Albums will always be relevant. As much as the market continues to skew towards singles, as much time as we spend making playlists, nothing much compares to diving into a full length album from one of your favorite artists.

One of the biggest trends in 2016 was the ever-increasing popularity of the surprise album release. It's almost a surprise if an album is announced two months in advance with a carefully planned rollout, nowadays—this year, top tier artists like Solange, Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, Kanye West, and James Blake gave us little to no warning before sharing new music. 

But the ways in which they shared it were always unique. Beyoncé's Lemonade was a primetime TV event on HBO, half of Frank Ocean's double album was a days-long livestream, and Kanye West created a "living breathing changing creative expression." However these albums reached us, and on whichever streaming platforms, 2016 was another fantastic year for albums.

From fresh new artists like Noname, Hinds, and Kamaiyah to established stars like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, and A Tribe Called Quest, these are our favorite albums of 2016.