature a bit higher.

 

27: Jake Bugg – On My One (Released 17th June)

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The Nottingham singer’s difficult third album delivered with aplomb as Jake Bugg delivers an album of ballads regarding loneliness and neglect in love. It is the perfect album for the person on the receiving end of a bad relationship and the negative connotations that come with it. ‘The Love We’re Hoping For’ might just be his best ever song with the phenomenal anecdote he tells along with his chilling voice and memorable chorus. Songs like the title track and ‘Bitter Salt’ leave a deep feeling in the pit of your stomach as you feel every emotion along with Jake Bugg as he pours his heart out over the microphone in the most relatable way possible. There aren’t just tear-jerkers on this album, there is also ‘Gimme The Love’ which is an upbeat track with a bass riff and a fast paced rhythmic drum beat and it makes a really cool rock sound. Perhaps most shocking of all, Jake tries his hand at spitting some bars in ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’ and I have to say that I’m impressed with what I heard. I can’t believe I am saying it but he had cool flow and a decent instrumental behind him. All in all this album is a great listen and certainly ranks alongside his debut album in terms of lyrical depth and talent.

 

26: YG – Still Brazy (Released 17th June)

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YG has completely ditched that cheesy chart rap sound with this west coast influenced record and gives us the best bars of his career. There’s no ‘My N***a’ style track in sight, instead we have a politically fuelled, Compton street life album which reveals all about his upbringing and the gang life he had to combat. ‘Why You Always Hatin’?’ is one of the biggest anthems I have heard this year and is for me the stand out track here but there is also ‘Don’t Come To LA’ and ‘Gimmie Got Shot’ which show the hard lifestyle he led as a teenager, being surrounded by drugs and guns and how he shone through the crowd. We of course have ‘FDT’ which is a complete middle finger to president-elect Donald Trump in the best way possible. YG describes Trump as “cancer” so his opinions in the song are apparent and if you don’t believe me then just listen to the hook, that’ll tell you all you need to know. It’s a huge album which speaks out to the black community of Compton in a way not many others could do and sonically it is an absolute treat to listen to.

 

25: Kano – Made In The Manor (Released 4th March)

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A grime album with Damon Albarn of Blur credited as a feature, need I say any more? As well as that, grime veteran Kano recruits a whole host of fellow MC’s to create a hard-hitting beat bouncer of a project, particularly on ‘Flow Of The Year’ with JME and ‘3 Wheel-ups’ with Wiley and Giggs, both of which are certified bangers. It has to be said, though that the highlights of this album come from Kano himself when he is given the freedom to do it all on his own, ‘This Is England’ is absolutely stunning and a real insight into the concrete jungle of East London with a slick beat. It really is hard to fault the work Kano does on this and his place on this list is absolutely warranted by one of the best grime releases of the year, really pushing Skepta hard for that crown in my opinion.

 

24: The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (Released 26th February)

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This was a controversial one for me, because I have never really been the biggest fan of The 1975 or how they displayed themselves. In all honesty, around the time this album was released you could say that I despised them, particularly Matty Healy. But this album gave me ‘A Change Of Heart’ if you will, it is a real corner turner for the band who went from a preppy pop band with no sign of a real vision to a group who really seem to be making music that they want to make, and everyone seems to be loving it. There really isn’t much like it around these days and with songs such as ‘If I Believe You’ and the best on the whole album ‘Somebody Else’, they really seem to have found a formula that works. Don’t get me wrong, there are still songs on here that I’m not fond of, ‘Love Me’ in particular is mind-boggingly frustrating to listen to, but it is a giant leap in experimentation and bravery from them on this album and I cant believe what I am about to say, but I really enjoyed this and can’t wait to see what is coming next.

 

23: Daughter – Not To Disappear (Released 15th January)

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This is as expansive an album as you will hear all year, with the group appearing to ditch the folk roots of the debut album and instead adopt a more alternative approach, much like something you would hear from the xx. As far as I see it this album is a blatant sign of progression from all aspects of the band, whether it be sonically, harmonically or just in general quality of production they absolutely nail it. ‘Numbers’ is a tainted and mysterious anthem which gives you the illusion of being underwater while ‘Made Of Stone’ is a chilling ending with a much more regular band structure, particularly in the guitar playing. The anomaly on this album is definitely ‘No Care’ but my word is it a good one, a brilliant rise of pace and a really catchy tune, an exceptional song. Please give this album a listen if you haven’t already and I promise you will feel like you’re floating on a lilo asleep in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a calm summer morning.

 

22: Lil Yachty – Lil Boat (Released 9th March)

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The 19 year old Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty really delivers with this debut project and I think that comes down to a combination of obscure elements. Firstly it is his bizarre vocals which aren’t like your usual rapper or even your usual R&B artist for the most part, he manages to sound entirely unique without sounding too over the top. As well as that it is the magnificent production from his ‘Sailing Team’ and close friend The Good Perry. ‘Wanna Be Us’ has an incredible beat on it which has a trap vibe without sounding like a generic trap song, there is just something to it which helps give it a fresh sound. Then there is the fact he actually has very good songs on it, people hate to admit it but this mixtape has a lot of very good songs on it, even ‘Minnesota’ is a catchy song which will get stuck in your head; and obviously we have ‘One Night’ which is one of the best songs of 2016 without question. As debuts go, Yachty smashed it and his fan base is growing by the day.

 

21: Anderson .Paak – Malibu (Released 15th January 2016)

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This is the actually the second studio album from California’s rising star Anderson .Paak but it is the first to be plunged into the limelight and there aren’t many albums more deserving of recognition than this one. The lead single ‘Am I Wrong’ featuring ScHoolboy Q is a seriously slick and smooth R&B funk track which will without doubt go down as one of the best songs of the genre in a long time. His infectious persona that is created while on the microphone makes him impossible to ignore and this is seen particularly well on ‘The Waters’ with BJ The Chicago Kid, where his flow and soul scream confidence of a man who knows he is destined for greatness. He has a great story-telling style which will open up many doors of his life while also having great production behind it. He is seen as the pioneer of this new movement of funk music in the hip-hop genre and he raises a good case to be not only the first to do it, but the best too. His Grammy nominations document his sudden rise to fame as he has been shortlisted for the Best New Artist category as well as the Best Urban Contempary Album, an award won by artists such as Pharrell Williams, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.

 

20: Logic – Bobby Tarantino

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This one was released on my birthday and what a treat it was. ‘Bobby Tarantino’ is Logic’s fifth mixtape and definitely his most well received one to date and certainly his best. He is a supremely talented rapper and anyone who doesn’t believe me should listen to ‘Flexicution’ which is a demonstration of not only his ability to create catchy hooks but also his astonishing flow and speed when he is in full gear. The project flows beautifully from track to track and that comes down thanks mostly to his fantastic production on this, which sounds like trap songs mixed with classic video game soundtracks. ‘Super Mario World’ epitomises this not only with the title but also for the staggered synth keys which give it a real classic Nintendo sound.’44 Bars’ is also just sheer talent, literally 44 bars of truth and hard raps. Fantastic stuff from a criminally underrated artist.

 

19: David Bowie – Blackstar (8th January)

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The twenty-fifth and final Bowie album, the ultimate parting gift from a legend of the industry. The title song is a stunning nine minute piece which engulfs your mind and helps you get lost from the world for a while with the pacey drum beats, the chilling saxophones and the dread-ridden piano keys, something which Super Hans would be immensely proud of. ‘Lazarus’ is of course the stand out song, a song which documents Bowie’s weakness, his acceptance of death being around the corner, and his tale of fear. It is chilling, depressing but above all, an astonishing song. Instrumentally the whole album takes quite a modern feel and that sums David Bowie up to the most miniscule detail, even through his last moments he remained current with the times and released music that wouldn’t sound out of place. Vocally the album is haunting and almost frail but in a way this makes his voice all the more special on this album as it not only fits the whole concept but it does also sound fantastic as he holds notes with ease. A more than acceptable finale to end a simply mind-blowing career and life, it is the best gift we could ask for and I think David knew that.

 

18: DMA’s – Hills End (Released 26th February)

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Perhaps best known for their stunning cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’, the Australian band DMA’s have gone very much under the radar until recently. This album was released in February but it wasn’t until later on in the year, around the time of the Cher cover in fact, where they began to get noticed. The praise they have been getting is very much justified, as this album is simply brilliant and a real throwback to the Britpop era of the early 1990s. They sound like a Stone Roses-Oasis lovechild without sounding like rip-offs of the real thing and that is a very hard balance to find. The lead single ‘Lay Down’ is a fantastic fast paced indie anthem while they also demonstrate an acoustic talent with the song ‘Delete’ which is my personal favourite because of the great story it tells and the brilliant vocals on display. As well as this there is ‘Step Up The Morphine’ which again has a calming vibe to it, something I haven’t heard executed this well since The Kooks’ debut album. All in all it is a fantastic album full of fantastic songs and that’s all there is to it, they’ve got a big future ahead of them these guys.

 

17: The Weeknd – Starboy (Released 25th November)

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This is the next step on The Weeknd’s commercial journey to the top of the game and it goes a long way to back up his claims. Lyrically it is arrogant and personal, sonically it is catchy but dark, it has all the ingredients of a world class album. The lead single and title track features Daft Punk and that combination is just astounding, which is what tends to happen when two artists of that quality come together. The lyrics on the title track are a direct middle finger to the haters who have now turned him into a ‘Starboy’, “look what you’ve done”. ‘Sidewalks’ with Kendrick Lamar is a fantastic track with a serious feel of his old mixtapes in the instrumental which I adore, not to mention that they both absolutely kill it. ‘Secrets’, ‘I Feel it Coming’ and ‘Rockin’ are smooth funky beats with fantastic vocals and are my personal highlights on the album as he shows off his fame and his wealth in the coolest way possible. This surpasses his previous release ‘Beauty Behind The Madness’ in my opinion and certifies The Weeknd’s place as one of the biggest and best artists on the planet.

 

16: J Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only (Released 9th December)

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We are all glad that Cole is back and he announced his return with real authority. The two singles he released that didn’t make the final cut of the album in the end were demonstrations of how much the hip-hop game has missed J Cole and how desperately we needed him. When this album was announced and inevitably released the world stood still and joined forces to listen together. The concept is incredible, the tale of a late friend of Cole’s who was killed and the way in which Cole tells his friend’s story to his daughter is mind-blowing. The depth he goes into is genius and shows how talented this man really is. The best song on the album is definitely the final one, the title track which is an eight minute letter to the daughter who is told all about her father by Cole’s poetic self. That being said, props must be given to ‘Deja Vu’ which uses Bryson  Tiller’s ‘Exchange’ instrumental with remarkable success and adds a whole new dimension to an already fantastic beat. ‘Immortal’ is also a hard-hitting bounce track with a great beat, you could describe it as this album’s version of ‘A Tale Of 2 Citiez’ from ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’. It is typical J Cole, just brilliant but it isn’t quite ‘Forest Hills Drive’ and that’s his own fault for setting the bar so damn high. Still a great album, though, one of the best hip-hop releases of the year.

 

15: KAYTRANADA – 99.9% (Released 6th May)

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The debut album from Canadian producer KAYTRANADA and it is an absolute blinder. This is like if Disclosure were listening to Marvin Gaye on acid, as soulful as it gets and every fine detail is executed brilliantly from start to finish. ‘GOT IT GOOD’ with Craig David is a huge collaboration with an even huger track coming as a result, with Craig David placing his usual bopping style onto it alongside KAYTRANADA’s smooth beat. ‘GLOWED UP’ with Anderson .Paak is glorious and a bit harder in the verse before fading into a spacey psychedelic chorus while ‘YOU’RE THE ONE’ with Syd screams of a modern age Daft Punk instrumental. NME described this album as it’s 5th best of 2016 while Apple Music called it the best to be released by a Canadian artist this year, beating Drake to the crown. This album completely trumps anything that other producers have tried to create over the past few years and added a completely new twist onto a genre which was in danger of drying up. Long may this KAYTRANADA phase continue and hopefully he starts getting the airplay he deserves.

 

14: Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade (Released 2nd September)

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Taking the Top Dawg Entertainment title this year is up-and-coming rapper Isaiah Rashad with his debut studio album ‘The Sun’s Tirade’. This album is superior to ScHoolboy Q’s ‘Blank Face LP’, SZA’s ‘A’ and Ab-Soul’s ‘Do What Thou Wilt.’ and that says an awful lot about the quality of this album. The lead single ‘Free Lunch’ is a classic Top Dawg song with a soulful rap beat, a catchy hook and great bars. ‘Wat’s Wrong’ is another top draw song with great flow and a smooth beat which is a general consensus for the album as a whole. It also has a brilliant Kendrick Lamar feature so there’s an added bonus. It is just a very well put together project which is very cohesive and above all has great songs on it, what more could you want? There are aspects of all Top Dawg rappers in his style and I think he takes the best parts of them all, his potential is limitless and I think he has the talent as well as the resources to reach ScHoolboy or even Kendrick’s level if he continues to produce albums like this.

 

13: A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (Released 11th November)

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The legendary rap group were hit with tragic news last year when long-serving member Phife Dawg died of diabetes aged just 45 and this album was released as a tribute to him. What a tribute it was too with Tribe returning to form in the most emphatic way possible with one of the best releases of the year. Containing verses from all the members, including Phife himself which were recorded before his passing, it shows them all at their very best, with Q-Tip in particular being in fantastic form from start to finish, never more so than on the best song on the album ‘The Space Program’. There are also brilliant features from Anderson .Paak on ‘Movin’ Backwards’, Kanye West on ‘The Killing Season’ and Kendrick Lamar on ‘Conrad Tokyo’ which give the album a 2016 feel while also maintaining the classic style of Tribe in their prime. Andre 3000’s back and forth with Q-Tip on ‘Kids’ is simply brilliant and one of the stronger points of a fantastic album. It was like hopping in a time machine and travelling back to the 1990s. A triumphant return from a triumphant rap group who continue their fantastic legacy.

 

12: Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition (Released 27th September)

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Danny Brown really came through with this album and shocked us all with one of the wackiest releases of 2016. His voice is still crazy and unorthodox but that doesn’t stop him from creating pure flames track after track here on ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. The thing that stands out for this album is production, I don’t think I have heard beats this unhinged and deranged in a very long time, maybe even ever. ‘Ain’t It Funny’ is just an explosion from minute one and never loses pace with an EDM styled beat mixed in with trap snares and horns to create one of the better songs on this album. ‘Pneumonia’ manages to make a cow bell sound like a great beat and the addition of a fire hook and a couple of crazy verses and what do you get? A bloody good song. ‘Dance In The Water’ is the most normal song on the album and that’s saying something because even that is nuts. ‘Really Doe’ with Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt never fails to disappoint and is a contender for hip-hop song of the year. His fourth and best album yet really does sound like a spiral of lunacy and god do I love it.

 

11: Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight (Released 2nd September)

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This is an open challenge to people, listen to the first four songs back-to-back and try to not enjoy them. Whether it is the hard drop into Andre 3000’s verse on ‘The Ends’, the smooth instrumental on ‘Way Back’ with Kid Cudi, the audacity of ‘Coordiante’ or the infectious hook on ‘Through The Late Night’, Travis Scott starts this album with serious authority. It was a big ask to follow on from ‘Rodeo’ but I think he has done himself proud, even if it does fall just short of his previous album. With that being said, that’s not a bad thing because ‘Rodeo’ is one of the best albums released in this decade so far. The feature list is rich and keeps getting better with the Kendrick feature on ‘Goosebumps’ which could easily become the ‘Antidote’ track of this album and blow up into the charts. ‘Pick Up The Phone’ with Young Thug and Quavo is infectious and has become the soundtrack of my life this year as I play it every single day. ‘First Take’ with Bryson Tiller is smooth and rhythmic while incorporating the best of the two artists and then we have the finale, arguably the best song on the album. ‘Wonderful’ features The Weeknd and goes harder than 99% of the songs released this year, a pulsating beat with an incredible hook, brilliant ad-libs and the haunting voice of The Weeknd. Glorious. The LA Flame isn’t going to burn out for a long time yet.

 

10: Beyoncé – LEMONADE (Released 23rd April)

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The most polarising and admired figure in music today is back and she returned with attitude and an agenda. Beyoncé has had quite the year of drama and the main part of it has involved the story behind this album and the alleged affair Jay Z had on Beyoncé. The album that came as a result of this was magnificent it has to be said and it has been widely recognised as such by many different respected figures; with the Grammy’s awarding Queen Bey with NINE Grammy nominations, including Best Album and Best Song with ‘Hold Up’ which is one of her best songs in years. As well as a story of heartbreak, Beyoncé takes the opportunity to explore different avenues both culturally and musically. Culturally, she has songs such as ‘Freedom’ with Kendrick Lamar which is an absolutely brilliant song about black power and standing up against adversity and rebelling against the system. She also has ‘Formation’ which she performed at the Superbowl halftime show and that is a song with a great beat and a fantastic vocal delivery. She then decided to take musical risks too by collaborating with the likes of Jack White on the song ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ where The White Stripes and Raconteurs’ frontman delivers a powerful and rocky chorus alongside an angry Beyoncé performance. It is no surprise that this album has been so well received because it is not only sonically great, it also breaks down so many stereotypical barriers and she uses her platform to full effect. I just hope she will put it on Spotify soon…

 

9: Jack Garratt – Phase (Released 19th February)

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A one-man band in every sense of the term, the guitar playing, drum hitting, keyboard tapping, vocal exploring production master has really shot to prominence in 2016. As the winner of the 2015 Critic’s Choice Award at the BRITs, Jack Garratt has taken they hype in his stride and produced a masterful album. Singles ‘Breathe Life’ and ‘Worry’ charted very well and gave the world a glimpse of his life and his story but it is the rest of the album which sticks in the memory, mainly for the instrumentals. ‘Far Cry’ has a brilliant build up of piano before snapping into a beautiful vortex of synthesisers and bass boosters while keeping his voice solid and harmonic throughout. The same has to be said of my favourite on the album ‘The Love You’re Given’ where Garratt uses a gorgeous instrumental which sounds like the soundtrack to doves floating elegantly through the air and demonstrates all of his vocal talents to craft a fine piece of art. I think the elegance of the album is something that stands out and it is something which nobody else has been able to match in this genre. Not bad for a debut eh?

 

8: Noname – Telefone (Released 31st July)

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I’ll forgive you for never hearing this album before or even knowing who she is but now I have your attention, PLEASE listen to this album. Another Chicago rapper who feeds the world pure positivity through the medium of good soulful music. ‘Sunny Duet’ is a calm finger snapper of a song which is impossible not to sway along to while ‘Diddy Bop’ sounds like Lauryn Hill if she was from Mars. ‘Bye Bye Baby’ sounds like a Legend Of Zelda soundtrack but in the best kind of ways, it is another toe tapper and this album is full of them. I could literally list every single song on here and tell you it is impossible to not move along to it, it is that good. So, if you’ve never listened to Noname before then today is the day you start, I promise you’ll never look back and it’ll bring joy to your life. How do these Chicago rappers do it?

 

7: Skepta – Konnichiwa (Released 6th May)

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This is a contender for the best grime album of all time, it is right alongside Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy In Da Corner’ and achieved a similar fate too by winning the coveted Mercury Music Prize which celebrates the best album release from a British artist every year. It contains Skepta’s two biggest hits in ‘That’s Not Me’ and ‘Shutdown’ which took the country by storm and started this grime revolution, a wave which artists like Stormzy and Giggs have rode for a couple of years now. The best song on this album hands down is ‘Man’, an absolute outburst of arrogance alongside the hardest beat I have heard all year. As well as that we have ‘It Ain’t Safe’ which has a huge hook and that iconic line involving someone’s mummy being on the phone, I’m sure you know it. ‘Numbers’ with Pharrell is another anthem and ‘Crime Riddim’ is a day in the life of a North London council estate. There’s a reason this album won the Mercury and that reason is that it is absolutely sensational.

 

6: Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book (Released 12th May)

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Speaking of Chicago rappers, here is perhaps the best of the new era of hip-hop. The future of the genre has come through with a gospel project for the ages and this isn’t even an album it is a mixtape for goodness sake. The album’s opener ‘All We Got’ has Kanye and a choir on it and is Chance’s own Ultralight Beam, a simply beautiful beginning to the mixtape even if Kanye does sound slightly odd on it. ‘No Problem’ with 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne is a bouncy hip-hop track which is hard to ignore and has been nominated for Best Rap Song AND Best Rap Performance at this year’s Grammys so it must be an anthem. It is difficult to pick highlights out from this because they’re all highlights, from ‘Summer Friends’ to ‘Angels’ to ‘Finish Line/Drown’ we get a feel good spring in not only Chance’s step, but now ours for listening to them. Then there is ‘Mixtape’ with Young Thug and Lil Yachty which took me time to get into but it’s a hard track for sure, all three of them come hard on this beat and it shows Chance really can rap over all kinds of beats. This mixtape is a blessing to our ears, thank you Chance.

 

5: Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo (Released 14th February)

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This is a god dream. Kanye has done it again, a simply faultless record for Yeezy as he produces yet another brilliant album. Hit after hit after hit, this album has some of the biggest songs of the year in it, you could quite easily name 5-6 songs on here which have charted very highly indeed and even that isn’t enough given just how many bangers there are on here. ‘Ultralight Beam’ is a gospel track full of emotion, faith and Chance The Rapper, what a combination. ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1’ is a contender for beat of the year and Cudi kills that hook, ‘Pt. 2’ made ‘Panda’ famous so that makes it a banger in itself. ‘Famous’ with Rihanna was one of the more controversial songs of 2016 given the Taylor Swift line but regardless of that it is a brilliant song (shout out to Swizz Beats for that heroic beat), ‘Feedback’ is Kanye wilding out in the best way he can and it makes for a huge track. ‘Waves’ with Chris Brown is a floor filler with a huge chorus, as is ‘Fade’ with Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign. ‘No More Parties In LA’ is Kanye’s best rap performance in years and ‘Saint Pablo’ is the realest he has been since College Dropout days. Then we have the emotional tracks, ‘Real Friends’ is as real and honest as it gets, ‘Wolves’ and ‘FML’ are dark and mysterious with brilliant features and even better production. I think you get the message, Yeezy season has come and I don’t know if it’ll ever go away.

 

4: Post Malone – Stoney (Released 9th December)

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12 months ago I viewed this guy as the one hit wonder who made ‘White Iverson’, how wrong was I? ‘White Iverson’ is an incredible song but who knew he had all this in his locker? Certainly not me. ‘Go Flex’ followed and that is the best song he has done in my opinion, a soft acoustic base with a subtle R&B beat on the side with some magnificent melodies to match. ‘Too Young’ is an open and emotional song about death and the fear of not achieving what you want to in life while ‘Patient’ is a banger about taking centre stage and using these great beats for himself rather than handing them to over people. Then came ‘Congratulations’ with Quavo which is a colossal tune about his success and then just when we think he might be running out of singles he drops ‘Leave’ which has some of the best melodies I have heard this year. So, SEVEN singles from ONE album, surely he has blown all of his best songs and left us with fillers? NOPE. ‘Big Lie’ is a supreme hype R&B track with a brilliant chorus and ‘Feel’ with Kehlani is a rhythmic masterpiece. This guy is 21 years old, that is literal insanity, nobody should be allowed to create an album this stacked with anthems at that age.

 

3: Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (Released 8th May)

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Upon reviewing this album I described it as “more than music” in that it was like a scroll of anecdotes from a prophet of our times, and that is how I view Thom Yorke these days, he is an overcasting figure above us mere mortals. This album only backs my viewpoint of Lord Yorke himself and the rest of Radiohead as what we are treated to is a modern classic, an album which when looked back on will definitely be comparable to previous Radiohead classics such as ‘OK Computer’ and ‘Kid A’. ‘Burn The Witch’ is a stunning extroverted lead single and it is one that only Radiohead could get away with, you couldn’t see an indie band release this and have it performed so impeccably. ‘Daydreaming’ is a brilliant follow up song to the opener and leaves you on such a high, it is like you’re floating on a cloud, grasping at every word that is said by Thom Yorke and every chord that is played by Johnny Greenwood. ‘True Love Waits’ is a romantic piece of music which looks at the ugly side of the human race as opposed to the elements we deem beautiful and that in itself is a very realistic approach even if it may not seem it. Any more that I say about this album will just be repeating what I have said already, just listen to it and see for yourself.

 

2: Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!” (Released 2nd December)

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This man wrote ‘Sweatpants’ and ‘Bonfire’. Just the logic of it doesn’t make sense in my head. A man who wrote such satirical and sarcastic rap music has come back sounding like Prince in his prime. When ‘Me And Your Mama’ came out and I saw the title I was expecting the same old from Gambino, the witty laugh-a-minute rap music we got from his previous projects, but this? Wow. Choral, rhythmic, groundbreaking. Nobody was ready for this side of Gambino and it is an absolute pleasure to hear as he screams and shouts his love for his baby mama with vocal dexterity that I didn’t think could possibly come from him. Then came ‘Redbone’ which is another stunner of a song about his girl cheating on him and the way he delivers it is damn near faultless with the smoothest beat you’re going to hear in a long time. An absolute rollercoaster of an album which you just pray to never end. ‘Boogieman’ is a personal favourite of mine while ‘Terrified’ has a slick guitar solo which cannot be ignored alongside some brilliant vocal range from Gambino. The whole album is remarkable basically and this change of style to a funk-soul king has been the best decision he has ever had as a musician. Long live Donald Glover.

 

1: Frank Ocean – Blond (Released 20th August)

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It finally arrived. FIVE YEARS OF WAITING and we finally got Frank Ocean’s follow up album to ‘Channel Orange’. The end result? Simply the best album of 2016 and perhaps one of the best albums of the decade. I rank this alongside ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar it is that good. ‘Nikes’ is a mesmerising cut about the women that chase him and his desperation to stay away from them and it is done in such a way that makes it sound fresh, very difficult to achieve considering it is such a common topic among R&B artists. ‘Ivy’ is next on the track list and it has such a gorgeous calm rock sound to it with those guitar licks in the background alongside one of his best vocal performances on the whole album. ‘Pink & White’ is a toe tapping, finger clicking, feet shuffling certified soul anthem, the piano keys are heavenly and his voice follows suit. ‘Solo’ is Frank going in more of a hip-hop direction while still keeping that soulful atmosphere in the instrumental, I don’t know how Frank manages to sound like a brilliant singer while he raps? His interchanging of the two is divine. ‘Nights’ is the best song on the album and it sounds like the sort of song that would have been recorded and instantly sounded like a hit, it just seems like something clicked with this song and it all came together to create a masterpiece. Andre 3000’s interlude on ‘Solo Reprise’ is magnificent and further proof of his credentials as one of the best MC’s of all time. I could speak about and listen to this album forever so let me tell you this, if Frank Ocean is going to continue to release music this good, I will wait 10 years for the next one because ‘Blond’ isn’t getting old and that is a guarantee. Nothing got near it in 2016 and that is saying something it really is.

 

Top 10 musical heroes of 2016

Every single year in the music industry you have those individual few that stand out from the crowd and become cult figures in their respected fields. 2016 is perhaps the finest example of that as we have had so many incredible things happen involving so many incredible people who deserve recognition. Whether it be the rejuvenation of a genre, or the truth that they spoke, or just their quirky nature which made people fall in love with them, these people always fill our hearts with joy and become some of our favourite people if they weren’t already before. They act as reminders that musicians are human and there is still life in the old dog yet. These ten people are fantastic personalities and deserve credit for the passion they have brought to their craft and to the world, particularly in 2016.

10: Lil Yachty

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An unlikely hero it has to be said, but 19 year old Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty has given us all reason to be cheerful this year, creating some of the catchiest songs of the year and being a very creative, positive figure in the hip-hop industry. ‘One Night’ became a huge hit for Yachty, who quickly followed that success with a mixtape under the title Lil Boat, which was not only well received by myself, but also by keen connoisseurs of rap music. The guy sampled Finding Nemo in that mixtape, he is an absolute sweetheart and is getting the positive reinforcement he deserves. Yachty, who’s real name is Miles Parks McCollum, also featured on perhaps the catchiest song of the year by Big Baby D.R.A.M. called ‘Broccoli’ where his wacky style makes us all fall in love with him. He also featured as a model for Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 fashion show at Madison Square Garden and I have to say he killed it. Expect big things from Lil Boat and his Sailing Team in the future, but for now let’s just enjoy the good times he has given us this year alone.

 

9: Mick Jagger

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A tour, new music and becoming a father, all at the tender age of 73. It’s been quite the year for the Rolling Stones front man as people of his age would usually be settling down to cups of tea and perhaps playing a spot of garden bowls but oh no, Mr Jagger has other ideas. Releasing their first album in 11 years, the Stones came back with a blues cover album called ‘Blue & Lonesome’ and it was immensely well received, stating that Jagger in particular sounds no different to how he was in the prime of his powers through the 60s and 70s. That alone is impressive, but to also go on a Latin American tour before that in February of this year, playing to countries such as Cuba, Argentina and Peru, the band confirmed their superhuman tendencies and that they are indeed immortal. Performing to over a million people is hard enough in your twenties, let alone as a pensioner like Jagger is but he still owns the stage and has the stage presence of prime Mick. He also very recently had his eighth child, his only one with current partner Melanie Hamrick and that is quite some going for a man who is also a great-granddad. More power to you Sir Mick, enjoy some well deserved time off because this year has been crazy.

 

8: Frank Ocean

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What a year it has been for Frank. Year upon year we were all awaiting his follow up album to ‘Channel Orange’ and 2016 would be the time we would be granted our wishes. We weren’t just given one album, oh no, he gave us two absolutely stunning records which both in their own right show the former Odd Future member off as one of the best artists around at the moment. After months of speculation and rumours we were told that it was on the way and in that incredible weekend in August, Frank Ocean released both ‘Endless’ via livestream, and ‘Blond’ for studio sale. It is believed that ‘Endless’ was released in order to oblige and seal the end of his contract at Def Jam Recordings and to go in his own direction as part of the record company ‘Island’ but we don’t have a problem with hearing two albums from him. ‘Blond’ is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year and that alone is enough for him to be a hero in our eyes. Not only that but Ocean also completed his time at medical school and earned his doctorate this year, good going for a young man who not so long ago was part of Odd Future. A stunning vocalist, a stunning artist and an immensely intelligent man, is there anything not to love about Frank?

 

7: DJ Khaled

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His Snapchat is absolutely golden and provides millions with entertainment every single day, but that isn’t the only great thing Khaled has provided us with this year. His motivational speeches on the social media platform have been said to help so many people around the world and he has become somewhat of an inspiration solely for his daily activity on Snapchat, not many have the credentials to pull that off. The success of this has resulted in Khaled writing a book titled ‘The Keys’ where he continues to speak about not only his own success, but also the main tips of how to make it for yourself. As well as Snaps, he also put in hard work musically too, releasing his most commercially successful album to date, titled ‘Major Key’ with a colossal feature list containing some of the biggest names in hip-hop; a list which includes Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Jay Z and Lil Wayne. The album went to number one on the Billboard charts and has been Grammy nominated. As well as this he had the pleasure of introducing his first child to the world, all of which was broadcast on Snapchat with popular Khaled tunes in the background. It is hard to dislike Khaled and the message he spreads, and it is even harder to argue with the success it has brought.

 

6: Donald Glover

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A truly memorable year for this multi-talented man who is perhaps best known as Troy Barnes in ‘Community’ or as the rapper Childish Gambino, a name he got using a Wu-Tang Clan rap name generator. He has come a long way since those days and has now gone on to write, produce and star in his own TV show ‘Atlanta’ which gained a remarkable reception and has already been signed for a second series. A gritty comedic drama about rappers trying to make it big in the rough streets of Atlanta, Georgia, Glover managed to connect with so many people and create a thoroughly enjoyable television show. He has also been cast in the new Spiderman: Homecoming film as well as the as yet untitled Han Solo spin-off of Star Wars where he will play Lando Calrissian. As if all of that wasn’t enough he has also returned to music, but not in his usual hip-hop atmosphere. He has pushed himself way out of the comfort zone and taken a soulful funk route where he honours many of his musical idols to create a truly mesmerising album titled “Awaken, My Love!”  which is without doubt his best musical work to date. Glover has become a global star in 2016 and it looks like the only way is up for him.

 

5: Beyoncé

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Queen Bey has had quite the year and it is easy to see why she has taken many people’s title as the musical hero of the year thanks to her stunning ‘Lemonade’ album which was released earlier this year. Before any of that was discussed she had the small matter of headlining the Superbowl haltime show and she did a phenomenal job, channelling all of her power and authority to make people sit up and listen to what she had to say. Performing ‘Formation’, her lead single from the album, Beyoncé stood up and told the world what she thought of police brutality, of racism and of sexism in America while dressed all in black leather and saluting black power. That performance alone proved her worth as a heroine of the black community she was once mocked by for ‘trying to be white’. ‘Lemonade’ soon followed after the allegations of Jay Z cheating on her and it is safe to say she had the last laugh with this empowering body of work. Publicity stunt? All just a hoax for money? All we know is that she earned serious credibility and serious money for it, as well as NINE Grammy Nominations. What a year for Bey and it is sure to get better when she takes home a handful of awards at the Grammy’s.

 

4: Bob Dylan

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We thought it was heading towards a pretty quiet year for American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, that was until he was handed with the greatest honour of all, the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was announced on October 13th by the Nobel Prize Committee that Dylan would win the award “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” and that is something nobody can disagree with. A career lasting over half a century was wonderfully encapsulated by this one celebration of his work and it was one of the biggest moments in musical history, with him becoming the first musician to EVER win the award. After winning the award Dylan has gone on to announce shows all over the world including a tour of the UK for 2017 and that much will provide a huge buzz all over the country. his influence and legacy has arguably now become unrivalled and such an award being granted deserves a place high in this list. Bob, you are an absolute treasure of our planet.

 

3: Chance The Rapper

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Lil Chano from 79th sure has come far in 2016. A biblical start to the year saw him steal the show on Kanye West’s album opening song ‘Ultralight Beam’ where Chance appeared possessed by Christ himself and delivered one of the best guest verses ever on a Kanye song. That song has gone on to be Grammy nominated and it is no surprise when a feature like that is on it. In his own personal work Chance The Rapper has taken centre stage and become a household name as well as a loveable young man who feels blessed every single day to do what he loves. His highly anticipated third mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ became one of the success stories of the year and peaked at number one in the Billboard charts as well as being awarded with a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. He has gone on to gain seven nominations this year from the Grammy’s, and that is with a mixtape, he still continues to be self-produced and make his money from merchandise and touring and I for one admire that. He has given us all fresh optimism for the future of the hip-hop genre and made Chicago proud of him, as well as making us all fall head over heels for his positive attitude and die-hard faith in God.

 

2: Skepta

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Groundbreaking to say the least for North London’s own grime artist. Joseph Adenuga, otherwise known as Skepta, has been an MC for over a decade now but is only now really receiving the true attention  he deserves, notably so with Boy Better Know’s big slot at Reading & Leeds Festival this year. His latest release ‘Konnichiwa’ has already gone down in grime folklore and will also be down in British music history too thanks to the incredible victory it gained at the 2016 Mercury Music awards, winning the main award and pipping the likes of The 1975, Radiohead and the late David Bowie to the award. From huge hits like ‘That’s Not Me’ or ‘Shutdown’ to the tough upbringing anecdotes of ‘It Ain’t Safe’, Skepta took a long road down memory lane to create this album and as a result created a huge record full of memorable tracks. He is just a lad from a Tottenham council estate who is now best friends with Drake and has been regarded as the man with the best UK release of the year, astonishing.

 

1: David Bowie

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Perhaps the most iconic solo artist this country has ever produced, and without doubt the most heartbreaking celebrity death we have had to cope with in years; David Bowie’s influence on not just the music industry but the world as we know it is untouchable. A fashion icon, a musical dynamo, a film guru, the list could go in terms of Bowie’s accomplishments during his 69 year stay on this earth but one thing is for certain, we were not worthy of his presence. His parting gift for us was his final album, released a week before his passing, ‘Blackstar’ was purely a goodbye message, an insight into his struggle and the traumas he has kept hidden away for so long for the sake of us. Let me tell you this, it was a bloody good parting gift too, an album full of diverse musical avenues and emotional lyricism, it is his best work for years. For anyone other than David Bowie to be the hero of 2016 would be ludicrous and the celebration of his life we have witnessed all year round, the inundation of farewell messages and stories of his character help ease the pain of his loss. This Starman has finally gone back up to the sky, he came down to meet us and truly blew our minds.

 

Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”: Album Review

Childish Gambino is the rap stage name of actor, writer, producer and comedian Donald Glover who has enjoyed vast success in his many roles, particularly as Gambino in the music industry. His rise as a rapper took time to really blossom into a large scale and it wasn’t until his second album (because the internet) where he really got the credit as a great musician. His genre has been predominantly hip-hop and R&B but with this new release and return, Glover has opted to join the 2016 soulful renaissance which has been shown through artists such as Anderson .Paak and Chance The Rapper with great acclaim. It is a bold step and I am certainly intrigued to see what he has to offer on this album. So let’s see if “Awaken, My Love!” is worth getting out of bed for.

Me And Your Mama – 10/10
The triumphant and glorious return of Gambino came through on this track as he plunged head first into a relatively untested genre for him. The song begins with such a blissfully smooth instrumental which then matches up with the soulful support vocals with real punch and effect. The build up of the song does take its time and I can certainly see why people would perhaps feel it drags on too long but as far as I see it, Gambino uses the length of time perfectly and manages to apply a wide array of backing sounds to the instrumental and create new layers of music. It’s almost a blissful array of wonder until we have an explosion of passion and we get our first taste of his voice which sounds the best it has ever been. Nobody thought he could sing like this, he sounds like James Brown in his prime, pure and emotive with a hardcore delivery. Lyrically it is heartfelt and passionate with a bunch of deep undertones surrounding his true feelings towards “mama” where he mentions her having “a hold” on him. It then fades back into a peaceful finale, almost as if that couple of minutes of derailed energy didn’t happen. Basically it is an absolutely stunning introduction and I don’t think you will hear a better album opener than this all year. Welcome back Donald.

Have Some Love – 8.5/10
This is such a feel good song and that atmosphere is built up from the start as we hear a choral vocal speaking about “having love for one another” which sounds like it has a very tightly knit unit and a solid base within it. The verse is the polar opposite of this as it sounds unclear to grasp fully what he says as he sounds as though he’s in pain while rapping the verse and squeezing out every word with all of his might. The switch up on this song is great as we again are treated to a great mix of sounds and vocals which mesh together to make a real sense of confusion, which is without doubt the intention as we take a step inside the mind of Childish Gambino who is also confused in his quest for love. A great track with so many different layers within it.

Boogieman – 8.5/10
This song has a huge taste of the late and great Prince within it, who was one of Gambino’s idols so he will have taken huge inspiration off him in the process of this album. So it hardly comes as a surprise when we hear these funk style guitar licks and elongated vocal tones. The backing vocal also works wonders on the chorus of this song as it adds a gospel element while also creating context to the bizarre instrumental which sounds a bit like a cut from a Halloween film. He, of course, doesn’t mean he’s the literal “boogieman” with “a gun in his hand” so it’s fair to assume that he will in fact be implying that he is pursuing this girl he cares about and is willing to do whatever it takes to make her his. A real funk anthem with another switch of vocal delivery from Gambino which comes as a huge treat for us all.

Zombies – 9/10
Once again the stand out aspect of this song is the flawless use of the guitars on the instrumental as they set the moody yet funky tone for this song. The vocals are tight and crisp while also having a slight twist of whining to add tension to the story of the “Zombies”. This song has the feel of a story he is telling to his child, particularly with the “you will find there is no safe place to hide” line at the end of the chorus which is perhaps a lesson he is teaching his child and preparing them for the outside world. The synth guitar is as good as it’ll ever sound on here with a million and one effects added to it to make it sound funkier than Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars when they head Uptown. Another smooth funk track with a stunning instrumental and an insightful and eye-opening anecdote within it. Glorious work once again.

Riot – 8.5/10
A short snippet of a track here at just two minutes long but we get this James Brown style vocal once again with the passionate scream at the beginning as well as his change ups of tone. The song is called “Riot” for good reason here because that’s exactly what it sounds like he had writing and performing this song, an absolute riot. It is such a fun track from start to finish and I’m sure he had even more fun crafting it. The modernised beat has a space age twist to an old school backdrop which is something he has executed all the way through this album so far and long may it continue. A great length of song and a fantastic set up track for what is to follow.

Redbone – 10/10
The second single on the album and by far and away the cleanest and most technical track on the album. I will be the first to admit I wasn’t keen on this at first listen but I have never witnessed a song grow on me more than this. It is a powerful and heartbreaking message of trauma and fear on Gambino’s part as he tries to protect his partner from other men given her reputation as a ‘Redbone’ which is a term of endearment towards women who sleep around. It has such an intriguing story within it as we hear the verses speak about his acceptance of her cheating and how he has given up on her as a solid foundation for a relationship; but the pre-chorus and the chorus itself tell a different story entirely. He is desperate for her to stay loyal to him and build a family as he warns her to “stay low” due to people “creeping”. The instrumental is genius and infectious, one of the smoothest beats I’ve heard this year and the synth styled guitar solo creates a great aurora around the whole song, setting it up for it’s finale. Another divine piece of music from this sure to be album of the year contender.

California – 7.5/10
Another feel good sway style song with a smooth soul instrumental with an almost West Coast twist without switching into a hip-hop atmosphere. The vocal is strange and almost cliche in it’s delivery, particularly in the verse which is basically impossible to gather what he says. I really like the use of the woodwind instruments on the instrumental as they make a unique sound and aren’t your typical instrument of choice on this type of song. Once again the bass guitar and the keyboards are fantastic and make a really nice sound which compliments the chorus well. Good song but without a doubt it is very odd.

Terrified – 8.5/10
A much different feel and approach to this one as he ditches the soul and goes much more soulful with the snaps and the dark beat. The layers of vocal are smooth and almost heavenly in their delivery while the guitar is used impeccably once again creating a more old school soul rock sound. The bridge of the song adopts more of a classic Gambino approach as he repeats that he’s “spending” in a breath heavy tone which sounds much like a cut from ‘Because the Internet’. This possibility of flowing into that avenue is completely squashed by the end of the song which takes around a minute and a half of a young boy singing a melodic and passionate ballad, linking beautifully into the title of the next song. This is great and one of the strong points on the album.

Baby Boy – 7.5/10
Great use of synth guitar at the beginning which is accompanied by a smooth funk band playing a slow instrumental behind an autotuned vocal which is very reminiscent of Redbone just with more elongation. The song’s intent is definitely for Donald Glover to sing about the importance of his child and how he is desperate to stay with him at all times, begging “don’t take my baby boy.” I do feel the fact it is 6 minutes long may be seen as quite unnecessary and I’d tend to agree seeing as for the most part there’s not much difference in the style of the song so it kind of drags at times. Despite this, it’s a great soul ballad with a twist and it utilises autotune on his vocal brilliantly as it shows his frailty and weakness without his baby boy there by his side. Still a very good song but if it were a couple of minutes shorter that would’ve made it a brilliant song, it loses it’s magic after a certain amount of time.

The Night Me And Your Mama Met – 8.5/10
An acoustic cut which feels like the person who is singing it should be accompanied with a halo every time it is performed. A really emotive and smooth sound to it particularly from the backing choir who sound stunning. In typical fashion of this album I very much enjoy the way the song fades in progressively and adds new sounds to the instrumental along the way, with this technique hitting its peak when the electric guitar solo kicks in to provide yet more joy on this already very cool and savvy instrumental. I do feel as though it works better with no lyrics as we get to hear all the layers of instrumental clearly and concisely. A multi-dimensional, multi-talented song which is as sophisticated as it gets.

Stand Tall – 9/10
It is always important to see how an album ends, it’s often the song with the most focus on it given that it needs to sum up everything that’s been said before it. What Donald Glover does with this song is just remarkable, very stripped back and a clear, autotune free vocal which focuses on advice he is giving to his son, almost as if he is leaving somewhere and may not see him again. His vocal performance is absolutely fantastic and flows very nicely alongside the instrumental and the choir which have a different sound to them and appear more jazz like with the saxophone and flutes. This stripped back aesthetic lasts until about 3 minutes in and then after that we get the equivalent of a time vortex in musical form as the whole sound becomes much more futuristic and sped up. It’s a fantastic touch to add new dimensions to the song and perhaps to follow on from his original point of ‘standing tall’ he shows in this part that life goes by very quickly so don’t regret anything. A remarkable finale to an equally remarkable album.

Overall – 9/10
This is stunning and without doubt the best thing Childish Gambino has ever done. Cold, hard evidence of the man’s genius and his incredible talent, he ventured away from hip-hop and brought funk and soul into the public eye with this album and it’s an absolute triumph. The singles are two of the best songs of the year and everything else is just as good. An instrumentally flawless record and the only album I can think of this year which could push Frank Ocean’s ‘Blond’ to album of the year. Donald, take a bow because this was unbelievable and every single one of your heroes who helped influence this album would have been very very proud.

Top 15 albums of the 1990s

The 1990’s were a time in the musical world where era-defining music was perhaps never greater. Genres such as Pop-Punk, Britpop and Grunge were coming into their element and as a result the quality of the albums that were being churned out is difficult to rival. With that being said, when you have Oasis, Nirvana, The Notorious B.I.G. and Blink-182 all hitting their peaks in the same decade it is always going to be hard to compete with. This is my personal top 15 albums of this momentous decade which captured the musical imaginations of so many for so long, making every single one of these albums increasingly relevant and incredible even to this day.

15. Radiohead – The Bends

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Named after decompression sickness, it is no surprise that Radiohead’s second studio album is as raw and heartfelt as it is. We always knew that Thom Yorke had a side of instability but this is where it stemmed from, an unhinged record full of passion and fear. Songs such as ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ and ‘High and Dry’ provide a hugely sensitive and acoustic side to this album as we hear Yorke pour his heart out over Johnny Greenwood’s fantastic guitar chords but it is the dark songs on this which really stand out. ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out) is perhaps the best song on the whole album as all pieces of the Radiohead puzzle come together to create a phenomenal jigsaw of cut loose depression. The song documents the voices in his head and the instrumental helps paint that picture impeccably. As well as this, ‘Just’ features on this album and is perhaps a more savage and aggressive way to combat the emotion in Radiohead’s music, with cuts from acoustic slow jams to psychedelic prog-rock in the space of seconds. In 2006, NME teamed up with British Hit Singles and Albums to form the best albums of all time, and ‘The Bends’ was rated in 10th place. As well as this Paste rated it as the 11th best album of the 90s. Well deserving of a place in this list.

14. Green Day – Dookie

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Released in February 1994, punk-rock outfit Green Day really broke out to a wider audience and became one of the biggest bands in America with their third studio album ‘Dookie’. The stand out feature of this album is without doubt the fact that it possesses a whopping FIVE of Green Day’s biggest hits, including ‘Welcome To Paradise’, ‘When I Come Around’ and most notably, ‘Basket Case’. It is their best selling album and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, as well as going Diamond in America. Rolling Stone called it the best album of 1994, Kerrang called it the second best pop-punk album of all time and Guitar World ranked it 13th in their ‘Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994’ list. To put it short, ‘Dookie’ has more critical acclaim and accolades than most albums in the decade and so thoroughly deserves it’s spot in this list. Many of the songs on here are very personal to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong and I believe that is a major contributing factor as to why it has possessed the legacy it has. From anxiety attacks to feelings of heartbreak and neglect, this album really contains a wide spectrum of negative feelings and the coping mechanisms he uses to get past them. A truly great album and it is one for the genre’s archives for sure, pushing Blink 182’s ‘Enema Of The State’ album very close indeed for the best punk-rock album ever.

13. Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

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The debut album from one of the most outspoken bands of all time. To start things on a lighter note, their biggest song ‘Killing In The Name’ is the proud holder of a Christmas Number One in the charts, when a campaign was started to deny Simon Cowell’s X Factor winner the top spot. The public obliged and Rage had their first number one single in the United Kingdom, some 17 years after it’s initial release. Onto it’s critical acclaim, and this album has plenty of it. Widely respected BBC Radio 1 and now Beats Radio DJ Zane Lowe described this album as one of four “masterpieces”, with this one topping his list. It was ranked 5th on Guitar World’s 2011 ‘Top Ten Guitar albums’ thanks to Tom Morello’s astonishing riffs along with his ability to add effect onto his guitar and create a sound unlike any other. The band as a whole possessed a huge aurora of energy and anger, no more so than the front man Zack De La Rocha who’s unique style of rap metal gave the band one of the most recognisable sounds of the 90s. Songs like ‘Bullet In The Head’ and ‘Bombtrack’ give that aggression we hear on ‘Killing In The Name’ and then some. This album is a huge public statement and it has taken time to be truly appreciated for how incredible it really is, still sounding fresh and original to this day.

 

12. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

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Loveless is the second studio album of Irish rock band My Bloody Valentine, fronted by lead singer and guitarist Kevin Shields. The album is often compared to the debut album from The Stone Roses because of the funk style guitar and murmured vocals both bands give. The difference with My Bloody Valentine was simply lust a greater curiosity to experiment other sounds, particularly through the techniques of tuning and tremolo. It was a rare glimpse of genius from Shields and co, who really struggled to build a fond relationship with their record label Creation Records, despite the obvious talents on display in the album. It wasn’t hugely commercial and in a way that made it all the more special as although the general public weren’t listening to it, critics were truly aware of how fantastic a piece this was. The two singles released from the album were incredibly psychedelic and created a brilliant rhetoric for the rest of the album, something which many bands can fail to deliver. Critically, as mentioned before, this album was a huge hit. Pitchfork voted it as the best album of the 90s, while NME put it 18th in their “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time” list. High praise indeed for an album which only went silver in the UK. Either way it’s influence is unrivalled and many believe it to be better than The Stone Roses’ debut album with it’s experimental guitar riffs along with the psychedelic elements which chip in to add another dimension of unique energy to the project.

11. Dr. Dre – The Chronic

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The debut album of Compton icon Dr. Dre just had to be on this list. One of the most iconic rap albums of all time and one which propelled the former N.W.A. star into the limelight. It was released in 1992 by his own record label, where he documents his unrivalled production skills along with his legendary flow. Any album which contains ‘Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang’ is going to be a classic in my eyes and it provides us with a great combination of Dre’s production and Snoop Dogg’s flow and it was rightfully certified as a platinum single. He also won “Best Rap Performance” at the 1994 Grammy awards for his second single ‘Let Me Ride’, with the previous single being nominated for the same award. Vice ranked this album as the sixth best rap album of all time, while Spin stated it was the eight best album in their “90 greatest albums of the ’90s”. It’s influence has been astonishing, almost paving the way for West Coast rappers to get themselves out there, influencing big names such as Snoop Dogg and Warren G. It is also widely regarded as the album which re-defined West Coast hip-hop.

10: The Verve – Urban Hymns

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The third studio album released by the Lancashire based band who, fronted by Richard Ashcroft, contained one of the most recognisable sounds in music at the peak of their powers. This album remains one of the best selling of all time and there is very good reason it was so well received by the masses of people who bought it. Winning the 1998 ‘Best British Album’ award at the Brits proves this, as well as the album being voted the 18th best album of all time by Q magazine. Songs such as ‘Sonnet’, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ and ‘Lucky Man’ are revolutionary acoustic hits which are hard hitting even in the modern day and they’re a good enough reason for this album to be a classic. But the real masterpiece of this album was ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, one of the most famous songs of all time and the defining moment in Ashcroft’s musical career. Co-written with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, this hit opens the album with sheer elegance and it never seems to drop off. “You’re a slave to money then you die”.

9: Blink-182 – Enema Of The State

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This was the third studio album to be released by American punk rockers Blink-182 and upon it’s release in 1999, there was a fair amount of hype given the success of the previous two albums and it did not disappoint. The lead single off the album, ‘What’s My Age Again?’ has become a timeless pop-punk anthem thanks to it’s quirky and satirical lyrics and the same can be said for the next single they then released; arguably their biggest song in ‘All The Small Things’. As a duo, these songs proved that the mood of the pop-punk genre didn’t have to be limited to a serious and rebellious attitude, instead opting for a feel-good nature. They then follow that with ‘Adam’s Song’ which could well be the most heart-breaking song of their entire genre, showing the phenomenal variety the band possessed. Also, it’s the first Blink album which featured Travis Barker as a member as the band so there’s more reason for it’s talents. Rock Sound called this album the greatest pop-punk album of all time and that’s some praise when you consider albums such as ‘Dookie’ by Green Day and ‘All Killer, No Filler’ by Sum 41. Simply put, this album has it all.

8: Oasis – What’s The Story? (Morning Glory)

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It is the biggest selling British album of all time, that is no fluke and it basically guaranteed that this album would place on this list. The infamously difficult second album from Manchester outfit Oasis came just a year after their timeless 1994 debut ‘Definitely Maybe’ and the pressure was on massively. Their debut was already a classic of it’s time and they needed to have a follow up which could follow suit. Luckily, you can always put trust in Noel Gallagher to deliver, especially in the 90s. There is literally no song on this album which I would deem as a weak track, that’s enough for me to class it as a masterstroke. Banging rock and roll hits came out of it such as ‘Roll With It’ and ‘Morning Glory’ as well as their first UK number one single with ‘Some Might Say’, a song which Noel described as the “archetypical Oasis song” and he isn’t wrong. There is that rock and roll sound on it which allows for Liam’s raspy vocals to excel and to make a crowd jump around, but the glorious thing about this album is the ballads it possesses. ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ is some of the band’s best work and ‘Champagne Supernova’ is quite simply an iconic British song. Oh yeah, and it has that little known song Wonderwall on it. It was the winner of the BRIT Awards’ fan voted ‘Album of 30 years’ award in 2010, sustaining it’s legacy for years to come. Masterful follow-up album but in my opinion it isn’t the best album they’ve done; I’ll give you a clue, this isn’t the only Oasis album on the list.

7: Primal Scream – Screamadelica

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Yet another third studio album, this time it comes from Scottish band Primal Scream who burst onto the scene with this revolutionary sound where they left behind an indie rock sound and became a mesh of a wide variety of genres, from club house to gospel. As a winner of the 1992 Mercury Music Prize, it has large credentials and colossal critical acclaim. The album contains masses of bizarre samples which vary from bands like 13th Floor Elevators to speeches from a Peter Fonda character in the 1966 movie ‘The Wild Angels’ and when it is all collated together, it creates an absolutely majestic sound. Songs such as ‘Loaded’ and ‘Come Together’ are very long cuts and have often been utilised for theme songs and backing music all over television screens for years, most notably on BT Sport’s football coverage. They are also absolutely magnificent pieces of music and beautifully illustrate the crazed ideology of the band’s image and how they developed their sound. The cover itself is iconic and memorable, and that came about from the inspiration of a damp water spot on the wall which was exaggerated thanks to the use of LSD. As well as these long gospel preach songs there is also space for funky indie tunes in this album, such as ‘Movin’ On Up’ which has become a staple song for the group and one which has gained immensely positive receptions from their adoring fans. This album has that aurora around it, something which makes it greater than life, it is more than just music.

6: The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death

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The second and final album officially released by Christopher Wallace, otherwise known as Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G. and it was released posthumously a fortnight after his death in 1997. It is the best album released by the best rapper to ever live, I shouldn’t really need to say much more than that but for the sake of displaying it’s genius I will do. ‘Life After Death’ is a direct follow up to his debut album ‘Ready To Die’ and it picks up from where the last song on that album (‘Suicidal Thoughts’) ends. It does this in the style of a story, documenting his life and his rise to prominence as the greatest to ever do it. The way this album flows from song to song is almost as smooth as Wallace’s bars as he proves his ability and leaves the world with a lasting memory of his genius tendencies. As well as his anecdotal tales there is also a large collection of bangers on this album, many of which can be deemed as the best and most popular ones he has ever done. These include ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ which contains a fantastic Whitney Houston sample which is mixed perfectly to create a bouncy hip-hop track, and of course ‘Hypnotize’ where Biggie again uses the female vocal in the chorus to create a classic sound. ‘Notorious Thugs’ and ‘Sky’s The Limit’ are a couple of the other highlights to come from a quite frankly earth shattering album and one which could easily be classed as the best hip-hop record of all time.

5. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

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This is the fifth studio album which came from American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers and it is easily their best and most daring. It is an album which just has such attitude and swagger in abundance, whether it come from the rapid vocal delivery of Anthony Kieidis, or the funky bass lines of Flea, or the cymbal smashing beats of drummer Chad Smith, or last but by no means least, the face-melting and logic-defying noises John Frusciante would make with his guitar. When all of these are combined it creates a sound which has made the Chili Peppers one of the greatest bands of all time and never more so when it was those four as the band’s members. The hardcore rock style of their big hits on this album such as ‘Give It Away’ and ‘Suck My Kiss’ were arrogant and stylish as well as exceptional on a sonic level. The title track is my personal favourite on the whole project with those immense guitar licks from Frusciante and the brilliant variation in Kiedis’ vocals. As well as these heavy tracks this album also has a much slower sound in parts and contains perhaps the Chili’s most recognisable song in ‘Under the Bridge’ which as we are all aware is an iconic acoustic track with a power ballad styled chorus making it impossible not to belt out at full tones. A truly magnificent project from a truly magnificent band and it is of no great surprise that most people have this album atop many of their “best of” lists.

4. Nas – Illmatic

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The album which changed hip-hop as it was once known. Groups like the Wu-Tang Clan and N.W.A. were the staple acts of the genre in the 1980s and they created absolutely phenomenal albums as a result, but when an unknown New York rapper known as Nas came about in 1994 with this as a debut album the whole world stood still. A storytelling record which displayed his tough upbringing around drugs, guns and violence as well as the battle with racism and cultural issues, this album had absolutely everyone listening. With an album cover as iconic as the music it demonstrates, this album was always going to be a classic and as he has said recently in a verse on a DJ Khaled song, he “invented” the baby on an album cover technique and others are copying it. It almost single-handedly tackles the East Coast vs. West Coast issue as he holds it down for the East and propels his name to be at the forefront of the East coast traditions. He is also being hailed as the man who created the new era of “spoken words hip-hop” where we have been introduced to rappers such as Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar as a result and if that isn’t enough justification for this album’s legacy then I don’t know what is. There is also countless hits on it, including perhaps the greatest beat on a hip-hop song of all time with ‘N.Y. State Of Mind’ and it’s rhythmic piano mix, a technique which has been used throughout this album on songs like ‘The World Is Yours’ which is another of Nas’ biggest hits. Arguably the greatest rap album ever and you wouldn’t begrudge someone for thinking that, it is certainly up there amongst the top two or three.

3. Radiohead – OK Computer

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This album is the surgical removal of the traumas and deep feelings inside of Thom Yorke’s bizarre mind, and we sure are grateful for it’s release. You will do very well indeed to find a more emotionally destroying album than this one while also balancing the musical genius possessed deep within every single song. The talents that Radiohead possess are no secret to you and I, but I personally feel that they are criminally underrated and albums such as this one are an obvious way for me to display this. They should be spoke about as one of the greatest bands of all time with their crazy and eccentric ways of creating and playing music but are instead snubbed and viewed as a morbid group of whingers. This album won countless awards including a Grammy for ‘Best Alternative Music Performance’ and it topped just about every single music list of that year and rightfully so. ‘Paranoid Android’ is the big hit on the project and it does a remarkable job of pinpointing the incredible progressive art rock sound that Radiohead were aiming for at that time. As the album goes on this becomes more apparent and it becomes an unveiling of the band’s inner demons, no more so than on the fittingly titled ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’ where the space age instrumental is unlike anything from that time. Songs such as ‘Karma Police’ and ‘No Surprises’ also surfaced from this album as it grew from strength to strength the longer it went on. It’s a truly wonderful piece of music and it will forever hold a deep lying place in my heart. It is truly mind-boggling to me that people struggle to rate Radiohead.

2. Oasis – Definitely Maybe

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The debut album to rival all debut albums. Oasis’ meteoric rise from lads on a Manchester council estate to the biggest band in Britain is hardly a coincidence, especially given the sheer quality of this album. The perfect balance of rock and roll hits along with the slower acoustic cuts where Noel and Liam compliment each other in perfect harmony. To put this into perspective for you, the band’s first ever single was ‘Supersonic’, a song which glorified feeling great about having nothing and most importantly, living your life the way you want to live it. It is a masterpiece and a stroke of sheer genius from Noel Gallagher who made some of the most relatable songs ever written from a working class background. As well as ‘Supersonic’, this album contained other world class singles such as ‘Live Forever’, ‘Shakermaker’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’; the album’s opener. ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ and ‘Slide Away’ were other chances for Liam Gallagher to show himself as a truly great singer as well as a captivating front man. ‘Half The World Away’ remains to this day one of Noel’s most iconic performances as well as one of his most well crafted songs. An album cover which every music fan wants to recreate, a band that everyone wants to see live and most certainly a band that, with the aid of this heroic album, will remain in the hearts of fans all over the world until the end of time. In 1997, ‘Definitely Maybe’ was named the 14th greatest album of all time in a ‘Music of the Millennium’ poll conducted by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. In 2006, NME rated the album as the 3rd best British album of all time, behind The Stone Roses eponymous debut and The Smiths’ ‘The Queen Is Dead’ album, both of which were released in the 1980s. It is a ground-breaking record and one which will stand the test of time as one of the best ever written.

1. Nirvana – Nevermind

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Nirvana are often believed to have gone on to be one of if not the greatest music acts of all time if Kurt Cobain had not tragically taken his own life at the age of 27, joining the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison in the ’27 Club’. One thing that is for certain, however, is that this album defined a generation, it defined a genre, and it was simply the best album to be released in this star-studded decade. It was the second album for the American grunge outfit, released in 1991 and it was the first album in which Dave Grohl was part of the band as a drummer. Grohl of course has gone on to document his talents elsewhere in music, as the front man of Foo Fighters as well as a guest drummer for Queens Of The Stone Age. The album went straight to number one on Billboards Hot 100, mainly thanks to their lead single and most famous song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as it replaced Michael Jackson at the top spot. Rolling Stone described this album as the best of the 90s and the 17th best album of all time, high praise indeed from a typically stubborn and hard to please publication. Tracks such as ‘Lithium’ and ‘In Bloom’ gave us listeners a huge feel of the emotion of Cobain while still being sonically incredibly pleasing and talented. ‘Come As You Are’ is another of Nirvana’s biggest hits and has a very gritty undertone to match it’s dark and mysterious instrumental. A certified diamond album in America, having sold over 10 million copies solely in the States, it gained a huge reception and made grunge a huge entity, allowing for acts like Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins to gain the credibility they deserved. This album is at number one not only for it’s musical exploits but also for the influence it gathered, creating a definitive sound and making an under-appreciated genre one of the most personal around. Genius.