Simple criteria: Which songs did I listen to the most in 2016? Here’s my Top 10.
Room in Here – Anderson.Paak featuring The Game & Sonyae Elise)
Played this song over 100 times. The melody is smooth. Anderson is talking that talk. Puts me in the corner of a crowded house party with a red cup in hand and the company of a tall, cute, clever stranger.
All Night – Beyonce
Toss up between this and “Hold Up” (which I also listened to an insane amount of times), but this song wins on the strength of the lyrics: “Nothing real can be threatened / True love breathed salvation back into me / With every tear came redemption / And my torturer became my remedy.” Chilling, raw and truthful for an artist known to ruthlessly guard her image. Good job, Bey.
Darkness & Light – John Legend featuring Brittany Howard
Sounds straight off a jukebox in an old blues bar. Legend and Howard (of Alabama Shakes) trade guttural riffs in this brooding, sexy ode to urgent love.
Pretty Kind – Aaron Abernathy
The lyrics of this song may read like an eye-rolling “nice guy” Tweet, but Cleveland native Aaron Abernathy makes it work. The vocals and instrumentation (especially the guitar licks–whoo) are perfection.
Needed Me – Rihanna
Robyn Fenty came through with an answer track to every whiny “Why didn’t you wait for me to stop whoring” anthem from her male counterparts of the last few years. “But baby, don’t get it twisted / You was just another nigga on the hit list / Tryna fix ya inner issues with a bad bitch / Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage? / Fuck ya white horse and a carriage.” Church. Religion. Amen. Hallelu.
Drug Dealers Anonymous – Pusha T featuring JAY Z
Pusha. Hov. Coke bars. A friend once called Pusha’s style “Hov’s hard-headed little cousin who never left the drug game.” An audio wet dream come true.
untitled 02 | 6.23.2014 – Kendrick Lamar
Because I’m anti- that annoying Candian rapper (a.k.a. #GoldenGrahams). Kendrick’s masterful impersonation of #GoldenGrahams’ flow as a slick diss is as delicious as rap petty gets.
On the Way – Twenty88
I don’t like Jhene Aiko (she often sounds like she’s singing underwater) nor am I a huge Big Sean fan but Twenty88 was surprisingly enjoyable. The slower production lends some weight to Aiko’s light voice and Sean’s charisma shines. The hook “I’ve been goin’ all day and now I need to hear you say my name” reminds me of some focused late-night drives.
One in the Same – Apollo Brown & Skyzoo
Apollo Brown’s pensive piano keys and my favorite rhymesmith made a beautiful marriage. I can’t watch a Broncos game without hearing “Rumor has it bro is like Von Miller on the line / You false start and shit’ll turn thriller on a dime.” (Seeing it performed live made me love it more.)
You can hear these tracks (and 47 of my other favorites from 2016) on my Spotify playlist #skinnyblackjams: 2016.