Finding the Top 5 Albums in November 2016 was easy. 2016 has had it’s fair share of legendary artists dropping new albums and pleasing their long time fans. No one, however, could have predicted A Tribe Called Quest reaching #1 on Billboard with a new album. In the same month, The Weeknd shattered Spotify records and debuts at the top spot in several countries with his new album. On the other hand, a lot of mediocre music came out this month across all genres. Many artists had releases that felt like they were recorded on auto pilot. So let’s skip the weak ones, read ahead and find out what were the Top 5 albums this month.
A Tribe Called Quest –
Thank You For Your Service… We Got It From Here
(Album Of The Month)
This album should come with a neck brace. Eighteen years after their break up, A Tribe Called Quest put aside their differences and began recording a new project. An album that began as a way to rekindle old friendships took on a whole new mission when earlier this year Malik Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg, passed away. Before his death, Phife flew from Cali to NY for weeks at a time to work on the new album in Q-Tip’s home studio. The end result is a beautiful piece of music and arguably the best hip hop album this year. Sonically, Thank You For Your Service does not commit the same pitfalls that most older hip hop groups tend to when making a modern album. Instead this album uses their classic sound as a base and grows their production from there in order to fit the modern landscape.
After almost two decades, Q Tip and Phife trade verses without missing a step. The two core MCs are also accompanied by the return of their long lost member, Jarobi White, who only appeared on their first album back in 1990. One of the most impressive aspects of this release is the chemistry between ATCQ and their featured guests. Whether it’s Busta’s verse on Dis Generation, Andre 3k on Kids, or Elton John on Solid Wall Of Sound every single feature on this album sounds right at home. What Tribe has done in 2016 is equally monumental and bittersweet. As Q-Tip says on Ego “This is the last Tribe and our ego hopes that you felt us”, the answer from the fans should always be an overwhelming “Yes, and thank you for your service.”
Stand out tracks: The Space Program, We The People, Ego
Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
This is Metallica’s best album since Load. All albums that followed had their moments here and there (except the flaming trash heap that was St. Anger) but this is definitely the most focused they’ve been in 20 years. Death Magnetic was definitely a step in the right direction, so they went a few steps further with their new double album Hardwired…. To Self-Destruct. One might even say that they’re definitely trying to replicate the sound of their early classics. From their opening track, Hardwired, they immediately set it off with a barrage of thrash metal riffs. This is followed by Atlas, Rise! with a bad ass guitar solo that sounds more like Iron Maiden than Metallica. Solos such as this are some of the best that they’ve played since Ride The Lightning. Moth Into Flames, another single from this album, is a complete blend of everything that made Metallica great through the years.
It’s not perfect as the album peaks early and runs unnecessarily long. Some editing would have helped trim it down to less than 80 minutes. Even if this album had no business being two discs, it’s still a welcome addition and a really good release from the old metal gods. They are well on their way to redemption.
Stand out tracks: Hardwired, Atlas, Rise!, Moth Into Flame
6LACK – FREE 6LACK
If you’ve ever wandered around Soundcloud looking for good R&B, chances are you may have stumbled upon 6LACK’s work (in case you were wondering, it’s pronounced “black”). 6LACK has been a Soundcloud staple for a while, which led him to be signed by a major label soon after. Unfortunately, he fell into some drama when his label wanted him to go a more mainstream route. Subsequent to being liberated from his contract, he has decided to drop his independent debut album, FREE 6LACK.
After bumping this album constantly since its release, I have to wonder… How clueless was his old label? This album has a better sound than 90% of current alternative R&B. Most of the production is moody bass heavy slow tracks that enable 6LACK to lace his gritty, syrupy vocals to properly coat the track. A great example of this is his single, PRBLMS, which already has over 7 million plays on Spotify and another 3 million on Soundcloud. 6LACK doesn’t only rely on top notch productions, his song writing is just as on point as his backdrops. Worst Luck has 6LACK trying to convince a woman to leave him for her own good with one of my favorite, yet simple, R&B hooks and melodies this year. This release will no doubt propel this Atlanta star to gain more notoriety. He also proves that labels have no idea what they’re doing.
Stand out tracks: Rules, PRBLMS, Worst Luck
LE$ – Olde English
LE$ has established a loyal fan base due to his quality mixtape releases over the past few years. After a set of free projects, including two earlier this year, LE$ finally drops his long awaited debut album, Olde English. If you’ve already heard his mixtapes, then you know exactly what you’re getting, this is exemplary cruisin’ music. LE$’ smooth delivery drapes over the chilled out instrumentals mostly provided by Happy Perez. The producer/rapper combination of Perez & LE$ is easily one of the best this year as it borrows from coast to coast and different eras in hip hop.
Highway is a flawless way to set the mood right on this album as LE$ proclaims he’s “Sipping this Pink Floyd, living like I was Hendrix/ Higher than Cobain, avoiding that same finish.” Not only does LE$ provide great flows and witty bars throughout, his hooks are some of the best of the genre in recent memory. Dropping dope track after dope track is a difficult task to pull off but LE$ manages to accomplish this throughout most of the 18 tracks. Olde English is one of the best and most well rounded hip hop albums this year.
Stand out tracks: Highway, Desires?, REM
Twelve’len – Friends
Disclaimer: This album was not released in November, it was an October release and it somehow slipped through the cracks. I felt it would be disrespectful for those looking for new talent to not mention Twelve’len’s debut, Friends. The Miami singer’s album is a combination of sounds from Outkast to Santana influences. Star Dust is an upbeat soulful track with an infectious melody and chorus. Twelve’len’s ode to his home state, Florida, is another catchy joint perfect to bump on a sunny day at the beach.
From acoustic guitars to DJ scratches, the backdrops range throughout the album, blending and crisscrossing genres. This gives Friends a good amount of depth and tons of replay value. It’s hard to pinpoint or even explain Twelve’len’s sound but I’m sure that’s the way it was intended. One thing is clear, Twelve’len is a brand new artist that has effortlessly weaved his own sound, which makes him a must listen.
Stand out tracks: In This Forest We Walk Through, Star Dust, Florida