2016 has been a big year in the music world! Beyonce dropped her ‘Lemonade’ album, Gucci Mane returned to the scene, Solange released her biggest album to date and much more. Today, we are acknowledging the 10 underrated albums that went under the rader but was a great body of work. Check out our list below!
- E.R. – Her Vol. 1
A newcomer to R&B, H.E.R. delivers raspy vocals, good lyrics, and slow and smooth production. On her debut project H.E.R. Vol. 1, she puts her on spin on Floetry’s “Say Yes” with “Wait for It” and covers Drake’s “Jungle.” Although she does give recognition to acts before her, she still adds on her style with records like “Losing” and “Facts”. She’s still a mystery as she hasn’t put too much of herself out there yet. However, this project was definitely one of the hidden gems of 2016. Listen here.
- Big K.R.I.T. – 12 for 12
Big K.R.I.T surprised fans with twelve freestyles along with the announcement that he was no longer with his label, Def Jam. On 12 for 12, he rhymes over the beats of his peers like Schoolboy Q’s “That Part” and French Montana’s “Lockjaw”. He also displays his singing abilities by covering Erykah Badu’s “Otherside of the Game.” Delivering the two songs every two hours, K.R.I.T. shows that he’s still committed to making great music with or without a label. With how good the freestyles, it seemed that it didn’t get the proper coverage it deserved. Listen here.
- Noname – Telefone
Noname has been making her rounds in hip hop with the many features she has contributed this year. She added a verse to Chance’s “Coloring Book”, as well as, Mick Jenkins’ “The Healing Component”. However, she finally delivered her own project, Telefone, which blew her features out of the water. The project discusses the harsh reality of growing up in Chicago. It’s reflective in nature as Noname addresses incidents from her childhood and the threat of death always being around the corner. It was a great introduction to what Noname can do on her own, yet it’s disheartening that the project wasn’t talked about as much.
- Snoh Aalegra – Don’t Explain
This songstress, who in a lot of ways is reminiscent of the late Amy Winehouse, delivers great vocals over nine tracks on her project, Don’t Explain. The EP seems to detail a relationship, one that goes through its ups and downs, which is noted by the different mood switches from song to song. Some standout tracks on the project are “In Your River” and “Home”. The project has an authentic jazz and R&B feel to it that the genre has been missing these days. Listen here.
- Ari Lennox – Pho
It took Dreamville awhile to put some estrogen on their rooster, but when they did it was worth it. Ari Lennox is one of the new artists to the label, who was fairly new and unknown. However, after releasing her project, Pho, fans have gotten to know more about the singer. The project is seven tracks including “Backseat”, which was introduced on the label’s compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers 2. Her project is very upbeat, bouncy, and groovy paired with her powerhouse vocals. Standout tracks on the project include “Yuengling”, “Cold Outside”, and “GOAT”. Listen here.
- Maxwell – BlackSUMMERS’night
In regards to mainstream R&B, veteran singer, Maxwell gave fans the second installment of his trilogy album, BlackSUMMERS’night. Although I wasn’t so sure about the album at first, it’s actually pretty good. Through twelve tracks, Maxwell takes fan on a journey through a passion filled relationship that crashes and burns. Although the creativity on the album is great, the production is what really ties everything together. Some great songs from the album are “1990x”, “Ill”, and “The Fall.” Listen here.
- Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP
After two years, Schoolboy Q released his fourth project, Blank Face LP. Although there is a distinct difference between this project and the last, he still manages to employ that California feel to it with “Tookie Knows II” and “Dope Dealer.” He also utilizes plenty of California artists like E-40, Tha Dogg Pound, and Vince Staples. He also seems to have grown lyrically on this album and seems to be more focused. Outside of the singles, “Neva Change”, “Kno Ya Wrong”, and “By Any Means” are standout tracks on the album. Listen here.
- Anderson .Paak – Malibu
After listening to Anderson .Paak’s album, Malibu, I can definitely see why Dr. Dre signed him Aftermath. The project is hard to describe as he utilizes so many different sounds, styles, and range of topics. While he gets reflective and speaks on his turbulent childhood in “The Season/Carry Me”, he talks about women with fake personalities and even faker bodies parts on “Silicon Valley.” With all the variety, the project still holds its cohesiveness. It’s a project that one can listen to from beginning to end without skipping any tracks. Listen here.
- Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
Isaiah Rashad returned to hip hop with his debut album, The Sun’s Tirade. The album speaks on his downward spiral with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as, his responsibilities as a rapper and father. Although the wait seemed long, one can tell that definitely took his time with this project as the growth is apparent. From Cilvia Demo, he has grown sonically and lyrically. “Rope/Rosegold”, “Bday”, and “Find a Topic” are some great songs on the album. With how great of an emcee Rashad is, it’s disheartening that his project didn’t get the proper accolades it deserved. Listen here.
- Saba- Bucket List Project
Chicago is producing greatness with artists like Chance the Rapper, Noname, and Mick Jenkins. Another rapper to add to that rooster is Saba, who released his solo project, Bucket List Project, which is very impressive for an introduction. Throughout the album, various voices can be heard naming what is on their bucket lists. Although an assumption, he seems to possibly be giving ode to the city of Chicago and the constant threat of danger that persists. There are many are don’t get chances to make their dreams come true due to gun violence. This seems to honor them. No matter the case, this project is a must listen. Listen here.