Best Hip Hop Album of 2015?


HipHop

As the end of the 2015 approaches, it is a good time to look back at all the great music that was produced in 2015. Just recently, the nominations for the Grammy awards were released previewing to the upcoming award show that will take place Monday, February 15  in 2016. Being the Hip-Hop enthusiast I am, every year I feel like that category is underrepresented in the Grammy award show. Who can forget the time Macklemore’s album The Heist won the Best Album of the Year award over Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d City? Not to take anything away from Macklemore, but even he himself publicly announced that he thought Kendrick Lamar’s album should have won the award that year. Anyways, that it’s in the past now time to look at the present. 2015 was a pretty great year for Hip-Hop fans as there were more than 20 albums released this year. I could not possibly review and list every single one of them, so I am going to just list my top 10 Hip-Hop albums that were released this year.

10. Ludaversal -Ludacris

Who said rapping was a young man’s game? This march, Ludacris dropped his first album since his Battle of the Sexes album that was released in 2010. Luda has been keeping busy working as an actor in the Fast and Furious movies but many people, including myself, forgot that he is still a Hip-Hop artist. Ludaversal displayed many comical trash talk in his lyrics but also got pretty deep when talking about the rap industry and the adversity it comes with it in songs “Charge it to the Rap Game” and “This Has Been my World.” Myfavorite track off this album was “Beast Mode.” Overall, this was a solid album by Ludacris that has been long awaited.

9. Comtpon: A Soundtrack – Dr. Dre

Stream Dr. Dre – Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre | Atlnightspots

This summer brought us the movie, Straight Outta Compton, which documentated the famous rap group N.W.A.  and quickly became one of the best movies of the year. Rightfully so, Dr. Dre produced a soundtrack to go along with the movie that also retells his story as a young DJ in the group N.W.A. Dr. Dre brings 18 different artist on the album highlighted by artists like Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and many more. My personal favorite off the album is the track “Issues” that features another former N.W.A. member, Ice Cube. Just like the movie, this album was definitely one of the best in 2015.

8. Tetsuo & Youth – Lupe Fiasco

The old Lupe came back during this album. Being a big Lupe Fiasco fan, I was excited when this album dropped in January and it did not dissapoint. Lupe continues to use his unique style of narrative rap with clever lyrics to describe his childhood and what it is like growing up in the ghetto of Chicago. Songs like “Deliver” and “Madonna” Lupe uses double meanings in his lyrics that the average Hip-Hop fan might not fully understand. As Lupe says in one of his singles a couple years ago, “Go to Harvard to become a Lupe fan”, saying that his lyrics may take some intellectual thinking to comprehend. My two favorite tracks off the album are “Deliver” and “They.Resurrect.Over.New (TRON)”, the latter featuring a good friend of Lupe’s, Ab-Soul. I definitely think this album went under the radar to most Hip-Hop fans, but trust me, listen to it once and you are not going to want to stop listening.

7. B4.Da.$$ – Joey Bada$$

First off, really clever album name as the title reads “Before Da Money” but at second glance, also looks like his stage name “Bada$$.” This was Joey’s debut album that released earlier this year in January. Joey Bada$$ comes from Brooklyn and raps with an east coast flow like many of the greats to come out of Brooklyn before him. Unlike many rap artists, Joey continued with his underground rap style in this album rather than “going mainstream” to get radio play. B4.Da.$$ contains 15 tracks, highlighted by my personal favorites, “Christ Conscious” and “No. 99.” This album along with Tetsuo & Youth were constantly on replay for me all through January & February.

6. At Long Last A$AP – A$AP Rocky

It felt like a long time since A$AP Rocky made any new music until the release of the album. But, the best things come to those that wait right? This album presented a little different version of A$AP Rocky. There were no songs with a Harlem-style beat that slapped, but instead smoother and jazzier instrumentals which is something we are not used to seeing from A$AP Rocky. The album features 16 other artists icnluding Schoolboy Q, Juicy J, Kanye West, Rod Stewart, and more. It’s pretty hard to find a better Hip-Hop album that was released this summer. Choosing a favorite track off this album was hard for me as it’s pretty much a tie between “Electric Body” featuring Schoolboy Q or “Everyday” that features Rod Stewart and Miguel.

5. The Incredible True Story – Logic

Let me start by saying it was really hard for me to choose the order of the remaining albums. The reason I put Logic’s album at the 5 spot was because of the amount of skits/scenes he had on his album. Granted, I loved a good storyline to albums but no one wants to hear 4-5 skits mixed in among the tracks. Besides that, this was a GREAT album by Logic. Logic proved that he can be recognized as one of the great lyricists of the rap game with his first album Under Pressure and displayed his skills again in this album. Logic gets creative and ties a Sci-Fi/Interstellar movie theme to the album that contains narators, Thomas and Kai, who are flying around space some time in the future. The skits are a little long for my liking but it gives the album a nice theme to play with. My favorite joints off the album are “Lord Willin” and “Stainless.” This album is definitely a must-listen.

4. Live & Grow – Casey Veggies

Out of all the albums this year, this was my most anticipated. I have been following Casey Veggies since my Junior year of high school and had the pleasure of meeting him twice in L.A. at his store. Very humble artist and a great person. His album, Live & Grow, lived up to my expectations. This was considered Casey Veggies’ freshmen album although he has released many projects before this. Songs like “Tied Up” featuring Dej Loaf and “Backflip” featuring Iamsu got plenty of radio play and exposed Casey Veggies to a larger audience of fans. Casey does a good job of narrating his life, making it out of Inglewood, and finally getting recognized as a talented young rapper in the industry. My favorite song off the album is “New Faces.” Overall, can’t express how proud I am of Casey and I am glad I got to see him progress to the rapper he is today.

3. The Documentary 2 & 2.5 -The Game

Anybody remember when the first Documentary The Game dropped back in ’05? Well this album is just as good…maybe EVEN BETTER. The Game hasn’t produced a great album since the R.E.D. Album back in 2011 but this album might be his best. With the release of the movie, Straight Outta Compton, and the rise of Kendrick Lamar, The Game was inspired to make another great album to put his name among CPT’s greatest. Both discs contain great features such as Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Dr. Dre, Nas, E-40 and many more greats. A little warning to future listeners, this album tells stories of gang violence in his life and can be pretty violent and explicitive in some parts. My two favorite songs of this album are “The Ghetto” featuring Nas and will.i.am and “On Me” featuring Kendrick Lamar.

2. 90059 – Jay Rock

Thought you wouldn’t get another album that bumped as hard as Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron, well think again! Jay Rock dropped his album, 90059, this September and gave us TDE fans something to bump loud with the windows down. The album is titled after the zip code of Watts, California, the city that Jay Rock is from. After dropping the album, Follow Me Home, back in 2011, Jay Rock has remained relatively quiet as a rap artist. This album goes on to tell the story of what it was like for Jay Rock to grow up in one of the most dangerous parts of L.A. The album also brought us the 8th song that features all four Black Hippy members in “Vice City.” My personal favorites off the album are “Easy Bake” and “Money Trees Deuce.”

1. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

Hard to put any other album in front of Kendrick’s and that’s why To Pimp a Butterfly is on the top of my list. Arguably one of the greatest albums of all time and Kendrick continues to prove himself as one of the greatest rappers of all time as well. 11 Grammy nominations, 5 songs in radio rotation…not much else needs to be really said about this album. Kendrick got creative in the skits that ended each song, which lead to a poem that he read to Tupac at the end of “Mortal Men.” He then goes on to interview the deceased legend, Tupac, and the two discuss politics, black culture, racsism and many more. My favorite tracks on the album are “King Kunta” and “u.” HANDS DOWN album of 2015.

Honorable Mentions: Some albums this year that were good but did not make my top 10 list…

Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise, Kid Ink’s Full Speed, Fetty Wap’s Fetty Wap, Drake’s If You’re Reading this it’s too Late, Travis Scott’s Rodeo, & Wale’s The Album About Nothing.

KSSU

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