Exclaim!'s Top 27 Albums of 2016 So Far

5. Beyoncé

Since the surprise release of Beyoncé's 2013 self-titled album, artists have been tripping over themselves to pull off a similar stunt with a fraction of the grace and style of Queen B. And rather than going for an easy repeat of that on her next record, Beyoncé instead reinvented once again what it means to "pull a Beyoncé."

In the case of Lemonade, she doesn't just offer listeners glimpses into her world, she uses the album's 12 tracks as an explicit assertion of self. She spits searing accusations of infidelity at her husband, delves into her family's past, finds forgiveness, seeks reconciliation, and — culminating with the lead single and closing track "Formation" — declares a new kind of black female empowerment.

The record's gripping narrative, powerful personal and political statements and disregard for conventional genre boundaries easily make Lemonade Beyoncé's best work to date.
Sarah Murphy