As the year of 2016 reaches its home stretch, we reflect on some notable music and less recognized music that was released during the frantic year.
The year of 2016 has been nothing short of emotional and hectic. The copious amounts of political turmoil, social injustices, and national tragedies have attached the year of 2016 with a negative connotation. Despite all of this going on, the crazy year did have some bright spots in the world of entertainment. 2016 was a year for music. 2016 saw the return of the importance of a full length album. Artists took new approaches to their work, and plenty of new wave artists made a name for themselves during the year.
Let’s take a look at what each month brought us this year in music.
For music, the month of January was filled with a mixture of emotions. While it had plenty of good records released, it was filled with death. Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner, and the Eagles’ Glen Frey both died unexpectedly during the month. Music icon David Bowie also passed away on January 10th. Bowie’s death was caused by cancer. His death was extremely unexpected, and not taken lightly throughout the entire world. The rockstar released his final studio album ‘Blackstar’ two days prior to his death.
This album was unlike any other that Bowie created. Bowie dying two days after his album release was very artistic, and destined. He hinted at his destiny multiple times throughout the album, and used it as his parting gift for the world. The song “Lazarus” opens with the lyrics, “look up here, I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” He also released a video for the storytelling song. Check it out below.
January also bought us a new approach from Rihanna on her ambitious eighth studio album, ‘Anti.’ The bonafide pop star focused more on making a full album, rather than just radio hits. The album goes deeper than her hit single “Work.” Notably, the album features a cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” “Desperado,” and “Needed Me.”
Up and coming pop/trap EDM artist Marshmello came about during the month as well, dropping his label debut project ‘Joytime.’ The bass dropping DJ had a very busy 2016 following this release. He toured around North America for a good portion of the year, as well as remixing some of pops biggest hits during the year. The biggest lingering question about Marshmello might be about his real identity. The DJ’s identity and real name has been left ambiguous. Marshmello has quickly become one of EDM’s go to DJs, and we’re excited for what is coming from him.
Raspy R&B singer Anderson .Paak dropped his second studio album ‘Malibu.’ Paak did a lot of developing this year as an artist. In fact, he got nominated for the Best New Artist category at the Grammys along with Chance the Rapper and the Chainsmokers. He released another album titled ‘Yes Lawd’ under the name NxWorries in October 2016 to go along with his solo album. .Paak also toured much of the year and was busy with a copious amount of features.
He notably featured on Mac Miller’s “Dang!” Miller’s single was voted a top 10 song of 2016 according to Time. You can stream NxWorries’ new album ‘Yes Lawd!’ here.
February carried the vibe of experimentalism in music. A good portion of albums that were released this month were from artists who presented new styles and approaches to their production. Particularly, Kanye West had a very busy month. His newest album ‘The Life of Pablo’ was released and his Yeezy Season 3 fashion premier event got sold out at Madison Square Garden. West previewed the album during his fashion event.
A new side of Kanye was on this album. It came off controversial to the public (much like a lot of what West does). He raps about dealing with certain hardships with the unique, rich lifestyle he lives throughout the album. His song “Famous” launched a debacle of drama with Taylor Swift, who he has had issues with in the past. The album also featured “No More Parties in LA” with Kendrick Lamar, “FML” with the Weekend, and “Real Friends” with Ty Dolla $ign.” “Ultralight Beams” opens the album an iconic collaboration with Chance the Rapper. Chance’s big year began with this feature, where he previewed his album that was released later in the year on his unforgettable feature.
The 1975 introduced their second studio album, following up their self titled first album back in 2013. The album carries a groovy vibe, and vividly shows the growth of the band. Notable songs include “Love Me,” “The Sound,” and “Somebody Else.” Frontman Matt Healy and company appeared at a number of summer festivals, including Lollapalooza, along with a tour in North America later in the year.
Experimentalist group Animal Collective shared their newest album ‘Painting With’ during the month as well. The group has been one of experimental music’s pioneers, producing since 2003. Their newest record flew under the radar, and did not receive the necessary credit for the work the four piece group put into it. Animal Collective’s sound consists of glitchy sounds and edited vocals, with catchy rhythms in the album. If you haven’t heard Animal Collective’s newest record, stream it here:
The month of March was a good one to be a hip-hop fan. A plethora of releases took place during the month from new wave artists, such as Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat” mixtape, and Young Thug’s “Slime Season 3” mixtape. New York rap group Flatbush Zombies surprised the rap community and debuted their first full EP titled “3001: A Laced Odyssey” during the month as well. Flatbush Zombies are a three piece group that primarily produce psychedelic/acid rap music. They’ve been around for over half a decade, forming in 2010 in Brooklyn. For a more in depth look on Flatbush Zombies, check out their SoundCloud page.
Perhaps the genre’s most exciting release of the month was Kendrick Lamar’s 8 song EP titled ‘Untitled Unmastered.’ This album was a collection of songs that were recorded at different points throughout the recording of his legendary 2015 record ‘To Pimp a Butterfly.’ The songs put on the EP each have different vibes, and showed Lamar’s versatility. The most impressive aspect of this EP is probably that these are previous recordings, just thrown onto an album, and the album was one of the best in rap for the entire year. It’s a testament to Kendrick’s unmatched talent. This album helps continue to build Lamar’s legacy in the rap world. The whole world is anxiously watching to see what Kendrick has in store for future plans.
On the other end of the genre spectrum, indie rock band White Denim also had a new album released during the month. White Denim formed a decade ago in Austin, Texas. Their newest album ‘Stiff’ is the groups seventh studio album and first album since the departure of two band members. Guitarist Austin Jenkins and drummer Josh Block both left the group in early 2015 to work on Leon Bridge’s debut album in 2015, ‘Coming Home.’ For White Denim, ‘Stiff’ is their first album in 3 years. The record is essentially a rediscovery of their identity. Vocalist and guitarist James Petralli carries a bluesy voice throughout the album. Petralli and new guitarist Jonathan Horne produce fresh psychedelic jam sounds on the album. Check out their new album ‘Stiff’ here.
While the month of April brought great new music, the end of the month was spent reflecting on the tragic death of Prince. The timeless pop legend was only 57. Much like David Bowie’s death, it was unexpected. Prince had been in the midst of a tour and performed his last show a week before he died. His death was tragic and taken harshly throughout the music world. Dozens of artists have and continue to perform covers from the pop legend throughout the entire year.
The month brought us a very diverse amount of music as well. Pop stars filled the month with iconic, record setting albums. Drake released his much anticipated 2016 album ‘Views.’ The pop star originally released the album on Apple Music exclusively on April 29th before it reached other platforms two weeks later. It became one of Spotify’s most streamed albums of all time, and was recently certified 4x Platinum. Beyonce shocked the world with her Tidal exclusive, award winning album ‘Lemonade.’ Beyonce beat Taylor Swift with all 12 tracks from her newest album appearing on the Billboard Hot 100. The pop icon notched 9 total Grammy nominations this year as well.
Folk band The Lumineers saw the release of their long-awaited sophomore album ‘Cleopatra’ during the month. The album followed up their self titled debut LP from 2012 which featured songs “Ho Hey,” “Stubborn Love,” and “Charlie Boy.” The modern folk group branched out and matured with this new album. While they weren’t as catchy or rhythmic as their first album, ‘Cleopatra’ is a story filled album. The new LP features catchy radio hits “Ophelia,” and “Cleopatra,” as well as more in-depth songs like “Gun Song,” “In the Light,” and “Angela.”
Pop experimentalist group M83 saw the release of their funky psychedelic album ‘Junk’. California rock group Weezer also had their self titled ‘White Album’ come out, which goes back to their west coast roots, and talks heavily about the progressive state. Weezer is currently up for best Rock Album at the Grammys this year.
Post punk/punk rock band Parquet Courts had one of the most successful releases this month. In a genre that is very particular, it can be hard to produce a unique style that stands out and is likable to people. The band out of New York started in 2011 and recently signed to Rough Trade Records in the UK. They produced their third and most recent studio album, ‘Human Performance’ with RTR. The band takes a daring, unique approach to their newest record, stream it below.
There’s just something about summertime that makes music special. The songs are happy, it’s nice outside, creating heavily positive vibes for people this time of year. Popular worldwide festivals begin to take place around this time, such as Hangout fest in Gulf Shores, and Summer Camp in Chillicothe, Illinois.
A plethora of music’s stars from all kinds of genres had albums featured during the month. Rock’s biggest release of the month came from 90s art rock band Radiohead. In their ninth studio album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool,’ they continue to impress with the amount of experimentalism and emotion that goes into their work. Singles “Burn the Witch,” and “Daydreaming” set the vibe for the rest of the album. Thom Yorke’s vocals are at his peak, chilling and effective. The production is mesmerizing to the point where you get lost in the music. It’s the groups first album since their rugged ‘King of Limbs’ record from 2011. Radiohead headlined Chicago festival Lollapalooza with their newest work, and are rumored to be headlining a few more festivals this upcoming summer.
The genre of rap was dominated by Chance the Rapper during this month, and for much of the year in fact. He had one of the biggest years of any artist in 2016. The 23 year old hip-hop artist released ‘Coloring Book’ on May 13th, which was voted Rolling Stone’s 3rd best album of the entire year. The rapper’s debut LP featured storytelling, club bangers, and a handful of gospel. Chance even had his own one day festival take place in Chicago in late September, and recently got nominated for 7 Grammy awards. At his young age and without a record label deal, Chance’s successes are going to continue to grow at an exponential rate. He continues to grow as an independent artist, and we are anxious to see what Chance the Rapper has in store for the future.
Other successful young artists such as pop EDM artist Flume, pop star Ariana Grande, and upcoming R&B artist James Blake all dropped albums for their respective genres. An under the radar album for the month of May came from English rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen. It was the pop rock’s sophomore album. Titled ‘The Ride,’ the group mimics the likes of former British band Oasis. They captivate you to sing along all throughout the LP, especially in “Soundcheck,” and “Oxygen.” You can stream the band’s second LP here.
During the month of June, we saw a revival of experienced artists releasing new music. Classic alternative group Red Hot Chili Peppers released their newest record ‘The Getaway,’ and longtime musician Paul Simon released some of his best solo work yet with his newest record ‘Stranger to Stranger.’ The Chili Peppers took stops at Rock on the Range and Lollapalooza this past summer, and have a busy 2017 planned for touring. The 13 track album is ambitious, and unlike anything the band has released before. At first listen it may be difficult to grasp, but the album grows on you and doesn’t stifle the bands success at all.
As for Paul Simon, he tends to take a new approach to each of his pieces of work. On his newest record ‘Stranger to Stranger,’ Simon shows a refusal to accept normalcy and wrote an adventurous piece of work. Simon’s newest work is carefully written and experimental for the long time song-writer. Some of my personal favorites on the album are “Insomniac’s Lullaby,” “Proof of Love,” and “Cool Papa Bell.”
June also saw the return of the Strokes, who released a strange yet fresh 4 song EP during the month titled ‘Future Present Past.’ West Coast rapper YG released one of 2016’s most notable anthems of 2016, “FDT” (F*** Donald Trump) which is apart of his newest album ‘Still Brazy.’ R&B artist Blood Orange released his third studio album titled ‘Freetown Sound’ during the month. This album is a personal document from Dev Hynes that talks about societal issues. To read more about Blood Orange’s new record, read Maxwell Denari’s article on it here.
Perhaps one of the most experimental albums in music for the year came from newly formed group known as The Claypool Lennon Delirium. The eerie psychedelic rock duo was formed from John Lennon’s son, Sean Lennon, and Primus bassist Les Claypool. The two artists, who come from opposite ends of the musical spectrum combined forces and created a record talking about modern societal issues filled with electric bass riffs, and trippy sounds. Boston University writer Adrian Thomas wrote more about the duo earlier in the year. You can read that here, and stream their debut LP ‘Monolith of Phobos’ below.
Much like most of the year, the month of July was a good one if you are a hip-hop fan. A good portion of rap albums released during the month were more trap-anthem related. Although this was the case many times, the year of the full length album trend did not stop. Artists such as DJ Khaled, Schoolboy Q, Gucci Mane, and Logic all made returns with new work and different styles. Gucci was released from prison and came out with a new project titled ‘Everybody Looking.’ The album comes as a transformation for the trap rapper and is one of a plethora of projects the Atlanta native has in 2016.
DJ Khaled became a pop culture icon early in the year through Snapchat believe it or not. His daily goofy phrases caught people’s attention. One of those phrases was “major key.” The producer made a nice bounce back album titled just that during the month. In Pitchfork’s review of Khaled’s ninth studio album in 10 years, they described it as “undoubtedly his best.” The album got nominated for Grammy’s under the Best Rap Album category.
However, like much of the past half decade, the month of July 2016 in rap was belonged to rap group TDE (Top Dawg Ent.) Rapper Schoolboy Q released his album ‘Blank Face LP.’ The bucket hat rapper followed up his major label debut ‘Oxymoron’ with the new 17 track LP. This album is very consistent throughout, with not many songs standing out, but overall shows the growing artistry for Q. It was one of rap’s quietest successes this year. TDE’s rising star carries a very sinister voice throughout the album, giving it a retro gangsta rap vibe. The album was also nominated for best rap album this year.
Punk rock millennial favorite band Blink-182 also released their newest album ‘California’ on the first day of the month. This album brings us a newly reinvented version of the band. Former vocalist Tom DeLonge left the band in 2015, causing controversy about the bands future. But, it didn’t stop Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker from giving us their high school never ends vibes. The band now has a new member, former Alkaline Trio guitarist Matt Skiba took DeLonge’s place in the band. Despite this drastic change to the band, their newest work is consistent with their history, with an increase in maturity. Songs like “San Diego,” “Sober,” and “California” have the catchy choruses that Blink has been giving us since ‘Enema of the State.’ The album was also nominated for best Rock Album at the Grammys this year. You can stream Blink 182’s newest album ‘California’ below.
School routines begin to take place, and the freedom of summer that always feels short-lived ends. In the midst of this transition, 28 year old alternative rhythm and blues artist Frank Ocean returns. After a four year hiatus that left people wondering if he would ever have more music, Ocean put those talks to rest by releasing two albums this month. Ocean previewed a visual album titled ‘Endless’ exclusively on Apple Music just days before releasing his second studio album ‘Blond.’
The beloved, unique artist goes down a different path, using glitchy electronic style to his newest album. It’s a confessing, romantic album that engulfs you with his voice and electric, trippy sounds. To say that the album is better then his debut LP ‘Channel Orange’ isn’t really fair. Ocean presents us with two completely different approaches, and shows growth on his new album. ‘Blond’ presents a style of R&B that not many people have the ability to pull off. Ocean seemed very comfortable throughout the album and kept it very consistent in the 17 track LP. “Ivy,” “Solo,” “White Ferrari,” “Godspeed,” and “Pink + White” are personal favorites of mine. The album was voted 5th in Rolling Stone’s top 50 albums of 2016. The artist will be headlining a number of festivals this upcoming summer in Europe and the U.S, but a full tour is not expected from Frank.
While Frank seemingly dominated the month of August, plenty of other groups and artists released worthy music. Indie-electronic group Glass Animals made a storied return with their sophomore album ‘How to be a Human Being.’ Their debut album ‘Zaba’ caught people’s attention immediately with the their groovy, otherworldly production mixed the soothing vocals from Dave Bayley. Their second LP takes a turn for reality. While Bayley’s vocal styles aren’t much different, their collection of real life situations and characters they present in the album can relate to people more than their first album. The group expanded their boundaries with their sound on this record. The album is groovy, cultural, and offers good perspective. Songs like “Life Itself,” “Mama’s Gun,” and “Season 2 Episode 3” are notable and personal favorites. You can stream ‘How to be a Human Being’ here.
As the transition from summer to fall weather begins to take place, we find ourselves in the last fraction of the year, and one of music’s busiest months. September featured plenty of my favorite albums for the entire year. One album in particular comes from one music’s best artistic growth stories, Mac Miller.
Miller released his 4th LP titled ‘The Divine Feminine.’ In a time that romanticism in hip-hop is rare to find, Mac executes the style with ease. He uses
soothing beats, paired with not just rapping, but singing. The rapper in recent months confirmed rumors that him and singer Ariana Grande are dating, which visualizes his confessing feelings in the album. Miller has a plethora of features on the album as well. Kendrick Lamar, Cee Lo Green, Ariana Grande, Ty Dolla $ign, and Anderson .Paak help bring the album full circle.
To read more on Mac Miller’s growth as an artist and to get an inside look on his tour and new album, read fellow Ball State writer Maxwell Denari’s article on the subject here.
One of the most challenging and perhaps weirdest albums of the year belonged to art pop’s Bon Iver. ’22, a Million’ is Iver’s first record since ‘Bon Iver’ back in 2011. The five year hiatus was well worth the wait on this album. The massive change of style Bon Iver goes through between the two albums is undeniable. Despite how seemingly difficult it may be to listen to at first, you learn to appreciate it. He unleashes his artistic strengths and incorporates experimental, glitchy sounds, and combines it with his empowering, emotional voice. The album has drawn many comparisons to Radiohead’s ‘Kid A.’ I urge you to check out this album if you haven’t already.
Like her sister, R&B artist Solange had one of the most successful releases of the year. But unlike Beyonce, this album flew more under the radar. Her third record ‘A Seat at the Table’ came out at the end of the month. The album shows maturity, and is very personal. The songwriter documents struggles and hardships that African Americans have experienced and continue to experience. Listening to the album is an eye-opening experience, and if you haven’t heard it, that needs to change.
The biggest mainstream release of the month belonged to Travis Scott. The exquisite producer/rapper delivered his new album ‘Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.’ Scott has rose to stardom very quickly as a rapper thanks to his notable work as a producer and collaborations with artists like Kanye West and Kid Cudi. The king of the trap develops his vocals and expands his production on his sophomore album. Songs like “Goosebumps,” “Pick Up the Phone,” and “Beibs in the Trap” showcase his versatile production ability, and his growing ability to not just rap, but tell stories. Scott is considered one of the Grammys biggest snubs for not getting nominated for Rap Album of the Year. Stream ‘Birds..’ here.
Outside of new music, the beginning of the month was concerning for rapper Kid Cudi. On October 4th, he checked himself into rehab for “suicidal urges.” He posted a note to his Facebook page that night describing that he “was never at peace.” It was the necessary move and a very brave move for Cudi. Cudi has been dealing with depression for most of his rapping career. While this saddened me, I applauded Kid Cudi for making the right decision and doing what’s best for him. Thankfully, he was released in early November from rehab, and is now feeling brand new.
In music, we see returns from some millennial favorite artists. People like Green Day, Lady Gaga, and Two Door Cinema Club had albums during the month. For Gaga and Green Day, it’s some of their best work in quite a while. For Gaga, the former radio hit pop star essentially throws that idea out the window. On her new album ‘Joanne,’ she turns for a very personal, heartfelt direction. She stays true to herself throughout the 11 song album. It’s very consistent and easy to listen to. It may not be the catchy,
extravagant Gaga that we’ve had in the past, but this album was a necessary step for her to find herself.
As mentioned earlier, indie-pop group Two Door Cinema Club had their third studio album ‘Gameshow’ delivered during the month. This band has been a personal favorite of mine since ‘Tourist History’ back in 2010. Their newest project flew under the radar, but it shows that they are finding their niche in the unique community of the pop rock world. Their new album is similar to the likes of the 1975. Check out their newest album ‘Gameshow.’
On the other end of the music spectrum, rap group A$AP Mob, led by psychedelic rapper A$AP Rocky, delivered their album ‘Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1 Friends.’ Rocky in particular on this tape flexes his leadership ability of the group. His bars on “Yamborghini High,” and “Money Man,” are catchy and engulfing to the point where you’re repeating them throughout the day. Cozy Tapes is the groups first collaboration album since member A$AP Yams’ death back in early 2015. The cover of the album features a baby with a similar scar on its face that Yams had on his face. While A$AP Mob comes together on the album, it’s essentially a showcase for Rocky to show off. Stream ‘Cozy Tapes..’ below.
One of the most iconic voices in music history in Leonard Cohen released his final studio album during the month as well. Despite being 82 years old, Cohen’s voice is seemingly eternal. His newest record ‘You Want it Darker,’ is a 9 song LP that has a total run time of about 38 minutes. His album is a reflection on himself, offering plenty of wisdom throughout his exiting album. Much like David Bowie’s scenario, Cohen died the first week of November, two weeks after this album. It sent a beautiful goodbye message, and we will miss his iconic voice and unmatched talent as a performer. You can stream Cohen’s final album below.
Other than the death of Cohen, and the sudden hospitalization of rapper Kanye West due to sleep deprivation after his political rants at concerts, music had a pretty successful month of releases. As the year is coming toward the final home stretch, quite a few popular groups and artists begin to make headlines during the month. In the world of hip-hop, one group in particular made news. 90s New York rap group A Tribe Called Quest came back with their first album in nearly 2 decades. It’s also the last album the group will release. Group leader Q-Tip gets plenty of the credit for vocals as well as production, and member Phife Dawg, who passed away in March, is featured heavily still on the album. I wrote a discussion/review piece on their newest album ‘We Got it From Here…Thank you 4 Your Service’ in November. You can read more on the groups final studio album here.
Despite ATCQ’s huge success on their newest album, it didn’t get the recognition it deserved. That’s because R&B star the Weeknd came out with his highly anticipated album ‘Starboy.’ Abel Tesfaye went through sort of an identity change in 2016. He released four singles from the album, including the album titled track “Starboy” which featured iconic electronic duo Daft Punk. This single’s music video indicated that Abel needed a change in his life, and he shows it in a chilling manner. The Weeknd’s new album is slightly lighter, and not as dark as his previous works. Even with that, his beats remain fresh and experimental. Songs “Sidewalks,” “Party Monster,” and “Starboy” are my favorites.
Heavy metal pioneer Metallica also released their album ‘Hardwired..to Self-Destruct.’ During the month of the election, the title of the album seemed fitting. The band of 50 year olds continue their unique innovation to the genre they helped become popular. On their first record since 2008, the band creates a lengthy album.
The 12 track record runs a total of
77 minutes, and is split to two parts. The album has had mixed reviews, which is completely normal for an older band to have happen. The album as a whole is what you’d expect from Metallica. It’s aggressive, innovative, angry, and for a metal band, disciplined. Go check out ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ if you haven’t already.
One of my personal favorite releases of the month belonged to a smaller rock group formed in Cape Cod. Highly Suspect is a newer group that revitalizes rock. They’re a young three piece band led by singer/guitarist Johnny Stevens. Stevens’ unique, raspy voice gives the band a darker, real identity. Their newest record ‘The Boy Who Died Wolf’ was released on the 18th, and it’s their sophomore album. We are at a time in music where you have to constantly change your style but have it fit your identity. Highly Suspect does just that and delivers us a storytelling, dark reality album with unique, engulfing instrumentals. Singles “Serotonia,” and “My Name is Human” give us a peak at the vibe that HS was aiming for. Stream their second record below.
Ah, December. We have finally arrived at the final month of the year in music. It doesn’t become any less busy than the rest of the year, either. A handful of very prolific releases have already come out, including my favorite record of the year. The trend of prolific albums is set to continue for the rest of the month.
On December 8th, we saw the release of a surprise album. J. Cole’s newest record ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ was released that night. Cole announced the album no more than a week and a half in advance, and fans reacted crazily. At first glance, it’s exactly what you would expect from Jermaine. It has no features once again, and is a true testament to his storytelling ability focusing on his past and hardships growing up where he did. Cole has never been a very flashy rapper, but we’ve come to appreciate what he brings to the table. The only problem I have with this album is that it really doesn’t change much about Cole’s style. But is that really a problem?
Not really, because this is the J. Cole we’ve come to know as vintage. J. Cole is uber talented, and he captivates you with his lyrics offering perspective and choruses that you can sing along to. His work ethic is just as good to the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. His newest album dives into his soul, and shows raw emotion, with a mix of self centeredness. Songs “Neighbors,” “4 Your Eyez Only,” “Deja Vu,” and both parts of “She’s Mine” are my favorites. If you were a fan of ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive,’ then you will love ‘4 Your Eyez Only.’
My personal number one album in all of 2016 belonged to Childish Gambino. His newest project ‘Awaken, My Love!’ is one of the biggest transitions between LPs by any artist I have seen in my lifetime. Donald Glover completely throws out the idea of being a rapper during this album. He takes direct inspiration from 70s soul and funk music, with names such as Funkadelic and James Brown coming to mind. Gambino made this album way out of its time. When you listen to it, you can get lost in its variety of sounds. This is a 70s album, with the only difference being Glover’s lyrics and singing style at times.
In terms of the production of the album, it’s the cleanest of anything Gambino has made. All together, it’s colorful, experimental, and funky. His vocal versatility shows throughout the album, with a hint of autotune being used every now and then. The first half of the album and the second half of the album carry different vibes and stories. Tracks such as “Me and Your Mama,” “Have Some Love,” and “Riot” are very energetic and layered with sounds very carefully, and contain loads of groove. On the second half, “Stand Tall,” and “Baby Boy” are calmer and more lyrically based.
One aspect in terms of production that surprised me was the copious amounts of instrumentals used. “The Night Me and Your Mama Met” features a soothing guitar instrumental that seems to come out of nowhere. My personal favorite, “Redbone” has so many beautiful elements to it. Gambino’s autotune in the song is fitting for the chilling vibe it gives. The chorus is catchy, where Gambino warns us to “stay woke.” The song is powerful, groovy, and sends a necessary message. You can stream ‘Awaken, My Love!’ below.
Albums from rappers Drake and Kid Cudi are also both set to release before the end of the year.
Ultimately, our ears and minds were blessed with such a variety of beautiful artistic abilities throughout the year. We can only hope that the year of 2017 will be nearly as successful as 2016 was for music throughout.
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