From politics to pop culture and everything else in between, it’s been one rollercoaster of a year. As we look back, it’s safe to say music may be the one thing that kept us functioning in 2016.
Here’s a recap of the best songs from 2016, along with our suggested cannabis strain pairing. We’re starting Part 1 off with the best hip-hop, R&B, and pop songs of the year, and we’ll follow up with a list of the top country, EDM, and rock songs. Create your own playlist and strain bar on New Year’s Eve to say a proper adieu to a challenging year. Here’s to 2017!
Top Hip-Hop Songs of 2016
“Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane
After getting released from prison last year, East Atlanta’s Gucci Mane jumps on superstar rap duo Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles.” It’s one of the most popular songs of the year, becoming the go-to track for 2016’s hottest social media challenge, the Mannequin Challenge. The Sremmurd boys even got the A-OK from legendary Beatle Paul McCartney himself. What could possibly top that?
Strain Pairing: Gucci OG
Gucci OG is a potent hybrid that will give you the spark in energy needed to keep up with Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane as they perform sold-out shows around the globe and interact with fans.
“No Problem” by Chance the Rapper
2016 was the breakout year for Chance the Rapper. The Chi-Town MC streamed his highly anticipated mixtape, Coloring Book, exclusively through Apple Music. “No Problem” is Chance’s second single off of Coloring Book and he’s joined by hip-hop heavyweights Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. In this song, Chance raps about being an independent artist (he still hasn’t signed with a label) and not allowing the music industry (or anyone, for that matter) change who he is. Chance is nominated for an outstanding seven Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Song for “No Problem.”
Strain Pairing: Grape Ape
Grape Ape is a great strain to help ease your problems and mind. It pairs well with “No Problem” because of Chance’s carefree attitude and lyrics about no one being able to stop him.
“Broccoli” by D.R.A.M. feat Lil Yachty
D.R.A.M. invites up and coming rapper Lil Yachty to join him on his breakout single, “Broccoli,” off his self-titled debut album. Besides the fact that “Broccoli” is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Performance (a huge accomplishment in itself), what we here at Leafly find special is that one of the hottest songs of the year references cannabis, likening it to the vegetable broccoli. D.R.A.M. is living in a total green dream as he raps about being in the middle of the party rolling up his “broccoli,” while fantasizing about all the wonderful things he looks forward to now that he’s finally made it.
Strain Pairing: Green Dream
Green Dream, a sativa-dominant hybrid cross of Green Crack and Blue Dream, will leave you with a long-lasting happy high. Just as happy as D.R.A.M. is when he gets to spark a joint of his favorite strain of “broccoli.”
“All the Way Up (Remix)” by Fat Joe feat. Remy Ma, Jay-Z and French Montana
Back in 2004, Terror Squad was in the club leaning all the way back. Fast-forward 12 years later, Fat Joe and Remy Ma prove they can still get the party going with the release of this year’s club banger “All the Way Up (Remix).” It was such a smash-hit, that even the G.O.A.T. Jay-Z decided to join his fellow New Yorkers on the track to represent their city. “All the Way Up (Remix)” is about celebrating your success and accomplishments with the ones you love and started your journey with.
Strain Pairing: NYC Diesel
NYC Diesel is a hybrid strain recommended for social anxiety that pairs great with this song. The effects of this strain are known to make consumers feel like they’re the life of the party, becoming extremely talkative and happy.
“OOOUUU” by Young M.A.
Another rapper to emerge on the music scene this year was Young M.A., hailing from none other than Brooklyn, New York. Young M.A. delivers a sick flow, but what got most listeners’ attention was her “OOOUUUs” throughout the track and unforgettable lines like, “You call her Stephanie, I call her Headphanie.” Young M.A. had a huge impact on hip-hop and pop culture in 2016.
Strain Pairing: Bubba Kush
Bubba Kush is a heavy indica, which pairs well with the hard-hitting bars Young M.A. delivers on “OOOUUU.”
Top R&B Songs of the Year
“Lake by the Ocean” by Maxwell
R&B legend Maxwell returns after a seven-year hiatus with “Lake by the Ocean.” It’s the lead single off of his album BlackSUMMERS’night, the second installation of a trilogy of albums. “Lake by the Ocean” leaves listeners in awe, shocked that singer Maxwell still has it after all these years. It’s just one of the many reasons he’s nominated for a Grammy Award for his vocal performance on “Lake by the Ocean.”
Strain Pairing: Blackwater
With a sweet grape aroma and deep purple buds, Blackwater is known to make you feel happy while easing the body and mind. It’s a great strain to put you in the perfect mood for a night in listening to Maxwell.
“Exchange” by Bryson Tiller
Bryson Tiller put his own twist on R&B with the release of his debut studio album Trapsoul in 2016. Young Tiller’s unique sound, simply characterized as a hybrid of southern trap music and R&B, has generated him a huge fan base in just a short amount of time. “Exchange” is about an ex-lover Bryson would give his all to, if only she would forgive Bryson and give him all her love. (It’s pretty complicated.) The track was certified platinum and has been nominated for a Grammy Award for this year’s Best R&B Song.
Strain Pairing: Platinum Girl Scout Cookies
Platinum Girl Scout Cookies is a really uplifting hybrid strain, a perfect option if you start thinking about your ex or relationship issues while listening to this song.
“Kiss it Better” by Rihanna
Next to her summer smash “Needed Me,” Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better” was one of 2016’s most intimate and sexy ballads. She sings about reconciling with a lover after things have hit the fan. Being the seductive superstar she is, Rihanna passionately sings, “What are you willing to do?” She then responds that the only way for the two to make things better is if they “kiss it better.”
Strain pairing: Kiss
Kiss may be a somewhat hard strain to find, but its powerful body effects and mood elevation pair well with Rihanna’s 2016 make-up song of the year.
“Come and See Me” by PartyNextDoor feat. Drake
Drake’s protégé PartyNextDoor released his first single “Come and See Me” from his second studio album, PartyNextDoor3. The track is about an ex-girlfriend who swears their relationship is one-sided because he never travels the distance or has the time for her with his busy schedule.
Strain Pairing: Champagne Kush
Champagne Kush and “Come and See Me” pair well because this indica-dominant hybrid is calming and great for zoning out while listening to music or having a chill night in with friends or your significant other.
“Cranes in the Sky” by Solange
In 2016 Solange released A Seat at the Table. The album quickly shot to the top of the charts, becoming the soundtrack to so many peoples’ lives this year. “Cranes in the Sky” is the debut single off of her latest album. The song touches on all of Solange’s failed attempts to alleviate the pain in her life by sleeping, drinking, and sexing it away, among other things. A Seat at the Table is Solange’s most honest and awe-inspiring work to-date. She was even nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance for this single.
Strain Pairing: Lavender
The cannabis strain Lavender is known for its flowery and sweet flavor properties upon exhale, but don’t let this strain fool you, as its effects can be just as heavy as the message in “Cranes in the Sky.”
Top Pop Songs of the Year
“Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” was Billboard’s Pop Song of the Year. With an acoustic feel and catchy lyrics like, “My mama don’t like you, and she likes everyone,” what’s there not to love about a song that talks about telling an ex to take a good look in the mirror? “Love Yourself” is an instant pop classic.
Strain Pairing: Love Potion #1
Love Potion #1 is a 70% sativa strain known to make consumers feel happy and all lovey-dovey. Give this strain a try while listening to JB’s “Love Yourself” and see if it doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
“24k Magic” by Bruno Mars
“24K Magic” is a pop song by none other than the Dr. Funk himself, Bruno Mars. Immediately upon hearing the radio smash, you’ll want to get up out of your seat and groove to the rhythm of the beat. As we all know, Bruno Mars knows how to keep the party going and he definitely brought the funk in this song.
Strain Pairing: Dr.Funk
Pass around a joint of Dr. Funk and you’re sure to keep the party and laughs going all night long. This indica strain has a sweet berry taste upon exhale and leaves consumers feeling “magical.”
“Starboy” by The Weeknd
The Weeknd has gone from underground Canadian crooner to international pop superstar right before our eyes. He’s a self-proclaimed “starboy” and isn’t shying away from all his recent success and whatever awaits him in the future. The Weeknd knows he’s out of this world and ahead of his time, and he’s embracing every bit of it in “Starboy.”
Strain Pairing: Astroboy
Astroboy is a hybrid strain that, upon exhale, produces a mix of sweet and sour fruit flavors. This strain pairs well with “Starboy” because of The Weeknd’s positive and negative perceptions of fame now that he’s a pop sensation.
“Formation” by Beyonce
Our compilation of the best songs of 2016 just wouldn’t be complete without mention of Beyoncé. To be honest, Beyoncé kind of reigned the entire music industry in 2016 with the release of her most deeply personal and creative body of work yet, Lemonade. “Formation” was the controversial single that started it all.
Strain Pairing: Pink Lemonade
Pink Lemonade pairs with “Formation” because of the strain’s amazing lemon scent and flavor. But besides that, the strain Pink Lemonade also has calming properties to help ease the emotional rollercoaster of a ride Bey takes us on with Lemonade.
“Side to Side” by Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj
Ariana Grande is finally coming into her own, transitioning from Disney princess to superstar diva. On her album Dangerous Woman, she unapologetically sings about love, relationships, and overall just having a good time. Ariana is letting everyone know that she’s not a little girl anymore. And who better than Nicki Minaj to join her on her breakout hit single?
Strain Pairing: Supergirl
Only a strain like Supergirl would be able to tame the fieriness that is Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj when they team up on a track. Although this indica strain has a relatively low THC content, don’t let that fool you. Supergirl is a fast, hard-hitting strain perfect to pair with this song and dynamic duo.
Check out Part 2 of Leafly’s Best Songs of 2016 to see which country, EDM, and rock songs made our list along with our suggested strain pairing for each!