We’ve officially stepped into the second half of 2016. And for our money, there’s already been enough musical magnificence to last us until the ball drops. James Blake hit us with an entire range of feels. Kaytra‘s album proved to be the byproduct of a diehard Dilla/Madlib fan finding his calling in house. Kanye taught us that Rihanna and Nina and Sister Nancy can all dance on the same floor in his world, adorned in gospel’s rich spirit, which seems to have been brought to the table by another Chicagoan wonder. Namely, Chance The Rapper, whose third full-length release was basically full-on benediction; a gospel-rap masterpiece, even. YG brought a gripping Compton epic to life like few could, and that’s not even half of what went down in 2016 so far.
Like it or not, every person on this list commands their own singular sort of brilliance. And with albums still promised by De La Soul, Schoolboy Q, NAO, and yes, maybe even Frank Ocean, this year will prove to be just as exciting in its second half as it was in its first, even if we don’t get that much-salivated-over Channel Orange follow-up. So let’s look back at what we’ve seen and heard in the first six-month stretch, just so y’all don’t forget how magical the year’s already been. Keep in mind, the homestretch could prove to be just as eventful.