2016’s top tracks: a roundup

By Dylan Johnson

 

2016 was a great year for Hip-Hop, even music in general. Today’s best artists delivered top notch projects including Beyonce,Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, and many, many more. So many great projects were released in 2016 but there can only be but so many top songs this past year. This list compiles the most bumped to songs of 2016, that are still being played today.

The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Red CarpetSinger Beyonce. Photo courtsey of huffingtonpost.com

 

Kanye West- Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 & 2

Kanye, Kid Cudi, and Desiigner teamed up to make one of the best bangers of Summer 2016. The vocal talent of Cudi along with the sampling of Pastor T.L Barrett’s “Father I Stretch My Hands”, followed by Desiigner’s first verse on “Panda” makes this song an unforgettable track off of “The Life of Pablo”. The gospel influence combined with Kanye’s verse on both Pt. 1 and 2 is a unique sound only found on The Life of Pablo. Also an incredible beat by Metro Boomin.

Beyonce- Formation

The first single from her grammy nominated album “Lemonade” stirred a lot of controversy because of Beyonce’s lyrics, but is not why this song is as big as it is. She laid down great verses and a catchy hook on a very hip-hop esque instrumental which was somewhat new for Beyonce’s sound, but nothing short of amazing. This track has 3 Grammy nominations for 2017 and is considered by some the song of the year.

Frank Ocean- Nights

Nothing more can be said about Frank that hasn’t already been said. Untouchable vocals, and can also spit a nice verse when he feels like it. This song showcases everything Frank can do in a 5 minute time slot with his musical ability. The progression of the song getting more and more energized followed by it’s come down in the end is mesmerizing and definitely the best track off of “Blonde”.

Travis Scott- Through The Late Night (Feat. Kid Cudi)

Finally a song with Travis Scott and Kid Cudi. The 2 went back and forth with verses and hooks on one the best late night anthem of 2016. Trav and Cudi’s verses alone set this song off with Trav using Cudi’s “Day n Nite” at the beginning of his verse and Cudi’s autotune compliments his voice nicely on the hook and verse.

The Weekend- Starboy (Feat. Daft Punk)

The Weeknd’s first single off his album “Starboy” is considered to be one of the best singles of 2016. The infusion of Daft Punk’s production and feature into The Weeknd’s style raised the bar high in the R&B genre. It gave us a glimpse of the new sound The Weeknd has developed which is consistent through his album and amazing nonetheless.

Migos- Bad and Boujee (Feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

One out of many of Metro Boomin’s hits of 2016 is done with the help of Migos and Lil Uzi Vert. Offset’s verse at the start of the song blows all of the other verses Migos have done over the years out of the water, not to mention Quavo’s verse shortly after. Although Lil Uzi Vert had a questionable verse that some may wish never made it onto the track, we’re still singing the hook going into 2017.

Solange- Cranes in the Sky

With Raphael Saadiq’s production and Solange’s vocals on this track, there is no way it could go wrong. The insightful moral within this track makes it one of the year’s best songs not to mention the beautiful vocal talent of Solange and her harmonization throughout the song.

Chance the Rapper- No Problem (Feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)

Days prior to release of his 3rd mixtape “Coloring Book”, Chance the Rapper streamed this song on Beats1 Radio which is when everyone knew it was one of the biggest hits of the year. The instrumental goes so nicely with everyone’s verses and even the chorus. A Lil Wayne feature is uncommon nowadays but needless to say, him and 2 Chainz kill their verses as well as Chance in one of the best bangers of Summer 2016.

chance-the-rapper-album-1200x630-cChance the Rapper. Photo courtsey of digitaltrends.com

Kanye West- Ultralight Beam (Feat. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, The-Dream, and Kirk Franklin)

As much as I tried to keep this list limited to 1 song per artist, this track made in impossible. The opening to Kanye’s 7th Studio album “The Life of Pablo” introduces his newly profound love for the infusion of gospel into his traditional hip hop sound we all know and love. There’s too many features to address each one in detail but they are all key in making this song as sonically pleasing as can be. Definitely one of if not the most spiritually enlightening song of 2016.

Danny Brown- Really Doe (Feat. Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, and Earl Sweatshirt)

This superstar cast of rappers was bound to create one of the best rap tracks of the year. In what some say to be the album of the year, Danny Brown delivered “Atrocity Exhibition” late 2016 which is one of the most experimental rap albums to date.  To keep it short, each and every verse, bar, and line of this song was fire. We for sure need to be hearing more from these 4 on tracks together in the future.

 

Kendrick Lamar- Untitled 02

When Kendrick Lamar dropped “untitled unmastered” in March by surprise, he took the world by storm in which the internet was flooded with notable lyrics and album links. It was tough to choose just 1 song off this project but “untitled 02” takes the cake. Kendricks transition from his melodic approach in the beginning to his fast pace spitting he does in the 2nd half of the song leaves me with no option to not call this track the best on the project, and of course one of the best of 2016.

D.R.A.M.- Broccoli (Feat. Lil Yachty)

Easily the song of summer 2016, D.R.A.M. delivers a joyful, upbeat song…predominantly about weed but also has a nice story about his come up in there as well. Lil Yachty also lays a sweet verse on this track to help bump this up into the Billboard top 5 charts and certified double platinum.

Young Thug- With Them

In Young Thug’s much anticipated “Slime Season 3” he opens up with a banger. The beat alone is wild enough to make it into the top songs of the year, not to mention how much Young Thug spazzes over the instrumental. Although the whole project is filled with bangers, “With Them” is by far the standout track.

Gucci Mane- 1st Day Out tha Feds

With the enormous amounts of hype surrounding Gucci Mane in 2016, not just for his music but as a public figure for his jail release, weight loss, and clone controversy, He definitely dropped one of his best songs to date the day he got out of jail. Produced by Mike Will Made-it, “1st Day Out tha Feds” is a homecoming track for the books as Gucci Mane talks about his jail time and experiences while he was locked up.

Travis Scott & Young Thug- Pick Up the Phone (Feat. Quavo)

In the first single off of Travis Scott’s “Birds in the Trap Sing Mcknight”, Thug and Travis take on a tropical vibe in one of the best songs of the Summer. Quavo, Travis, and Thug all deliver great verses with an extremely catchy hook, making this one of the best songs of 2016.

Schoolboy Q- That Part (Feat. Kanye West)

“That Part” is the 2nd single off of Schoolboy Q’s grammy nominated project; “Blank Face LP”. Q holds his consistency throughout the track with his solid bars he always seems to deliver on every song, but Kanye’s verse is where it gets interesting. His first line almost seems like a mockery until he gets more and more energized as he starts to spit through his verse.

schoolboy-qRapper Schoolboy Q. Photo courtesy of billboard.com

 

21 Savage- No Heart

On 2016 XXL Freshman’s debut album produced by Metro Boomin, he delivers hard and solid bars throughout the project. “No Heart” is some of Metro Boomin’s best work not just on the album but through his career. The sheer catchiness of this track is what makes it one of the best of 2016, 21 had everyone reciting his verses all throughout the year and going into 2017.

Kid Cudi- Surfin’ (Feat. Pharrell Williams)

In cudi’s return to the more hip-hop esque sound he was known for earlier in his career, him and Pharrell create one of the best singles of the year. With production from Pharrell Williams, “Surfin’” is the ultimate anthem for people creating their own lanes or waves if you will. The single released in the latter half of 2016 is good enough for a spot on this list but the extended version on Cudi’s album in December, justifies its placement.