This was an odd year for music. As Vanyaland senior writer Daniel Brockman details in his annual Year In Pop roundup, the two-way highway of comings and goings produced a wealth of in-crisis pop, solemn rock, and schizophrenic hip-hop alongside a cruel abundance of iconic deaths and life-lessons from rock's dinosaur guard. And as this Vanyaland contributor list proves, it was another wildly eclectic and eccentric year of sound, proving that genre restriction is truly dead for those who still actually care. For our Top 25 Songs of 2016, we pitched and polled our writing staff about their favorite tracks of the year, then condensed each list for a composite ranking. Below are the results, with the song's nominator doing the honors of telling us why the song cracked the list in the first place. It may not be perfect, but it's ours, and it's worth more than just taking a Chance on.
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1. Chance the Rapper feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz, “No Problem”
In a genre that’s dipping deeper and deeper into jazz and funk by the day, Chance the Rapper owned 2016 hip-hop with gospel music and Christian bars. You could see it coming from The Social Experiment with where 2015’s “Surf” left off, but “Coloring Book” took everything to new heights. Yet God isn’t the only thing about which Chance can wax poetic. “No Problem” sees Chance and company use a choir-infused Brasstracks beat as the backbone of a warning shot to record labels interfering with independent artists. Chance has been outspoken about his bad blood with major labels, most notably implying that a label torpedoed a feature from Big Sean that was supposed to be on “Coloring Book”. Chance’s third mixtape is a who’s who of features ranging from Young Thug to Bieber to Future to T-Pain to Kanye West, but while Jay Electronica may have turned in the single best guest verse on the tape with his work on “How Great,” the trio of Chance, 2 Chainz, and Lil Wayne on “No Problem” was damn overpowering.