Here are the 100 greatest LPs of 2016, according to Crack Magazine. Visit 2016.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage over the coming weeks.
NAOFor All We Know RCA Records
Hackney queen Nao’s syrup-sweet vocals hit like a tidal wave on For All We Know. With Nao’s fluttering falsettos lapping at the shores of digi-RnB and cosmic-twinged soul, the songs shined bright with evocative lyricism, skulking basslines and hooky avant-pop. On this hotly anticipated debut, Nao embodied the full choir, orchestra and gospel hall.
HUERCO S.For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) Proibito
Huerco S. emerged in 2013 with generally murky house and techno alongside noisier stints, amongst a cast of producers who were fucking with what could be considered a dancefloor record. This year his gaze drifted from the club with this serene, meditative collection of ambient tracks. At times tranquil and at others eerie, the album broadened the appeal Huerco S.’s work while retaining his unkempt charm – dense music to slowly lose yourself in, until it sharply disintegrates, jolting you awake mid-sprawl.
KAHonor Killed the Samurai Iron Works
Scenes from feudal Japan framed 70s Brownsville life on Ka’s Honor Killed The Samurai, as the stoic rapper demonstrated incredible discipline in his approach to lyricism. Words were used economically, as was sound – his meditative low-registering raps provided rhythm often in favour of drums, his steely-eyed anecdotes were orated alongside ghostly soul samples. This is how East Coast traditionalism should be done.
WOLF MULLER & CASSThe Sound Of Glades International Feel
While he may have forged a reputation for drum laden worldly grooves, Wolf Muller displayed his penchant for a more delicate, reflective musical space on this album with Cass. Released on Jose Padilla’s International Feel, The Sound Of Glades hinted at the label’s Balearic leanings but reached for a more mysterious emotional plain where exotic jungle noises met with sustained ambience and swooning musicality throughout. Meditative excursions don’t come better than this.
YOUNG THUGSlime Season 3 300 / Atlantic
The third instalment in Young Thug’s Slime Season series was the most polished yet. A masterclass in post-lyrical rap, from the infectious opener With Them Thugger ran wild, exploring rhythmic and melodic pockets and perfecting his previously inconceivable flows. He promised to live life to the fullest on fan-favourite Digits, celebrated his crew on Slime Shit and expressed his love for his fiancé on Worth It, wrapping it all up in an impressively concise half hour.
JAY DANIELBroken Knowz Technicolor
Since making his debut five years ago, Jay Daniel has become one of the leading lights of Detroit house. As such, there was plenty of anticipation for this, his debut album. Luckily, Broken Knowz more than made up to those expectations. Fueled by moments of poise and intent, its warm, personal feel and loose-knit percussive flair – the result of live drums recorded in his mother’s basement – made for an impressively assured debut, solidifying his place as part of the modern Detroit vanguard.
SCHOOLBOY QBlank Face Top Dawg Entertainment
Blank Face was sonically and aesthetically unique, both a love letter to the street rap of the mid-2000s and a sprawling blockbuster album. It consolidated Q’s position as South Central’s premier gonzo journalist; Hunter S. Thompson if he’d grown up gang-banging. Q’s brand of street storytelling agonised over the details – dirty jeans, a shattered wing mirror, pissy sofas and Pringles litter his stanzas – painting a vivid picture of the warts-and-all West Coast gangster lifestyle that we’re fed all too often in a glossed-over fashion.
SURGEONFrom Farthest Known Objects Dynamic Tension
While Anthony Child has been gleefully exploring experimental pastures under his own name recently, From Farthest Known Objects found the techno pioneer injecting this same adventurous spirit into his dancefloor-minded work. It would be a stretch to call the eight tracks on his latest album straight-up party material, but in amongst the amorphous, alien textures from his Buchla synth lies the needlepoint instinct that has made Surgeon such a lasting presence in British club music.
TRAVIS SCOTTBirds In The Trap Sing McKnight Grand Hustle
There is a depth and sophistication to this LP that evaded Travis Scott up until this point. His innate ability to create and outsource the best beats on the market stepped up a notch and his garbled auto-tuned flow became more sculpted, unveiling a catalogue of tightly-screwed hits which were absent from his debut. Pick Up The Phone will define his legacy as hip-hop’s moonlit hit-machine.
WARPAINTHeads Up Rough Trade
Warpaint have always spoken with a singular, inimitable voice – one defined by the spirit of casual experimentation. Heads Up sprawls in a dozen disparate directions – completed by the band’s usual brew of precise detail and dizzying jam sessions, the strange psychic ties which hold the four-piece close slackened slightly, for the better. Heads Up was earnest, warm and complicated. Warpaint have always rewarded patient listeners. Trust them.