As a writer for PopBuzz and contributor for SoundChips, the ever brilliant Nneka Daly always seems to have her finger on the pulse. And while you could say that for a lot of people, Nneka’s particular insight is a healthy dose acerbic, thoughtful, and current. Luckily for us, she was on board to offer her insight into her views on 2016.

Losing Bowie and Prince

It didn’t occur to people what a blessing it was to live in the time of both Bowie and Prince until they no longer lived in the time of Bowie and Prince. Both were tremendous artists who were, in their individual ways, architects of modern pop, indie, and R&B.

Losing them in 2016 made me think about men in music and how, without them, there would be no space for current artists who reject the constructs of hypermasculinity.

No matter who you are, artist or fan, we all owe a tremendous debt to these pioneers.

Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Performance

To Pimp a Butterfly was one of the best albums of 2015. Sonically, it blew its competition out of the water and proved that Kendrick Lamar is set to have a huge role to play in modern rap.

So, all things considered, it came as no great shock when it was announced that Kendrick Lamar would be performing at the 2016 Grammy Awards.

No one could have anticipated that Kendrick would perform in chains, beside African imagery, and with the (literal) fire of an artist deeply moved by social and politically unrest. We all know there is nothing real about the Grammys so seeing this moving moment at that mainstream venue left me completely in awe.

“It didn’t occur to people what a blessing it was to live in the time of both Bowie and Prince until they no longer lived in the time of Bowie and Prince.”

Solange’s A Seat at the Table

God bless Tina Knowles.

Alongside older sister, Bey, Solange made huge waves in music this year with her own masterpiece, A Seat at the Table.

An opus two years in the making, Solange takes on everything from the corrosive nature of micro aggressions to the woefully undervalued space for black artistry in our culture.

Having Solange sing about things that feel so familiar, yet so pushed down in the black psyche felt like the realest moment of 2016.

Lemonade

Beyonce’s Lemonade was huge. Never one to be outdone (not even by herself), Yonce gave us visuals and a concept album, the likes of which I challenge anyone to replicate. Lemonade had everything: poetry, visuals, intrigue, infidelity, and reconciliation. It was a rollercoaster ride from top to bottom.

Lemonade proved to be a masterclass in strength, resilience, and the emotional legitimacy of betrayal. It told the story of the fragile, yet unbreakable nature of black womanhood and crossed genres in ways that her contemporaries so rarely can achieve.

“Having Solange sing about things that feel so familiar, yet so pushed down in the black psyche felt like the realest moment of 2016.”

A Tribe Called Quest coming in clutch post-election

The amount of people I heard say that A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service saved them after the election is actually astonishing. “I pre-ordered it and forgot and when it showed up it was like the universe was saying I got you” is a shared moment that countless people clearly needed.

It has been a minute since A Tribe Called Quest came through with an album, and this one moved people at the right time and in the right way.

Of course, sonically and tonally, the record hits all the right beats, leaning on the perfect melding of rap, jazz, and soul elements. If we’re talking about albums that felt so appropriate for the time, We Got It From Here… more than meets the criteria. It’s soulful, thought provoking, and should probably be considered medicinal.