12 Artists We Need Music From in 2016 (Besides Frank Ocean)

outkast-hey-ya-andre3000In 2016, I want popular music to be better music. The only way that can happen is if the better artists give us something to listen to. So, I’ve compiled a list of 12 artists that need to put out new music in 2016. And, no. This list doesn’t include Frank Ocean because we don’t even know where he is. Once he is located, he can be added to this list.

1. Andre 3000

We know he’s showing up in American Crime on ABC this season as Regina King’s husband, but the time has come for him to finally make his triumphant return to music. He teased us on “Hello” from Erykah Badu’s mixtape But You Caint Use My Phone, now come on with a solo project already.

2. Lauryn Hill

There was a time when I thought Lauryn Hill might have really lost her singing ability, but her involvement in the soundtrack for the What Happened, Miss Simone? project showed that the soulful Hill we all know and love is alive and well. She has been dropping odds and ends for a while, reportedly because of contractual obligations to Sony, but it is time for Ms. Hill to give us a fully realized project.

3. Maxwell

Maxwell, like D’Angelo and Sade, falls into that classification of artists that fans will wait for until the end of time. We know that the wait may be long, but the reward is always worth it in the end. BLACKsummers’ night was an instant classic when it dropped back in 2009, but its sequel blackSUMMERS’ night should have been released by now. Can a fan get some new music?

4. Musiq Soulchild

He rapped as The Husel and he went bohemian as Purple Wondaluv. But we need some good old-fashioned soul from Musiq. As one of the torch bearers of Neo Soul, it is his duty to keep the fire burning. There have been claims that he has been in the studio, but nothing concrete about his return. This needs to be rectified.

5. Brandy

Brandy is riding full steam on the comeback train after closing out The Game, garnering her own BET Show Zoe Ever After, and shutting down the tribute to Babyface with a performance of Sittin Up In My Room. And just this week she hit us with new music, “Beggin and Pleadin”. More please.

6. Fantasia

Fantasia is reinventing herself yet again. Now happily married, she switched up her management team and is hard at work on a new project. She’s even got fresh material with her new single “No Time For It”. I’m calling it: 2016 is the year of the comeback.

7. Tank

At one point, he claimed he might quit music because of the lack of support for R&B singers. Luckily he reversed course, released a new single at the end of the year (“Already in Love” featuring Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men), and announced the forthcoming album Sex, Love and Pain II. If that album turns out to be anywhere as good as the first Sex, Love and Pain, 2016 will be a good year.

8. Tyrese

Yeah, I know he claimed to be retired from music, but his last album Black Rose was a triumph of classic R&B and soul music. I get that folks want to go out on top, but the world needs you Tyrese.

9. Jazmine Sullivan

The Grammy-nominated Reality Show was fire from start to finish, and was easily one of the best albums of the year. She effortlessly melds classic and current sound in a way no one else can, and she’s got a wicked pen game. So, I need Ms. Sullivan to park her behind right back in the booth for new music in 2016.

10. Luke James

Luke James has been in the game for a minute. And as one of the most soulful voices in music today, his self-titled debut album was a stunner back in 2014 (I still keep that album in my rotation). But we haven’t heard from him since, and that is unacceptable. The “Stay With Me” singer needs to make this his year, and change the game again with new material.

11. Kendrick Lamar

He is the most prolific rapper making music today. Period. His album To Pimp A Butterfly ruled 2015 and was a shining example of peak blackness at the same time. That is no easy feat in a world where white is right 9 times out of 10. He needs to keep that momentum going in 2016 with even more socially relevant and lyrically monstrous tracks if for no other reason that I need replacements for “How Much A Dollar Cost” and “Alright” in my playlists.

12. BJ The Chicago Kid

You may not have heard of him yet, but maybe getting into his music should be one of your New Year’s Resolutions. BJ The Chicago Kid has the voice of a young D’Angelo with a bit less rasp and a bit more sweetness. And as you might expect, it sounds heavenly on a track. R&B could really use a new, young voice to combat the triflin’ ones that are the current face of the genre, and BJ is the perfect candidate.

Photo credit: “Hey Ya” Music Video/Youtube

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.