The end/beginning of a year is usually a time of reflection and being a huge music lover, I like to reflect on some of my favorite projects from the past year. Varying reasons have kept me from keeping my ear to the streets (aka the innanets) like I want to but never the less, 2015 provided me with a plethora of dope projects that had me jamming all year long. I just wanted to briefly go over some of my favorites. My main forte is hip-hop so that is primarily what this list consist of, but I do have diverse interests. *Disclaimer* This is not intended to be a legit review of the albums so in no particular order:
Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth
Favorite Tracks: Body of Work, Little Death, Deliver
Man I am a huge Lupe fan, not to the extent that I was part of the coalition that threatened the label to release this project, but I’m glad it was released. I heard the original singles for the album that the label wanted him to put out, and although not terrible, it definitely would have not been as satisfying of as this album. What we have here is what some have called Lupe’s best body of work to date and I can’t really say I disagree. Tetsuo & Youth is Lupe doing what he does best, dope layered lines over amazing production that keeps you coming back for more and picking up something new each time.
TUT – Preacher’s Son
Favorite Tracks: Sheba, Sunday Service, Highs & Lows
This was a pleasant way to kick off the (old) New Year with an up and coming artist TUT, hailing from Chattanooga, TN. FYI, this is not a gospel album by any means if you couldn’t tell, definitely a parental advisory warning for this one. A way to describe it may be hood music with religious overtones, which is something I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate. TUT delivers music that both bumps and is introspective, if you think that’s not possible I suggest you pick up this album and get proven wrong. Bottom line, Preacher’s Son is soulful, real, and jammin’ which makes for perfect drinking and riding music. (But not at the same time, because you know, that would be bad)
Oddisee – The Good Fight
Favorite Tracks: That’s Love, Contradiction’s Maze, A List of Without
I’ve been familiar with Oddisee for years now, primarily on the production side, but I’ve never quite put his music in regular rotation. That was until I heard his joint with Phonte called Requim. At that moment I stopped sleeping and went through the bulk of his catalog, and everything the man puts out is on point. And The Good Fight is no exception. I cannot even begin to count the number of spins this album received from me and it’s not moving out of rotation anytime soon. The production is A-1 and Oddisee’s verses hit hard. In the words of Tigallo (and partially the title of this category) “Dope beats, dope rhymes…what more do yall want?”
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Favorite Tracks: Wesley’s Theory, Alright, u
Of course this album makes the list. This is one of the best/most important hip-hop albums of the year and then some. That’s more fact than fiction when you factor in all of the Grammy nominations (and hopefully wins). I’ll stay away from some of the discussion I’ve seen about the album being “too black” and apparently how some folk are seemingly apologetic for how uncomfortable it may be (foolishness), because that’s another post within itself. Bottom line, this is an extremely dope, original, and honest hip-hop album that is both a reflection of the artist and the state of things right now, which is what legendary music does. Bring home the Grammys K. Dot!!!
Andreya Triana – Giants
Favorite Tracks: Song for a Friend, Gold, It’s not Over
In recent years I’ve been branching out and listening to more soul/RnB music, as well as other genres, than I usually do. I like what I consider to be really strong and soulful voices, and what I found is that good ole London has them on deck! In 2014 I came across Andreya and became an instant fan, and patiently awaited the release of Giants. I built up some expectations and this album did not disappoint. Ms. Triana has a beautiful voice that I can’t get enough of and this album is a Sunday afternoon favorite. From the more upbeat songs like Gold or Superlove to ones that put you in your feels like Song for a Friend, this is a great album through and through. I like it so much I plan on purchasing it again to add to my wax collection soon.
The Internet – Ego Death
Favorite Tracks: Just Saying/I Tried, Girl, Special Affair
Mayne, this album is just so smooth! This was my first introduction to the group after hearing good things for about a month or two prior to me picking the project up. Some of the greatest joys in life; a mother’s love, large meat lover’s pizza, and discovering new dope music. Hearing great music is a treat within itself, but when I come across a new dope artist it’s just a bonus feeling of euphoria that’s hard to place. Even outside of that “newness filter” wearing off for the group, this is still a very dope project in itself. This is one of those joints that you just have to put on and let ride from beginning to end, put on repeat, and let ride again.
Jay Rock – 90059
Favorite Tracks: Gumbo, Money Trees Deuce, Easy Bake
TDE, Black Hippy, best rap crew out now hands down. I, and many others, have been awaiting Rock’s sophomore album for a quite some time (Follow Me Home is one of my favorite albums) and he delivers another tough album. Rock comes with the hard tracks that you can feel, street rap with a purpose if you will. I believe in one of his interviews he said something to the effect that he was playing with his voice more on the album, which is something I can appreciate. You can definitely hear the growth on this album and although this one will get plenty of love for a long time, I hope it doesn’t take quite as long for his next project.
Add-2 – Prey for the Poor
Favorite Tracks: Prey for the Poor, Kool-Aid, Stop Play Rewind
I’m a big fan of both 9th Wonder and Rapsody, but I’ve kind of been sleeping on the rest of the Jamla squad including Add-2. That is until now. I picked this one up kind of late, a little before Christmas, but it has gotten a ton of spins in that short amount of time. I love it from the more somber songs like “Good Mourning Black America” to the more upbeat joints like “Kool-aid”. This was a fresh way for me to end my year with a new dope artist to add to my watch list.
Lianne La Havas – Blood
Favorite Tracks: Midnight, Ghost, Green & Gold
Another one of those amazing voices from London I’m happy I stumbled across. She’s also on my list of women who get proposed to on-site when I see them. I’m absolutely infatuated with Lianne’s voice and I love the feel of this album. I find myself getting stuck replaying certain songs on this album because I just can’t get enough. She’s an artist that I’m definitely trying to catch performing live as soon as possible, I may have to travel a bit for it but I believe it will be worth it.
The Game – Documentary 2/2.5
Favorite Tracks: On Me, Don’t Trip, From Adam, Gang Related, My Flag
I’m pretty sure these are propaganda to recruit for Game’s blood gang, but I’m bool cool with that. Although these are technically two separate albums, I’m counting them as one but only in the interest of space. Truth is Game came with it on both albums so strong they have no problem standing alone as separate albums. Both albums bang and me and my boys were still bugging off the first one when we saw that he dropped a second one. Before these albums dropped I forgot how good of a rapper Game was and he showed us he’s more than just a name dropper but a legit spitter too.
Big K.R.I.T. – Better This Way
Ty $ – Free TC
Future – DS2
Skyzoo – Music for My Friends
Curren$y – Canal St. Confidential
Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show
Erykah Badu – But You Caint Use My Phone
Tell me what you thought of my list, and throw out some of your favorites as well.