As a self-proclaimed music aficionado, I believe in another life I could have been an incredibly successful A&R. I’m the guy to many in my circle whose taste in music is highly regarded. While I appreciated a variety of 2016’s musical offerings from Chance, Drake, and Gucci to Soloage and Anderson Paak, my playlist was flooded with artists who were the soundtrack to my morning commutes on the train, set the mood for a romantic rendezvous with my lady and gave me that extra push when life got tough. As a result, I decided to curate a list of twelve projects you might have missed in 2016. In no particular order:
Daniel Caesar - Pilgrim's Paradise - Soul/R&B
Twenty-one-year-old singer/songwriter, Daniel Caesar is carrying the torch quite well for the 6 side. His most recent full-length EP Pilgrim's Paradise is laced with bold psychedelic vibes coupled with a raw and infectious soulful voice. His rendition of Kanye’s 808 & Heartbreaks hit "Street Lights" is a certified banger!
Smoke DZA/ Pete Rock - Don't Smoke Rock - Hip Hop
It wasn’t until I heard Smoke kick a freestyle with Tech 9ne on Sway in the Morning’s radio show that I took note of this Harlem MC. Apparently, this dude has been putting in work for quite some time. Don’t Smoke Rock is a collaborative project with one of hip hop's favorite producers, the legendary Pete Rock. With verses from Jadakiss, Styles P, Big Krit, Rick Ross, BJ the Chicago and Dom Kennedy, this album is the perfect soundscape for cold weather hoodie season.
"Dusk 2 Dusk"
Shakka - The Islands - Reggae/R&B/Pop
Hailing from Nottingham, England, vibe setter Shakka’s latest EP The Islands is anthemic and diverse with soul, pop and reggae influences. Although this project only has five tracks, this EP does not lack energy. What I love most about Shakka is his tactful ability to switch genres while upholding his unique and distinctive artistic delivery.
"I love the way"
Wolfe de MCHLS - Naked - Alternative
Wolfe de MCHLS EP Naked sounds like a trip back into the 80’s. If Travis Scott decided to crossover and start a career as an R&B artist, it would sound like this. I first heard this producer/songwriter on Big Krit’s 2015 EP It’s Better that Way song "In the Darkness". The project feels good and is the perfect soundtrack to ride out to.
Rapsody - Crown - Hip Hop
With all the ups and downs that came with 2016, Raspody’s EP was well welcomed. This album is both affirming and stimulates conscious thought. I guarantee Rasp’s bars will rival your favorite rapper, favorite rapper.
PJ - Rare - R&B/Soul
PJ has penned hits for everyone from Meek Mill , B.o.B, and Wiz Khalifa. Her EP Rare is a pinch of soulful vocals and feel-good melodies. A very satisfying offering from the North Carolina singer-songwriter.
NxWorries - Yes Lawd! Hip-Hop/Rap
If you didn't get enough of Anderson Paak’s incredible rise to stardom, Yes Lawd! is a hearty sampler for fans to feast on. Paak teams up with LA producer Knxwledge for full length project.Yes Lawd! is a sonic vignette of retro samples produced by Knxwledge complimented by Paak”s raspy melodic vocals.
"Get Bigger/Do U Luv"
Sir - HER- R&B/Soul
If you know me well, one of my favorite past times is to push play on the tape deck and ride out to something that makes you feel like you just got a haircut on a perfectly tempered summer day. Sir brings that fly rider esq approach with his 2016 EP Her. Love love love this project! It’s soulful, it's smooth, it's fly! This is the true essence of rider music.
"All in my head"
Mick Jenkins - The Healing Component - Hip Hop
Thanks to guys like Mick for continuously breathing life into hip hop. I discovered dude when I moved to the Chi in 2014. The Healing Component is an introspective and spiritually conscious project. His platform of spreading love and truth is much needed considering all of the turbulence we deal with on a day to day.
"The healing component"
Xavier Omar - The Everlasting Wave - R&B/Soul
I can not say enough about how talented Xavier Omar is. Formally know as Spzrkt, Xavier hasn’t missed the mark since I’ve been following his movement. The Everlasting Wave is a project that takes listeners through the many phases of love and romance. This EP is certainly a vibe setter.
"Lost in Nostalgia"
Oddisee - Alwasta & The Odd-Tape - Hip Hop
I know I know, this is supposed to be a top 12 but I had to show love to my man’s Oddisee who gave us two incredible projects in 2016. Oddisee is a sincere truth teller. His EP Alwasta reflects on his experience with humanity as well as the challenges of being a minority in America. If his conscious bars are too much for you to digest, The Odd- Tape might be right up your alley. 12 original tracks produced by Oddisee. No bars just instrumentals, perfect for studying or setting a chill vibe.
"Asked about you"
"Strength and Weakness"
Eric Roberson and Phonte -Tigallerro - R&B/Soul
½ of little brother teamed up with the ever-talented R&B penmen Eric Roberson for a seamless fusion of hip and r&b. This project was rumored for years and was well worth the wait once it dropped.
"Waiting 4 ya"