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.
KANYE WESTReal Friends G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam
Looking back at the year Kanye West just had, it’s hard not to hear some prescience in his stunning track Real Friends. Forgotten birthdays, changed-up numbers, botched reunions, the stolen laptop – even given Kanye’s historical mistrust of those closest him, these are hardly the lyrical preoccupations of a man fully in control of either his relationships. Here, instead, was an artist with the midas touch but with no-one trustworthy enough around him to share his riches. Amidst the Twitter rage, the restlessness, the confused political messaging, and the erratic attitude to performances – it’s easy to overlook that no one combines a proclivity for poetic over sharing and a deep desire to disclose vulnerability like Kanye West. How isolating is it to sit on top of the world alone? On Real Friends, Kanye gave his most succinct and sad answer to that question yet: very.
MITSKIYour Best American Girl Dead Oceans
Your Best American Girl was the first listen eager fans had of Mitski’s Puberty 2, which turned out to be one of the defining indie rock albums of 2016. Everything about Your Best American Girl pointed towards that fact: from the acoustic twang of the intro that indicated an anthem, to the almost-whispered lyrics of romantic turmoil, and then to the immensely satisfying crescendo of distorted guitar, soaring vocals and crashing drums. Simultaneously political and personal, this was Mitski at her highest power.
TRAUMPRINZ2 Bad (Metatron’s What If Madness Is Our Only Relief Mix) Giegling
A limited edition version of DJ Metatron’s 2 The Sky release is sitting on Discogs for €200. So what fuels the hype for DJ Metatron (also known as Prince of Denmark or Traumprinz, the Giegling label’s cult favourite)? It’s likely a combination of his enigmatic image and the enchanting tenderness of his productions. Originally appearing in 2015’s lauded This Is Not mix, this track in particular built an impressively bittersweet and timeless feeling from a few elements: driving percussion, sweeping synth swells and a poignant vocal sample which created a kind of sad euphoria. This track was testament to how faceless electronic music can powerfully evoke emotion, and how disarmingly delicate sounds will flood your gut with feels.
CAPO LEEMud ft. D Double E Rinse
Where many MCs would strive to go one harder than the beat they’ve been allocated, North London’s Capo Lee has an approach which sets him apart, with his confidently relaxed, on-but-off-the-beat flow exploring the pockets of space within an instrumental. On this perfect single, which also ranks as one of producer Sir Spyro’s finest moments, the rising MC filled that space with pre-emptive vocal bursts, each landing with ‘Mud’: “The way I came in the game and shelled everything
in sight was – Mud!” It made deep impact in the clubs, where crowds would bark back the lyrics louder than Capo could spray them. Seriously powerful stuff.
BEYONCÉFormation Parkwood / Columbia
Go hard or go home has pretty much been the theme of Beyoncé’s entire career, but on this song the beautiful Texas bama ratcheted it up several levels and traded in the sensual vibes on her previous album for some straight-up political commentary about black pride – from baby afros to Jackson Five nostrils. The blues guitar and the brass give this hard-hitting rap beat a Southern gothic twang, and Bey’s lyrics are charged with a stinging, rebellious warning for corny haters who want to stop her from twirling. But this isn’t just a banger about self-love and self-respect. As the title suggests, Formation is a battle cry urging anyone who knows what it feels like to be doubted by their critics to step up, get coordinated, and get to slaying. It’s undoubtedly the most powerful track of the year.