2016 was an amazingly schizophrenic year, musically and culturally.

We lost so many icons of R&B in 2016; the inimitable Maurice White and legendary Prince, the wildly influential Kashif and Rod Temperton. Natalie Cole left us to start the year; and Nicholas Caldwell of the Whispers and P-Funk keyboard guru Bernie Worrell also died over the following months. It was a melancholy year--but one that was also filled with triumphs as R&B artists of all tiers dropped an array of remarkable albums.

We had grand artistic statements and chart-topping crossover smashes; with everyone from pop megastars to rapper-singer hybrids delving deep into their own idiosyncrasies and artistry and delivering one of the most remarkable years in recent R&B history. Beyonce's Lemonade became the musical pop culture event of 2016, while her sister Solange reminded everyone that she's one of music's most underrated talents with her critically-acclaimed masterwork A Seat at the Table.

What a year it was--and here are the albums that we think defined 2016 for R&B. You won't see some high-profile releases that underwhelmed us; and you will definitely see some indie favorites--but in some way or another, these are the albums that made an impression. What are your picks?