Anticipation is such a peculiar feeling when it comes to music in 2016. All this music makes me feel as if I’m in a grand buffet with endless platters of food, and even with a full plate, my eyes can’t help but wander to the chefs that are bringing out the next fresh batch.
Even with albums by Kanye and Kendrick, ScHoolboy and Drake, Anderson .Paak and Chance The Rapper jamming in my iTunes, there’s plenty of releases to come that would cause the most satisfied music lover to salivate. It feels like the second you press play on an intro there’s five brand new albums vying for your attention. The high volume of music can be overwhelming, but it’s also exciting.
2016 is all about catching them all, so here are a few albums that I’m looking forward to the most.
“It’s a chaotic fusion of warped soul, distorted hooks, and extraterrestrial demonic spirituals,” is how Jeff Weiss described the music he heard while interviewing Vince Staples for Fader - music that will appear on Vince’s Prima Donna EP slated for release on August 26. Jeff’s imaginative imagery seems to be the perfect companion for the EP’s theme - the story of a rap star who kills himself. The concept is a heavy one, but heavy isn’t new to Vince, all his previous projects are songs driven by stories of pandemonium. Summertime ‘06 proved his pen is mighty, one of the strongest storytellers of today. With production being handled by No ID, James Blake, and DJ Dahi there’s hope the beats will be on par with his words. There’s always the looming possibility that we are growing closer to the date of Vince Staples’ retirement from rap, a threat he has continued to make time and time again. With that always being a factor, I can’t help but get excited for his next offering.
There was a time in his career where Mac Miller was popular, but a lot of hardcore rap fans didn’t see much promise in the Pittsburgh rapper. That is no longer the case. Mac Miller has grown, evolved, and is now one of the most exciting rappers to watch. To deny his progress is doing yourself a disservice - GO:OD AM is arguably his best body of work to date. Despite the album not even being a year old, Miller isn’t slowing down. He tends to release music the way he records it - in excess. There’s always a worry that quality is sacrificed for quantity, but the Anderson .Paak assisted single “Dang!” is nothing short of incredible. Any worries I had surrounding Mac’s The Divine Feminine were quieted by the fifth listen. By far one of my favorite songs of today. Mac Miller’s trials and tribulations with drugs made for some of the darkest music of his career, but “Dang!” is a much brighter, more vibrant soundscape. I’m hoping that The Divine Feminine explores this effervescent brightness further. September 16 is the current release date.
Malibu was crowned by the DJ Booth staff as the best album of 2016 as we reached the halfway point in the year. With four months left, Anderson’s spot as the best isn’t safe, not even from himself. There have been rumors that a full-length NxWorries project could be coming before the year ends. Anderson announced back in July that the album is complete. For those unaware, NxWorries is a duo that consists of beat mastermind Knxwledge, and the genius that is Anderson .Paak. We got a small taste of what the two could do together with the release of the Nxworries' Link Up & Suede EP - a small project that packed a big punch with songs like “Suede,” “Link Up” and “Droogs.” Hopes are extremely high that these two can expand on their chemistry and make an astounding album together. Malibu is great, but I’m expecting nothing less from NxWorries.
I’ve been in disbelief ever since my first listen of Khaled’s Major Key. I’m used to Khaled landing good features on his albums, but the verse Nas delivered was a shiny gem, and it came with the announcement that his album is done. I wasn’t even aware Nas had time to work on the album with the many endeavors he has his hands in. That’s what I enjoyed most about “Nas Album Done,” even though Esco has been rapping for over 20 years, he still sounds alive, he still has a passion for rhyming, and he is still able to deliver like a master wordsmith who is aging like the most precious wine. It’s been four years since Life Is Good, the same year that Channel Orange was released. Frank and Nas both have been on hiatus for the same time, but I believe that Nastradamus has an album release in his future. An album that I hope will fill me with the same feeling of elation as “Nas Album Done.”
Isaiah Rashad & Ab-Soul
Kendrick and ScHoolboy Q have already delivered 2016 projects that have been highly-praised; Isaiah Rashad and Ab-Soul appear to be the next emcees two who will be releasing albums from the TDE camp. Both artists are facing a bit of pressure, though. Isaiah’s Cilvia Demo is upheld as a shiny jewel amongst his fans. The admiration surrounding Cilvia has created a restless desire for his next project. Two years of waiting feels like an eternity on the internet. On September 2, his long-awaited sophomore album will finally be liberated, and intuition tells me it will be worth all the waiting. Ab-Soul’s These Days wasn’t met with the same praise. Compared to the acclaim of Control System, the project fell short of expectations. Thankfully, he isn’t a lost cause. News that his album is done and mixed left me amped for what could be in store. Top Dawg’s underdog has a lot to prove, but they don’t call him a genius for nothing.
Mick Jenkins’ appeared like a wild, rare Pokemon this morning with the Sango-produced “Spread Love.” For anyone that forgot about Mick's greatness, this song is a reminder of why he’s been hailed as one of the most promising lyricists in hip-hop. The new single comes with the announcement that his long-awaited debut, The Healing Component, is on the way and will be released September 23. This has been an excellent year for rap music coming out of Chicago and now Jenkins hopes to continue this streak of incredible releases. Chicago has something to say, and if you aren’t listening, you’re missing out.
Young Thug could drop Jeffery at the strike of any hour. Who knows what day Frank Ocean will cease his teasing and finally give the people the album they’ve longed for. Tomorrow could be the day, only Frank knows. Danny Brown is back, and already causing the world to whisper his praise, imagine how loud their voices will be when the album finally drops? Jay Z is somewhere plotting, quietly preparing to give the world another one. Big Sean is in the middle of a marital scandal, but also rapping better than ever, his next album could end up on MediaTakeOut or in the history books. Meek Mill, Wale, Run The Jewels, Childish Gambino - the list goes on and on. I haven’t even spotlighted the hungry wolves shaping masterpieces in the underground.
With all the highs and lows that come with album releases (and delays), 2016 is shaping up to be a year of music we will remember.
By Yoh, aka Yohtradamus aka @Yoh31