My 50 Favorite Songs of 2016

A star broke out this year. After toiling through years of underground notoriety, a famous rap mogul gave him a shot, putting him all over his most recent album. And after his sophomore album exploded, people started to recognize, giving him features on singles, a spot in XXL’s Freshman Class, and a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

It’s a familiar story. Anderson .Paak’s 2016 mirrors Chance the Rapper’s 2014: a soulful rise to pop consciousness with an ear to live performance and a dedication to past works of previous geniuses. Coincedentally, both Anderson .Paak and Chance the Rapper are nominated for Best New Artist this year, though I sincerely hope that .Paak wins. How could you turn down that smile?

Of course, Chance is a favorite of mine as well, and he gets no shortage of love, showing up four times on this year’s list. Hip-hop artists take 22 out of the 50 spots, the most that I can remember in any of the seven year-end lists that I have done. Philadelphia broke out, representing four spots on the list, a surprising feat for the largest American city I know nothing about. And the first artist to break double-digit appearances: Drake, making his tenth and eleventh contribution to the countdown.

2016 kinda sucked, right? But at least the music was fun.

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