Welcome to Hypewriter’s 40 Best Albums of 2016!
Now that 2017 is well under way, it’s about time we looked back on some of the best music that last year had to offer. This list is ranked not only considering each album’s musical quality, but also the amount of enjoyment and replay value we got out of them. Also, it includes only the albums we listened to, or at least listened to enough to form a genuine opinion on.
40. Gucci Mane – Everybody Looking
The first of Guwop’s releases since leaving prison earlier this year was a Zaytoven and MikeWillMade-It curated masterclass in Southern-tinged trap, that showcased a much clearer, vulnerable and focused Gucci. While the production on Gucci’s later 2016 releases WOPTOBER and The Return of East Atlanta Santa may have been sharper, the songs on Everybody Looking find a healthy balance between Gucci’s duality of being both endearingly charismatic and someone that could have you killed with nothing more than a text message.
39. Elzhi – Lead Poison
On former Slum Village member Elzhi’s long-delayed, Kickstarter-funded follow-up to 2011’s Elmatic, he finds himself searching inward for answers rather than seeking out affirmation on his most introspective release yet. While the lyricism is as poignantly refined as ever and the song concepts are consistently inventive, the beats do leave a lot to be desired.
38. Young Thug – JEFFERY
Thugger’s third release of 2016, following I’m Up and the also excellent Slime Season 3, showcases the loveably unique artist at his most eccentric, with some of his most inspired and off-the-wall songwriting to date.
37. Lil Yachty – Lil Boat
Though it’s definitely not for everyone, Lil Yachty’s polarising breakout release remains a wholly unique, endearing and strangely enjoyable listen.
36. Travi$ Scott – birds in the trap sing mcknight
While our review of birds wasn’t overwhelmingly positive, and it certainly falls short of 2015’s Rodeo, it’s an album with a number of infectious earworm standouts and breakneck bangers that will keep you revisiting it more often than you’d like to admit.
35. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
Chance’s follow-up to his incredible 2013 mixtape Acid Rap dives headfirst deeper into the lively instrumentation and religious undertones kneaded out in 2015’s Surf.
34. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Bruno Mars’ latest effort, 24K Magic, is an extension on the playful, fun-loving throwback vibes established on 2015 smash Uptown Funk, in which Mars’ does incredible justice to the artists that inspired it, with endlessly charismatic and charming songs that glorify women and a sleazy lifestyle of absolute luxury and excess.
33. Skepta – Konnichiwa
Even if only for a brief window, the grime scene exploded this year. Konnichiwa serves as the definitive hallmark of that sudden mainstream popularity. While it likely failed to live up to the staggering hype of most genuine grime fans, to casual listeners like myself, Konnichiwa is a concise collection of Skepta songs that are filled with wonky bass, hard-hitting beats and laughably honest British-humour in a style that is undoubtedly the mainstream manifestation of the genre he represents.
32. Clams Casino – 32 Levels
Legendary producer Clams Casino’s first official album release is dense with the same reverb-heavy, ethereal instrumentals and menacing basslines that established him as one of his generation’s most talented beatsmiths when he first exploded onto the scene. Clams enlists longtime collaborators A$AP Rocky and Lil B, in addition to Vince Staples, Kelela, Mikky Ekko and more as the voices to breathe life into the impossibly textured and airy production, however it is when Clams forays into poppier, EDM-influenced sounds where 32 Levels stumbles, if only for a moment.
31. Drake – Views
I’ll admit it – as a self-confessed Drake stan, I was disappointed with Views. From the blatant meme-fodder album art to the awkward genre-stew of a tracklist, and the mild identity crisis Drake seems to be going through (particularly his awful Trinidadian patois) more present than ever on the record, I was underwhelmed. However, while it is absolutely among the weakest entries to Drake’s discography yet, there are still a multitude of vastly enjoyable and endlessly replayable songs in the tracklist (Feel No Ways, Hype, Weston Road Flows and Still Here to name a few) that manage to creep into rotation more often than I’d be proud to admit.
30. Ab-Soul – Do What Thou Wilt.
Do What Thou Wilt is a return to form for Ab-Soul. While it certainly suffers from the typical 5:1 dope-to-cheesy bar ratio he’s become almost infamous for, and sometimes gets bogged down in the hypocrisy in the some of the overtly abstract concepts it presents (or buckles beneath them), it is by all means a strong body of work and Soul’s most consistent release since Control System.
29. The Weeknd – Starboy
One of the strongest pop releases of the year, and easily the Weeknd’s poppiest project to date, Starboy is another formidable entry to Abel’s discography that is bogged down only by a number of unfortunate filler cuts in the tracklist. However, while the album’s quality does fluctuate, some of the high points on the record (Daft Punk-assisted I Feel It Coming in particular) are incredible.
28. Flume – Skin
While certainly less impressionable than his debut record, the sporadic yet meticulously detailed and glossy Skin shows that, even after influencing a plethora of modern EDM producers and essentially birthing his own genre (future bass), Flume is still able to successfully innovate and push his sound in different directions, without replicating his original sound or abandoning it completely. The album also showcases that, more often than not, Flume chooses to stray from typical song structure and musical composition in ways that are as equally alluring as they are challenging.
27. Injury Reserve – Floss
Following Live from the Dentist Office, their incredible 2014 debut, Injury Reserve decided to stray from the more jazzy laidback songs of that record in favour of “spazz rap”; impeccably produced high-octane songs brimming with explosive energy and youthful passion, with a vibrant naivety, hunger and vulnerability that only similarly young artists can really channel.
26. Xiu Xiu – Plays the Music of Twin Peaks
While Xiu Xiu’s record of covers of iconic songs from the Twin Peaks soundtrack may not be entirely representative of the mood of Lynch’s legendary show, it’s a surreal, disturbing and bleak journey through the music of Laura Palmer’s mystery. A noisy, hellish, and wholly ambitious album that – even without the unavoidable nostalgic value of hearing the original Badalamenti soundtrack revitalised – is beautiful in its own right.
25. Death Grips – Bottomless Pit
On arguably their most accessible work yet (next to The Money Store), Death Grips managed to weave genuinely catchy songs within their expected snarling abrasiveness and white-knuckle vehemence. Death Grips continue to release consistently intense, challenging material to an ever-growing ravenous fanbase – for whatever comes next, I’m on board.
24. A$AP Mob – Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1 – Friends
A$AP Mob’s first entry into a presumed series of upcoming Cozy Tapes is 12 tracks of booming, infectious bangers that are sure to set alight any speaker they’re played through. While (in some cases) AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP and the underwhelming Always Strive and Prosper may have left fans questioning the competency of the Mob without the guidance of mogul visionary A$AP Yams (R.I.P.), Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1 proves to show that they are still more than capable of releasing quality, refined work.
23. James Blake – The Colour in Anything
There’s a roughness to The Colour in Anything. It feels almost like an unfinished demo, almost as if instead of finishing a painting, Blake simply assembled the murky colour palette he’d use for it, and stopped. And more often than not, that sonic rawness actually plays to the strengths of the record, especially when it becomes apparent that more than perhaps any of his stellar releases thus far, this is James Blake at his most emotionally frustrated. There’s a lingering sense of scalding betrayal in these songs and an air that Blake doesn’t know how to feel about it (particularly in album opener Radio Silence) – or perhaps feels so many different things that the end result is simply a mixed palette and not a definite emotion. That sense of confused dread in the face of heartbreak is something The Colour in Anything captures best.
22. NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge) – Yes Lawd!
Similar to Madvillainy in that it’s a producer / vocalist collaboration album that seems to be a match made in heaven, Yes Lawd! is a steamy cruise through up-and-coming producer Knxwledge’s clattering, murky, and gorgeous production guided by none other than 2016’s breakout soul styler Anderson .Paak. It’s a beautiful 50 minutes of enticing, reserved and often sensual songs – just two artists doing exactly what they do best, together.
21. Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
Donald Glover capped off an incredible 2016 – following the award-winning first series of Atlanta and landing roles in Star Wars and Spiderman films to name a couple of his huge 2016 W’s – with the release of his most well-realised, well-written and most musically impressive album yet. Though not without its flaws, by crafting an album drenched in funk and soul influences, Gambino has pushed his music into further unexplored, risky territory and come out the other side as an even more well-rounded talent.
20. Denzel Curry – Imperial
After a long year of hearing Denzel Curry’s Ultimate on bottle-flip videos and wince-inducing Vines, it’s surprising that his signature relentless flow manages to sound as fresh and enjoyable as ever on Imperial. The songs on Imperial are primarily high-energy, mile-a-minute bangers, with standout cuts like Zenith, Story: No Title, and ULT actually being among the best rap songs of the year.
19. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
Australian psych-rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are no stranger to concept albums – their latest record was written so that it could be played on an endless loop forever, and its something they managed to pull off surprisingly well. Nonagon Infinity plays like one long, continuously shifting song, with toothy instrumentation and loud, lo-fi textures propelling every rampant, visceral offering in the track-list. A relentlessly gritty album that really can be played on loop forever flawlessly, and would be seriously insane to see live.
18. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
The ever-enigmatic Justin Vernon pushes his sound in a new direction – following the sparse acoustic songs and lush instrumental compositions on his two albums prior – to suit new terrain on 22, A Million. His latest and most divisive release yet is dense with vocoder harmonies, crunchy distortion, fragmented multi-track sampling and the strained yet gorgeous vocals for which he’s renowned, resulting in an album that’s more ‘folk-tronica’ than anything. While at times the experimentation seems to teeter on ‘genius’ and ‘trying too hard’, 22, A Million is still a great album and a strong entry to the Bon Iver catalogue.
17. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
It’s a true testament to Kendrick’s artistry that a compilation of essentially unfinished To Pimp a Butterfly B-sides holds as both a valuable entry to his repertoire and a strong contester with some of the best releases of the year. The quality of the songwriting is consistently great throughout, however some of the cuts on here feel as disappointingly unfinished as the name may suggest, particularly the cuts he performed live prior to releasing them official. But while this album may not be the groundbreaking masterpiece that last year’s To Pimp a Butterfly was, it still serves as a significant addition to Kendrick’s discography and a treasure to fans – untitled 02 also remains as my favourite rap song of 2016.
16. Noname – Telefone
Noname’s first release is a deceptively bittersweet, colourful album. It subtly and maturely covers a variety of very personal, emotional and touching coming-of-age themes, spoken from the bleak perspective of a 25 year old that feels nostalgic for the past and wary of a grim future waiting for both herself and those she loves. The production is cohesively gorgeous – instrumentals propelled by clattering percussion, gooey basslines, sweet synth chords and dazzling piano flourishes, and for a debut effort, Noname makes an incredibly strong statement for herself as ‘one-to-watch’ in the rap game, with solid melodic flows and a competency for songwriting and charming lyricism.
15. Run the Jewels – RTJ3
The explosive success Killer Mike and El-P saw as a duo following the release of the first two RTJ albums seemed to establish a tightly-knit friendship between the two, and a formula for what both new and old fans alike were seeking from their partnership – tough uppercut lyricism over loud, visceral, creative instrumentals – and it’s a formula that they chose to follow on their latest release. However, this is the most cohesive and politically-charged RTJ album thus far, as well as my favourite of the three. El-P’s killer, wonky production is as refined and sharp as ever, and both artists bring their absolute A-game yet again to another ignorant bitchslap of a record.
14. ScHoolboy Q – Blank Face LP
ScHoolboy Q continues to wrestle the tenuous dichotomy between a past as a gangbanger and a present as a father on the Blank Face LP, however he does so with an almost unrivalled charisma, consistently underrated lyricism, vivid storytelling, and vicious delivery over some of the most lush, well-produced and memorable instrumentals he’s touched since Habits & Contradictions. It represents Q fulfilling much of the untapped potential that he’s shown on prior releases, while also presenting a body of work that offers a very different and refreshing energy to those albums without abandoning the blunt, nocturnal and dystopian aesthetic that made them what they were.
13. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
You’d be hard-pressed to find another artist who had a better year in 2016 than either Chance the Rapper or Anderson .Paak. Both artists spent the last two years collaborating with their idols and going on to hugely influence what would be trendy for the next year in hip hop culture. After his heavy involvement in Dr. Dre’s Compton, .Paak had the entire world watching what he would do next, and, seemingly void of the insurmountable pressure of listener expectation, he released Malibu. On Malibu, .Paak teeters between absolute sex fiend and respectful gentleman, revelling in understatedly lush and inventive compositions that blend elements of contemporary R&B, ne0-soul, jazz, funk grooves, hip-hop and even touches of smooth rock. While it may not be the album of 2016 that grips you immediately from start to finish, it served as a formidable, low-key soundtrack to summery days and, in fact, 2016 as a whole.
12. Beyoncé – Lemonade
While it doesn’t ooze the same sexuality and confidence as her 2013 self-titled album, Beyoncé’s Lemonade is a more vulnerable release that tells a heartbreaking story of deception, unfaithfulness, helplessness and ultimately, forgiveness. Bey’s voice continues to prove that it is the gift that keeps on giving, as she reaches entirely new registers of emotional impact on songs like the fiery Don’t Hurt Yourself and explores the dexterity of her vocal range on stripped-back cuts like the harrowing and sobering Sandcastles. As a body of work, bundled with it’s incredible companion visual album, it is perhaps her finest to date, even if I do find myself returning to it’s predecessor more often.
11. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
Much like Drake’s Views, I was disappointed with The Life of Pablo. At the end of it’s chaotic rollout (which really only marked the beginning of various changes Ye would go on to make to the album), it felt like an unceremonious, claustrophobic and messy collection of demo tracks that Kanye had decided to package alongside his fashion line, stuffed with tracks that would go on to soundtrack hypebeasts for the next year. The songs still feel unfinished and half-baked, however, despite my firm belief that The Life of Pablo is Kanye’s weakest effort to date, I find myself returning to it much more often than I expected to and for that, I appreciate it. The songs here, a handful of which are phenomenal (Ultralight Beam, Real Friends, Saint Pablo, No More Parties in LA) cater not to deeper artistic themes like previous Kanye albums, but instead serve as a wide palette of mood music to the most disparate and primal aspects of the human condition and are representative of all of the chaos that make not only Kanye, but all of us, the flawed people we all are.
10. YG – Still Brazy
Still Brazy doesn’t play like someone trying to replicate the magic of a past era, but instead an appreciation of the sound and elements that made the music of that era so great and revitalises those aspects fantastically. There is undeniably a huge influence from 90’s West Coast hip-hop artists on this record, particularly artists like Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Snoop Dogg and other Cali legends, however it seems not only to compliment the album sonically, but also serve as a modern testament to the era as a whole. Still Brazy immerses you in the life of somebody else in a way few other releases in 2016 have, and it’s a welcome improvement from its predecessor that establishes YG as both the present and the future of West Coast rap. Read our full review here.
9. The Avalanches – Wildflower
The Avalanche’s long-awaited return is a meticulously crafted kaleidoscope of sound, a patchwork of psychedelic samples and original instrumentation, that will resonate with fans old and new. Read our full review here.
8. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
An album reminiscent of underground alt-rock, a touch of The Strokes, a sprinkle of (good) Weezer, a hint of Courtney Barnett, and a whole dose of early-life existential crisis – with Teens of Denial, Car Seat Headrest frontman Will Toledo has penned some of the most well-written, oddly-structured and relatable songs of his career. The instrumentals here are textured, lo-fi, and abrasive, with many of the dense cuts here traversing through drastically unexpected sonic detours. In a year where many standout records favoured experimentation and wild innovation, Teens of Denial is evidence that stellar musicianship and honest songwriting is more than enough required to make an absolute highlight.
7. Angel Olsen – My Woman
This was the first Angel Olsen record I ever listened to, and easily one of the year’s most surprising releases. There is a fiery, almost distraught, passion to Olsen’s wistful lyrics and their shaky, rough delivery that truly distinguishes her apart from a great deal of the singer songwriters in her genre. My Woman is a masterfully produced album, peppered with heartache and sublimely articulated anguish, but also with swooning love and arms-width hope. The dreamy soundscapes get progressively more expansive and sparse as the record pans out from tightly upbeat and reckless to airy, melodic and starkly reserved, and it makes for one of the most alluring and wholly satisfying listens of 2016.
6. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Undoubtedly Radiohead’s most depressing release yet, A Moon Shaped Pool is a harrowingly lonely wander through a desolate and sometimes frantic musical landscape of different heartbreaks occurring at once. The otherworldly compositions akin to something like Bjork’s Vespertine are the capitulation of decades of Thom Yorke’s ventures further into the rabbit hole of his own musical doodlings, and Jonny Greenwood’s string arrangements are as understatedly incredible as ever, as are the rest of the band’s contributions. Wether the whole ‘LP9’ hype paid off or not is entirely subjective, but, at least in my opinion, this is simply another brilliant addition to one of the best discographies in music.
5. Solange – A Seat at the Table
A Seat at the Table is Solange’s best album yet. Knowles finds her voice in frustrated social commentary, over solemn, funereal instrumentals with dour chords, punchy synthetic percussion and dazzling key flourishes. There’s a richness in every texture the album presents, and purpose behind every sweetly recited lyric. She has a voice that is more of a gentle, crooning lilt than the powerhouse pipes her sister wields, but that is by no means a bad thing. There’s restrained rage in her vocals, and a cautious pessimism in her words that is hard to pin down; and through her explicit approach to topics like black pride, womanhood and empowerment, A Seat at the Table stands as possibly the strongest and most honest social commentary in a year that truly was a socio-political mess.
The themes that permeate the record – sorrow, grief, and pain, to name a few – are applicable to most listeners, however there is a true intricacy to how she manages to root these themes in her own personal story without alienating those she is reaching out to. And while pulling back the curtain on exactly who the ever-elusive Solange is as a person is certainly a primary motif of the record, it’s about more than just finding yourself in a world of turmoil; it’s about being comfortable with what you find.
4. David Bowie – Blackstar
Just two days before his death, Bowie left the world with an album that allows us to vicariously touch death through him. The compositions are masterfully arranged, each instrumental swell genuinely stunning and each lyric painful and poignant; its an album that just reeks of dread and an unnerving sense of impending doom, and one that only truly made sense after his tragic passing. It’s an album that is sometimes frenetic, sometimes comforting, but as a whole, disturbing and cold, its haunting imagery made all the more evocative with the now chilling music videos that accompanied the release, Lazarus and Blackstar.
Blackstar is an absolute masterpiece in its own right, and demonstrates that even up until the day of his death, Bowie was devoted to his craft and cementing the already iconic legacy he wanted to leave behind, still managing to innovate and impress 50 years into his phenomenal career. R.I.P.
3. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
An absolute frenzy of a record; Atrocity Exhibition is among the most out-there, off-the wall, and batshit insane hip-hop(?) albums I’ve ever listened to. It’s an album that feels like a Jackson Pollock painting of sonic influences – with a vast array of genres seemingly splattered together in the track-list – but more importantly, an album that is entirely unique and sounds like no other in its genre.
There’s a reckless abandon to these songs, particularly on songs like Ain’t It Funny, When It Rain, and Pnuemonia, where Danny and his producers managed to capture moments of unrivalled chaos, addiction-fuelled rampancy, and self-destructive, tortured artistry. Atrocity Exhibition stands, in all of its grotesquely dishevelled anarchy, as the latest peak in what is shaping up to be one of the strongest discographies in hip hop.
2. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service is as much a reunion album as it is a farewell.
There is a certain blasé-blasé rawness to the album; the Tribe’s natural in-studio camaraderie is as poignantly clear as ever as most of the verses feel more like cyphers, with members all jumping in on each other, or at once, finishing each other’s bars and ad-libbing each other’s verses. There’s no systemic formula to the songwriting, everything seems very organic and spur of the moment, yet somehow every song feels like a rich tapestry of meticulously blended samples, vocal scratches, stereo-spanning percussion, warm basslines, and of course, incredible verses. Every feature on the album – including Consequence, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes, and Kanye West to name a few – brings their absolute A-game to the record, every presence is felt, every contribution notable (particularly Busta’s fantastic guest verse on Mobius, which might be my favourite verse of 2016). The understated Jarobi White, who actually left the Tribe after their first album back in 1991, resurfaces for this record and contributes almost as many bars as Phife and Tip themselves without missing a beat.
Death, and of course the death of Phife in particular, is absolutely a core element to the album – it’s clear that he died in the midst of the album’s creation (on Black Spasmodic, Q-Tip even raps a verse from the perspective of Phife in the afterlife that ends with the harrowing: “and please check in on my mother…”). However, unlike Bowie’s Blackstar which was about staring into the void and taunting it, We got it from here… feels like a revelry, a revitalisation of the human soul in wake of the stark finality of death. As Jarobi said to the NY Times in regards to Phife’s passing, “Doing this album killed him. And he was very happy to go out like that.”
And while death is certainly a prevalent theme in the record, it’s more than just a grandiose farewell to an iconic artist, its a true celebration of the Tribe as a collective, their chemistry and the ‘instinctual soul’ that they represented that made them such an incredible collective in the first place. It’s about the music, and it’s about the message; it’s about passing the torch, but making sure it’s still burning when they do.
Tribe already established and cemented their legacy as hip hop legends 18 years ago, and yet they decided to leave us with a one last parting gift, right when we needed it most. And though it’s tragic that it’s Tribe’s last release as a group, at least we can find solace knowing that they went out on an absolutely staggering high note. R.I.P. to Phife Dawg and best wishes to the Tribe – thank you for your service.
1. Frank Ocean – Blonde
Blonde is an amazing album.
I’ve struggled to describe it in any other way for the last 6 months, and I still can’t quite grapple with the right words to really describe just how much I love this album even after at least 200 complete listens. It’s an album that is so understatedly gorgeous, so patient and lowkey in its delivery, and yet so richly layered and deeply complex that even still I discover new parts to love.
It’s a far-cry from 2012’s channel ORANGE – unlike the grand, larger than life and punchy production of that record, the soundscapes here are vast, raw and quiet; or at least initially. Blonde consists of very little drums, the percussion simply serves to accent the more crucial elements of each song – which is, more often than not, Frank himself – and the result is an album that demands the listener’s ear in a way I haven’t experienced since Kanye’s Yeezus. The instrumentation is subtle, complex, and unique. Between the lush dreaminess of “Pink + White”, the psychedelic and silky instrumentation of “Skyline To”, the minimalist guitars and warped vocals on “Ivy” and “Self Control”, and the left-field beat-shifts on “Nights” and “Pretty Sweet”, or even the dense electronic textures and strings arranged by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood on the album’s emotional climax “Siegfried”, Blonde careens through many unpredictable sonic detours and genre-blending valleys that, while not loud and confronting, are incredibly experimental in their hazy subtlety and masterful composition.
Blonde is an intimate journey through some of the most raw and painfully honest depths of Frank’s psyche that he’s ever shared on record. It’s an album that seems to perfectly exist in a space of utter confusion between longing for exuberant youth (“Summer’s not as long as it used to be…”) and the unforgiving reality of a world that goes on regardless (“Everyday counts like crazy…”); a space where Frank seems lost in an existential stalemate between reaching for a past he can’t grasp and embracing a future he can’t control. Themes of nostalgia, sexuality, desire, mortality, love, loss, loneliness, and coming-of-age anxiety are prevalent throughout the record – approached with a newfound maturity and wisdom that wasn’t present on his last effort, though not for lack of artistic skill. The more tangible grip on his emotions seems to be a result of his last 4 years of public reclusion and the life he’s been privately living outside the limelight; time spent travelling, partying, loving, creating, and learning.
There’s a careful consideration in his words – each sung with a voice that, like his lyrics, has also grown more emotive, dexterous and confident in the years since channel ORANGE – and it’s Frank’s dedication to the intricacy of his lyrics that allow him to carefully tip-toe between endearingly cheesy (“I’ll be the boyfriend / in your wet dreams tonight…“) and enthralling (“You dream of walls that hold us imprisoned / it’s just a skull, least that’s what they call it…“). And while there’s certainly a poignant poetry to every one of Blonde‘s lyrics, you’d also be hard-pressed to find a single bar that couldn’t serve as an Instagram caption or a tweet. It’s that marriage between Frank’s ability to be both expressively profound and an acutely capable commentator of his generation that truly sets him apart as a vital songwriter in the era of social media, fleeting love and broadcasted debauchery.
No other album from 2016 really seemed to hit me quite as hard as Blonde did, no other album seemed quite so elusive and rewarding that it demanded drawing back a meticulously crafted veil to fully digest and understand. It’s an album that continues to reveal only further artistic depth as it unravels, and a sterling example of why Frank Ocean is arguably the most promising and talented songwriter of his generation.