2016 has been a tiring year, to say the least.
We’ve lost so many lives this year, especially in music (Prince, Phife Dawg, Maurice White, David Bowie, Prince Be (of PM Dawn), etc). We continue to deal with problematic and systemic issues that occur in African-American and other marginalized communities. And, to top it all off, we have a President-elect that a lot of us didn’t want in the White House but a bit of us felt would be elected based on politics and media.
But, with great difficulty, there is ease. There’s hope for better outcomes and energy in 2017, and I’m confident in it because that energy started to shine this year, especially in music.
We almost saw the resurgence of the 90s with new music from De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest (with all four original members!), and The L.O.X. We also saw a progression in the way creatives release music (ex: Tidal and Apple Music’s exclusive album releases and Kanye’s changing tracks when The Life of Pablo was exclusive to Tidal). We witnessed streaming numbers become an extension of album sales numbers. Artists like Chance the Rapper that don’t sell their music, are becoming eligible to become Grammy-nominated artists (now under certain criteria). Being indie (or solely having distribution via a major label) is becoming more of a norm. Some of the acts that have been nominated for this coming year’s Grammy’s are younger and are “lesser known” than usual. R&B didn’t die (and neither did jazz); they’re thriving in their various forms. We’re continuing to hear artists embody the spirit of Nina Simone and other elders by using their platforms to promote thinking, encourage change, and provide healing within our communities (with words, with beats, or both). Despite the weariness of our minds and hearts, we continue to dance, laugh, love, and find joy in our music and our communities. And, even though there’s so much music being fed to the masses, there’s no reason why someone can’t release their music on not just SoundCloud and YouTube, but on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
So, with all that said, despite much of the disappointments that occurred in 2016, we had the music…and a lot of it was awesome. That even includes some of the “mumble rap.” So, to celebrate these successes, I thought I’d share some of my favorite songs from 2016 in a Spotify playlist. Feel free to hit shuffle and enjoy the (sometimes explicit) ride. (If you’re an Apple Music listener, click here for the Apple Music version of the playlist).
Let me know how you plan to levitate and thrive in 2017 (as well as your favorite songs from 2016) over on Twitter. May we go into 2017 walking in our ways with intentions of flying instead of falling in them. (Click the message to tweet it if you feel it!)