20 Best R&B Albums of 2016

Frank Ocean, Solange, Alicia Keys and more

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Childish Gambino, 'Awaken, My Love!'

18. Childish Gambino, 'Awaken, My Love!'

Of his newest work, or perhaps about 2016 at large, Donald Glover simply says: "I like sucker punches. I like things you're not expecting." If his directorial debut, the critically acclaimed TV series Atlanta, was his loving left jab, then "Awaken, My Love!" is the right hook that meets it. It was an optimal year for heady experimentation, if only because 2016 had so thoroughly battered our conjectures. Soaked in the stank of Seventies funk & soul, Awaken, My Love! is Glover's haven from modern debacle: Here, bass slithers, lyrics simmer and anything goes. It's a careful study in P-Funk, borrowing freely from their crunching synths and wailing choruses, but sparing the science-fiction imagery, instead slinking through tales of unfaithful relationships ("Redbone"), thirsty entourages ("Zombies") and his son ("Baby Boy"). M.O.

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