Our favourite albums from 2016

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2016, while not the best year for global/national politics, terrorism, or vibes generally, still brought plenty to the world of culture and music. Mainly, of course, the deaths of many cultural and musical icons. Okay, it was awful generally. But here are some of our favourite albums of the year – a few golden nuggets of musical brilliance that offer a glimmer of hope for the future.

ZOAX – ZOAX

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Following their two previous EPs XII and Is Everybody Listening? 2016 marked the year ZOAX released their debut, self-titled, album. The release is much more mellow than their previous efforts but still retains some of their hardcore roots. Songs like the intense Devil Dance contrast the beautifully mellow vibes of The Wave perfectly. LB

Kano – Made In The Manor

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Kano is one of those 2005 era rappers that, despite having a pop-music phase, has stayed true to his grime roots and shown his fans that he’s still capable of rapping about real life issues. Made In The Manor, for me, is Kano back to his best. This is the Kano that I first started listening to when I was starting secondary school, this is the Kano that made me proud to be from London. Throughout the album, Kano talks about his London roots; A Roadman’s Hymn, East London and My Sound, outline Kano’s London life and what it’s like growing up there. Of course, it wouldn’t be Kano without the odd banger or two to get you gassed, and GarageSkankFREESTYLE falls nicely into that bracket. One could even argue that the start of Giggs’ verse on 3 Wheel-Ups (which also features Wiley) is the best-timed thing in music ever.

There’s none like it, 05 shit. MB

HECK  Instructions

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2016 was a great year for hardcore, and HECK’s debut album just proves that point beyond all measure of a doubt. With bangers like “The Great Hardcore Swindle” and “Good as Dead” this album is non-stop mathy hardcore fun! LB

Daughter – Not To Disappear

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Daughter’s Not To Disappear is definitely up there with the best albums released in 2016. Featuring what I can only describe as one of the best-written songs I have ever heard, Doing The Right Thing is Elena Tonra’s way of creatively narrating her aunt’s dementia. In typical Daughter fashion, the trio shows their strength through the diversity in their songs, with tracks ranging from the deep and dark to the uplifting. Songs such as How show that, – no matter how happy or sad the song may seem – Daughter always have a way of creating an exciting, artistic way of getting Elena’s messages across. MB

Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight

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In Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, Scott proves his phenomenal talent at creating songs for guest artists to use as springboards. Kendrick Lamar on Goosebumps and Young Thug on Pick Up The Phone give some of the best performances of their careers, and this is only possible thanks to Travis Scott’s ability at crafting a song that fits their style perfectly, whilst also pushing them to give their best. Scott’s album is also notable for not just being a collection of singles, but rather a cohesive whole, especially impressive when you consider just how many guest artists are featured on it and how strong some of the individual songs are. The Ends, Goosebumps and Pick up the Phone could all take well-deserved spots at the top of the charts, but also fit seamlessly into Birds In The Trap without overshadowing some of the less immediately obvious hits on the album. JH

Ocean Wisdom – Chaos 93

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When I heard Chaos 93 last Febuary, I wrote that I suspected I’d just listened to the best UK hip-hop album of the year. That remains my view. Ocean Wisdom’s debut album tore up the UK Hip-Hop scene on its release, with the artist finding himself propelled into the UK’s more mainstream cultural consciousness via appearances on Charlie Sloth, praise from unlikely figures such as Frankie Boyle, and articles written about his speedy delivery on UniLad (apparently he is faster than Eminem). Although popularity is no sure sign of success, the album made it into the top 10 iTunes album chart in the UK, with the lead single becoming a hit across Europe. Read our full review here. MG

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