I took my three months into 2016 but I finally am finishing this series. I have so much more music to talk about from this year already. Like the last few times, this is my personal favorite soul albums of 2016, not necessarily the best. This one is specifically not in order, they all roughly rotated between each other all year round. If you haven’t, check out my series for favorite hip-hop and R&B albums also.
- A Seat at the Table – Solange
- For All We Know – NAO
- LUXURY – Alex Isley
- The Everlasting Wave – Xavier Omar
- We Are KING – KING
Bonus: 99.9% KAYTRANADA
A Seat at the Table
Video: Cranes in the Sky
A Seat at the Table was a very curious album. It didn’t have a larger advertising budget or some huge publicity stunt to fuel its success. It’s Solange’s third full length album but all of a sudden everyone checked for her. It was strange because she pops up every four years like a musical groundhog and her albums never do colossal numbers. Her musical style evolves every album/EP so you can’t really expect one thing or another from her. She does her own thing and got comfortable not drawing the shine that her older sister gets. But, A Seat at the Table was a hit. It was raw, vulnerable, approachable, and artistically very Solange. It strongly reminded me of an update on Amel Larrieux’s neo-soul classic Infinite Possibilities and that works fine for Solange. She always made the music she felt but what was really groundbreaking was how she covered topics like depression, suicide, mental fatigue, Blackness, relationships, self-care, AND she brought out Master P to share his success story. The whole project was authentic and so black that it came with a pack Kool-Aid.
Video: Don’t Touch My Hair
For All We Know
There is something super unique about European artists. They have a combination of musical style and care that is becoming rarer and rarer these days. NAO is one of my newest musical obsessions since Little Dragon and Quadron seeped into my headphones. I’ve been following NAO for almost two years now since I turned in my late pass. I listened to February 15 and So Good until I sung Zillionaire in my sleep, the she finally released For All We Know. For All We Know blew me away. It was a great exhibition of her vocal capabilities while maintaining the electro-soul bounce that we’ve come to love from her. I never saw her live until I looked at the video below (she’s so British!!!). I appreciated all the positivity and this became a perfect Saturday Morning spin.
Video: For All We Know Ep. 1
Alex Isley, yes, THAT Isley. Her father, Ernie Isley, and uncles make up the legendary Isley Brothers. She was classically trained at UCLA in jazz and it shows that music is in her blood. She has a soothing voice and her first two mixtapes, The Love/Art Memoirs and DreamsInAnalog, were phenomenal lyrically and sonically. LUXURY is a motivational letter to young girls of all age starting with the uplifting La Brea. It’s an enchanting album the you can spend all day daydreaming to. That just left me feeling light and airy with nothing but smiles every time I listen.
Song: La Brea
The Everlasting Wave
Blind Man (Live)
This album was a complete surprise. Xavier Omar used to go by SPZRKT (I still have NO clue how that is supposed to be pronounced) but I am glad he changed it. I started to build interest after hearing him with Noname and Mick Jenkins. His vocal just sounds like warm tea on a brisk fall day and I have really been feeling it. Then, literally a few days after I decided to look him up, he released The Everlasting Wave. Similar to my Hip-hop choices for last year, my soul music has been all extremely positive and up lifting. Xavier Omar is no different. In fact, the entire album is a completely appreciative and loving piece dedicated to the women of the world. He covers how amazing women are and how he appreciates them on every track. I enjoyed it so much, that I called my momma after I played it. It’s extremely grown and sexy without the hyper-sexuality that is displayed nowadays.
He also has the entire album available for free streaming. 🙂
The Everlasting Wave
We Are KING
Song: Hey (Extended)
KING also know as “the hardest group to google EVER” next to the Internet has managed to be immensely popular and well know with very little music but extremely high quality. Their The Story EP quickly became a cult classic with dreamlike vocals and woefully short runtime. Hey was sampled by Kendrick Lamar on Chapter Six from Section.80 and most people still don’t know why they knew the song. Fast forward five years later and we don’t just get a handful of tracks, we get extended audio movies in twelve parts. Each song could be ripped out of a movie from a different decade. Plus, their videos are amazing.
PS: If you want to find them on social media, they typically go by “WeAreKing” or some variation of that.
Video: The Greatest
Video: Glowed Up ft. Anderson Paak
A super surprise for me was Kaytranada. I have no clue what his name means but I first heard him at the Roots Picnic last year and he was super dope live. He had visuals that he spliced and timed himself that were comical and kept my interested. He is a DJ but he managed to bring together some amazing artists and produce nothing but greatness throughout. He managed to get Craig David on a track so summer ready that I had my bags packed to go to an island. Along with Anderson Paak, Phonte, Syd, and Little Dragon, I was sold from the beginning. Plus, the album art is definitely…art. But, the whole project is so solid that people waited months for that last 0.01%.
Video: You’re the One
I hope everyone enjoyed this series but now I am going to focus more on individual albums and artists for a while. Any artists you particularly love? Any similar artists you’d like to share? Leave in the comments below.