We’re at the end of the year. Yap, that quickly 2016 will soon be a speck in the rearview mirror. Before we say goodbye to another eventful 12 months, let’s take time to reminisce on the best of the new albums released. The R&B/soul scene was particularly blessed this year with some epic drops from emerging acts and timely reminders of legendary prowess from accomplished legends.
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
From the time he put the world on notice of his talents on Dr. Dre’s ‘Compton’ comeback album, .Paak has not missed a beat. Besides a list of features longer than his arm, the Californian dropped his second album, as Anderson .Paak, that is. ‘Malibu’ was as eclectic as an R&B album could get, if fact, it’s almost disrespectful to categorize the rap-singer’s phenomenal release. Standout track on this (this was a really tough call) has to be ‘Am I Wrong’.
Solange – A Seat at the Table
Solange Knowles has never adopted convention when it comes to making music and it showed in ‘A Seat at the Table’. But you would be hard pressed to find an album that so comprehensively conveyed a mood as this. There was defiance and black pride expressed clearly in ‘F.U.B.U.’ and ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, emphasized in interludes narrated by Master P. Most folks admit to falling for ‘Cranes in the Sky’ first and I fall in that group. The theme of the album is expressed clearly in this song’s video as well.
Beyoncé – Lemonade
Let’s just agree that every Beyoncé release is bound to be a winner, whether or not it’s promoted. ‘Lemonade’ is no exception going by its platinum status and the slew of Grammy nominations it bagged. Key to the record’s success is the deeply personal message it conveys and how many (not just ladies) could relate to it. Appearances by rap king Kendrick Lamar and pop star The Weeknd also helped. ‘Daddy Lessons’ was the one song you wouldn’t expect to find in a Bey album and that’s why I love it.
Maxwell – blackSUMMERS’night
After a keenly-felt, seven-year drought, fans of 90s R&B heartthrob Maxwell were finally quenched with the coming of ‘blackSUMMERS’night’. It was in some ways a sequel to 2009’s ‘BLACKsummers’night’, but yet still very much felt like it’s own project, manufactured from scratch. Maxwell albums are noted for their sensuality, emotional honesty and lack of featured guests and this year’s release was no exception. ‘1990x’ for me is one of those Halley’s comet type jams that comes once in a generation, and its visual is out of this world.
Yuna – Chapters
It’s not every day you have a Malay artist turning the world of R&B on its head, but that’s what Yunalis binti Mat Zara’ai, known widely as Yuna, has done. Her latest album, ‘Chapters’ cemented her status in the game, earning her comparisons with soul goddess Sade. It was a quiet, lush blend of pop and R&B that music lovers of all ages could relate to. While the duet with Usher offers beautiful throwback moments, none of the 13 tracks compares to ‘Places To Go’.
Completing our top 10 list are the albums below:
Anthony Hamilton – What I’m Feelin’
Charles Bradley – Changes
Nathan Sykes – Unfinished Business
Jaheim – Struggle Love
Kandace Springs – Soul Eyes
Miami Based, Internationally Known