The Best of 2016: Our Creative Director Evon Burton

Y'all really didn’t think our Creative Director was gonna let all these great folk do guest spots on his site without giving his two cents, right? If so, you really don’t know him that well. 

We are ever so grateful for Joseph Marshall, Britney Norman, Morgan James, Laurin Talese, and Skye Horbrook for sharing with us their favorite albums and songs of the year! We’re ever so appreciative!

Scroll down to see the Evon’s favorite albums and songs of the year. We swear this is the last one. *laughs*


Top 5 Albums

Anti, Rihanna


By the time Anti was actually released, I was so pissed at Rihanna and her team that I wanted nothing to do with her. (Y’all remember how traumatic that album promotion period was.) Then I pushed play and I was DELIVERT. A great album for me has to surprise me. It has to make my eyes widen with each passing song. That’s exactly what Anti did. Robyn Rihanna Fenty provided a soundtrack for those of us who are: savages and wannabe savages that are exploring their sexuality. 

Stream: Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal

The Colour in Anything, James Blake

In talking about surprises, James Blake reigns supreme. You never know what to expect from one of his projects. The Colour of Anything is much more lyrical and R&B-based than his previous efforts but that’s obviously not a problem for me. Here, we get to see the tender heartbroken side of James. He blurs the lines of traditional balladry to create innovative, genre-blurring emotional songs. We also get to see how much of a student James is of Black music genres. “Always” is DEFINITELY a tribute to the Winans as “I Need A Forest Fire” is a tribute to 90s R&B.

Stream: Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal

99.9%, Kaytranada

I’ve been bopping to Kaytranada’s remixes of modern R&B classics for years now so I fully expecting a fun, light project. However, the timing was perfection. Black folk had a very hard year from the loss of legends to the countless murders from policeman. Kay gave us a soundtrack for Black Joy. Thanks, Kay!

Stream: Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal

For All We Know, Nao

Nao’s was my favorite music discovery of the year. Her voice boggles me. The way she sings in her sweet “baby voice” and transitions into her rich full chest voice sends chills down my spine. (See: “In the Morning”) It’s almost like she’s two different people. The songs, which are rooted in both EDM and R&B, are sexy, confident, and soulful. 

Stream: Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal

Velvet Portraits, Terrace Martin


To be totally honest, I expecting Childish Gambino to take this slot but then I listened to this Terrace Martin masterpiece… Now we why To Pimp A Butterfly so damn good. (Terrace was one of the lead producers on that album FYI.) There’s such an understated easiness to this album. It’s like Terrace went into this project just wanting to create great music with his equally talented circle of friends. (See: featuring Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington). Lalah Hathaway is forever without fault but her vocals on “Oakland” made my eyes roll back. Again, it was something about the easiness and the lightness of her voice than mesmerized me. It was almost like she was breathing on the track. 

Stream: Apple Music, Spotify

Honorable Mentions

Awaken, My Love, Childish Gambino


A Seat at the Table, Solange

Cadillac, Ro James,

Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight, Travis Scott

Favorite Songs

“Kiss It Better” - Rihanna

Because all true divas need a well-written, dramatic power ballad in their catalog.

“Choose Me” - James Blake

This song is a journey. A journey of a man that wants his old thang back and a journey of sound. Music should be surprising and that’s what this song did with each phrase.

“The Big Big Beat” - Azealia Banks

Azealia needs help. We all know this by now. But musically speaking, 10s across the board. “The Big Big Beat” is a story of acceptance from a girl that clearly in thirst of it masked in the funnest beat of the year. God, she’s complex. 

“Trophy” - Nao ft. AK Paul

This song is like the 2016 version of Mya’s “My Love is Like…Wo!” Nothing else needs to be said. 

“Red Eye” - KING

Whoever said “soulful” songs can’t be THOTty is a damn lie and probably doesn’t listen to Jill Scott close enough. “Red Eye” sits with Jill’s sexiest of songs even though it’s much less blatant. The vocal harmonies from Anita and Amber and the production from Paris make me swoon like none other. 

Music & NewsEvon Burton