De La Soul – and the anonymous nobody
This was without a doubt my favourite album of 2016. I kinda find it baffling that it didn’t make it on to more end of year lists but I guess De La just aren’t as hip as Tribe.
But also, I kinda get why it didn’t. The album is a really great pop album. It’s not really very cool. It’s certainly less hard-hitting than the Tribe album. It’s less hiphop than the Tribe album.
But it’s a beautiful record. It’s line-up of guests slot in so seamlessly – from Estelle to Snoop to Jill Scott to Roc Marciano and Justin Bloody Hawkins. It’s almost like a compilation except for the fact that it flows so smoothly. It reminds me of the Gorillaz albums. It’s eclectic but its hiphop is so warm and it rolls. It’s self-aggrandising but there’s not enough of De La on it. It’s a proper album. It fits together beautifully. I love De La Soul and this album almost made me cry.
A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from here… thank you 4 your service
This was also an unexpectedly good comeback. Q-tip is a genius and he managed to produce an album that was so completely 2016 without sounding like anything else released this year.
David Bowie – Blackstar
Speaking of comebacks….enough has been written about this that I have very little to add. Except to say I listened to this album more than any other since Tin Machine. (I was going to say Let’s Dance and then I remembered how much I loved Tin Machine. I was just 16…) And this really did make me cry. It was just astonishing that he created this masterpiece and then just left. Wow.
The Orb – COW/Chill out, world!
Speaking of comebacks! Another overlooked record. This was a distillation of pure Orb. It wasn’t quite as good as The KLF’s Chill Out. I can pay it no higher praise.
I had almost given up on modern hiphop. For me it’s been diminishing returns since about 2008 as the Future-Kendrick-YG-Young Thug drug-slurred filth beats have taken over. But Kamaiyah’s album was great. It’s 2016 hiphop alright but with a very 70s keyboard sound that’s timeless.
Pure organic housetrance…..matched only by Will Long’s Long Trax
Speaking of organic trance….
Sea, sun, energy….beauty
Probably the most beautiful record released this year
Probably my favourite mix of the year
Heavy. Jaw-droppingly good. Iran….maan. I need more.
I’ve been looking for Sufi music like this since I discovered Sufism.
Hannah Peel – Awake but always dreaming
This sounded like 21st century St Etienne to me. Which is just fine in my book.
This was possibly the record that surprised me most – a really unique soulful sound. However, I get the feeling he’s only just getting started. The real delight might come on his second album.