These are the 10 tracks we felt best represented LA’s music scene in 2016. Hip Hop remains the most vital force in LA music, but we have strong scenes in almost every style of music, especially experimental dance music. The heartbeat of the most interesting music in Los Angeles is still Low End Theory, the Wednesday night club that miraculously has been around for 10 years now, and can’t get enough credit for bringing people together and inspiring people from every part of the city. Please check out our music section for dowmloads, streams, interviews, and more.
10. “My Promise” by Delroy Edwards
We’re not 100% sure where you’re supposed to listen to Delroy Edwards, but we do it all the time. You could pick a few different tracks from the very original record “Hangin’ at the Beach” to make this list, but we went with this one just because it’s 1:36 of genius.
9. “The Life of a Doppleganger” by Ghost McGrady
Warm and vibey instrumental hip hop from up-and-comer Ghost McGrady, put it on and relax– no matter if you’re on Washington Blvd. in Venice or high up on Mt. Washington, it will keep things at the right level.
8. “cobain” by Lil Peep
Lil Peep is a white dude with a face tat who is part of a group called Gothboi Clique, they make “Emotional Trap” music, and credit Los Angeles with being the elemental force binding them together. Depending on your perspective, this tune is just as horrible or just as great as that sounds.
7. “Scared Money” by NxWorries
We’ve been telling you about Knxwledge since his first tape, there’s something about the way he uses samples that puts him among all-time greats. His album with the (ubiquitous in 2016) Anderson.Paak is probably his best overall collection of beats. Scared Money samples (I Could Never Say) It’s Over by BB&Q Band to great effect.
6. “Untitled 6” by Kendrick Lamar
How great was it that Kendrick put out a surprise album in 2016 which may end up getting more repeat plays than To Pimp a Butterfly? Picking a favorite tune was hard, but going in the spirit of repeat plays, Untitled 6 wins out.
5. “Love Songs / In the Flames (Live)” by DJDS
These tracks were released on record last year, but we wanted to find a way to mention DJDS’ live album, “Live in Tijuana”. The history of LA dudes heading down to TJ is usually about debauchery and disrespect, in this case it’s about two of LA’s best music producers playing a show at 3am at an electronic club for their Mexican fans (and some road-tripping friends), and absolutely slaying.
4. “All Nite” Clams Casino ft. Vince Staples
Vince Staples put out a lot of good music this year, and his EP was one of the strongest records of the year. But our favorite track he appeared on in 2016 was the above banger by Clams Casino. Clams’ beats are perfect for Staples’ paranoid stories of danger in the streets, we hope they do more tracks together in the future.
3. “Wat’s Wrong” by Isiah Rashad ft. Zacari and Kendrick Lamar
We waited a long time for Isiah Rashad’s album and it was worth it. This was our favorite tune from the album, and Kendrick’s verse comes in on fire and goes out in flames.
2. “Go Out Tonight” The Tracks
Los Angeles has a long and storied Rock ‘n’ Roll history that hardly needs to be summarized here, but it’s exciting and refreshing to hear an East L.A. band that immediately asserts themselves as the next rock band that can get L.A. kids to go crazy and wear leather jackets and go out to hear them play every time they announce a show. At the end of the 90’s there were a lot of young bands trying to make it in LA, there was a certain indie spirit that has never really returned. The Tracks are bringing it back, but with a new energy and determination. We promise if you play this once, you’ll play it again.
1. “FDT” by YG
One response to the shocking and horrifying election of Donald Trump in November was the idea that at least art will get better. Great art does come from pain, so the concept is not totally without merit, but it still seemed like a sort of privileged response to the election of a man who promised to deport millions of people, including children. So far there is exactly one great protest song of the year, and it is “Fuck Donald Trump” by YG. It does come from pain, you can hear that YG isn’t just dissing Donald Trump, he feels personally wounded and angry. The fact that Trump actually got elected makes this song even more important– you could hear it blasting out of car windows during protests directly following the election and it felt cathartic and necessary, it gave people some much needed audio power. Los Angeles is the center of the resistance, this song had to come from our streets. It’s also a reminder that arguing facts with someone who lies out the side of his neck is a fool’s errand, the only reasonable response is to keep saying it: FUCK DONALD TRUMP.