This was a long year, but we have a lot to be thankful for. Especially these albums that carried us the whole way through. Below, in no particular order, are the Kadenze team’s favorite albums of 2016.

Frank Ocean — Blonde

Blonde is almost too obvious, especially after the wait from Channel Orange. Its production quality, Ocean’s powerful lyrics, and how smoothly he travels between genres make this an album for the ages.

Steve Lehman — Sélébéyone

This album is a blend of rap and jazz that’s really out there in the best of ways: Lehman’s experimental harmonies against some powerful lyrics. Play it over and over again.


Intensely political, intensely dramatic, intensely beautiful, intensely fun. This album is unique in every way.


This album mixes hip hop, r&b, electro, jazz, and funk to showcase this producer’s impeccable taste and forward-thinking style.


Two of Survive’s four members are Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, who together composed the otherworldly and instantly classic score to Stranger Things. Heavy synths, crunchy beats.

A Tribe Called Quest — We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

The last album from the legendary, genre-defying and genre-defining A Tribe Called Quest. Timely, relevant, and seminal.

Solange — A Seat at the Table

A Seat at the Table is one of the most important and timely of the year. A thoughtful conversation about race and gender in America delivered as a musical journey, as progressive musically as it is socially.

Swet Shop Boys — Cashmere

This is the premiere album of Indian and Pakistani rap duo, Swet Shop Boys. The album is full of incredible beats, punful lines, and serious commentary.

Machinedrum — Human Energy

The incredible brightness and directionality of this album has us playing it over and over again. Every guest on a track is the perfect choice.

The Seshen — Flames & Figures

Dance, R&B, electronic, soul. This up-and-coming Bay Area band has found their stride with this amazing full length. Definitely a group to watch out for in 2017.

Jack Garrat — Phase

Great songwriting overall: The genre changes smoothly between songs and even within songs, and Jack combines electronic and acoustic elements with strong lyrics and raw emotion.

Kamaiyah — A Good Night in the Ghetto

This powerful feminist MC with g-funk era style beats give this progressive album a retro feel that makes you think it was already your favorite album. We’re excited to see where she goes.