2015 is nearing a close (time goes by so quick guys) and with it we got some great albums to mark each and every little thing that happened in our lives this year.
So – which ones made the cut in my list of standout albums?
IF YOU’RE READING THIS IT’S TOO LATE
For me the year really began in February when Drake released IYRTITL. Not only did it spark numerous memes in that iconic album font, it boosted every listener’s ego with opener ‘Legend’, he expanded on his story from where he started in the bottom when working down in the basement in ‘Star67’, to him being at the end of his tether with ‘Now & Forever’. In ‘Company’ he also joined forces with Travis $cott who would later release his own album Rodeo in September, and then allegedly touches on his relationship with Zoe Kravitz in my personal favourite ‘Jungle’.
The name of the album also turned out to be a very clear message to others in the game as it really was too late for them to be a favourite this year (even if it had only just started). Not only did Drake show that with this particular album but cemented it with tracks that would later be released (Hotline Bling being an obvious example, with the iconic dancing-in-his-turtleneck video that was released in Drake’s favourite month October).
DARK SKY PARADISE
While we were still bumping IDFWU from a few months before, Big Sean gave us even moooore to play with Dark Sky Paradise.
With features from man of the year Drake, Kanye West, Jhene Aiko, Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, the boi from Detroit delivered track after track that would have us increasing that bass, spitting quality lines like ‘Crew looked like we robbed a bank but all we make is deposits’.
FAN OF A FAN: THE ALBUM
Ayo was played everywhere in every club for sure, but that’s all I’m going to mention with this song when it comes to this album.
Because it wasn’t just Ayo that was a standout track from these guys. Chris Brown and Tyga paired up, gave us 16 songs – yeah, 16 – and showed us that not only were they great pals but that they both could work together on a creative level and deliver.
They also brought in some other talent on their album with collabs that included: ‘Nothin’ Like Me’ with Ty Dolla $ign (who obviously made his rounds this year too with his features), ‘I Bet’ with 50 Cent, ‘Real One’ with Boosie Badazz, ‘It’s Yo Sh#t’ with Wale, and ‘Bitches and Marijuana’ with Schoolboy Q. Weirdly enough, these are all my favourites on the album…
TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY
I feel like I mention this album in almost every post I do, but it’s with good reason.
It’s March 2015 and Kendrick releases To Pimp A Butterfly to much acclaim.
Kendrick crafted – I say crafted because it is a true masterpiece – TPAB with songs that became poetry, speeches almost, of American society as he highlighted the clear issues regarding police brutality and African Americans. This year more stories were heard within and outside of the media surrounding these issues. To Pimp A Butterfly, and Kendrick himself, became a loud voice to ensure that these issues could not and should not be brushed to the side.
And let us not forget the iconic ending of the album as Kendrick interviews rapper Tupac Shakur. Using an interview of Tupac from 1994, as the two converse they make it clear that the issues within America that existed back then still exist today.
Kendrick reads Tupac a speech on the caterpillar and the butterfly, both of which become symbolic of two sides to society. Without getting too deep in this post, Kendrick is on a Plato way of thinking – the butterfly is the enlightened and holds the answer to equality, with the caterpillar being those trapped in their cocoon unable to escape the struggles within the city. As he reads the message, the music quickens and we can almost envision smoke encircling the two during their interview until Kendrick asks Pac for his perception. The song ends with Kendrick saying ‘Pac? Pac? Pac?!’, but he’s already gone and we’re left hanging.
Best outro of any album this year, that’s for sure.
A$AP had a very clear tone on this album, with every song being smooth yet warped in moments of beat drops and switches in its vibes as Rocky delves into the properties of hallucinogens, taking us on our own psychedelic journey with his songs.
Although it is his second album to be released, because Lord Flacko has become such a regular face and voice in hip hop with his debut album and collaborations with other artists, with this album it was in fact a moment of AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.HAS.RELEASED.ANOTHER.ALBUM.
With great songs like L$D, Excuse Me, Electric Body, West Side Highway, M’$ and Everyday (which has the strangest yet most epic blend of genres and talent with Miguel, Mark Ronson and Rod Stewart), A$AP Rocky gave us an album that become the hip hop album of the summer.
Today’s Prince if there ever was one, Miguel released Wildheart this summer – an album with plenty of kick and sultry overtones.
The album opens with track a beautiful exit, which starts with a breaking news announcement, sirens and electric guitar. It’s a taste of what’s to come, with Wildheart being an album for the rebellious, the creative and the fearless.
With tracks like NWA and gfg (found only on the Deluxe version), Miguel hits us with big basslines and bounds of attitude.
The album has a number of perfect relaxing songs, each one painting a delicate picture of love (Coffee – a song later remixed to feature rapper Wale), naively chasing fame (Hollywood Dreams) or a lust for belonging (What’s Normal Anyway) – Miguel’s songs are known for this, an example being one of his biggest hits ‘Sure Thing’ from 2010.
waves is one of those tracks perfect for drives down to a sunny Californian beach, FLESH is entrancing, DEAL has disco vibes perfect for donning Miguel’s shades and leather jackets.
Personal favourite Simple Things has plenty of electric guitar riffs, basslines, and later came with a remix featuring Chris Brown and Future, to add icing to an already delicious cake.
BEAUTY BEHIND THE MADNESS
Such an iconic album of this year that I dedicated a whole post to The Weeknd’s latest on the day that it was released. You can read it in all its wonder and glory here.
This year Travis $cott showed us what he was capable of with the release of his debut album Rodeo.
With the support of artists like The Weeknd, Kanye West and even Justin Bieber on track ‘Maria I’m Drunk’, Travis brought his distinct style to the game. Yes he uses autotune but it only adds to the $cott experience while he raps on every song with tracks that have a mixture of futuristic beats that are heard in ‘Nightcrawler’, to sounds from an ancient Chinatown in the beginning of ‘Maria I’m Drunk’, or an old western in Antidote’s intro that soon switches up while still infusing a nuanced sound – much like that of ‘3500’, which goes from smooth polished verses to heavier beats in the chorus.
T R A P S O U L
To some it may seem like Bryson Tiller’s name blew up from out of nowhere, but for the past few months he’s been touring with big name The Weeknd. Yet it’s his album – without a single feature in sight – that speaks for itself.
Released in October, T R A P S O U L is Bryson’s debut album and already has become a huge success, mainly due to songs ‘Don’t’ and ‘Sorry Not Sorry’, which I’m almost embarrassed to mention can both be regularly heard on Kylie Jenner’s snapchats (and my own for that matter…).
With over 34 million streams of ‘Don’t’ on Spotify and apparently 35 million streams on his Soundcloud (which is where he initally released the song) why is Bryson blowing up so big?
Perhaps it’s because his songs are what every girl wants to hear, or maybe it’s his smooth and sultry tones much like that of Drake, or maybe it’s a bit of both.
Either way, Bryson remains humble and thankful for his fans. Although his album was released late in the year, 2015 was a big year for Tiller.
THE DOCUMENTARY 2
The Game was back in business this year with long awaited album The Documentary 2.
With features from Future, Kendrick Lamar, Dej Loaf, Will.I.Am, Kanye West and Drake, to classic favourites and hip hop icons Ice Cube, Dr Dre, Diddy, and Snoop Dogg, The Game gave us an album that was worth the wait.
With samples and audio that could have been taken straight out of a movie whether it’s with gun shots on ‘On Me’ or dialogue in ‘Circles’, The Documentary 2 became a contemporary disc that was an embodiment of hip hop’s past and present.
2015 became that year where we soon started to question our identities in terms of music – did we all really become Beliebers this year?
Justin Bieber hit the mark this year with tracks like Where Are U Now, Sorry and What Do You Mean?
But he showed us more promise of what there is to come with the album through songs like ‘Love Yourself’, ‘No Pressure’ which features Big Sean, ‘Children’, and ‘No Sense’ with Travis $cott.
Purpose has an eclectic mix of electro, dance, hip hop and R&B – so it’s no wonder it became such a huge hit with everyone.
Chris has been a busy guy this year, whether it’s with the Fan of A Fan album, touring, and making music with other artists, he also found the time to put together his latest release Royalty, named after his daughter.
Featuring songs such as ‘Back To Sleep’ with its 90’s R&B vibes, ‘Wrist’ with Chris Brown’s signature autotune and electro/hip hop sounds, and smooth electro songs like ‘Liquor’ and ‘Fine By Me’, Chris proved that he can consistently put out great music (which was his aim as said in his latest Hot 97 interview).
There’s still a couple weeks of the year left and who knows, maybe Kanye will finally release SWISH – or if we really want to raise our hopes up, maybe Frank Ocean will drop his album that was promised to us back in July!
Ones to watch in 2016:
On an end note, I thought I’d make a few predictions of artists to watch next year. They are as follows:
Dvsn Not heard of him? There’s not much info surrounding this artist but his songs With Me and The Line have both been heard on OVO Radio frequently and both are great – I’m hoping there will be more to come from Dvsn next year.
Zayn Malik It might seem like an odd choice, but R&B/hip hop loving Zayn is now free from One Direction and could potentially release some tracks that are worth keeping an eye/ear out for.
Kehlani This chick is now Grammy nominated for her mixtape ‘You Should Be Here’ at the age of 20. Please keep her on your radar, she’s awesome.