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2016's been quite the year for music: from Bowie to Prince to Sharon Jones, many icons were lost – but luckily for our ears, a lot of amazing work also came to life. While all the heavy hitters of pop have made this their year for world domination, we've found some gems that might've been drowned out by the sound of all the Kanye's, Beyonce's and Rihanna's. This is what we've been playing on repeat at the VIVA office and what you should download for listening on your flight.

Album: Freetown Sound

Artist: Blood Orange

Devonté Hyne's obsession with 80s beats gets a touch of funk in his third release under the moniker Blood Orange. Sentimental yet cool and 100% dance-worthy, he masters the art of keeping each track deeply political without aggression. Complex R&B references and guest poets also make for new discoveries with each repeat listen.

Fav track: Better Than Me
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Album: Ash & Ice

Artist: The Kills

Even after 15 years together, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince haven't lost an ounce of their chemistry, with Hince's eloquent guitar voice continuing to perfectly complement Mosshart's rawness. While their sound haven't evolved significantly since Blood Pressures five years ago, the duo delivers their signature blues-garage sound with such impeccable skill and emotion that we really can't complain. 

Fav track: Days of Why and How
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Album: Hopelessness

Artist: ANOHNI

ANOHNI's mesmerizing voice and lyrical depth takes the spotlight in her first solo project outside of her band Antony and the Johnsons. The release of the singles Drone Bomb Me and 4 Degrees was immediately met with critical and popular acclaim and were accompanied by a series of music videos that are a visual art series in themselves. 

Fav track: Crisis
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Album: Awaken, My Love!

Artist: Childish Gambino

The most impressive aspect of Childish Gambino's Awaken, My Love! is not the fantastic falsetto, nor the production or even the revival of pure funk music, but rather his ability to flawlessly switch genres. Prior to Awaken, My Love!, Gambino was one of the world's best hip-hop artists and now, he is paving a new era of music. There is more than greatness in the album itself – with songs like Redbone raising the bar for songwriting and vocal prowess – it's what the album represents; a reemergence of real music.

Fav track: Redbone
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Album: Oh No

Artist: Jessy Lanza

It's safe to say that the 80s are in strong comeback status. The second artist to flaunt some serious synthpop beats on our list, Jessy Lanza also brings Chicago footwork and 90s R&B to the mix – not to mention her signature twee voice. Get ready to pull your most sequined club outfit out of your closet.

Fav track: VV Violence
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Album: Warm On a Cold Night

Artist: Honne

UK duo Honne has been on our radar for the past two and a half years, releasing single after single, brilliant Pop&B cuts that croon straight into your regular rotation. Their debut album, Warm On a Cold Night, is a cozy 12-track album that incorporates simple songwriting with soulful, emotional hooks. 

Fav track: One At A Time Please
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Album: 99.9%

Artist: Kaytranada

Production god Kaytranada didn’t hold anything back in his massive, genre-synthesizing 2016 release, 99.9%. Working with the likes of Craig David, AlunaGeorge, GoldLink, Vic Mensa and Anderson .Paak, 99.9% achieves, arguably, this year’s most coherent and meaningful musical collaborations. The prolific Canadian DJ and producer remains a household favorite for electronic, R&B, and hip-hop lovers.

Fav track: Together (Feat. AlunaGeorge & GoldLink)
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Album: Groove!

Artist: Boulevards

We’re fairly certain that Jamil Rashad, AKA Boulevards, is a time traveler. This is the only logical explanation as to why his contemporary disco-soul music is so accurately representative of the traditional era. Groove! is a 12-track transporter to a time of white socks with black dress shoes, songs driven by hand-plucked bass lines and extended danceable songs.

Fav track: Patience
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Album: Blonde

Artist: Frank Ocean

Okay, so you've probably discovered this album on your own already; Blonde was only one of the most anticipated drops of the year, and it's delay made Frank Ocean the best music meme of the year. And like many, many other releases this year, Black Lives Matter was a major inspiration behind the material. Yet nothing comes as potent and personal than Blonde does. I guess we can forgive Frank for the wait after all.

Fav track: Ivy
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Album: Malibu

Artist: Anderson .Paak

Malibu is Anderson .Paak’s successor to 2014’s Venice and might be his best project yet. The album is expansive in nature, the result of collaborating with a variety of elite producers, instrumentalists, singers and rappers. This is Paak’s third album and is said to be his most personal one yet. We love it for its sheer songwriting brilliance.

Fav track: Lite Weight (Feat. The Free Nationals United Fellowship Choir)
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