Frank Ocean’s highly anticipated sophomore album Blonde debuted at the top of the Billboard 200. Not only that, but it placed in the top 10 on nearly every major year-end list; in fact, it took the top spot on Time’s list and the runner-up position for Pitchfork.
Trans artist Anohni released her first solo effort, Hopelessness, to stellar reviews as well, landing at No. 8 on both Entertainment Weekly and Pitchfork’s year-end lists. The second single from the album, "Drone Bomb Me," is from the perspective of a young girl in Afghanistan who saw her family killed by drone bombs and is hoping for the same fate. The music video stars a tearful Naomi Campbell.
Finally, while Blood Orange (also known as Dev Hynes) has said he doesn’t label himself as gay or straight, he posted on Instagram that his latest album, Freetown Sound, was intended for those “not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way.” The album also found its way onto several best-of-the-year lists.
All three albums ended up on Billboard’s 50 Best Albums of 2016: Critics’ Picks, with Ocean at No. 5, Anohni at No. 16 and Blood Orange landing at No. 33.