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The THUMP Staff's Personal Favorite Music and Moments of 2016

A roundup of the art and culture that made this year bearable.

Over the past couple of weeks, we've run down some of our the songs, albums, mixes, and people that have been giving us hope throughout a confusing 2016. Each of those lists and essays reflects the taste of THUMP as a whole, but as one of our final gestures of the year we wanted to give an idea of what each of our writers and editors really cherished in 2016. Below are personal best-of lists from a few of THUMP's writers and editors, as well as some reflections on the musical moments that defined their year.


1. Emilie Friedlander, Editor-in-Chief** **

Favorite Moment: The Tree Man
Over the summer, my friend Matt Trammell posted a story on Snapchat that made my blood chill a little. It showed a man screaming and crying, followed by some footage of a cop sawing the branches off a tree, with police lights and sirens blaring all around. I couldn't tell what was going on, so I texted Matt about it, and he told me the story of the Tree Man, a guy from around the neighborhood who would climb up into the tree outside Matt's living room window in Brooklyn once in awhile and kind of tunelessly sing songs to it.

Later, Matt would write an essay about the Tree Man for The New Yorker, describing his tree-climbing routine in a manner that made me feel an intense rush of affection for my city and all of the peculiar characters that populate it: "Whenever a passerby engages with him," Matt wrote, "he'll say that the tree taught him the songs, that it spoke to him, and that he is protecting it." The essay also explained the bizarre series of events Matt that had captured on Snapchat that night. The NYPD had found out about the tree man and—after a long face-off, one the piece describes as "alternately surreal, enraging, and hilarious"—forced him down from the tree. Then they sawed off all the lower branches so he couldn't climb up. The story of the Tree Man read like a metaphor for the things—and people—a city can lose when it is wracked by gentrification, racist policing, and a more general failure to hold on to its own idiosyncrasies. It was probably the most truly "New York" story I read all year, and though it doesn't exactly count as my "favorite musical moment," I sure wish I'd gotten a chance to hear the Tree Man sing.


1. Anohni - Hopelessness
2. Show Me the Body - Body War
3. Cass Mccombs - Mangy Love
4. Solange - A Seat at the Table
5. Kornel Kovacs - The Bells
6. Yves Tumor - Serpent Music
7. Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat to Earth
8. Elysia Crampton - Demon City
9. Powell - Sport
10. Good Willsmith - Things Our Bodies Used to Have

1. Traumprinz - "2 The Sky (Metatron's What If There's No End and No Beginning Mix)
2. Flume feat. Kai - "Never Be Like You"
3. Cass Mccombs - "Cry"
4. Amnesia Scanner - "AS Crust"
5. Young MA - "Eat"
6. Skepta - "Text You Back"
7. Weyes Blood - "Seven Worlds"
8. Lil Uzi Vert - "Ronda (Winners) [Produced By Metro Boomin + CuBeatz]
9. The XX - "On Hold"
10. Sheer Mag - "Can't Stop Fighting"

2. David Garber, Associate Editor

Favorite Moment: Soul Skate in Detroit.
A bi-annual roller disco organized by my utmost musical funk hero and ambassador of all things cool, Moodymann? In Detroit? During Movement Festival? Once I finished pinching myself—shorts changed—I knew Soul Skate was pretty much my destiny as a young party explorer. See, I grew up in a household soundtracked by such cherished disco, soul, and R&B bliss, most notably every Saturday afternoon when my dad played NY radio legend Felix Hernandez's beloved Rhythm Revue on KissFM. And growing up as a young kid, he also regularly took me to Central Park to test my fate zig-zagging thru orange cones on roller skates—or when I was feeling more sheepish, watch other pros put their bones to the test. Soul Skate, held this year as years past always at Northland Roller Rink had my name all over it, and the party didn't disappoint for a second—or jubilant, synchronized hand clap. I became lost in the bright lights, vintage funk, and smooth house rhythms, as well as the hero Kenny Dixon Jr. himself walking around in a straw hat and unbuttoned shirt straight out of a 50s dog racing track, greeting his fans and hopping on the mic to MC. I didn't last long on the floor proper alongside the other thousand veteran skate heads, but I did feel the party's history gleaming through everyone's custom jackets and shiny, spinning wheels. My face still hurts from smiling.


1. Jay Daniel - Broken Knowz
2. Roman Flugel - All The Right Noises
3. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
4. Telephones - Vibe Telemetry
5. A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here..Thank You 4 Your Service
6. Complete Walkthru - Complete Walkthru
7. Eli Escobar - Happiness
8. LB aka Labat - Disques Solaries
9. Lil Yachty - Lil Boat
10. Jeremy Underground - Presents Beauty

1. Admin - "Spirit Boogie"
2. Buddy Love - "Party Language"
3. Omar S - "Seen Was Set (Big Strick, Norm Talley)"
4. Project Pablo - "Dustman"
5. Jayda G - "Rishikesh"
6. Tensnake - "Tazaar"
7. Andres - "Mighty Tribe"
8. Nebraska - "What You've Done to Me"
9. Mall Grab - "Father"
10. Black Milk & Nat Turner - "The Knock"

3. Anna Codrea-Rado, News Editor

Favorite Moment: The unexpected return of Craig David.
I was 11 when Craig David crashed onto Britain's commercial airwaves in 1999. At the poppier end of the dance music spectrum (read: because his songs were played on the school bus' radio), he was my springboard into garage. From there I started on a journey that introduced me to Rinse FM, Pay As U Go Cartel, Heartless Crew, and a few years later I wound up in fabric when I was too young to admit here. For that alone, he'll always hold a dear place in my heart.

I saw him perform for the first time this year in Rough Trade in Brooklyn, but the actual set was hilarious when I think back to it. David was on stage, alone, with a pair of headphones around his neck. He was just cueing up garage classics like Shola Ama's "Imagine" and Tina Moore's "Never Gonna Let You Go," as well as his own tracks, and then bouncing around the stage crooning over them. For all intents and purposes I could have been at any D-list club at an old skool tribute night, except David was actually there, and it was exhilarating.


But for me the appeal of David isn't about that commercialized version of nostalgia that Urban Outfitters sells us. His is a story about retribution. He rose to fame in the early 2000s at a time when no one was ready for him, and then seemingly overnight (literally) turned into a joke after Leigh Francis did his infamous "Bo Selecta!" impersonation. Seeing him 16 years on, in the back of one of New York's seminal music institutions, looking the picture of health, I was back on that school bus again, hearing something totally new and grinning like a kid. Sure, you could call that nostalgia, but I think of it as vindication that finally everyone is seeing something that I saw all those years ago.

1. David Bowie - Blackstar
2. Craig David - Follow My Intuition
3. Max Cooper - Emergence
4. Anohni - Hopelessness
5. Carla Dal Forno - You Know What It's Like
6. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
7. Fort Romeau - Insides
8. Sasha - Scene Delete
9. Various Artists - #savefabric
10. Katy B - Honey

1. Kaytranada (featuring Craig David) - "I Got It Good"
2. David August - "JBY"
3. Azealia Banks - "Big Big Beat"
4. Carla Dal Forno - "Fast Moving Cars"
5. Tiga - "Blondes Have More Fun" (The Black Madonna Immaterial Girl Remix)
6. Bonobo - "Kerala"
7. The Cinematic Orchestra - "To Believe"
8. Lafawndah - "All That She Wants"
9. Kllo - "Bolide"
10. Katy B - "I Wanna Be"

4. Colin Joyce, Managing Editor

Favorite Musical Moment: Finding peace in a Target in Rochester, New York.
Every year, I swear I'm not going to participate in Black Friday's capitalist chaos, but year after year some perverse fascination with the perennial clusterfuck lands me in some department store or another. This year, I ended up in a Target in Rochester, New York several days after the first snowstorm I'd experienced of the year and several weeks after being blindsided by a pummeling force of another kind. I expected the confusion and turmoil of the American retail space to feel comforting in a way—a familiar sort of anarchy.


But no, even though it was later in the afternoon, I felt as snowblind and overwhelmed as I had at any point at in 2016. I found some temporary solace near a row of action figures, underneath a mammoth vent fan, ostensibly tasked with circulating air in the suffocating depths of the mega-mart. I paused, stood for a second and—fucking corny as this may be!—just listened. There was richness, depth, and uplift in the momentary stillness, the same sort of hard-won serenity that Stars of the Lid records grants me on occasion—all from some dumb piece of spinning metal in the ceiling of the store. I tried to capture the magic by taking a few voice memos on my phone. I've listened back a few times since, but it turns out that tranquility can't be bottled.

1. Huerco S. - For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
2. Autechre - Elseq1-5
3. Oathbreaker - Rheia
4. Good Willsmith - Things Our Bodies Used to Have
5. Carla Dal Forno - You Know What It's Like
6. Vektor - Terminal Redux
7. Felicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu Ledesma - Comme Un Seul Narcisse
8. Elysia Crampton - Demon City
9. Foodman - Ez Minzoku
10. Umfang - Riffs

1. Omar S - "On Your Way"
2. Grouper - "Headache"
3. Wench - "Sick"
4. Karen Gwyer - "Prophase Metaphase Anaphase Telephase"
5. Porter Robinson and Madeon - "Shelter"
6. Mr. Fingers - "Qwazars"
7. DJ Haram - "Birds of Paradise"
8. The Weeknd and Daft Punk - "I Feel It Coming"
9. Black Dice - "Big Deal"
10. Moor Mother - "KBGK"


5. Trey Smith, Social Editor

Favorite Moment: When "Return of the Mack" was the song of the summer, again.
"So baby listen carefully, while I sing my comeback song"

We did, Mark Morrison. We did.

Craig David got the majority of the British R&B comeback attention this year, but 20 years after its initial release, one of the great songs of our lifetimes had a renaissance this summer.

Every good party in the years hottest months played "Return of the Mack". Every good karaoke session included a tear-jerking rendition of it. The song even got a pretty decent remix from Swedish DJ Nevada that featured Fetty Wap towards the end of the season, confirming it's warm-weather reign.

Outside of all the fun it provided, the "Return of the Mack" revival is a reminder that there's a lot of music over the years that'd we'd do well to revisit and appreciate—mainly just because they're good songs, and now more than ever we need to be appreciating the good that's out there.

Albums (in no particular order):
Young Dolph - King of Memphis
Shy Glizzy - Yung Jefe 2
Solange - A Seat at the Table
Nicolas Jaar - Sirens
Gucci Mane & Future - Free Bricks 2
Gallant - Ology
Carly Rae - Emotion Side B
Rihanna - ANTI
Maxo Kream - The Persona Tape
DJ Rashad - Afterlife

Gallant - "Bone + Tissue"
Future - "Perkys Calling"
Young Dolph - "Royalty"
T Pain feat. Lil Yachty - "Dan Bilzerian"
Peewee Longway feat. Offset - "On the 'Gram"
Gucci Mane - "Waybach"
Travis Scott and Young Thug feat. Quavo - "Pick Up The Phone"
Messiah and DJ 40 - "Mayweather"
Young Thug feat. Dora and Dolly - "Family"
Frank Ocean - "Solo"


6. Max Mohenu, THUMP Canada Intern

Favorite Moment: Discwoman's Boiler Room in New York
Most of the best parties I've been to this year have involved black women killing it in the booth. A particularly memorable one was when I went to see Juliana Huxtable's set at Good Room for Discwoman, during which she combined footwork and club re-edits of R&B and hip-hop jams so perfectly, I couldn't stop moving all night. It was otherworldly, which is the type of thing I've come to expect from her. Women like Juliana, SHYBOI, and Bearcat—who all played the Discwoman show—are creating their own dialogue on the dancefloor and with the year we've had, I think there's nothing more beautiful than having that space to just lose yourself.


1. Solange - A Seat At the Table
2. Porches - Pool
3. Jessy Lanza - Oh No
4. Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing
5. Starchild & The New Romantic - Crucial
6. Kaytranada - 99.9%
7. Anohni - Hopelessness
8. Michael Beharie - Ray Like Morning
9. Cass McCombs - Mangy Love
10. Nicholas Nicholas - About Town


1. Charlotte Day Wilson feat. River Tiber - "Where Do You Go"
2. Drugdealer feat. Weyes Blood - "Suddenly"
3. Jacques Greene - "Afterglow"
4. Starchild & The New Romantic - Mood (Porches Cover)
5. Kiddy Smile - Let A B!tch Know
6. Kaytranada feat. Craig David - "Got It Good"
7. Airbird - "Ecology" ft. Megafortress
8. Michael Beharie - "One Day" ft. Marisa
9. Quay Dash - "Queen of NY"
10. Jay Boogie - "Love Me"


7. Max Mertens, THUMP Canada Editor

Favourite Moment: DJDS' Entire 2016 Output
A quick rundown of DJDS' (formerly known as DJ Dodger Stadium) achievements this year: giddy reworks of titanic chart smashes, a live album recorded in Tijuana, Mexico, and five production credits on Kanye West's ever-morphing The Life of Pablo, including "Ultralight Beam," "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1," and "Fade." My most-played 2016 work by Jerome Potter and Sam Griesemer, however, was their collaboration with frequent West conspirator Charlie "Uncle Charlie" Wilson, who previously contributed the soulful bridge to Yeezus highlight "Bound 2." While the original "You Don't Have To Be Alone"—off the Los Angeles duo's underappreciated 2015 sophomore LP Stand Up And Speak—was already a heart-on-sleeve piano-house anthem sampling the former Gap Band singer, the rework adds a gospel punch with new vocals from the veteran artist.

Top 10 Albums

1. Kamaiyah - A Good Night in the Ghetto
2. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
3. Kaytranada - 99.9%
4. Nicolas Jaar - Sirens
5. Babyfather - BFF Hosted by DJ Escrow
6. Young Thug - JEFFREY
7. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
8. Jessy Lanza - Oh No
9. DJ Marfox - Chapa Quente
10. ANOHNI - Hopelessness

Top 10 Songs

1. DJDS - "You Don't Have To Be Alone (Charlie Wilson Version)"
2. Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane - "Black Beatles"
3. Danny L Harle feat. Carly Rae Jepsen - "Super Natural"
4. Rihanna feat. Drake - "Work (Murlo Remix)"
5. Solange feat. Lil Wayne - "Mad"
6. serpentwithfeet - "four ethers"
7. Young M.A. - "OOOUUU"
8. Princess Nokia - "Tomboy"
9. LUH - $ORO
10. Harrison feat. Young Guv - "So Far From Home"

8. Ezra Marcus, Associate Editor

Unfortunately I didn't get around to checking out any music this year. Seems like everyone else really enjoyed it, though. I'll keep an eye out in 2017.