20 Best R&B Albums of 2016

Frank Ocean, Solange, Alicia Keys and more

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Nao, 'For All We Know'
20
10/20

10. Nao, 'For All We Know'

Nao's emotionally cognizant neo-soul spans a handful of EPs, her own label imprint and an A.K. Paul assist, and she only aims to climb higher. Her debut, the elusively titled For All We Know, marks a mini-climax in an extremely promising career. As R&B becomes more freeform – rubbing up against hip-hop, pop and more – Nao's sometimes-pensive, always-dulcet tones speak to the genre's most basic element: the human voice. But unlike R&B divas before her, she easily eschews traditionalist instrumentation for belching bass lines and punchy snares, wading further into funk grooves than her contemporaries. At album's end, we're left with more questions than answers. M.O.

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