RapNerdLeeb’s-Top 25 of 2016

The Year 2016 was a year that will undoubtedly go down as one of the most trying times in recent human history. Social unrest and complete upheaval were the norm for the past 365 and a unusually high number of celebrity deaths accented a year that was full of personal lows for many people, myself included. The  music that came out in 2016 offered a mixed range of emotions. While some gave off jubilant vibes, others took on a more somber, darker tone and it created a unique listening experience. Without further delay, here are the Top 25 Albums of 2016.

 

25.   Anonymuz- Vice City

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This project was the first time I had ever heard of Anonymuz but I was pleasantly surprised. His unrelenting flow and lyrical ability coupled with superb production made this a very enjoyable listen and I implore you all to give “Vice City” a spin.

24.  Drake-Views

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2016 saw Drake catapult into the “Hip-Pop” stratosphere  with is most commercially successful album to date. I do find it a bit ironic that this has to be my least favorite of his projects, but hey 4 million+ love this album so what do I really know right?

23.  Gucci Mane- The Return of the East Atlanta Santa

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2016 also saw the return of Radric Davis otherwise known as Gucci Mane or The East Atlanta Santa. When he was released from prison he hit the ground running and dropped three separate albums with this being my favorite of the three…Here’s hoping that Guwop stays with this trend of improving with the music so we can get the ultimate Gucci album that we’ve all been waiting for.

22. Kanye West- The Life of Pablo

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Kanye is a genius for better or worse. He’s also one of the most polarizing figures in the culture. Although this album was an improvement over “Yeezus” ,it’s still hit or miss with a lot of people…I for one will continue to support and I hope he’ll find his way back to the music soon.

21.  The Lox- Filthy America….It’s Beautiful

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After years of waiting, Hip-Hop heads were finally treated to a proper Lox album. To say it was worth the wait might be a bit of an overstatement as many expectations were not met. But the album served its purpose as it held down long time fans of the group and introduced younger fans to a trio that stood the test of time.

21. Bj the Chicago Kid- In My Mind

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Bj is a very talented singer and songwriter. I was more than pleased listening to this album as he displayed all of his talents and brought them to the forefront.  This project is a slow burn but will age very well if you give it a chance.

20. Rapsody- CROWN

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Rapsody took absolutely no prisoners on this EP. Every song was lyrical and thought-provoking. To me this was a declarative statement that if ANY rapper, man or woman wants the proverbial “crown” they are going to have to run it by her first.

19.  James Blake- The Colour In Anything

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Every one that I ran this album by..left me scratching their heads…I know it’s not for everybody but this is poetry. The melodies, the lyrics, the vocal inflections, all make for a very enjoyable listen if you’re into the more nuanced side of R&B .

18.  De La Soul- and the Anonymous Nobody

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De La Soul are underground heroes…I say that because they have consistently dropped stellar material for years and have managed to remain relevant organically…and this album is a testament to their endurance.

17. Elzhi- Lead Poison

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Elzhi has to be one of the most underrated  lyricist in Hip-Hop today. The way he crafts his bars and uses them to create sonic masterpieces is truly remarkable..And I haven’t heard it done quite like him. Go listen to this album NOW!

16. Common Black America Again

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Black America Again saw a return to form for the “Conscious MC” known as Common. I personally favored “Nobody’s Smiling” and its grim/bleak tone but this album felt like the rainbow after the storm. And that is where it’s brilliance lies.

15. Beyonce- LEMONADE

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Truth be told, Lemonade made me a Beyonce fan. This project could have been easily a series of Top 40 anthems and no one would have been mad because she is a brilliant entertainer. I feel that she made a conscious effort to go against the grain and make music that resonated with all women of color.

14.  Kid Cudi- Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin’

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Kid Cudi was at a crossroads in his career. With the less than favorable reviews of his previous effort “Speeding Bullet to Heaven”, Cudi realized that his core was alienated and he had to return to a sound and feeling that was more familiar. He achieved that with this record, a sound scape that can only be described as a kaleidoscope of emotions. I love it.

13.  Isaiah Rashad-The Sun’s Tirade

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Isaiah Rashad continued the trend of stellar releases under the T.D.E. umbrella with The Sun’s Tirade. Not relying on the star power of the label’s “stars” Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q, Rashad was able to carve out his individual sound and simultaneously gained traction among the Top Dawg faithful that were solely fans of the other artists on the roster.

12.  Pete Rock & Smoke Dza-Don’t Smoke Rock

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Pete Rock is without question on the short list for greatest producers of all time. Once he decided to team up with underground stalwart Smoke Dza, the response was universally positive. The pairing is surprisingly organic and it gave me some of Smoke Dza’s strongest lyrical performances to date.

11.  J Dilla- The Diary

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Everyone that knows me knows J Dilla is the G.O.A.T. The steady output of posthumous releases in the 10+ years since his death only solidifies his status as the greatest producer to ever live.

10. Chance The Rapper- Coloring Book

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If 2013’s “Acid Rap” was a benchmark for the new generation, then 2016’s “Coloring Book” was the preface of whats to come in the future. Although there  was a slight departure in actual “raps” he more than made up for it with songs that resonated deeply within the culture.

9. Travis Scott- Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight

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Travis Scott was quoted as saying “I wanted to get straight to the point with this album”. Did he ever…Every track blended together seamlessly  and this ended up being his most complete project thus far.

 

8.  Ab-Soul- Do What Thou Wilt

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Soul Brother No. 2 returned to the fray with a bold statement to make. That he is a lyrical tyrant that’s not to be messed with. As a wordsmith he’s easily top 10 in the game period. You can tell he actually listened to his fans  and gave them what they wanted, which was supreme lyricism.

7. Maxo Kream- The Persona Tape

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Maxo Kream is a talented MC. Even with his content being less than desirable to the purist out there,  they would be hard pressed to say that he is not a force to be reckoned with. His rapid fire flow and the unrepentant lyrics heard on this album prove that there is such a thing as lyrical “Trap Music” and he’s probably best out at the current moment.

6.  Anderson .Paak- Malibu

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I’ll admit I was late to the Anderson .Paak train as I only just started hearing him on Dr. Dre and Game’s previous projects. Once I got hip and delved into his solo work, what I discovered was a talent that is so raw but yet so progressive that it would be hard to not feel his music on a subconscious level..This album is THAT good.

5. Solange- A Seat at the Table

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Every Solange project has been something special. The perfect blend of love, power, grace, and just all around magic. So it serves as no surprise that ” A Seat at the Table” would be a culmination of all her trials and triumphs. This is literally  2016’s Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the world is better for it.

4. Childish Gambino- Awaken My Love!

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Childish Gambino came from left field with this album, but I mean that in the  best way possible. I totally wasn’t expecting this record to be pure funk and soul influenced. Every track oozed with so much saccharin nastiness that you might get an ear infection if you’re not careful. Gambino made George Clinton proud.

3. Game-1992

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I’ve been a long time Game fan so I always knew that at his most focused, Game is Top 5 in the current era of Hip-Hop. People spent a lot of time  lamenting over his constant Name-dropping and his chameleon like abilities to rap like whoever was featured on his records. Game put an end to the nonsense and gave his fans and detractors 12 tracks of pure lyrical mayhem with NO features..1992 is hands down my favorite Game album in his entire catalog.

2.  ScHoolboy Q- Blank Face LP

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1. A Tribe Called Quest- We Got From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service

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A Tribe Called Quest has a very special place in my heart. Growing up listening to the entire Native Tongue collective taught me individuality. Walking around my house with my hand over my eye mimicking Dave from De La Soul on the “Award Tour” song. Telling my  mom I wanted to be a “Dungeon Dragon”  for Halloween. Getting into trouble playing on the roof wearing a Seton Hall Jersey. Being so hype to watch The Wayan’s Bros. opening sequence in the later seasons just to hear the chords of “Electric Relaxation”.  Losing Phife Dawg this year definitely hurt because for me, Tribe music was the soundtrack of my formative years. Even in early adulthood, hearing the music they created with J Dilla was something that I will cherish forever. This current album was a fitting tribute to brotherhood and overall harmony. It’s bittersweet because in the end, Phife passed on giving us his heart and soul and leaving it all in the booth. Phife…you’re a legend, I want to thank you, Q-tip, Ali Shaheed, Jairobi and everyone who contributed to the sound and shaped my childhood and the childhood of millions of others the world over…..Album Of The Year.

RapNerd Leeb 2016-The Playlist

Welcome to RapNerdLeeb.Com!  To all the new followers thank you for your time and willingness to explore my perspective and to ALL my folks that have been rocking with me since Day One…Thank You for your unwavering support on this arduous journey…This is the end of the beginning…….

Without Further Ado…I bring to you My personal playlist of 2016…these are the songs that kept me going for the past 365 and I’m sure I’ll carry them into 2017…Get prepared to press play!.

1.  Common-Pyramids 

With Common dropping his much anticipated follow-up to  2014’s  “Nobody’s Smiling”, 2016’s “Black America Again”  was a welcomed return to form for the Chicago MC…This track showcases Common at his lyrical apex and proves that he’s as cold as ever.

2.   6lack-Rules 

Now I’ll be the first to admit I was put on to his man’s music earlier in the year with his single “PRBLMS”. I found that single to be catchy and moody and I eagerly anticipated the release of a full length project. Once “Free 6lack” was released in November… I was able to stumble upon this gem of  a song. Don’t sleep ya’ll this is this years Bryson Tiller.

3.  ScHoolboy Q-Tookie Knows II

Now what would my playlist be without some T x D x E Representation!?  2016 saw the return of ScHoolboy Q. Every single and subsequent visual to this masterpiece of an album was truly a work of art. I don’t want to flood the playlist with all his music so just take this entry on my list as a sample size of what his album had to offer.

4. Anderson .Paak- The Season/Carry Me/ The Waters

Bruhhhhh….I don’t have enough superlatives to describe how great “Malibu” is. For lack of better terms I’ll just say that this album pure fire! If you haven’t heard it yet…PLEASE do yourself a favor and go handle that…Thank Me Later.

5.  Pusha T Ft. JAY Z- Drugs Dealers’s Anonymous

Even though Push did the pump fake with his is anticipated “King Push” LP he still managed to bless us with a summer time BANGER…ANDDD he even enlisted the help of The God MC H-O-V….Who arguably dropped the best verse of the year. This song is ridiculous.

6. Drake- Child’s Play

“Views” is Drake most commercially successfu albuml of his career and for good reason…His formula and his ability to craft songs that cater to every genre with ease. Although Views is not my personal favorite when it comes to Drake albums, I have to give credit where its due. Here’s hoping his next album he’ll get back to bars or somewhat close to them.

7.  Meek Mill-Pray  For Em

In the year following one of 2015’s most epic  “beefs”  Many of the Meek Mill faithful wondered would he be able to recover  from the  “World’s Tour, Girl’s Tour” fiasco…Short answer…He did…Not as hard as I would have liked him to..But his lane is solidified after being battled tested.

8.  Bj The Chicago Kid- Love Inside

Bj is one of my personal favorites. His music resonates with me deeply and above that…its just damn good…Another slow groove banger for you to get right with your significant other. Trust Me.

9. French Montana  ft. Kodak Black- Lockjaw

Man I really wish French was able to have proper roll out for MC4…his singles for the project are monstrous and definitely would have had a successful run on the charts. This single is proof of that. Even the casual hip-hop listeners enjoy this song…. And Even with such a polarizing young rapper Kodak Black having such a prominent feature.

10. Beyonce-Sorry

ALL.HAIL.QUEEN.BEY!  “Lemonade” is arguably Album of the year and for very good reason…this album is amazing..Track for track  pure awesomeness..I even tolerated the country song…AND I HATEEE COUNTRY with a passion. But if anyone could make me listen and appreciate that genre, it would be Beyonce.

11. Childish Gambino- Me and Your Mama

Donald Glover you are indeed a wizard sir. This song much like the album is Pure..Unadulterated..Cosmic Funk! My goodness this will be in heavy rotation for much of my 2017 and I’m sure for years to come.

12.  Drama Duo Ft. Via Rosa-Hopes Up

If this song doesn’t get you moving and shaking, snapping and trapping, spitting  and skitting in your cubicle or while you’re commuting to and from work..Frankly you have no soul and I do not wish to ever come in contact with you a day in my life. Period

13.   Isaiah Rashad-Park

Another TDE entry on my playlist is Isaiah Rashad..and underrated and often-times slept on MC in the camp..He delivered a well-crafted, well executed follow-up to his criminally slept on “Cilvia Demo Ep”…You guys have no more excuses..his music is legit, consider yourself formally reintroduced…

14. Gucci Mane-First Day Out The Feds

G-U-C-C-I  M-A-N-E ..Guwop, The East Atlanta Santa, The OddFather, The BurrPrint, Mr. Zone 6…Hit the ground running since being released from prison and hasn’t looked back since. Now he has much better songs than this but considering this is the first song  he dropped since coming home, this was a great launching pad.

15. Nipsey Hussle-Stressed Out

Even though Im STILL waiting for the Victory Lap to drop…I used Nipsey’s “Slauson Boy” Mixtape to tide me over until that day happens. This song was one of my standout tracks on the tape and it rides to this day.

16. Kid Cudi-Surfin

After the year that was 2016…Probably the most challenging of  my adult life thus far, This song served as my personal anthem and as a beacon of hope and I’m sure it did the same for millions of listeners throughout the world..The positive vibes that flow from this record are undeniable and serve as a testament to true creative power.

17.  Solange- Cranes In The Sky

A Seat at the Table is an important album. Critical and commercial acclaim aside, this album is beaming with songs of reality and and triumph. Everything about it is stellar. The clean, melodic grooves and the overall flow of the record make for a groundbreaking listen and deserves to be mentioned alongside albums like “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and “Acoustic Soul” by India Arie…This album is true artistry.

18. The Game-What Your Life Like

I’m not ashamed to say that I am a Game fan. Dude is arguably one the best lyricist on the west coast and probraly in the entire rap game..when hes not drowning his albums with features and just going for dolo with the bars and rapping like himself…He’s in the top 10 of current MCs…Easily

19. Travis Scott ft. Young Thug- Yeah Yeah

If I was counting unfinished songs as real complete ideas…then this would more than likely  be a top 5 song of the year…But I AM counting unfinished songs so therefore..This track rides without a doubt.

20. Kendrick Lamar-Untitled 07 (Levitate)

I’m not sure where this would have fit on To Pimp A Butterfly but since it was included on “Untitled.Unmastered” it was an absolute standout track with tons of replay value..I love this song.

…..And  there you have it good folks of the internet, RapNerd Leeb’s Playlist of 2016! Hope you all enjoyed reading and possibly heard some gems that resonate with you.. Peace til next time…….