What happens when almost all of music's biggest names release albums within a few months of each other? Kendrick, Kanye, Chance, Drake, Beyoncé—they've all put out albums in the last few months, and that's to say nothing of all the emerging artists popping up all over the world and picking up momentum with DIY releases.
But this is 2016—Chance can release his album when he wants, with a week's notice. Beyoncé can premiere her album as a movie, and keep it off almost all major platforms. Kanye can literally revise his album after its been released, sending different versions of songs to various streaming services. In short, it's absolute pandemonium out here.
But that's not a bad thing. If anything, the freedoms afforded by music's currently confused state have made it a more exciting place than ever. Anything could happen at any moment, and for all these big-name releases, some of our favorite music has come from the pigeons.
Independent artists hold more than their fair share of spots on this list, and it's only because the music is that good. We're living in a golden age of accessibility, and the doors are wide open—for everyone and anyone.
Here are the best albums of 2016 (so far).
Related: Best Songs of 2016 (So Far)