Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2016

Beyoncé, 'Blackstar' and other favorites from a trying year

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 Kanye West, 'The Life of Pablo'

15. Kanye West, 'The Life of Pablo'

Great album – much stronger than Kanye seems to think it is, given his decision to use "Famous" as the calling card, since "Famous" is dog vomit and there's no way he doesn't realize it. Who knows, maybe in his most self-loathing moments, he thinks "Famous" is all he is and all we deserve. Pablo has amazing peaks like the Arthur Russell–sampling Drake duet "30 Hours" – "collaboration" may be too loaded a word, given how the auteur ended the year with his head so far up the fascist rectum he might never look any audience in the eye again. "Fade" caps it with a loop of the Motown classic "I Know I'm Losing You" – not the Temptations' original, not even the Rod Stewart version, but a cover by white-bread Midwest rockers Rare Earth, a brilliant gesture of how alienated he feels in an adult life he wasn't so sure he wanted.

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