2016 has been a great year for music. Anyone who follows our regular 'Music For The Sole' updates, will know that we like to keep up to date with the latest and greatest music from all sides of the urban spectrum, however our interests mostly revolve around the contemporary rap sound, a genre that has been innovated like no other through the past year.
As music production technology advances, so does the individual artist's ability to think forward, and progress ideas. This also plays hand in hand with the competitive nature of the music industry, which drives musicians to try new things and experiment more and more with new ranges of sound and influence.
To celebrate 2016 coming to a close, our staff have selected their stand out projects, and we have compiled a list of 2016's essential listening from the team. So without further ado, let's get into the selection.
Callum - Merchandise Director
Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
"You can really hear Chance's progression as an artist throughout this album, and especially the influence from Kanye, mainly the cues of gospel (both artists featuring on each other's 2016 projects). This album still has his distinctively playful style and childlike take on music. It's refreshing to have a character like Chance in the current rap climate, a guy who reminds people that money doesn't make the music. Plus he wears dungarees. Top guy."
Simon - Store Manager
Skepta - Konichiwa
"The worldwide validation that a thriving scene needed. When people look back on our generation's legacy, it could be argued that Grime came close to Punk for its cultural impact. Maybe. We'll see. I've been a long time Skepta fan, but some of his past studio albums have been pretty weak in my eyes. Konichiwa is raw, rough and everything I wanted it to be. The UK has needed someone like Skepta for years. "
Ant - Photographic Content Manager
Frank Ocean - Blonde
"It was always going to be heavily weighed against Channel ORANGE, but I think Frank comes out with a huge statement of intent with Blonde. Although the wait was lengthy, the passion, power, and talent put into this project makes it an all time classic from any genre. Also a star studded line up of features, a highlight of mine being 'Solo' Ft Andre 3000 because when has Three Stacks ever not killed a guest verse?"
James - Content Writer
Isaiah Rashad - The Suns Tirade
"A musical discussion on addiction, pressure, and the struggle of anxiety through contemporary trap flare and intelligent, forward thinking ideas. I was a huge fan of his previous Demo, so this has pushed Rashad further towards the top of my artist list."
Tom - Content Writer
Travis Scott - Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight
"Every track on this album is gold. Rodeo was a banger, as is this new effort. This project really defines Travis as an older, more experienced musician. I don't skip a single track on this record. "
Harry - Warehouse Manager
Post Malone - Stoney
"I know this album hasn't been out long, but I've been hooked on Post since White Iverson first came into my life. This record is chill and very emotive (tears we're had after my first listen), but bangs when it needs to. My expectations were exceeded "
Ollie - Sales Specialist
David Bowie - Black Star
"The pinnacle release of the greatest musician in my eyes, Bowie takes cues of Kendrick Lamar and Death Grips on some choice cuts of jazz, rock and electronica. Nothing really took my interest this year as much as this. Paired with his untimely passing, It left a very profound feeling that has lasted till now, and probably forever. "
Jacob - Sales Specialist
Ty Dolla Sign - Campaign
"It's catchy man what can I say. I'm a huge r'n'b fan, and whether Ty Knows it or not, he's r'n'b. I like the interludes and hooks throughout Campaign, it's just a well rounded, easy going listen. If you've got any company on a night time, this really sets the mood."
Josh - Dispatch Assistant
Kendrick Lamar - Untitled Unmastered
"How one album can go from low key and chilled to so hype so quickly I will never fully understand. This one is just banger after banger, especially 'Untitled 03', which is by far the best track of the record. Kendrick showing us how it's done... again."
Andrew - Photography Intern
Drake - Views
"Easy. No doubt Views is the release of the year for me! Since the release of IYRTITL and What a Time to Be Alive, I've been tentatively waiting for this one to drop for months and months, and literally I've had it on repeat till now. I heard this record is one of the most streamed of the year, and every one of those is probably me."