It’s that time of the year! For the last three years I’ve compiled a short list of the standout projects of the year in celebration & appreciation towards the music we listen to year round and this year there’s a bonus to that tradition.
Generally there’s one list that I’ve released towards the middle of the month of December but with such an abundance of quality music being released throughout the entire calendar year, it only felt right to give more spotlight to the projects, eps & albums that deserved the love.
This year there’s going to be 3 (maybe 4) lists of my top projects of 2k16 and the first one is mixtapes. While I normally tend to give a detailed description of why the mixtape is on the list, the only extensive explanations for these projects are going to be saved for the Top 10 Albums list (writing is a bitch).
The mixtapes were selected & considered based on the cohesiveness & completeness of their sound, the lyricism, progression as an artist, and impact in the hip-hop community.
So, without further ado, here are the top tapes of this year.
10. Young Thug - JEFFERY
Keeping the momentum of 2015 going,Atlanta rapper Young Thug not only managed to continue to knock down social norms & stereotypes in society with his cover, he also ended up creating what is likely to be his most complete mixtape to date.
Coming out of Boston, MA, rapper Cousin Stizz made a huge impact over the summer with his widely successful follow up mixtape to Suffolk County, Monda. Exploring a more mature sound in comparison to his previous work, Cousin Stizz hit every marker with this one. Production was stellar & the lyrics showed so much improvement that can only leave you waiting for more in 2017.
It was straight forward, it was aggressive, it was emotional…Who’s Watching the Kids came out of the East Coast with a bang. Mir Fontane proved to be a memorable figure in 2016 and a serious threat in the coming years in the hip-hop community.
I don’t even want to explain how good this tape is. One of my favorite listens of this year, Kamaiyah really dropped a gorgeous project laced with west coast flavor stemming from her roots in Oakland all the way down to the g-funk in L.A.
I really fell in love with this tape all over again while doing this list…it’s amazing.
I didn’t know who Joey Purp was prior to this project (forgive me but I don’t really dive into researching artists and their backgrounds like I used to so I wasn’t even aware that he was a member of Vic Mensa’s Save Money group) but thank god I clicked on the download button for this mixtape because it was damn near perfect.
The production was nice, the features were flawless, and his execution was great for a debut effort. Don’t sleep on this one.
This is another one of those projects I can’t jump in to describe because there’s just so much going on throughout the entire mixtape and it’s overwhelming good. If this is what Noname can do now, I can only look into the future and feel extremely optimistic for what’s to come from the Chicago native.
Inspired by his uncle’s death, Saba put together Bucket List Project as a reminder to everyone that tomorrow is never promised. From beginning to end, the sounds explored on this tape are perfected in every way imaginable. An extremely cohesive & well put together sound along with Saba’s talented lyricism, BLP was a surprise effort & well deserved win for the latter half of 2016.
Released within the first 4 months of 2016, Imperial was the best mixtape released this year, no question. I couldn’t think of an artist who outdid himself no only in the sound that they created but in the progress they made since their last release.
Curry got a Rick Ross verse on this one….RICK ROSS. If that doesn’t show you how much progress he’s made since he branched out of Raider Klan, I don’t know what will.
With only 10 tracks featured, Imperial was aggresive, it stuck to the Florida sound we’ve come to know & expect of Denzel Curry, and also dove into much more personal topics close to Denzel that shows just how much he’s matured over the years as an artist.
A perfect mixtape, a perfect listen…everything about this project was as good as you could make it and it creates a benchmark for what we we expect in 2017.
So there you have it, 2016 highlights in summary. Make sure you stay updated with the blog as the rest of the lists are to be released in the coming weeks.
Give these mixtapes all a listen, they’re worth your time I promise and let me know what you think, whether you would have included a different tape, and all that other stuff. Music is subjective & should be open for criticism and opinion regardless of who it comes from.