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Just like last year, picking our Top 10 favorite albums for my Village Voice ̶P̶a̶z̶z̶ ̶&̶ ̶J̶o̶p̶ Music Critic’s Poll ballot this year was tough! 2016 was yet another especially good year for music overall and quality full length albums specifically. Many of the ‘Honorable Mentions’ below were more than worthy contenders for a spot on my Top 10 (actually Top 12, I added Maxwell and I think my stupid ass actually forgot to include Childish Gambino‘s throwback funk-rock-inspired opus, Awaken, My Love! on my ballot so I had to make amends here on the blog).

I don’t have that much to say about the individual albums here except:

– Vets and newbies alike put in work! A Tribe Called Quest dropped a masterpiece/tribute to their late member, Phife Dawg that should’ve been a coda on the joke-cum-nightmare that was the Donald Trump presidential campaign but instead became a balm for our souls as we contemplated what it meant for him to, instead of becoming a footnote in history, actually be taking office as commander-in-chief and ‘leader’ of the free world. Sibling act to Tribe in the Native Tongues, De La Soul, as they always do, rewrote the playbook for making hip-hop and proved veteran MC’s can still drop impeccable wordplay while their original producer and mentor, Prince Paul, showed he still had the same innovative, fun and inventive spirit in his music as he ever did with his latest Latin/world music-meets-hip-hop album project, Brookzill with Digable PlanetsLadybug Mecca, Don Newkirk and Rodrigo Brandão. Meanwhile underground stalwarts like Dave East, Torae, Stalley and long-time Kitchen favorite Mickey Factz (with acclaimed producer, Nottz) all dropped excellent projects that garnered varying degrees of buzz.

– R&B/Soul kicked ASS this past year! Solange ended up towering above them all for my money although the Beyhive would probably be up in arms that I’m not according her sister that accolade for LEMONADE (for the record I loved that project more as a short film visual than as an album but I wouldn’t fight anyone who disagrees with my take on it). For most of the year before, Anderson .Paak‘s Malibu and A Seat at the Table were released, I thought ANTI was going to be my album of the year and it still amazes me how many wouldn’t give it a chance just because it was made by Rihanna. Be clear: ANTI is an alternative pop-soul tour de force that would be getting universally heralded if it had been made by Solange, SZA, FKA Twigs or some other boho black girl beloved by indie/alternative media types and not pop’s resident, gives no f-cks, bad girl (Riri). She gets love in those quarters too but not quite so across-the-board. And, speaking of beloved by indie/alternative media type artists, while it didn’t blow me away like Channel Orange or as much it did other people, Frank Ocean‘s Blonde was further proof that he is one of the most creative talents in music, period. If you liked your R&B a little bit more down the middle of the traditional road (or as traditional as it gets in 2016) though, albums by Maxwell, new jack Maxwell heir apparent, Gallant, John Legend, Alicia Keys and Tweet, in a very welcome comeback after a looong hiatus, were all well worth your time. That last album, Tweet’s Charlene was so criminally overlooked, it almost hurt my heart.

– Toronto and Canada represented! Albums by Drake, The Weeknd, TOBi, Roy Woods, Daniel Caesar, Dvsn, Clairmont the Second, Kaytranada, LAL, River Tiber, Harrison, SATE, Tona Tencreddi, Zeds Dead, A Tribe Called Red and many others I didn’t even include on my list, confirm we now have the best urban/Black music scene in the world, no discussion!

So all that said, here’s the list:


Top Albums (in no particular order):
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Rihanna – ANTI
Solange – A Seat at the Table

Best of the Rest:
J. Cole
– 4 Your Eyez Only
De La Soul – and the Anonymous Nobody
Dave East – Kairi Chanel
The Game – 1992
Maxwell – BlackSUMMERS’night
Stalley – Saving Yusuf
Tweet – Charlene

Honorable Mentions:

A Tribe Called Red – We Are the Halluci Nation
Beyonce – LEMONADE
Blitz the Ambassador – Diasporadical
Brookzill – Throwback to the Future
Daniel Caesar – Pilgrim’s Paradise (note: rel. Nov. 2015)
Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
Clairmont the Second– Quest For Milk And Honey
Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
Consequence – A Good Comeback Story
Domingo – Generation Next
Drake – VIEWS
Dvsn – Sept. 5th
Gallant – Ology
Harrison – Checkpoint Titanium
Kaytranada – 99.9%
Alicia Keys – Here
Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
LAL – Find Safety
John Legend – Darkness and Light
Mickey Factz & Nottz – The Achievement: Circa ’82
Frank Ocean – Blonde
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
River Tiber – Indigo
Royce 5’9” – Tabernacle: Trust the Shooter EP
SATE – Red, Black & Blue
Tona Tencreddi – The Ivy League
Torae – Entitled
The Weeknd – Starboy
Roy Woods – Waking at Dawn
ZEDS DEAD – Northern Lights

If you missed any of these during the past year, you really should consider giving them your time and attention now. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll dig. Did I miss or overlook any albums you think should have been mentioned here? Let us know in the comments or Tweet / Facebook us.

Previously on The Kitchen:



[MP3] Ciara – Body Party (Quincy’s Crate Remix)

My boy dj NaNa (you should know his name from his group, The Names Are Known‘s track on the 2014 #DK11 comp) pulled this unreleased remix of Ciara‘s “Body Party” by him and eMDee (under the name, Quincy’s Crate) out of the stash a couple weeks and let me know about it, so here it is for your enjoyment. Tell us what you think of it: drop a comment or Tweet / Facebook us!

[MP3] Solange – Rise (Jai Nitai Lotus Rework)

Even though we already wrapped up 2016, we’re gonna take some time to share some loosies from near the end of last year that we loved but never got around to posting for one reason or another starting with this Jai Nitai Lotus Solange remix. One of our favorite rappers remixes a track from one of our favorite albums this year??! No brainer!

This is most definitely RIYL status if you dig Soulection-type sounds. Salute, Jai and sorry, even though we’re wild late in general putting this up, that we didn’t at least do it in time for your birthday yesterday. Consider this a belated a gift!



Similarly to how it went down for 2015, this year’s list of The Kitchen‘s favorite songs or singles is pretty much what I picked for my Village Voice Pazz N Jop Music Critics Poll ballot.

Unlike last year though, I didn’t really have a true, standout favorite song this year. While I definitely really loved Young M.A‘s “OOOUUU”, if I absolutely had to pick a favorite song, I’d have to go with YG‘s “FDT” (“F-ck Donald Trump” ICUOENO) featuring Nipsey Hussle instead for what should be obvious reasons.

While we’re on the subject of “FDT”, the standout music trend for us was the fact that 2016 was a year marked by the very welcome return of great Black protest music inspired, on the plus side, by The Black Lives Matter movement and, on the negative side, by the ongoing state-sanctioned police violence against Black bodies that led to the formation of the BLM movement in the first place and the outrageous, racist, sexist, nativist, xenophobic and Islamophobic presidential campaign conducted by Donald Trump. They say troubled times creates or inspire great art and 2016 certainly proved the point. Songs like Vic Mensa‘s angry but powerfully moving “16 Shots” or Common‘s brilliantly eloquent “Letter to the Free” gave me goosebumps or stilled my heart every time I played them. Even Macklemore‘s contentious “White Privilege II” (that clunky middle section was way too heavy on the self-congratulatory promotion and others have issue with the entire song itself, I do not though) had a part to play in the dialogue. This is one time though that I wish that troubled times-great art adage were not the case. I’ll take Black lives saved over Black art protesting those lives lost, any day.

For those who wanna chirp off about why there’s no “Broccoli”, “Black Beatles”, Beyonce etc. on the list, keep in mind this is our favorite singles, not the ‘top’ or ‘best’ ones, regardless of how those terms are defined or used. No disrespect to the aforementioned songs, I like them and probably any other ‘noteworthy’ songs for the year you might throw out for consideration fine, they just weren’t our personal faves or, believe it or not, I might have just plain missed them no matter how big a hit they may have been last year. So take that in, stay mad or kick rocks and go check another year-end list elsewhere. Anyway, here go…


01. YG – FDT feat. Nipsey Hussle
02. Black Thought Making A Murderer feat. Styles P
03. Danny Brown Really Doe feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt
04. J. Cole – False Prophets
05. CommonLetter to the Free feat. Bilal
06. DesiignerPanda
07. Drake – One Dance feat. Wizkid & Kyla
08. Vic Mensa 16 Shots
09. Nas & Erykah BaduThis Bitter Land
10. The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming feat. Daft Punk
11. Young M.AOOOUUU

Honorable Mentions:
Chance The Rapper
– No Problem feat. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne
Denzel Curry
– Knotty Head feat. Rick Ross
Dubb Santora
Money Came feat. 2Cz
Lil Uzi Vert
Do What I Want
Macklemore & Ryan LewisWhite Privilege II
NxWorries (Anderson Paak & Knxwledge)Lyk Dis
TonaRed Eye feat. Fixaveli
– No Limit feat. Young Thug
Yo Gotti – Down in the DM

(note: links in the song titles go to posts on The Kitchen blog about the songs, the artist or the full lengths they are from. Soundcloud playlist above or alternatively, here’s a playlist of these songs on TIDAL also.)

Previously on The Kitchen


[MP3] Jazz Cartier – PREE


New Jazz Cartier! What y’all think of it?? Jazz is also playing a Hennessy-sponsored show next week here in ‘The 6.’ Sniff around and maybe you can find the details on how to get in gratis courtesy of 1 Love T.O.

Welcome to Other Music From A Different Kitchen

Going strong since August 2003, our roots run deep in the game. We made the records that your favorite rapper was inspired by, true story. Want that ole' different ish? Walk with us (and while you're at it, click the 'Like' button in that Facebook widget down there on the right to follow us on the DIFFERENT KITCHEN Facebook page and also check out the brand new DIFFERENT KITCHEN Tumblr....)

#DK11: The album, This One Goes To Eleven… OUT NOW


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