20 Best R&B Albums of 2016

Frank Ocean, Solange, Alicia Keys and more

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Beyoncé, 'Lemonade'
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1. Beyoncé, 'Lemonade'

"Lemonade" is fire and water, solid and solvent. Its release into a strange, post-Prince universe spoke instantly to its duality, of its ability to both soothe and incite. Of all of her talents, pop perfectionism and tireless originality remain Beyoncé's strongest assets, but her most palpable one – the wall she wordlessly maintains between us and her – cracked just enough to peek through, never enough to break. Her ability to bridge a singular experience – that of a (possibly) cheating husband – to an intricate network of trauma and violence specific to black women speaks to her effortless ability to connect. It's what she does best, after all: bringing us together – around TV, huddled over smartphones, across tables, via bandwidths. And so she does yet again, so that we may talk lineage and love, fathers and fuckups, and the pain that tethers them all together. M.O.

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