Emily's D+Evolution shows a more eclectic and experimental side of Esperanza Spalding. Marking a stark departure from her upright bass-driven jazz sound and offering a more rock/funk-based effort, Spalding tried something new, and it worked.
Track You Need To Hear: "Funk the Fear"
Released: March 4, 2016 | Concord Records
2016 was an excellent year for Drake. He was omnipresent on the charts and in pop culture and broke streaming records with his biggest album to date. With VIEWS, Drake flexed his muscles and further established his reign as one of the smartest hitmakers in music today. If there was ever any doubt to his star status before, Drake removed all of that with this album.
Track You Need To Hear: "Weston Road Flows"
Released: April 29, 2016 | Young Money Entertainment
Death Grips is like liver; it's an acquired taste that if you love it, you absolutely love it, but if you don't, you hate it. The sound on Bottomless Pit is unmistakable — it is powerful, aggressive, and confrontational — and also showcases the genius of drummer/producer Zach Hill and the unique lyrical delivery of MC Ride. Whether it worked or not, this album is Death Grips' attempt at reaching a wider range of listeners, but on their own terms.
Track You Need To Hear: "Giving Bad People Good Ideas"
Released: May 6, 2016 | Harvest Records
One of the most exciting albums to come out of the British hip-hop scene in years, the grimy Konnichiwa is easily digestible, but is far from boring. Skepta entered the scene with the fantastic single "Shutdown," and the combination of the album's top-notch production and his fresh voice helped him establish himself as an up-and-comer we need to pay attention to.
Track You Need To Hear: "Shutdown"
Released: May 6, 2016 | Boy Better Know
Two of indie rock's most notable songwriters, Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) and Rostam (ex-Vampire Weekend) joined forces and created I Had a Dream That You Were Mine. The combination of Rostam's unique sound and Leithauser's signature voice proved to be an inspired one, weaving together different musical styles that still manages to sound cohesive.
Track You Need To Hear: "A 1000 Times"
I Had a Dream That You Were Mine
Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
Released: September 23, 2016 | Glassnote Records
The Healing Component is reminiscent of the '90s Midwest hip-hop scene and evokes comparisons to Common and Slum Village, but with a modern twist. It is impressive that despite Mick Jenkins' youth, he still manages to capture the purely conscious essence of that sound — a feat that would make College Dropout-era Kanye proud.
Track You Need To Hear: "Drowning"
The Healing Component
Released: September 23, 2016 | Cinematic
With Nightride, Tinashe's follow-up to 2014's Aquarius, the singer continued proved that if it's not broken, don't fix it. In the same vein of the melancholy, atmospheric R&B that she's made her name on, her latest effort is another solid effort that shows Tinashe establishing herself in a genre full of already-established singers. Though the album isn't technically her proper sophomore album, Tinashe says it herself at the end of “Sacrifices”: “I will not be ignored.”
Track You Need To Hear: "Sacrifices"
Released: November 4, 2016 | RCA Records
On Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, we find some of heavy metal's biggest living legends once again attempting to recapture the sound of their early days. 2008's lackluster Death Magnetic was a similarly-themed record, but Hardwired... sees the band as focused as they have been in recent memory. Through Kirk Hammett's crushing guitar riffs and James Hetfield's growling howl, it even sounds like they're having fun again — and Hardwired...To Self-Destruct is the band's best album in 25 years because of it.
Track You Need To Hear: "Atlas, Rise!"
Released: November 18, 2016 | Blackened
You knew to look out for this album before it ever happened: the legendary Iggy Pop was joining forces with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme — and they did not disappoint. Post Pop Depression is a hard-rocking, middle-finger-to-the-world affair that shows that music history's first true punk still has a lot to say.
Track You Need To Hear: "Paraguay"
Post Pop Depression
Released: March 18, 2016 | Loma Vista Recordings
The rise of Touché Amoré from up-and-coming post-hardcore rockers to legitimate heavyhitters has been notable, to say the least. Following up 2013's anthemic Is Survived By, the band's most recent effort Stage Four is another relentless and heartbreaking affair. Highlighted by the band's immense musicianship, dizzying tempos, and Jeremy Bolm's impassioned shouts, Stage Four sees a band whose own intensity is only surpassed by their own searing honesty.
Track You Need To Hear: "Palm Dreams"
Released: September 16, 2016 | Epitaph