Last year for the first time we put together our favourite hip-hop tracks of 2015. With 2016 being an equally strong year for the genre, it only seemed right that we do another year end round-up. It seemed clear from the offset that we couldn’t possibly pick one favourite, so in no particular order, these are our favourite hip-hop tracks of 2016. The list is put together by two writers; Kevin Paterson and Andrew Noel. Let us know your favourites in the comments section.
(In no order)
Kano – This is England
‘Made in the Manor’ was without doubt the must listen hip-hop album of 2016. Made up of killer track after killer track, it gave him a nomination for the Mercury music prize. So many tracks we could have picked, with ‘T-Shirt weather in the Manor’ and ‘Little Sis’ being strong contenders. But in the end this track just stood out a little above the others.
Desiigner – Panda
Every now and then a track comes along that you know from the first play is going to be a classic. Breakthrough hit from Kanye’s latest signing has those elements all over it. It’s a dirty, underground hit that crossed over into the mainstream.
Fergie – M.I.L.F. $
The comeback track from Back Eyed Peas front woman Fergie couldn’t be more different from more pop-flavoured tracks of her debut ‘The Dutchess’. Looking great, post baby, in this grimy sexually charged video.
Twenty-One Pilots – Stressed Out
It’s kind of hard to fit Ohio boys Twenty-One Pilots into any kind of genre. Mixing rock, hip-hop and electronica, They broke into the mainstream with this track from their fourth album album ‘Blurryface’.
Drake – Fake Love
My relationship with Drake has always been a rocky one. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to get totally fed up with his huge hit ‘One Dance’ by the end of its fifteen week run at umber one, but ‘Fake Love’ without doubt renewed my love for him.
Tinchy Stryder, Example and Tempa T – Chat Shit, Get Banged
Tinchy Stryder once owned the charts. Big commercial songs such as ‘Take me Back’ and ‘Number One’ put him on the map, but it’s on huge dance floor tracks like this that he really shows his steel. Some terrible dancing, but a killer track.
Frank Twitchy – Call Me Back
Frank Twitchy returned this year with his first album since ‘Melody Project’. ‘Call Me Back’ was the first taster of what we could expect from ‘Growing Up Sucks’, and showed us that’s it’s not just his hair that’s grown, but his flow too. 2016 was the year he released his best album to date, and this chilled out Jamil and Matty Drummond produced track is one of the stand outs.
Devlin – Bitches
Several years ago, a then teenage rap star Devlin crossed over into the mainstream. It’s been a fews years since his last album ‘A Moving Picture’, but in 2016 he returned with a series of killer new tracks, including the ferocious rhymes of ‘Bitches’.
Lil Wayne – Sucker For Pain
The ‘Suicide Squad’ movie went down like a lead balloon with crocs and cinema goers alike. But one thing that couldn’t be argued with, was that it was backed up with one of the best soundtracks in a long time. This knew track from Young Money head honcho Lil Wayne has a featuring list that reads like a who’s who of hip-hip. Wiz Khalifa, Logic, Ty Dolla $ign, X Ambassadors, and Imagine Dragons all helping out.
Mongrels – Full Moon/Half Moon
Street artist and MC Kid acne and Dj Benjamin get their shit together again this year to put together one of the coolest and most lyrically brilliant hip-hop albums of the year. There are so many tracks I could have picked from ‘Attack The Monolith’, but this redo flavoured opening track sounds like an instant classic.
(In no order)
DJ Shadow ft. Run the Jewels – Nobody Speak
Perhaps the finest cut from Shadow’s last album, ‘Nobody Speak’ shows Run the Jewels at their best, spitting some political, sharp, and often hilarious lyrics. On top of that, Shadow’s production is outstanding, and with a beat featuring prominent horns and distorted guitar, it all adds up to make one of the greatest Hip Hop songs of the year.
Kanye West ft. Kendrick Lamar – No More Parties In L.A.
To say Kanye has had an eventful 2016 would be an understatement, and while The Life of Pablo was underwhelming, his collaboration with Kendrick Lamar and Mablib certainly wasn’t. Aside from both the guest rapper and producers brilliant contributions, it also sees Kanye giving his best performance in years. If you were a fan of ‘old Kanye’, this is definitely for you.
Death Grips – Giving Bad People Good Ideas
Death Grips has never been to everyone’s taste, and on Bottomless Pit, the group continued their agenda of abrasive, aggressive Hip Hop. The opening track, ‘Giving Bad People Good Ideas’ has one of the catchiest hooks on their record and sees the group combine this with their trademark sound of crashing cymbals and MC Ride’s baritone howl.
Kendrick Lamar – untitled 08| 09.06.2014
Even on Kendrick’s outtakes record, he still manages to produce some of his best material. ‘untitled 08’ is a short, sweet, yet funky number that expands on what Kendrick established on To Pimp A Butterfly, but with more ‘single’ appeal. As always, Kendrick’s lyrics are brilliant, utilising a catchy hook that reeks of soul and funk influences.
YG ft. Nipsey Hussle – FDT
Few Hip Hop songs this year have hit the nail on the head more than YG’s ‘FDT’, with one of the most infectious (and accurate) vocal hooks of the year. While somewhat gimmicky, ‘FDT’ also carries and obvious political message that will no doubt stand the test of time (and inevitably will feature on many end of year montages).
A Tribe Called Quest – Dis Generation
While there are many, many moments on Tribe’s new album that could be highlighted, ‘Dis Generation’ is one of the finest. As the legendary group tip their hats to their successors, the slick guitar riffs and bombastic vocal breaks lend themselves to the instrumentation to produce a song that is both memorable and accessible.
De Le Soul ft. Snoop Dogg – Pain
‘Pain’ is a tight little number that capitalises on its minimal production by keeping its audience captivated without distracting from De La Soul and Snoop’s smooth flow. While the latter’s flow is nothing typically new or surprisingly, it’s familiar enough to make ‘Pain’ just a really enjoyable track and relatively easy listening.
Skepta ft. Novelist – Lyrics
Skepta’s Konnichiwa is obviously excellent example of how great Grime can be, and ‘Lyrics’ is one of the highlights of that album. While only just going over the two and half minute mark, Skepta spits some bars while incorporating a killer (not to mention catchy) hook and a sweet feature from Novelist.
Anderson.Paak ft. The Rapsody – Without You
Anderson.Paak and Rapsody standoff excellently on this cut from Paak’s Malibu. With an instrumental that echoes the late 90s/early 00s, both stars lament over failed, yet inevitable relationships in silky smooth fashion. With elements of New Soul featured prominently, ‘Without You is accessible without compromising.
Danny Brown – When It Rain
While Atrocity Exhibition showed how diverse Danny Brown could be, ‘When It Rain’ was just one example of how dark he could be. Brown raps as if his life depended on it, and judging by the story and the instrumentation, it may well have done. Much like the rest of this record, ‘When It Rain’, is dangerous, deep, and surprisingly edgy.
Read more of Andrew’s post here
Read more of Kev’s posts here
Or listen to the full playlist on Spotify here