2015 has been an amazing year when it comes to music! Hip-hop and R&B artists have put out so much greatness, constantly keeping us on our toes. I came up with my own personal Top 20 list of my favorite Hip-Hop and R&B albums of 2015 (my list includes two mixtapes, but I just couldn’t leave them out). I know a lot of people will disagree with my list and that’s cool, too. Unfortunately, a handful of albums didn’t make my list just because I thought 20 was a good number to stop at, but the albums I didn’t list are still relevant to good music in 2015. My list isn’t in any particular order, I wrote it out at random. Here goes…
1. “To Pimp A Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick is definitely one of my top 5 favorite rappers. It’s undeniable that the man is an incredible lyricist and speaks about real life. This album is so pro-Black and I love it! You can hear and feel the intense amount of growth in this album, compared to his debut album, “good kid, m.A.A.d city”, which was also great. He talks about his trip to Africa, which changed his perspectives on many things in life. I can listen to the album without wanting to skip a song, but the three songs I can constantly put on repeat are “Alright”, “Complexion (A Zulu Love)”, and “I”.
2. “Summertime Shootout” by Fabolous. As I mentioned in a previous post about mixtapes, I’ve been a die-hard Fab fan for forever, so he never disappoints me, especially when it comes to his mixtapes. He is indeed the Punchline King, and I listen to it every morning in the shower to get my day started. “Real One”, “Motivation”, and “The Plug” are my favorites on this one.
3. “Rodeo” by Travis Scott. I can’t even put Travis Scott in a box and call him a rapper because he’s really in his own lane. He does his own thing, which is how he caught my attention when I first heard about him. My best friend said he is a mixture of Kanye West and Kid Cudi which, to me, is the perfect way to describe Travis Scott and his music. He and Kanye West are the only two people who I don’t mind using autotune. Travis Scott has a unique, rapsy voice, that I love to listen to, even when the autotune is off. “Rodeo” has a lot of great features like T.I., The Weeknd, Future, 2Chainz, Juicy J, Schoolboy Q, Chief Keef, and many more. You have to get hype in the car or in the club when “Antidote” comes on; I know my friends and I do! The beat is just too crazy not to! “3500”, featuring Future and 2Chainz, also makes me turn up. “Apple Pie” is another one of my favorites from the album. I just get in my zone when it comes on and rock out.
4. “Dreams Worth More Than Money” by Meek Mill. Since Meek and I are from the same place (Philly), I try to support his music as much as possible, but he really took an L in 2015. His album was what everyone expected, PHENOMENAL! He had features with Drake, his boo Nicki Minaj, Future, The Weeknd, and other talented artists. But his Twitter fingers got him into a beef with Drake, causing people to focus on what he was ranting about on social media, rather than listening to his new album. I know a lot of people who deleted the album off of their phones or only listen to two songs because he didn’t make smart business choices after the album was released. I still listen to it, though, because it’s actually a good album with good structure behind it. Of course “R.I.C.O” and “Bad for You” are two of my favorite songs off the album. I also like “Lord Knows” (and I didn’t know until a month ago that Canadian rapper, Tory Lanez, is the one rapping the hook, not Meek).
5. “What A Time To Be Alive” by Drake & Future. When this album first came out, I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t give it much attention because I was still stuck on Future’s album “DS2” and Drake dissing Meek. But, it grew on me. The beats on the album are everything! Two different types of artists coming together for a crazy collab album.
6. “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” by Drake. Drake is really that dude right now and this surprise album had everyone jamming, especially to songs like “Energy” and “10 Bands”. “Madonna”, “Company” (feat. Travis Scott), and “Jungle” are my favorites. Even though Drake got a lot of backlash after his beef with Meek for supposedly using a ghost writer, the album is still hot!
7. “All We Need” by Raury. The moment I heard Raury I knew I would be patiently waiting for his album to drop. My best friend let me listen to his freestyle on Sway In The Morning, and OMG he is so talented. He sort of reminds me of Andre 3000. He’s not some young dude talking negatively about women and selling/doing drugs, but about he’s talking about real life things. “Forbidden Knowledge” (feat. Big K.R.I.T.), “Revolution”, and “Her” are my favorites on the album. With a lot of beats on the album having a tribal feel, I can just play it in my room and relax.
8. “DS2” by Future. I remember the first time I ever heard Future. “Same Damn Time” came on the radio, and I could not stand it! I thought it was nonsense, like, “What is this I’m listening to?” Future’s music is the definition of trap music, and I love it! Even though it’s a lifestyle I’ve never lived and never will, the producers he works with are the best of the best, so the hooks on his songs naturally stick with you. “Thought It Was A Drought” is the first song on the album, and when I tell you I will rap the whole entire song and dance every single time it comes on, I’m so serious. Everybody was playing “DS2” this past summer!
9. “Wildheart” by Miguel. Miguel’s music always puts me in a lovey-dovey mood. My absolute favorite song on this album is “Simple Things”. I listen to it everyday and I feel like he was inside my head when he wrote it! “Coffee” is also a good song, which serves as my alarm when it’s time for me to get up in the morning. Miguel is an overall great artist whose music has yet to fail me.
10. “Dark Sky Paradise” by Big Sean. In my eyes, Big Sean is extremely underrated, and so is his album! It’s not often I can say I can listen to an album without wanting to skip a song, but that’s how I feel about this one. It’s been months since his album was released, but I’ll listen and still feel like it just came out yesterday. With a lot of great features including Jhene Aiko, Ty Dolla $ign, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West, how could you not love it? Big Sean is not your typical rapper, which is part of the reason I think he is often slept on, unfortunately. “Play No Games”, ” I Know”, and “All Your Fault” are my must-listen-to songs on the album.
11. “Yesterday’s Tomorrow” by Phony Ppl. “Baby Meet My Lover” was the first time I heard the group Phony Ppl from Brooklyn, and I was blown away! I couldn’t stop listening. Surprisingly, a lot of people I know have never heard of them, which sucks to me, because their album was so dope! “Helga”, “Somehow”, and “Compromise” are just a few of the great songs they have. I also got to see them perform live at S.O.B’s a few months ago, and had a really good time, just jamming with them and singing along to their songs.
12. “The Album About Nothing” by Wale. This album takes me back, and gives me the same poetic vibes and feels I originally felt when I first heard Wale’s mixtape “More About Nothing”. Since I write poetry and enjoy listening to it, I love a man who can do the same. In my opinion, Wale’s first album was cool; I only liked one song off his second album. But this last one really gave me life! “The God Smile”, “The Need to Know”, and “The One Time In Houston” are my favorites. Again, this is another album that was slept on by a lot of people, but Wale stuck to his roots and went back to what got him started in the first place.
13. “2014 Forest Hills Drive” by J.Cole. So, I know you’re probably thinking this wasn’t even released in 2015, BUT I feel like it was released so late in 2014 that I’m adding it to 2015, because I was playing it the whole time! Where do I start with J. Cole? Let’s just say I am in love with this man! I love everything about him and his music! He can’t do any wrong in my eyes. “St. Tropez” is my favorite song on the album because it really speaks to my life. When the album came out, I was a senior in college, thinking about the endless possibilities I had in front of me. But, sometimes thinking about everything you want out of life and what you need to do can be stressful. That song made me feel so much better about where I was going in life, and it made me feel like I could have the feelings I had and still go make moves to make my dreams come true. J. Cole is so relatable. I’ve seen many of his interviews, and I feel like he always says what I’m feeling.
14. “Surf” by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment. Chance The Rapper is a cool dude so I had to take a listen when I heard about this album. The only words I can use to describe this album are soulful, fun, up beat, and joyful. It makes you want to just sing and dance. Listening to this album always puts me in a much better mood. “Warm Enough”, “Sunday Candy”, and “Slip Slide” always have me singing my heart out!
15. “AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP” by A$AP Rocky. Back when A$AP’s mixtape, “LiveLoveA$AP”, came out, it was all I listened to for a while. His voice and his style of rap are different from what I was use to, which drew me into his music, and I’ve been rocking with him ever since. Even though I thought he was being petty with what he said about Rita Ora in his song “Better Things”, overall the album was one I listened to all day. “Fine Whine” and “Jukebox Joints” are two really good songs. Whenever “Electric Body”, featuring Schoolboy Q, comes on, it doesn’t matter where I’m at, I will be dancing; it’s only right to do so!
16. “Church In The Streets” by Jeezy. Jeezy is Jeezy, so you kind of have to respect his music. For sure he’s a trap rapper, who makes you feel like you’re right in the ‘hood with him. The way he talks and describes situations makes them feel so realistic, it’s crazy! “Sweet Life”, “Grind State”, and “Just Win” are three songs off his album that everyone should listen to if they haven’t already.
17. “Trap Soul” by Bryson Tiller. This was the perfect title for his album because that is exactly what his music is. For about a week, I kept hearing people talk about him and this album. I was confused because I had no idea who he was, but I knew for sure, the way people where talking about him, that I had to listen. When I finally did, I was mad that I hadn’t listened earlier. His voice is amazing, and he talks about some relatable relationship topics that will definitely have you in your feelings. He’s the same age as me, which is dope, and right before he was signed, he was homeless, which makes me respect him and his music even more because it shows you where hard work can take you. I only see more greatness coming from Bryson Tiller.
18. “Cherry Bomb” by Tyler The Creator. This man is so weird, and I love it because I’m a low-key weirdo too, so I feel his vibes and music. You have to be a certain kind of person to understand Tyler The Creator. “F**king Young/Perfect” was the first song I listened to off the album, and I was literally sitting there like OMG, I need to hear more! “Smuckers” and “2Seater” are my other two favorites from the album.
19. “90059” by Jay Rock. I didn’t really listen to Jay Rock before this album, but I knew he was hot from the way he killed his verse on “Money Trees”, off Kendrick Lamar’s first album. I still get hype every time his part comes on! He also had a few songs with Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q since the four of them, including Kendrick, are apart of T.D.E and Black Hippy. I make it my business to listen to “Vice City” everyday which, in my opinion, is the best song on the album. “90059” is the zip code of Watts, a neighborhood in L.A., where Jay Rock is from. “Easy Bake” , featuring SZA and Kendrick, is a really good song, too, as is “The Message”. Jay Rock is just real raw and he has definitely grown on me.
20. “But You Cain’t Use My Phone” by Erykah Badu. Last, but certainly not least, Ms. Badu served with this one! Every single song on here is good! I made a post about this album/mixtape already so I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but “Hello”, featuring Andre 3000, is my favorite song. I loved the two of them as a couple, and I think it’s pretty dope that they can be cool enough with one another to create such an amazing song.
Again, this was just my personal top 20 favorite albums/mixtapes of 2015. If there’s anything on my list you haven’t listened to, I would highly recommend you do so!