2015 has been an amazing year for music across all genres. Whether you’re into rock, pop, R&B, or hip-hop, there had to be an album that met or exceeded your expectations. With the slew of great music this year, it was extremely difficult to choose albums that I wanted to put in my top 10 list. There have been a few albums that I left out only because I made this list based on albums that I found myself listening to more so than the other releases this year.
10. The Weeknd – “Beaty Behind the Madness”
Beauty Behind the Madness marks the Weeknd’s entrance into mainstream stardom with singles like “Can’t Feel my Face”, “The Hills”, and “Often”. When he released “Can’t Feel my Face”, he was delivering a new Weeknd ‘pop’ sound that gave a Michael Jackson feel, but still a sound that many of his fans weren’t used to hearing. This song, as well as many others off of the album, quickly topped the charts. Although this was mostly a solo album like many other Weeknd albums, he brought in other great artists such as Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, and Labrinth. This album proved that the Weeknd has come a long way from his first album, “House of Balloons”, and is going to continue to be a major player in the game.
9. Goldlink – “After That We Didn’t Talk”
This is Goldlink’s debut album, and although not a lot of people know who Goldlink is, it was an album that I was able to listen to again and again. He’s not your average hip-hip artist, as he rhymes over up-tempo house music with hip-hop influence, as he calls it “future bounce”. He’s been on tour with artists such as Mac Miller, SBTRKT, and Kaytranada. When legendary music visionary Rick Rubin heard Goldlink was working on this album, he decided to help guide him through the release of his first album in an attempt to mentor him. This isn’t a radio album, and Goldlink didn’t have any hit singles, but all in all, I liked the vibe on this album as a whole and am eager to see what else Goldlink comes up with in the future.
8. Jamie xx – “In Colour”
Jamie Smith, aka. Jamie xx released “In Colour” earlier this year. This album consists of a lot of catchy and up-tempo house music. There are a lot of DJ’s out there and a lot of house music to choose from. What sets Jamie xx apart from the rest is his unique use of vocal samples from the past decades, the choppiness within songs that change the mood and direction, and interesting instrumentals. Unlike a lot of other DJ’s, not all of his music sounds the same. This album didn’t have too many features, but had Yung Thug on his track “I Know There’s Gonna be (Good Times)”, which was a risky move, but a great choice. Jamie is not a hip-hop producer and even with this rap feature, this was not a rap-sounding song. He seems to have a vision for his sound, and doesn’t let anything get in the way of it. It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it already.
7. Vince Staples – “Summertime ’06”
If your favorite rapper had a favorite rapper, it’d probably be Vince Staples. This Long Beach, California native has a good sense of humor and knows his sports, which he expresses immensely on his Twitter page and various interviews. You could ask him his opinion on any subject, and he will give you his very blunt and straightforward opinion. Vince gives his listeners a look at the world through his own eyes. This debut album talks about Long Beach’s gang violence, police brutality, and drug presence. Vince has a lot to say, which is probably why “Summertime ‘06” was a 2-part album that consisted a total of 20 songs. With Vince’s powerful use of words and untouchable flow, I would easily consider him one of my top rappers. Because of Vince’s lack of sugar-coating anything, he’s also an artist that may not be for everybody.
6. Earl Sweatshirt – “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”
I actually discovered Vince Staples through an interview with Earl Sweatshirt, as he claimed that Vince was the best rapper out there (in his opinion). Vince has been featured in a few of Earl’s songs including “Hive” off of Earl’s first album, “Doris”. Earl has been known for being somewhat of a dark and murky artist, and this album stays pretty consistent with that description. This album is a snapshot of Earl’s state of mind after a serious breakup in his life. Through his seclusion and depression, he made “I don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”. The production on the album was done entirely by Earl, and all of the features were done in house and by close friends. What puts Earl at the top is his intricacy and poetic delivery. As dark as this album is, if you can understand where he’s coming from and actually listen to what he’s saying, it’s hard not to appreciate his skill.
5. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – “Surf”
Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and the Social Experiment come together to make the music they love. They are all friends from Chicago that play the music that they enjoy playing without trying to copy anyone else’s sound or conform to what’s popular in the industry. The best way that I can describe the overall sound of this album is that it reminds me of the background music to a Broadway play or musical. It’s heavy in brass and raw instrumentals but also carries the weight of some huge features such as J. Cole, Busta Rhymes, Eryka Badu, Big Sean, Janelle Monae, and a ton of others. If you love music and want to listen to some upbeat music that’s easy on the ears, I would definitely recommend this album.
4. Tame Impala – “Currents”
I admit that before this album, I had no idea who Tame Impala was, but after listening to this album, I was immediately a fan. Kevin Parker delivers his version of psychedelic pop with a heavy use of synths. “The Less I Know the Better”, one of my favorite songs off of the album offers a disco vibe, which is cool since it’s not a sound that a lot of people have. The album itself is an array of different sounds and moods, making it fun to listen to.
3. A$AP Rocky – “At.Long.Last.A$AP.”
This is probably some of his best work to date. A$AP started off as a Tumblr rapper and has come a long way since. He is very open and proud of the lifestyle that he lives whether it be expressed through his good fashion sense, or his drug use. He’s very open and doesn’t really care what people think. He’s become a major artist in the hip-hop world with his consistency of dropping good music to suit various moods for a variety of listeners. He recently went on tour with Tyler, the Creator, which has shown his evolution in his performance and style. Hopefully his next projects continue to progress.
2. Drake – “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late”
Drake has stated that this project was a mixtape and not an actual album release, but the general public continues to think otherwise. Drake insists that his fourth album is still on its’ way. Either way, he continues to kill the rap game with songs that you can’t help but sing along to. I personally wouldn’t consider this project an album simply because there is no real theme and each song seems to have its’ own purpose. Theme or not, this album has received a bunch of positive reviews and reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 list, selling over 495,000 copies in the first 3 days.
1. Kendrick Lamar – “To Pimp a Butterfly”
“To Pimp a Butterfly” is an album that’s going to force you to think. Kendrick doesn’t rap over beats; he raps over carefully constructed instrumentals whether they be sampled from old jazz songs or curated right in the studio. On top of these instrumentals, he delivers his message that inspires civil rights, or expresses the struggles of fame and depression. Kendrick draws a lot of his inspiration from 2Pac and the album itself is actually addressing 2Pac directly as all of these stories seem to be told to 2Pac himself. Kendrick is critical to hip-hop as not only having respectable and powerful music, but also having such a diverse use of musical choice that helps the listener live through and experience each song as he addresses a lot of relevant issues in America and the world as a whole. This is a legendary album.
That concludes this post from Mid-day cruise and maybe the last on for the year. Thank you for reading, and if you want to stay updated on more posts from me, like my page on.