as compiled by The Something In The Wudder Cesspool
This is not a selection based on sentiment or some posthumous lip service (although Bowie’s death four days after the release of this album obviously colors the listening experience). This is Bowie’s best album since 1983’s ‘Let’s Dance’. Bowie was said to be listening to a lot of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ and ‘Black Messiah’ as he worked on this along with his off-Broadway show. And why not? Those two albums were the best two albums made in the twelve months preceding this one and Bowie never stopped knowing the time when it came to the cultural zeitgeist. While speaking of time, this is the masterwork of a true artist to the end knowing that he is about to be out of his very soon. The results are so high it makes my brain whirl.
Another January entry still holding off the competition at the front of the line much like bandaged Bowie is doing in the above photo. If you need to know what Anderson Paaak is about and brings to the table, just listen to this album or watch this truncated but still triumphant set https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCDJv4WQ_bc from this winter’s South By Southwest in Austin. He’s the only real potential challenger to Kendrick’s throne in terms of talent, stage show and artistry amongst the generation of hip-hop acts to debut in this millennium.
3)Kendrick Lamar: Untitled, Unmastered
Speak of the devil……. a breakdown of this one? Unnecessary. It’s Kendrick.
Underestimate YG’s talent, intellect or perspective at your peril. I thought for sure he couldn’t duplicate the cinematic and cohesive collection of bangers with beats spread complements of DJ Mustard (his childhood friend with whom he fell out with prior to the making of this album and does not have a production credit on it). But he raised the bar on this one. It could end up #1 by year’s end the way it banged with me in the ride all the way from LA to Philly over the past couple weeks. This album is his 2Pac moment in ‘YG Against The World’ with another West Coast legend-in-the-making producer Terrace Martin providing the updated LA gangster-rap sound bed underneath.
5)Chance The Rapper-Coloring Book
After a death-ravaged first half of this year and last half of 2015 on both the personal and musical icon levels, this fit of joyfulness was exactly what I needed to help things burn a bit brighter in the wake of the wakes. Chance started the year by killing his verse on “Ultralight Beam” on Pablo with Kanye and Kelly but this is a hold album of him going in with this kind of non-preachy gospel-infused rap that rewards repeated listening.
6)Kanye West: The Life of Pablo
Speaking of both Pablo and repeated listening, let’s all keep listening to this as Kanye will probably change it again a few more times before this year ends while he tours with this album all fall. Whether it happened serendipitously or purposefully (I’m going with the former all day) the work-in-progress-album now that we are in the digital/streaming age of sound is officially “A Thing” which is a contribution to the table that would be so very Kanye to bring.
7)Masego x Medasin: The Pink Polo EP
The only reason this little slice of brilliance has six albums listed above it is that technically it came out in 2015. But considering I still can’t find many people who know the name of this artist let alone the name of the mini-album, I’m tossing it in as a Lucky Seven just on general principle. This is damn near a new genre of music. Think The Foreign Exchange fronted by Kid Creole of The Cocunuts making a trap-house album with some synths and live keys plus horns that lift melodies from past hits like “Senorita” off the first Timberlake album. And that’s just one song. Listen to this short trip twice in the whip and/or with some good headphones on then try to tell me I’m wrong.
This is the look of a woman either mad at Jay-Z or me for putting her album at number 8. What more is there to say that hasn’t already been said? Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is. Queen B’s now made more good solo albums to her name than there are good ‘Die Hard’ movies from Bruce Willis.
9)Maren Morris: HERO
Blame it on my recent trip through Midwest for this. I typically shrug off most contemporary country music outside of alt-or-roots-country in the Lucinda Williams vein but when I first randomly heard “My Church” while floating in an above-ground pool in Davenport, Iowa while staying with my old college buddy Tikey, his wife Jenny and a cute little near-three-year-old affectionately answering too Gracie Loo in her swimmies while perfecting her doggie paddle over a three-day-turned-eight-day visit…..this hit me *immediately*. Since then it’s been can I get a Hallelujah, can I get an Amen, it’s like the Holy Ghost running thru you, when I’ve been playing the Highway FM. I’m definitely more of a hip-hop/rock-head but when a beautiful big-voiced Young Loretta Lynn-sounding woman is singing over some hard-cracking open drums, slide guitar harmonies, testifying to the supernatural powers of being possessed by music while name-dropping Hank Senior? Yeah I guess that is also my church. Keep an eye out on the road for this nineties baby and her 80’s Mercedes.
10)Lucinda Williams: The Ghosts of Highway 20
Speak of the devil again, Lucinda is probably shocked to find herself beyond some new-jack the same way I’m shocked as hell to find two country albums on this hot sixteen from 2KSickDream.