Exclaim!'s Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums Best of 2016

14. Drake
(OVO Sound/Young Money/Cash Money/Republic)
The dark, woozy style that defines "the Toronto Sound" reached its apotheosis on VIEWS, Drake's long-teased fourth LP, on which Drizzy and producer Noah "40" Shebib continue honing their craft with razor-sharp focus. Wrapping the album in seasonal bookends (winter becomes summer before turning back to winter again), they penned a love letter to their hometown in the process.
VIEWS is overlong, maybe, but its lowest points still best the hordes of Drake imitators, while its highs rank amongst the year's best. Even within the album's thematic confines, 40 finds space to crack open his typically hermitic and claustrophobic beats to include subtle nods to a larger and brighter global pop landscape. The album's oft-memed cover, which perched the 6 God on the side of the CN Tower, accurately captures the MC towering over his city. After VIEWS, it might as well be the whole world.
Ian Gormely