The record, which tackles themes of black empowerment and female identity, topped a "poll of polls" compiled by the BBC.
It beat David Bowie's elegiac swansong Blackstar, which was released two days before his death in January.
Third place went to Frank Ocean's Blonde, a sprawling, impressionistic take on art-soul.
Beyonce's sister Solange also fared well. A Seat At The Table, her soulful, thoughtful portrayal of the struggles faced by black women, both historically and in 2016, came fifth.