Peep BET's Top 10 Albums List in full here, and my contributions below.
#9: KENDRICK LAMAR – 'UNTITLED UNMASTERED.'
It didn't take long for heart-eyed fans to dub Kendrick Lamar's untitled unmastered. an instant classic, with the olive green pantone swatch of an album cover dominating Instagram the very second it was released on March 4, 2016. While technically the project acts as a compilation of previously unreleased demos that didn't make the cut for 2015's To Pimp a Butterfly, it cannot be written off as a random batch of throw-away tracks Lamar himself had once discarded as average or not worthy of the airtime. Although Lamar's only 2016 release exists, by definition, as less than a studio album and more than a mixtape, the project truly is one of a kind. In fact, it is an unprecedented, intimate look into the celebrated genius of the Compton rapper – one that we didn't necessarily deserve or ask for, but are more than grateful to have. If To Pimp a Butterfly is revered as an unparalleled opus, untitled unmastered. is the footnotes, the prologue and the epilogue combined. Cornrow Kenny graciously adds to his allure by proving that, while he is undeniably an iconic rapper, he's still human, too, and figuring it all out along the way like the rest of us. – KC Orcutt
#4: CHANCE THE RAPPER – 'COLORING BOOK'
Chance the Rapper had a landmark year, with 2016 elevating him from Chicago's unlikely 23-year-old hero to a household name. His third mixtape, Coloring Book, was to thank. The vivid 14-track collection, creatively fusing hip-hop with soul and gospel, became the first project to chart on the Billboard 200 based solely on streams, peaking at No. 8 and persuading the Recording Academy to consider streaming-only projects for Grammy nominations. While revolutionizing the genre of gospel was not necessarily his goal, the rapper's forward-thinking approach helped propel his visibility as an artist, with the important messages found within his mixtape righteously reaching mainstream audiences.
His activism, mixed with his musicianship, makes him a perfect candidate for Best New Hip-Hop Artist, an accolade he earned at the 2016 BET Hip-Hop Awards. Coloring Book is both a timeless and timely album, something that not many artists can say they’ve created with confidence while also managing to remove their ego from the equation. In a day and age where powerful, meaningful art is needed more than ever, Chance the Rapper is letting his music do the talking — and we couldn't be more excited for what he'll put together next. — KC Orcutt