I know that time is arbitrary but I do love end of the year lists as a time of accounting for things loved and obsessed over. 2016 as has been written about by people much more capable was the year of Black excellence in music – not that ever year doesn’t see phenomenal work by Black musical artists but this year was a cornucopia of insistent, urgent, important Black music. Intersecting with this was also a year of the album – the surprise album, the album as multimedia project, the album as exclusive to one streaming platform, the album that requested to be listened to in its entirety, the album that was released unfinished and tinkered with. Of course there was Beyoncè’s Lemonade, but also Solange’s A Seat at the Table, the “finally” of Frank Ocean’s Blond(e), the magic of Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, the black queer bravura of Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound, the grimey sexy interior space of Rihanna’s Anti and more beyond. Below in no particular order are 24 tracks that really got under my skin and into my head this year – there were others that were also there from the recent past and the far past (a lot of Nina Simone and Emmylou Harris this year) and some that I adored but they didn’t linger (I’m still working through my Lady Gaga feelings). Lemonade isn’t here since it’s not on Spotify (and I wanted to make a playlist) and I am not even sure if you entirely do justice to the music without the video (or maybe that’s just a pretension on my part). But know this, I had “Hold Up” stuck in my head for weeks and “All Night” is my favorite track and I want it played at my wedding (if I ever get married).