EFB's Top Urban Singles Of 2016

Let’s face it, the music industry saved 2016. In the bizarre year of Harambe, multiple beloved celebrities’ deaths, and a pending Trump presidency, major music releases by our favorite celebrities managed to keep us more grounded than ever. 2016 ushered in new single debuts by some of the top acts in urban music: Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Frank Ocean, Solange, Drake, the Weeknd, and many more. In honor of 2016 being such a great year for music, here are the Top 10 Urban Singles released since January 1 st .

This list was composed using important song considerations: viral-ability, lyrical content of verses, chorus and their catchiness, vocals/rapper flow/delivery, musical production, and a grading point system based off their individual Peak Billboard Hot 100 Positioning.

The Following list revolves around singles released in 2016. Songs like Adele’s “Hello,” Designer’s “Panda,” and Bieber’s “Sorry,” while popular at the top of the year, are excluded.

10. No Problem - Chance the Rapper ft. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne

Released as the second single for Chance’s mixtape, Coloring Book, “No Problem” blends gospel, hip-hop, and trap sounds in a way that makes it no surprise he is currently nominated for 7, 2017 Grammys. In the song, Chance threatens music execs with the ominous lines "If one more label try to stop me/It's gon' be some dreadhead niggas in your lobby." The violent chorus juxtaposed against the airy background crooning of a gospel choir is reflective of Chance’s current position in the music industry. As harsh and manipulative as the music biz is, Chance’s heavenly music battles it all as he continues to build a fan base with no label backing him. Add in a verse from 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne and you have a great 2016 song. Best Lyric: “Fuck wrong with you? / What you was thinkin'?/ Fuck you thought it was?” Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 43

Released as the second single for Chance’s mixtape, Coloring Book, “No Problem” blends gospel, hip-hop, and trap sounds in a way that makes it no surprise he is currently nominated for 7, 2017 Grammys. In the song, Chance threatens music execs with the ominous lines "If one more label try to stop me/It's gon' be some dreadhead niggas in your lobby." The violent chorus juxtaposed against the airy background crooning of a gospel choir is reflective of Chance’s current position in the music industry. As harsh and manipulative as the music biz is, Chance’s heavenly music battles it all as he continues to build a fan base with no label backing him. Add in a verse from 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne and you have a great 2016 song.

Best Lyric: “Fuck wrong with you? / What you was thinkin'?/ Fuck you thought it was?”

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 43

9. I Got the Keys - DJ Khaled ft. Jay Z, Future

2016 is the year DJ Khaled turned a bunch of awkward and overused Snapchat phrases into a hit song with heavy-weight hip-hop features. While DJ Khaled has been a part of the music scene for a long time (“All I Do is Win”, “I’m on One”, a large portion of people are being exposed to him for the first time with the success of his ninth-studio album Major King and its leading single “I Got the Keys” featuring Jay Z and Future. “I Got the Keys”’ best moments undoubtedly stem from its Jay Z feature. In the song, Jay Z does what he does best – boast – while throwing in a Drake diss “Till you on your own / You can’t be me” and a Beyoncé shout out. However, “I Got the Keys” begins to lose its charm with Future’s random, repetitious blabbering. “Alert, alert, alert, alert . . .” Still, the song was one of the biggest hip-hop hits of the summer. Best Lyric: “My Wife Beyoncé, I brag different” Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 30

2016 is the year DJ Khaled turned a bunch of awkward and overused Snapchat phrases into a hit song with heavy-weight hip-hop features. While DJ Khaled has been a part of the music scene for a long time (“All I Do is Win”, “I’m on One”, a large portion of people are being exposed to him for the first time with the success of his ninth-studio album Major King and its leading single “I Got the Keys” featuring Jay Z and Future. “I Got the Keys”’ best moments undoubtedly stem from its Jay Z feature. In the song, Jay Z does what he does best – boast – while throwing in a Drake diss “Till you on your own / You can’t be me” and a Beyoncé shout out. However, “I Got the Keys” begins to lose its charm with Future’s random, repetitious blabbering. “Alert, alert, alert, alert . . .” Still, the song was one of the biggest hip-hop hits of the summer.

Best Lyric: “My Wife Beyoncé, I brag different”

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 30

8. Sorry – Beyoncé

Everyone knows Beyoncé loves a girl-anthem, but in 2016 she released an entire album that highlighted the specific struggles she faces as a black woman in America. Lemonade tackles serious topics with every track: infidelity, insecurity, trust issues, anger, and hopeful forgiveness. “Sorry,” specifically, tackles all these emotions within 3 minutes and 52 seconds. In the song, the speaker copes with the infidelity of her partner by dismissing his attempts to apologize for it and then refusing to apologize for her own behavior (“Me and my ladies sip my d'ussé cups / I don't give a fuck chucking my deuces up”). The chorus boasts the repetitious lines “I ain’t sorry, Nigga Nah” and never lightens up on its projection. In typical Beyoncé single fashion, “Sorry” spawned many 2016 popular phrases and sayings (“Suck on my balls pause,” “Becky with the Good Hair”) and even was honored with an SNL spoof “Melanianade.” Best Lyric: “You better call Becky with the good hair” Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 11

Everyone knows Beyoncé loves a girl-anthem, but in 2016 she released an entire album that highlighted the specific struggles she faces as a black woman in America. Lemonade tackles serious topics with every track: infidelity, insecurity, trust issues, anger, and hopeful forgiveness. “Sorry,” specifically, tackles all these emotions within 3 minutes and 52 seconds. In the song, the speaker copes with the infidelity of her partner by dismissing his attempts to apologize for it and then refusing to apologize for her own behavior (“Me and my ladies sip my d'ussé cups / I don't give a fuck chucking my deuces up”). The chorus boasts the repetitious lines “I ain’t sorry, Nigga Nah” and never lightens up on its projection. In typical Beyoncé single fashion, “Sorry” spawned many 2016 popular phrases and sayings (“Suck on my balls pause,” “Becky with the Good Hair”) and even was honored with an SNL spoof “Melanianade.”

Best Lyric: “You better call Becky with the good hair”

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 11

7. 24K Magic - Bruno Mars

Put shortly, “24k Magic” is a time-machine. The combination of Bruno Mars’s soulful vocals, symphonic auto-tune, and 80’s-style background and choral chants transports its listener to a decade in which innuendo was king. “24k Magic” was released as the lead single for Mars’s album of the same name. The song blends the genres of Disco, Funk, and R&B while still managing to keep everything fresh with quirky and slightly offensive lyrics such as “Bad bitches and ya ugly ass friends.” While “24k Magic” does not necessarily add anything new to the Bruno Mars catalogue, indeed it almost seems as though it could be the Part 2 of either “Uptown Funk” or a Macklemore song, it definitely is a great tune to play for a fun time. Best Lyric: “Don't look too hard /Might hurt ya'self /Known to give the color red the blues” Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 4

Put shortly, “24k Magic” is a time-machine. The combination of Bruno Mars’s soulful vocals, symphonic auto-tune, and 80’s-style background and choral chants transports its listener to a decade in which innuendo was king. “24k Magic” was released as the lead single for Mars’s album of the same name. The song blends the genres of Disco, Funk, and R&B while still managing to keep everything fresh with quirky and slightly offensive lyrics such as “Bad bitches and ya ugly ass friends.” While “24k Magic” does not necessarily add anything new to the Bruno Mars catalogue, indeed it almost seems as though it could be the Part 2 of either “Uptown Funk” or a Macklemore song, it definitely is a great tune to play for a fun time.

Best Lyric: “Don't look too hard /Might hurt ya'self /Known to give the color red the blues”

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 4

6. Juju on that Beat (TZ Anthem) – Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall

Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall’s “Juju on that Beat” was one of the biggest viral hits of 2016. The duos song spawned thousands of dance videos across a plethora of social media platforms. Building on the 2004 hit “Knuck if You Buck” by Crime Mob featuring Lil Scrappy, “Juju on the Beat” establishes a humorous atmosphere starting with its hilarious intro. Indeed, the familiarity of the song paired with its humor led to “Juju on that Beat” being one of the biggest sleeper hits of the decade. “Juju on that Beat” has been performed all over daytime (Live with Kelly, The Ellen DeGeneres Show) despite some of its inappropriate lyrics. Speaking of its lyrics, we cannot deny how cringeworthy it was to see so many non-black people dance to the lyrics “And you know my hair nappy.” Best Lyric: The entire first verse. Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 5

Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall’s “Juju on that Beat” was one of the biggest viral hits of 2016. The duos song spawned thousands of dance videos across a plethora of social media platforms. Building on the 2004 hit “Knuck if You Buck” by Crime Mob featuring Lil Scrappy, “Juju on the Beat” establishes a humorous atmosphere starting with its hilarious intro. Indeed, the familiarity of the song paired with its humor led to “Juju on that Beat” being one of the biggest sleeper hits of the decade. “Juju on that Beat” has been performed all over daytime (Live with Kelly, The Ellen DeGeneres Show) despite some of its inappropriate lyrics. Speaking of its lyrics, we cannot deny how cringeworthy it was to see so many non-black people dance to the lyrics “And you know my hair nappy.”

Best Lyric: The entire first verse.

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 5

5. Needed Me – Rihanna

Rihanna’s “Needed Me” is 3 minutes and 11 seconds of hurting feelings. Depending on the listener’s personal situation, it is hard to not either feel like a vindicated cold-hearted murderer or a whimpering victim while experiencing the track. In fact, that emotion is Rihanna’s muse in the explicit video for “Needed Me.” The song was on every Instagram model and reality-star snapchat prior to it even being announced as a single, so it is no wonder why it rose to such popularity. Holistically, “Needed Me” is unique because it offers a viewpoint rarely projected by mainstream female artist. “Needed Me,” in an industry filled with female-lovesick victim songs, stands solo as a work about a woman who boasts that she does not need a man, moreover, he needed her.   Best Lyric: The entire pre-chorus Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 7

Rihanna’s “Needed Me” is 3 minutes and 11 seconds of hurting feelings. Depending on the listener’s personal situation, it is hard to not either feel like a vindicated cold-hearted murderer or a whimpering victim while experiencing the track. In fact, that emotion is Rihanna’s muse in the explicit video for “Needed Me.” The song was on every Instagram model and reality-star snapchat prior to it even being announced as a single, so it is no wonder why it rose to such popularity. Holistically, “Needed Me” is unique because it offers a viewpoint rarely projected by mainstream female artist. “Needed Me,” in an industry filled with female-lovesick victim songs, stands solo as a work about a woman who boasts that she does not need a man, moreover, he needed her.  

Best Lyric: The entire pre-chorus

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 7

4. Black Beatles – Rae Sremmurd ft. Gucci

“Black Beatles” owned the latter part of 2016. The Mannequin Challenge, which gave its partakers the chief direction of standing completely still, helped “Black Beatles” skyrocket to fame and up the charts. The Mannequin Challenge is quite possibly the biggest trend of 2016 besides the dance accompanied by #6 “Juju on that Beat.” NBA Teams, news anchors, Destiny’s Child members, and even former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and her staff participated in the viral fun. The lyrics of “Black Beatles” may be about typical trap topics (drugs, sex, strippers, and money) but it at least attempts to do so with cool innuendo like the term “crowd pleaser.” Also, the song is one of the several 2016 records that got a fresh-out-of-jail Gucci Mane feature.   Best Lyric: “That girl is a real crowd pleaser / Small world, all her friends know of me” Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 1

“Black Beatles” owned the latter part of 2016. The Mannequin Challenge, which gave its partakers the chief direction of standing completely still, helped “Black Beatles” skyrocket to fame and up the charts. The Mannequin Challenge is quite possibly the biggest trend of 2016 besides the dance accompanied by #6 “Juju on that Beat.” NBA Teams, news anchors, Destiny’s Child members, and even former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and her staff participated in the viral fun. The lyrics of “Black Beatles” may be about typical trap topics (drugs, sex, strippers, and money) but it at least attempts to do so with cool innuendo like the term “crowd pleaser.” Also, the song is one of the several 2016 records that got a fresh-out-of-jail Gucci Mane feature.  

Best Lyric: “That girl is a real crowd pleaser / Small world, all her friends know of me”

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 1

3. Formation - Beyoncé

The second entry for Beyoncé on the list is “Formation.” Released on February 6th, 2016, a day before Beyoncé performed it at Super Bowl 50, “Formation” caused controversy within seconds of its release. The “Formation” lyrics are even more interesting than the video or Super Bowl 50 performance. “Formation’s” lyrics contain self-affirmation, pro-feminism rhetoric, pro-black rhetoric, and anti-government corruption themes. Again, Beyoncé’s lyrics spawned a bunch of catchy phrases that dominated the rest of 2016. While the song’s lyrics are why it is special, some of those same lyrics seem crude and randomly placed which is why “Formation” misses out on a higher list place. As hilarious as “When he fuck me good / I take his ass to Red Lobster” is, it seems slightly out of place in a song which also affirms the beauty of her daughter and her people. Best Lyric: “I just may be a black Bill Gates in the making” Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 10

The second entry for Beyoncé on the list is “Formation.” Released on February 6th, 2016, a day before Beyoncé performed it at Super Bowl 50, “Formation” caused controversy within seconds of its release. The “Formation” lyrics are even more interesting than the video or Super Bowl 50 performance. “Formation’s” lyrics contain self-affirmation, pro-feminism rhetoric, pro-black rhetoric, and anti-government corruption themes. Again, Beyoncé’s lyrics spawned a bunch of catchy phrases that dominated the rest of 2016. While the song’s lyrics are why it is special, some of those same lyrics seem crude and randomly placed which is why “Formation” misses out on a higher list place. As hilarious as “When he fuck me good / I take his ass to Red Lobster” is, it seems slightly out of place in a song which also affirms the beauty of her daughter and her people.

Best Lyric: “I just may be a black Bill Gates in the making”

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 10

2. One Dance - Drake

2016 was the year Drake went full-on Caribbean. From speaking his own interesting blend of Jewish-Canadian-Jamaican Patios to featuring a host of Caribbean artists on his album Views and upcoming “playlist” More Life, Drake unashamedly decided to embrace another culture in 2016. Luckily for Drake, it worked. “One Dance” stands as one of the catchiest songs of 2016. The easily-recitable verses and hypnotic chorus paired with the amazing choice to feature Wizkid and Kyla helped the song reign Number 1 on Billboard for a whopping 15 Weeks. Speaking of Kyla, the breakdown of “One Dance” is infectious. Best Lyric: Entire Chorus Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 1

2016 was the year Drake went full-on Caribbean. From speaking his own interesting blend of Jewish-Canadian-Jamaican Patios to featuring a host of Caribbean artists on his album Views and upcoming “playlist” More Life, Drake unashamedly decided to embrace another culture in 2016. Luckily for Drake, it worked. “One Dance” stands as one of the catchiest songs of 2016. The easily-recitable verses and hypnotic chorus paired with the amazing choice to feature Wizkid and Kyla helped the song reign Number 1 on Billboard for a whopping 15 Weeks. Speaking of Kyla, the breakdown of “One Dance” is infectious.

Best Lyric: Entire Chorus

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 1

1. Work - Rihanna ft. Drake

Despite “Work” being the first mainstream release of 2016, the song filled every club, snapchat, and radio station until the end of the Summer. In fact, “Work” and “Needed Me” were in the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 List at the same time. The most interesting part of “Work” and Anti in general, is the fact that so many critics gave both horrible reviews within a day of their releases. “Work” features Caribbean dialect not understood by most Americans, starts with a chorus (a rarely seen feature) has sexual innuendo, and a video that quickly received an age restriction on YouTube. All the aforementioned facts worked against “Work” (no pun intended). In this observation, lies the magic of Rihanna. 2016 is the year in which Rihanna undoubtedly proved that she does not need to follow trends or the guidelines that so many of her fellow pop artists do, but she sets them. Additionally, the choice to feature Drake on the track was ingenious as a song so bold is only heightened by the chemistry of the two “friends”. For her unapologetic boldness to release a song that seemed so bizarre, Rihanna undeniably deserves the Top Spot for the Best Urban Single of 2016. Best Lyrics: “Nobody text me in a crisis” , “If I get another chance to / I would never / no never neglect you” “If you had a twin / I would still choose you” Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 1

Despite “Work” being the first mainstream release of 2016, the song filled every club, snapchat, and radio station until the end of the Summer. In fact, “Work” and “Needed Me” were in the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 List at the same time. The most interesting part of “Work” and Anti in general, is the fact that so many critics gave both horrible reviews within a day of their releases. “Work” features Caribbean dialect not understood by most Americans, starts with a chorus (a rarely seen feature) has sexual innuendo, and a video that quickly received an age restriction on YouTube. All the aforementioned facts worked against “Work” (no pun intended). In this observation, lies the magic of Rihanna. 2016 is the year in which Rihanna undoubtedly proved that she does not need to follow trends or the guidelines that so many of her fellow pop artists do, but she sets them. Additionally, the choice to feature Drake on the track was ingenious as a song so bold is only heightened by the chemistry of the two “friends”. For her unapologetic boldness to release a song that seemed so bizarre, Rihanna undeniably deserves the Top Spot for the Best Urban Single of 2016.

Best Lyrics: “Nobody text me in a crisis” , “If I get another chance to / I would never / no never neglect you” “If you had a twin / I would still choose you”

Billboard Hot 100 Peak: 1

Honorable mention:

'All the Way Up' - Fat Joe, Remy Ma ft. French Montana & Infared

'Broccoli' – D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty

'Side to Side' – Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj