2016 has been, to say the least, a banner year for music. The past 12 months have given us blockbuster albums from stars like Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Kanye West; indie smashes courtesy of Chance the Rapper, Bon Iver, and Danny Brown; and a slew of other celebrated releases by everyone from Solange to the late David Bowie. Though the year was ultimately defined by tragedy and political strife, its soundtrack has provided much-needed comfort throughout troubling times.  

It wasn't easy to narrow down such a storied year for the industry into 50 albums. A top 10? Torturous. After much deliberation, though, we finally came to a consensus on the 10 best albums of 2016: 

10. Bon Iver, 22, A Million
"
It’s not the Bon Iver album anyone could have predicted. It’s better." —Brendan Klinkenberg

9. Schoolboy Q, Blank Face LP
"
Q’s lyrics do grapple with police brutality and hate, but it's more than just specific lyrical references—the album overall captures the gut-bucket feeling of a tilt toward chaos that so many of us couldn’t shake in 2016." —Ross Scarano

8. Rihanna, Anti
"
The album is perfect bedroom pop, what you listen to while sprawled on your bed lamenting a lost love or fantasizing about a new one." —Kerensa Cadenas

7. Solange, A Seat at the Table
"
It’s a vital album for our current political climate, anchored by Solange’s angelic vocals and incredible lyrics." —Kerensa Cadenas

6. Frank Ocean, Blonde
"
It’s the rare album that could take years to fully unpack." —Brendan Klinkenberg

5. Travis Scott, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
"
With Birds, the protégé has definitively proven he’s main stage material."  —Frazier Tharpe

4. Kanye West, The Life of Pablo
"
It’s an album of rough edges filled with second guesses, an album where the strangest things reach out to grab you. And, above all else, it’s an album of moments." —Brendan Klinkenberg

3. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
"
With the passing of Phife, celebrating the final Tribe album is bittersweet (especially with his beloved Knicks finally showing so much promise). But New York City rap needed this—the rap game in general needed this." —Angel Diaz

2. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
"Coloring Book
 colors outside the lines, painting Chance into a beautiful space as an artist and a man." —khal

1. Beyoncé, Lemonade
"Lemonade 
is the best album of the year because I would relive the horrors of 2016 just to wait and receive it again, and I’m sure I’m not the only one." —Laur M. Jackson

To read about more music that you can't-miss, click here and find out our 50 Best Albums of 2016. 

 

Related: The Best Albums of 2017