Here are the 25 greatest tracks of 2016, according to Crack Magazine.
Visit 2016.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage over the coming weeks.
AVALON EMERSONThe Frontier Whities
Avalon Emerson has become one of the most distinctive figures in dance music this year. The title track from her Whities debut, The Frontier kicked up the amber dust of her childhood spent in the desert of Gilbert, Arizona. With a jolting bassline that drives forward the strains of a deep synth melody, it was a loving ode to her home, and a mirror for the beauty found in harsh surroundings.
DEATH GRIPSEh Third Worlds / Harvest
The standout track on Death Grips’ Bottomless Pit was an ode to giving zero fucks. ‘Who you think you are?/ Fucks like, ‘Do you know who I am?’/ Fucks fail to understand, I’m like, ‘Eh’,’ wailed MC Ride over a warbling techno structure. The track’s cathartic aggression made it a highlight at Death Grips’ live shows this year, which often bordered on bloodshed. The perfect punk putdown to a year riddled with celebrity and bullshit.
DESIIGNERPanda G.O.O.D. / Def Jam
With his barked, garbled syllables and deranged onstage contortions, Desiigner was one of the year’s strangest newcomers and Panda was the anthem that unleashed him on the world. While it could have been written off as a Future rip-off, after being weaved into Kanye West’s Father Stretch My Hands Pt.2, the track quickly took on a life of its own. It’s not often you get super-hits which pretty much nobody knows the words to.
DBRIDGECos My Love Is Exit Records
Tucked away as the B3 on a six-track EP, Cos My Love Is could have so easily been overlooked by many, but it was one of the crowning jewels of recent times for the ever-prolific dBridge. As he’s intimated in the past, Darren White sports an arresting singing voice to go with his undoubted production skills, and it played no small part in making this brief, off-kilter slice of neo-soul utterly unforgettable.
SHEER MAGNobody’s Baby Static Shock / Wilsuns
As the finale to their excellent III EP, Nobody’s Baby was a track which helped establish Sheer Mag as a political force. While the music was nailed down by the band’s trademark 70s classic rock punches, the lyrics veered into punk territory. As vocalist Christina Halladay detached herself from a former lover with the delightfully feminist refrain of “I’m nobody’s baby, I’m nobody’s girl,” you found yourself punching the air.
LEONARD COHENYou Want It Darker Columbia
Leonard Cohen didn’t need to make another great record, but he let us have one more before he departed. The lead single and title track from his final album saw Cohen summon spiritual imagery over a slick and silky instrumentation, and the seasoned growl of his singing voice told the story of a man who maintained a sense of alluring sensuality right up until his final days. We’re going to miss you Leonard.
PEARSON SOUNDXLB Pearson Sound
David Kennedy’s sole release of the year proved less can indeed be more – the Pearson Sound style adheres to some key minimalist principles even as it shape-shifts over time. XLB was certainly populated by trademark crisp sounds, but the trickling dew drops that made the track instantly identifiable. Strapped to a needlepoint drum machine jack, XLB made for a devastatingly effective club weapon.
NOVELISTStreet Politician Self-released
Novelist, who ran for Young Mayor of Lewisham when he was 15, has often laced his music with political undercurrents, and as remorseless right-wing governments tighten their grasp, tracks like Street Politician resonate even louder. Opening with a sample of David Cameron’s speech about the London riots, Street Politician projected the raw anger of this strong-minded teenage MC.
YOUNG THUGF Cancer (Boosie) ft. Quavo 300 / Atlantic
Those who’ve witnessed Young Thug in the studio have returned awe-struck by an innate sense of timing and melody. A prime example of Thug’s unorthodox genius was F Cancer. Kicking off with a shoutout to the troubled Baton Rouge legend Boozie Badazz, Thug then left an unbroken trail of addictive hooks to be succeeded by Quavo, who’s proved himself to be 2016’s most sought-after guest rapper.
CHANCE THE RAPPERMixtape ft. Young Thug & Lil Yachty Self-released
A highlight of Chance’s game-changing Coloring Book release, this melodic ode to the purity of the mixtape format featured great performances from Young Thug and Lil Yachty, with the latter naturally warming to the track’s theme of proud independence: ‘Fuck those reviews that they put in the paper/ Did what I want, didn’t care about a hater’.
JAPANESE BREAKFASTEverybody Wants to Love You Yellow K
This sighing, impossibly optimistic boy/girl duet was a suck of pure fresh air on Japanese Breakfast’s sometimes hopeful, sometimes grief-stricken debut LP Psychopomp. Providing a peep through the keyhole at a relationship just reaching full bloom, the song captured the strangeness and lust that stem from that excitingly weird period.