Consensus holds that 2016 was a terrible, terrible year. However, setting global politics aside for just a second, 2016 was an incredible year for music. It had it all: Blockbusters from marquee stars, returns from reclusive auteurs, and breakouts from an ascendant class of rookies. Music is moving faster than ever, but this year still presented far many more than 50 opportunities to slow down and take in a full project; selecting what makes the cut for lists like these becomes a more difficult task every year. Of course, 2016 still has a few more projects in the chamber—Drake has a “playlist” on the way, J. Cole came out of nowhere with new tracks and a documentary, and Kid Cudi’s return is imminent. But, for now, here are the 50 best albums of 2016.

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