12. Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP
A few days ago Blank Face LP sat in the bottom half of my top ten. Replays undermined my case. Its weaknesses are its strengths, though, the sprawl reflecting an imagination struggling over the age-old conundrum: is description criticism? As I wrote in July, It’s hard to figure out what Schoolboy stands for or who he is besides a party boy who in this climate and thanks to his bros (Kendrick, Anderson Paak, etc) summons more interesting beats and backdrops than he would’ve in, say, 2006; it’s like Hillary running as a progressive. But, like Hillary, it’s what I needed in 2016, especially if the tracks are as heady as “Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane” and “JoHn Muir.”
11. Dawn Richard – Redemption
Pairing with Machinedrum for jungle-inflected sparkle machines like “Love Under Lights,” Dawn Richard evokes a drunk-at-3.am. bliss with a handful of catchphrases and her thick soprano. “Lazarus” sounds like Daft Punk’s “One More Time” heard from beneath a pillow. Collaborations with Noisecastle III take greater risks. A despondent Richards wanders “The Louvre” to the accompaniment of distorted violins and punctuative bass drum (“Stare at you like you’re a work of art/You should be on a wall instead of hangin’ in my heart.” Redemption is a meteor shower on a clear cold night.
10. Corinne Bailey Rae – The Heart Speaks in Whispers
This creator of two genteel predecessors finally writes melodies worthy of a Grammy winner, and the result is her best album: a poised example of adult music that foregoes neither an erotic life nor a consideration of what adulthood means. With contributions from the classic (Valerie Simpson) and new (KING’s Paris and Amber Strother) wing of R&B.
9. David Bowie – Blackstar
Not a film star. Not a porn star. Not a black star. He never gave anything anyway.