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The Marvin's Room 2016 R&B Countdown

Amanda Parris

Marvin's Room is a weekly show that explores the world of R&B. The program airs on CBC Radio 2 every Friday at 7:00 p.m and on Friday at 3:00 p.m on SiriusXM. You can also catch this year end show on Sunday the 1st of January 2017 at 8am on CBC Radio 1.

Listen To The Marvin's Room 2016 R&B Countdown

Marvin's Room with Amanda Parris on CBC Radio


The Marvin's Room Top 10 R&B Albums of 2016

Welcome to Marvin’s Room. Today we are counting down the best R&B albums of 2016. It was a rollercoaster ride of a year. We lost legends: Prince, Maurice White, Vanity, Phife Dog, Sharon Jones. Honestly 2016 was unforgiving. However we were also gifted some of the best music in years from newcomers and superstars alike. I read a quote that summed up this year in R&B “When your idols are dying and your enemies are in power, that is history’s way of letting you know that you are being drafted.” It felt like a lot of R&B artists heard the call and are stepping up to the mantle.

Today we are counting down the best of the year. The top 5 Canadian and top 5 international R&B albums. It wasn’t easy making this list. I’m still agonizing over some of the absences (sorry James Blake), but I think this list is a perfect indicator of how the sounds and parameters of R&B Have been stretched and pushed. No two albums on this list sound the same and its all in my humble opinion, music that will stand the test of time. I won't make you wait, here's my album of the year.

1. Beyonce - LEMONADE

Lemonade is Toni Morrison, it’s Julie Dash. It’s country, it’s blues-rock, it’s R&B, it’s pop, it’s church. Lemonade is not only Beyonce’s greatest work to date, it’s my album of the year.

2. Solange - A SEAT AT THE TABLE

A Seat At The Table was the masterpiece I didn’t know I needed. From the interludes to the content, the visuals to the sonic inspirations, brilliant and timely, It is art of the highest standard.

3. Frank Ocean - BLONDE

In a year when we lost so many, Frank Ocean came back to us. He rebels against the categorization of being an R&B artist but the emotional richness of Frank’s voice and the soul he’s able to tap into, gives him an almost permanent spot in the genre.

4. Kaytranada - 99.9%

99.9% is so experimental and so explorative, it could honestly make the top 10 list in a few genres: Hip Hop, electronic, R&B, funk, dance… The winner of the 2016 Polaris Music Prize, it’s been deservedly named one of the best albums of year by CBC Music, The Guardian, The Independent and NME.

5. Bruno Mars - 24K MAGIC

In a year that has been filled with tragedy, disaster and loss, this album makes me so so happy. it’s a throwback tribute to all of my favourite sounds of 80’s and 90’s R&B. If Bel Biv Devoe and R. Kelly had a baby, it would make music like this.

6. dvsn - SEPT 5th

Almost every artist out of the OVO label dropped an album in 2016, Majid Jordan, PartyNextDoor, Roy Woods, even Drake but it was this album from DVSN that got the most rotation from me.

7. Anderson .Paak - MALIBU

The wildly explorative musical journey of Malibu was the surprise hit of 2016 that sounded like nothing else. Anderson .Paak is one of the few artists who has mastered the worlds of rapping and singing and he moves seamlessly between them.

8. Drake - VIEWS

Before anyone starts asking isn’t Drake a rapper? Let me just say - yes. He is. But Drake’s experiments in the world of R&B have had such a huge impact on the genre and VIEWS had so many big R&B inspired tracks on it, I would be remiss to not include him.

9. The Weeknd - STARBOY

In the album’s 18 tracks there are some definite gems that remind me why The Weeknd was the artist who took 2015 “like a bandit.” As he circles the upper echelons of the pop world stratosphere, I’m hoping he’ll keep pushing the culture forward the way he did back in 2012.

10. Tanika Charles - SOUL RUN

Tanika Charles is a breath of fresh air in an industry inundated with the moody ambience of the “Toronto sound.” Her album Soul Run lives up to its name. Steeped in soul with songs that demonstrate the full range and beauty of Tanika’s voice.

Honourable mentions

BadBadNotGood - IV

Toronto band BadBadNotGood released an amazing album this year with IV. Musically explorative, it traverses the worlds of jazz, electronic and Hip Hop. Their collaboration with Toronto singer Charlotte Day Wilson is a beautiful example of their boldness.

Michael Kiwanuka - Love and Hate

If this was a list of top songs of the year, the title track of Michael Kiwanuka's album "Love & Hate" this could have been my number 1. I am so in awe of his voice and his sound.

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