Respect The Neighbors • The Highlight Reel

Image by Jake Coleman

If you’ve looked at social media much over the last few weeks, you’ve more than likely seen a meme saying how glad we should be to finally put 2016 to rest. I mean, its true. It was a rough year. We’ve said goodbye to Prince, Phife Dawg, Bowie & Ali, which is a more than enough to cope with. Then, when you think about Lemonade, the Hamilton mixtape, Coloring Book, Alec Baldwin, Colin Kaepernick and the election, it gets hard to remember anything that ever happened before this year.

To that point, 2016 was very memorable for many of our favorite These Days neighbors. As difficult as it may be, we should all try to celebrate their success instead of dwelling on the losses that we had this year. These standout artists are looking back on the year with a smile on their faces – so let’s take a page from their book and do the same.

Starting in Harlem, it’s easy to be happy for Dave East. The Mass Appeal artist had what could be considered a breakout year on a national stage earning a spot in XXL’s 2016 Freshman Class. Check out this cypher from Mr. East with G Herbo if you haven’t already. Having since dropped Kairi Chanel, which includes features from big names like Cam’ron, 2 Chains and Beanie Sigel among others, it appears Dave East has a lot to be grateful for. From a national standout rapper to a blossoming indie-soul singer, Lynette Williams gave us a different styles from Harlem with equally as promising artistry. In her most recent EP Love Thee, Not Chaos Williams touches on heavy topics like the meaning of life, love, relationships, and family using a uniqueness that is inspiring for listeners of all backgrounds. Having been cosigned by the one and only Lauryn Hill, I’m sure it won’t be long before more Americans know Lynette's name.

Meanwhile down south, Gucci Mane wasn’t the only artist to have huge year. In Atlanta folks like Russ and 24hrs gained a ton of traction. Russ heard his name tossed around in conversations with legends Rick Rubin & Mike Dean after releasing a slew of new material. 24hrs found himself on tracks with Ty Dolla $ign, Wiz Khalifa & Sir Guwop himself, which practically cements him as a favorite in Atlanta for a while. Over in Memphis, Jon Waltz successfully pivoted from his earlier dream rap style to a more developed pop sound on tracks like “Justified” and his newest single “Riot.” Having previously worked with Jon Waltz, Pell and Froyo Ma, I’m very excited for the direction these guys can go. Staying in Louisiana, Baton Rouge is back thanks to NBA Youngboy and his huge year including his work on “38 Baby.” With labels now calling his name at age 16, the year 2016 was clearly very good to one of the nation's youngest rappers.

Looking westward, I must call out Aminé for doing more than simply holding down Portland – he’s putting it on the map. The dude has drawn comparisons to a wide range of rappers from Tupac to Outkast and amassed 44 million streams of his track “Caroline” on Soundcloud. Clearly he’s built up momentum so let’s enjoy it and be sure to watch him in the New Year. Over in LA, Sunni Colón has been busy turning heads with his distinct pseudo dance/R&B style on his Thierry Disko EP. Whether it makes you want to dance or simply find your lover, Sunni’s music will make you feel something good.

Lastly, from all the way in Surrey, UK, seventeen-year-old Liv Dawson must be mentioned because of her incredible voice and potential for an even bigger New Year. After dropping her single “Tapestry,” the teenager has released four other projects making 2016 her official breakthrough year.

So there you have it – ten successful neighbors that managed to make the most of an otherwise dismal 2016. Now, hopefully, you can go celebrate the New Year and find a small silver lining to make you smile when you inevitably see a barrage of “RIP 2016” memes over the next week or so.