2016 was some of the highest of highs and lowest of low’s I’m sure you have a facebook page and already know what’s on in the world and you came here for the music. I’m hear to say this years music and even next years music is going to be so heavy and charged because in the words of Toni Morrison “This is precisely the time when artists go to work,” she declared. “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” a charged year we ran out of hashtags for RIP’s, we lost Prince, Bowie, Maurice White (of Earth Wind & Fire), Phife Dawg, Ali, Leonard Cohen, Afeni Shakur-Davis, Vanity, George Martin, and Shawty Lo that’s just naming a few. What 2016 did give us was some of the most vibrant and beautiful music we’ve heard in the 2000’s so without any further adue *drum rolllllllllling* welcome to the Deffery Awards and these were some of the best things my ears have heard and felt this year :
Best . Albums .
1. KAYTRANADA – 99.9%
The Montreal native pretty much made any DJ’s dream of an album. Front to back there wasn’t anything not enjoyable about this record, and it progressively got better from the first track to the last track, while having something for every taste palate. You left full with no filler. If there was any drawback I would say he didn’t need as many features, at times his guests writing (Craige David) didn’t meet the level of his production, AND even then the song remained hot. Along the way of this journey into the spotlight shortly after releasing his album he came out and was open about his sexuality in an interview with Sway. Overall a very dope album and dope human with an ear for what moves people, with music as dope as the cover art (I don’t believe anything should suffer). I believe this record will make him one of the most sought after producers since The Neptunes. WATCH!
Low Light (meaning after you’ve heard it the first time this is the albums most skippable moment I feel it’s only right to let you know what a project’s ceiling and floor is, with good albums even the floor can get pretty high) :: GOT IT GOOD – KAYTRANADA, Craig David
2. Frank Ocean – Blonde
I believe most people are mad at Frank because he made them wait and gave a pump fake of an album (ENDLESS which was still an interesting piece of work) before dropping BLONDE (which is spelled incorrectly yet purposely on the album cover I hope). Although BLONDE wasn’t what people expected, once immersed in it you knew it was more. I strongly encourage people to enjoy albums away from their computers, live with music, drive w/ it, skate with it, computer and jambox speakers aren’t the intended way for you to consume albums. This record felt more like a conversation than an album, if you listen it talks back, almost every line is tweetable. It’s a record you can see yourself in, it grew on me to be better than whatever I imagined. He gave you more than what you came for, also gave us rap verse of the year from Andre 3000 on Solo Reprise. The record felt vulnerable, risky and in rare form (I mean he opened the album singing in a high pitched Chipmunk voice over a trap beat he made himself, featured Beyonce as a background vocalist on Pink + White, and featured Yung Lean on Self Control), yet human. Even if you didn’t enjoy it, you were still talking about it.
Low Light(s) (floor, meaning the albums most skippable moment) ::Good Guy – Frank Ocean
3. Solange – A Seat At The Table
This album was pure black healing. If to Pimp A Butterfly got us feeling all pro POC and ready to paint the white house black, Solange’s album got us ready to talk about our condition and was a musical therapy session. There was a very pure and clean feeling from track to track, she had Master P and her mother as the narrator’s guiding you through not just why but the history of these feelings. You could hear that she and her influences (Nia Andrews, Adam Bainbridge, Moses Sumney, Kelela) have put her and her music in a more organic and grounded place. This record may not be for everyone (There’s a song called F.U.B.U), we all know it was special and injected a certain level of self acceptance into everyone who listened to it.
Low Light :: Mad – Solange, Lil Wayne (Weezy doesn’t think Black Lives Matter so I don’t think his verse on this album does either).
4. James Blake – The Color In Anything
I can write essays about the spectrum of amazing this album is (I kinda did already). James opens his world to you all over this record, musically it is refreshing and his most accessible sound and production we’ve heard from him. The shadowy subdued figure flexes his song writing ability on songs like “Always”, “Love Me Whatever Way”, and the Prince influenced “I Hope My Life” and I feel like it’s album full of Retrograde, and the most turnt up turn down music I’ve heard all year. Let the Color In Anything paint your day all kinds of beautiful.
Low Light :: Two Men Down – James Blake
5. Beyonce – Lemonade
She created the story of the year that everyone wanted to hear. Some would say that Yonce might have used the elevator situation and turned it into her most relatable piece of music yet. We’ve all known Beyonce was amazing but we’ve never been able to see ourselves in her. We still don’t know if Jay cheated but we all know we hate whoever is named Becky. She didn’t just release a dope album, she released it as a Khalil Joseph directed visual album that stunted on the entire world and led to a couple hundred thousand TIDAL subscriptions. All the semantics and fire works aside the music was amazingly produced and written from James Blake to Melo-X and Diplo this album didn’t miss a beat (even the country song was dope). S/o Warshan Shire for all the poetry/narration on the album.
Highlight(s) :: Don’t Hurt Yourself, 6 Inch, Daddy Lessons
Low Light :: Sandcastles. (You are gonna have to go on TIDAL to hear any of it anyway)
6. A Tribe Called Quest – Thank You For Your Service, We’ve Got It From Here.
After 16 years Tribe returns w/ a NEW album, not like unreleased songs from the vault of timeless jewels, no a NEW album about today’s times. After the death of Phife Q-Tip hit the gas on finishing the record they were recording at his home. One of the most beautiful parts about this process was that everyone on the album had to personally come to Q-Tip’s house and record their parts, no emailing in verses. Nothing on this record feels phoned in, from “We The People” , “Solid Wall of Sound”, “The Donald”, and “Dis Generation” sounded so current and fresh you were like wait did they record these yesterday? Even the features came correct from Kendrick on “Conrad”, to JCK DVY on “Enough!!” to Andre on the playful yet bouncy “Kids” all felt pure and in the spirit of Tribe. This is a hell of a way to go out, we thank them for their service.
Low Light :: Black Spasmodic – A Tribe Called Quest
7. Jon Bap – What Now?
This album is so dope it starts with a guided meditation. Listening to this record is like putting all your song ideas and emotions on shuffle, you feel them but you had no idea thats what would come next, you know you are hearing something new here. Jon continuously challenges the listener with a new collage of sounds and field recordings every time. This album feels loose yet thoughtful. A great song writer who shows up in unforgettable ways on “Don’t Run Into The Dark So Quick” or lyrically stunning “Let It Happen” This is album is a forest of emotions you can easily get lost in.
Low Light :: I Really Can’t Find One.
8.NoName – Telefone
I think this is the album Chance was trying to make. No diss but if MC’s are preachers and their albums their churches, Chance is more Mega Church with praise dancers flipping down the isle collecting offering 6 times a service. NoName is more of the church you get baptised in and kick it with the people you meet post potluck. I can’t listen to this album without wanting to write. NoName Gypsy gymnastics all over page and gives you breaks with some of the most beautiful chorus’ you will hear this year.
Low Light :: None.
9. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Low Light :: Glass Eyes – Radiohead
10. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Low Light :: Celebrate? Idk I still like this song.
Okay you remember the Trust Falling exercise? Well after the top 10 I’m gonna need you to trust me, I’m writing full paragraphs about each release I loved this year you are gonna have to trust me and just listen to the High and Low Lights (because even those are good). I’ve been your young guide on this mission, I’ve listened to all this music all year so now it’s your turn to explore.
11. Open Mike x Paul White – Hella Personal Film Festival
This album is very dope I wrote and reviewed it here on Citizens of Culture already.
Low Light :: Obvi this is a reach because I love this album but if there was floor on this album full of high’s it would be the hook on Protectors of the Heat (feat. Hemlock Ernst) – Open Mike Eagle, Paul White, Hemlock Ernst.
12. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
Lowlight ::21 M◊◊N WATER
13. DUCKWRTH – I’M UUGLY
Low Light :: LOOK AT THE TIME – Duckwrth, Hodgy
14. Travi$ Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight
Low Light :: beibs in the trap – Travis Scott
15. Softglas – Late Bloom
Low Light :: NONE, I would be reaching really.
16. NAO – For All We Know
Low Light :: Give Me a Little – NAO
17. Rihanna Anti
Low Light :: Desperado – Rihanna
18. JamesZoo – Fool
Low Light :: Meat – Jameszoo
19. MAAL & Morris – Goodmorning, I Love You
Low Light :: Still Chipped
20. BADBADNOTGOOD – IV
Highlight(s) :: Time Moves Slowly (feat. Samuel T. Herring) – BadBadNotGood, Samuel T. Herring ,In Your Eyes (feat. Charlotte Day Wilson) – BadBadNotGood, Charlotte Day Wilson, Speaking Gently – BadBadNotGood
Lowlight :: It would be really hard to find one… Hmmmm unless you don’t like Jazz then maybe idk, text me if you find one.
Okay, so I separated LP’s (albums or Long Play’s) from EP (short albums or Extended Play’s) this year because I felt the goal of LP’s and EP’s are completely different. It’s like judging appetizers and entree’s. You can’t really, EP’s are here to set you up or prep you for the much larger project. The art of the shorter project is to give the audience the ability to digest everything equally by giving them quality over quantity, this is especially important in a time of oversaturation. These were the most stand out and concise short EP projects I heard all year.
1. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered
2. Pegasus Warning – PwEP2
3. Vince Staples – Prima Donna
4. Bonzai – Sleep Hungry
5. Jimetta Rose The Light Bearer
6. Nia Andrews – From Here
7. Arima Ederra – Temporary Fixes
8. Dan Kye – Joy, Ease, and Lightness
Highlight :: “iigo”
9. Madame Gandhi – Voices
10. Brit manor – Only Child
Visuals . Of . The . Year .
1. JAIN – Makeba // Production : ART BRIDGE – Quad group
2. Mark Pritchard – Beautiful People /// Director – Michał Marczak
3. Beyonce – THEE ENTIRE LEMONADE ALBUM (you have to have TIDAL to Watch thee full thing, it’s worth it even if it’s just a trial membership) /// Director: Kahlil Joseph, Beyoncé Knowles Carter, s/o Warsan Shire on thee poetry btw.
4. Boogie – N*gga Needs
5. Cranes In the Sky /// Directed by Alan Ferguson and Solange Knowles
6. Frank Ocean – Nikes /// Director Tyrone Lebon
7. Sevdaliza – Marilyn monroe /// directed by Hirad Sab
8. Ian Chang – Spiritual Leader /// Directed, Edited, and Produced by Endless Endless
9. Color of Reality /// Alexa Meade + Jon Boogz + Lil Buck
10. Emily King feat. Tituss Burgess – BYIMM/// Directed by Shervin Lainez
11. Rosin Murphy – Ten Miles High
12. Princess Nokia – Brujas /// Directed by Asli Baykal
13. Vince Staples – Prima Donna /// Directed by Nabil
14.Bon Iver – 33 GOD /// Directed by Aaron Anderson & Eric Timothy Carlson.
15. Ian Isiah – 247 /// Shot and edited on an iphone of some kind by Minnie Bennett
16. Radiohead: “Burn the Witch” /// Director – Chris Hopewell
17. Moses Sumney – Worth It ///Directed by Allie Avital
18. Saul Williams – The Noise Came From Here /// Directed by Anisia Uzeyman
19. James Blake – I Need A Forest Fire
20. Kaytranada – Lite Spots /// Directed by Martin C. Pariseau.
21. Jessy Lanza – Oh No /// Director – Winston H Case
Songs . Of . The Year
Instead of making a loooong list of songs with an unlimited scroll of links, I wanted to be more of service and concise so I made a playlist w/ no TRL type top this or that list style but more like these are my favorite songs that happened to my ears all 2016 I hope you enjoy on shuffle or just in life.
Cover . Art . Of . Thee . Year .
(If it wasn’t already posted because of course Kaytranada, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Anderson . Paak and Pegasus Warning would be in this category)
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love
Lil Yatchy – Lil Boat
Jessy Lanza – Oh No
Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo
Zeroh – tinitus
Mndsgn – Body Wash
Releases I’m looking most forward to in 2017
1. Whatever Kendrick has up his sleeves.
2. A full project from Demo Taped
3. A Full album from Princess Nokia
4. Def Sound – ∆∆∆.2.
5. A full project from Vōx.
7. The Nonchalant Savant – ¡ Spark ! Project.
8. A new full project from Froyo Ma aka Zack Villere.
9. A new project from Nikko Gray, yes she just text me like “I’m finna drop this year #Nomomjoke”.
10. What if there was a Jay Z response record to Lemonade (Naaaah)
See you all in 17′
Share this list w/ your friends so that nobody is playing Spotify with thee ad’s on at any more adult house parties, thanks.