We are slowly coming to the end of 2016 which was a great year for music if I don`t say it myself, we heard so many great albums and saw so many great comebacks that have uplifted and inspired people all around. Solange made a much welcomed return with arguably one of the best albums in years “A Seat On The Table” which managed to join her sister`s groundbreaking album “Lemonade” at charting at number one. Britney Spears released a gem of an album “Glory” which saw her getting back to the old Britney we grew up with, she expressed so much confidence and her vocals shined. And this year we also saw Fantasia step all the way out of her comfort zone and create a masterpiece that displayed her creativity beautifully. And we were introduced to so many great artist this year that have touched me with their creative sounds and strong voices.
‘I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up, I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.’
What I loved about this album is the fact that she was willing to experiment and push at the boundaries of her sound and showcase different sides to her that many people can relate to as she did with her 2013 album, “Beyoncé”. The visual album is both an ode to black women and a deeply personal love story dealing with all the ups and downs of a relationship – tackling urgent themes such as paranoia, anger, denial, redemption and forgiveness.
My favorite track is “Sorry” an upbeat number that sees her displaying a “sorry not sorry” attitude, as she heads to the club with her girls and is not paying her cheating ex not one bit of attention, she is over him:“Me and my baby, we gon’ be alright, we gon’ live a good life. Big homie better grow up, me and my whoadies ’bout to stroll up. I see them boppers in the corner, they sneaking out the back door. He only want me when I’m not there, he better call Becky with the good hair…” It`s all about taking your power back and focusing on rebuilding yourself from a bad relationship..
Also “All Night”, a love ballad that samples Outkast`s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”, it finds her singing about staying committed to her man even through all the ups and downs, as the love they share will rise above anything that comes their way: “They say true love’s the greatest weapon to win the war caused by pain but every diamond has imperfections. But my love’s too pure to watch it chip away, Oh nothing real can be threatened. True love breathes salvation back into me with every tear came redemption and my torturer became a remedy…”
“I think it’s a place at the table, to me, is an invitation to allow people to pull up a chair, get too close and have these hard truths and uncomfortable to be shared, it will not be beautiful, will not be fun, you can not get to dance to it, you will not breathe easily through it, but this is the state of the times we’re in now . it’s my invitation to actually open the doors and have that voice, get confused and put out my truths and stand firm on them. “she explains.
“A Seat at the Table”is more than an album as it sounds more like pages of a diary, meticulously torn from the connection of a mind, extremely important piece of work that sees she recognizing the struggles of black people and uses her voice to highlight them and also uplift us – making us feel like we belong. One of my favorite songs is ‘ Cranes in the Sky ” which talks about grief and denial, dynamic and her airy vocals are heaven and that high note towards the end is beautiful. And another one favorite of mine is Mad” featuring Lil Wayne, which speaks on the frustration within black communities and their right to be upset at the injustices they face.
3. Fantasia – ‘The Definition Of…’
“I fought for this album. So much to the point where I think I got on on people’s nerves, I love music across the board. Not just gospel but R&B, pop, rock, jazz, country, I have a country song on my album. I said I’m not going to allow anyone to put me in a box anymore. How are you going to tell me what to sing and how to sing if I’m the artist. Right?”
“The Definition Of…” finds her more fearless, raw and transparent, unafraid to display all her emotions and make the listeners feel her words, her confident vocals reflect the strength she has discovered. The album incorporates numerous styles of music from R&B, pop, jazz, rock and country. As Fantasia continues to grow and is fearlessly taking huge risks that are paying off as her artistry is becoming more richer and richer and she is exploring more ways of touching people, not boxing herself like most artist do nowadays.
My favorite track hands down is “Sleeping With The One I Love” a big, bold and dramatic ballad with a classic 60`s soul sound to it that is very reminiscent of artists like James Brown, Sam Cooke,Tom Jones and Curtis Mayfield and was written by the legendary R. Kelly. “I’m sleeping with the one I love, ’cause the one I’m with is good to me, but just ain’t good enough,” sings Fantasia over brassy horn segments, about the man that treats her well and gives her all the material comforts isn’t the one that her heart longs for.
4. Britney Spears – Glory
“It took a lot of time, but I think we brought it to a level where I was really, really happy with what I had. It’s cool, it’s really different. I think this is probably the most hip-hop album. Not most—there are like two or three songs that go in the direction of more urban that I’ve wanted to do for a long time now, and I just haven’t really done that…It’s a really good record, and I’m very, very proud of it.”
When Spears released her ninth album “Glory” had no high hopes of it being anything more than average that mainly due to being disappointed by her over the years, but she come back harder than ever and shut me down with this album. It displayed so much maturity and is surprisingly more polished and sophisticated. The album is good from start to finish with very few flaws but overall this is one of her greatest musical offerings to date, up to par with her classic groundbreaking albums “In The Zone” and “Blackout”. You can put it on replay over and over without losing interest, quite infectious. My favorite song is ‘Slumber Party’, laced with edgy lyrics over heavy smooth bassline, distinct brass, and marimba-groove. Happy she added Tinashe on the remix as they complimented each other and she came out of her shell once again.
5. JoJo – ‘Mad Love’
“In the beginning of the year, when I started on this album, I got into the studio while at the end of this relationship that I wasn’t really able to let go of, and Mad Love is a product of talking about that. Sometimes the emotions are so strong that you stay in it because it’s so exhilarating. What you get from it is passion and crazy and intensity, even though it might not be good for you. It’s so abundant, it’s so strong, and it’s what you’re used to and what you end up craving. That’s the standpoint that I wrote it from.”
Unapologetic and with absolutely zero f*cks to give, JoJo returns to the limelight by releasing her long awaited third album “Mad Love” The most important feature about this album is there are no bad or skip worthy songs. She sounds so legit in this album, her vocals are more polished than her previous works and her material is more mature. One of my favorite tracks is “High Heels” which is such a ‘fuck you, you lost out on a good thing because you let me go’ song, needs to be a single and I absolutely love the title track, talks about being in a very intense place in her life where she is struggling with letting go of a bad relationship, as much as she sees all the signs she can`t free herself as the love is so deep to let go, we can all relate to that. Loving the soulful retro production, that she laces up with her powerful vocals, she makes you feel her pain and passion.
Sia – “This Is Acting”
Tweet – “Charlene”
Drake – “Views”
Chance the Rapper- “Coloring Book”
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”
Frank Ocean – “Blonde”
Tove Lo – “Lady Wood”
M.I.A – “AIM”
Ariana Grande – “Dangerous Woman”
Rihanna – “ANTI”
Fifth Harmony – “7/27”
Gwen Stefani – “This Is What The Truth Feels Like”
Zayn Malik – “Mind Of Mine”
Grace – “FMA”