20 Most Memorable Videos of 2016
In 2016, music videos mattered again. Since MTV’s heyday, few videos have been able to capture the attention of the general public; but this year, artists kicked it up a notch.
While West is certainly in the conversation for best video this year (thanks to Teyana Taylor’s dance moves in “Fade”), he had quite a bit of competition. Beyonce released the cinematic, 40-minute visual album, Lemonade, that took us on a journey of love, loss and rehabilitation; while Solange gave us cool visuals to match her therapeutic vibes on “Cranes in the Sky” and “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
Big Sean and Jhene Aiko’s TWENTY88 also dropped a 14-minute video for their track “Out of Love,” while Common hit the 21-minute mark for the “Black America Again” visual.
These videos told us stories and captured moments in time. After he was released from prison in May, Gucci Mane appeared in his first video to show off his new thinner and leaner body. Even independent artists stepped it up, as Lono Bristol gave a cinematic visual that touches on police brutality and misconceptions.
Check out The Boombox’s 20 Best Videos of 2016 below.
This year, rapper Shad got bored of the rap game and decided to switch it up on his fans by releasing a adult contemporary album under the guise, Your Boy Tony Braxton. But the result was actually good as seen in the ’70s-’80s-inspired video for “Kick” that can’t help to make you happy and want to jam out.
“Out of Love”
Big Sean and Jhene Aiko joined forces this year to create TWENTY88. And from their union came “Out of Love,” a 14-minute video that follows a fictional relationship between the two. While the inspiration came from “’70s robot porn stars,” we can’t help but think this video has futuristic Blade Runner and Fifth Element-esque feels.
ScHoolboy Q finally released his fourth studio album, Blank Face LP, and with that came the “Groovy Tony” visual. As the eye-catching video follows Q through a night of thug shenanigans.
Lecrae’s “Misconceptions” visual provides one of the smoothest and most interesting transitions between featured rappers as the camera pans to John Givez, JGivens and Jackie Hill Perry. It’s one of the few videos where each rapper brings their A game, verse wise.
“First Day Out the Fedz”
When Gucci Mane appeared out of jail as a skinnier man, rumors started to spread that he was a clone and not Gucci. Of course, the Atlanta rapper had to play on this concept in his first music video after being released from jail for “First Day Out The Fedz.” But aside from seeing multiple Guccis, the video shows off his killer mansion.
“30 and Up 1986″
Sho Baraka gives us pure love vibes as he kicks it with his real-life wife in the House Party-esque video. But instead of it being a teen-filled visual, Sho Baraka makes the video “30 and up, 1986″ for the grown and sexy. The old school video tape feel only adds tot he effect.
Pusha T shows that simplicity can sometimes be profound in his video for “H.G.T.V.” In the video, the rapper simply raps as the chair he’s sitting on falls forward only to reveal himself sitting on top of another chair. It doesn’t help that the freestyle is one of his bests.
Yuna’s “Crush” video is just as cute and beautiful as the song. In the visual, Yuna’s smile in infectious as she sings out her love alongside Usher. In the background of the two, there are several lovers getting ready to meet up including an Asian boy who’s become smitten with a black girl with a luxurious afro. We love it.
“Memory of… (US)”
2016 brought us the return of De La Soul as the trio dropped …And The Anonymous Nobody, their first album in over a decade. They were known for trippy visuals in the past, but their latest video for “Memory of… (US)” toned that down and gave us a beautiful look into a fictional wedding day where the three members separately marry Estelle. There’s also an appearance from Pete Rock!
Speaking of comebacks, Frank Ocean finally released his sophomore album, Blonde, this year as well. The track “Nikes” was the first video to come from the project and proved to be powerful. In it, he pays tribute to Trayvon Martin, southern hip-hop icon Pimp C, the late A$AP Yams and queer culture. And he released it on Vimeo–so you know it’s good.
“Black America Again”
Common’s “Black America Again” takes us on a 21-minute journey about the state of Black America. While Ava Durvernay produced the short film, Selma‘s cinematographer Bradford Young took the director’s chair on this black-and-white visual.
“Used to Do”
Lono Bristol is a newcomer to the music game. But his latest visual for “Used to Do” is that of a veteran. The cinematic video takes mixes up druggy hip-hop with the ups and downs of a couple that leads viewers to a unexpected twist at the end. Not to mention, the video gained over 28,000 views on Facebook since its release last month.
Rapsody brought the black girl magic to music videos this year with the “Crown” visual. In it, black girls are seen being carefree as they blow bubbles, jump on a trampoline. Carefree black boys get some shine too. But it’s the fact that the message matched the visual perfectly that made it in the top 10 of our list.
Rihanna surprised her fans when she released two videos for the smash hit “Work” featuring Drake. The first clip has a grungy feel and takes viewers to a traditional bashment as Rihanna shows off her wines. The second clip is much cleaner, as RiRi gives a private show to Drizzy in a brightly colored room filled with pink and blue hues. But what’s most impressive is how both visuals are able to complement the track despite being different.
Anderson .Paak has been on a roll this year with stellar music videos but it’s the Mac Miller-feautred track “Dang” that takes the cake on our list. The visual plays on deja-vu as the two artists “keep losing” their respective women until their finally able to right their wrongs. It’s a cute video that captured the fun feels from the track.
“God is Gangsta”
We didn’t get much visuals from Kendrick Lamar this year but the Compton rhymer makes up for it with two visuals for “u” and “For Sale?” in the compilation video “God is Gangsta.” The end result proves to be as powerful as the tracks. For “u,” K. Dot takes viewers into a room where he gives the rhymes through a drunken spew. Later, it takes on slower, purposeful vibe for “For Sale?” that matches the dreamy song.
Kanye West shocked the world with the release of his music video for “Fade” featuring Teyana Taylor. Not only did it make Taylor (and her abs) a household name, it also proved that Ye still has the ability to make a statement through visuals. And we’d be lying if we said the end of the video didn’t leave an impact on us.
“Cranes in the Sky”
Solange broke through to mainstream pop culture this year with her album, A Seat At The Table. But moreso, the 30-year-old singer matched it with creative visuals. In “Cranes in the Sky,” Solange takes viewers to beautiful location shots and shows off some innovative fashion. It’s mood for days.
David Bowie shocked the world when he passed away on Jan. 10, just days after he released his album, Blackstar. But it really shouldn’t have been as Bowie made sure to make very overt hints to his leave in the “Lazarus” video. With a blend of dark tones and eclectic vibes, Bowie used his life to create art.
Beyonce’s entire visual masterpiece for Lemonade tops our list. Beyonce showed up for her BeyHive once again with the unexpected 40-minute visual that took fans on a journey through love, betrayal and forgiveness that may-or-may not be influenced by her real life relationship with Jay Z. Between the bayou feels, ties to African folklore and the fur-laden and cornrows look, Beyonce had us at “Pray You Catch Me.”