Without a doubt, 2015 was a fantastic year for Hip-Hop music. Almost everyone’s favourite rapper (from Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, Earl Sweatshirt – to name a few) released a new album. We celebrate not only the mainstream few (named above), but additionally, an eclectic mix of honorable mentions (for good measure).
What was your favorite Hip-Hop album of 2015? Let us know your favorites in the comments.
Read our favourite albums of 2015.
The Worst Hip-Hop Album:
Tyga – The Gold Album
The Best Hip Hop Albums – Honourable Mentions:
Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth
Tyler, the Creator – Cherry Bomb
Wale – The Album About Nothing
Boosie Badazz – Touch Down 2 Cause Hell
Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful
Jadakiss – Top 5 Dead or Alive
Dreamville – Revenge Of The Dreamers II
The Game – Documentary 2
Travis Scott – Rodeo
Meek Mill – Dreams Worth More Than Money
Young Thug – Barter 6
Goldlink – And After That, We Didn’t Talk
JME – Integrity>
Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise
Logic – The Incredible True Story
Jay Rock – 90059
Fetty Wap – Fetty Wap
Joey Badass – B4.DA.$$
Freddie Gibbs – Shadow of a Doubt
Ghostface Killah & Badbadnotgood – Sour Soul
The Best Hip Hop Albums of 2015:
15. Drake & Future – What a Time to Be Alive
One has to marvel at the wonderful age of hip hop we live in. An age where a former child actor from Toronto and an auto-tuned lean addict from Atlanta can come together to create something truly incredible.
What a Time to Be Alive indeed.
Drake and Future balance each other brilliantly on a collaborative project that keeps riding the wave of success two of hip hip’s brightest stars have endured in 2015.
14. Mick Jenkins – Waves
One of Chicago-based-rapper Mick Jenkins’ greatest gifts as an MC is his incredible knack for coming up with brilliantly complex themes that instantly grabs your attention. Jenkins takes abstract theories and relates them to some of life’s most important questions.
On Wave[s], Jenkin’s creates sonically a more upbeat universe, unlike his previous bodies of work that should solidify him among the ranks as one of hip-hops most important new rappers.
13. Mac Miller – GO:OD AM
GO:OD AM is the third studio album from Mac Miller, which sees him delving deeper into the more mature sound he cultivated on Watching Movies with the Sound Off.
There’s a definite sense of growth on GO:OD AM, Mac is no longer the goofball kid that caused a commotion kissing pop star Ariana Grande in 2013. He’s also not in a place of darkness and despair that was at times apparent on Watching Movies with the Sound Off and while GO:OD AM has moments of melancholy, Mac is clearly in a happier mental space in 2015.
The best things GO:OD AM does is combine elements of the humorous and fun-loving kid on Blue Slide Park and the hip hop aficionado on Watching Movies with the Sound Off. Mac Miller’s clever raps have never sounded better over a refined production that compliments his sounds to the fullest. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about the album but its beauty is in the simplicity and ease with which Mac delivers track after track.
12. Dr. Dre – Compton
Dr. Dre’s official return to music was entitled “Compton: A Soundtrack” but we may as well refer to it as Detox, the much-anticipated album from Dre that never came. Rather than release rap’s equivalent of Chinese Democracy, Dr. Dre chose to drop his collection of tracks to coincide with the release of Straight Outta Compton. The move was reflective more of Dr. Dre the business man, than it was Dr. Dre the producer; however, the tracks therein proved The Doc still has it after all these years. Peppered with features from some of rap’s best, Compton: A Soundtrack even features the biggest shot fired during 2015’s great untold rap beef, by none other than Kendrick Lamar. “Motha fucka know I started from the bottom…”
11. G-Eazy – When It’s Dark Outside
As the album’s name suggests, When It’s Dark Out is filled with dark hazy productions that perfectly compliment the young rapper from the Bay. G-Eazy oozes confidence throughout the album with slick rhymes and introspective storytelling; the listener feels like they personally know the emcee. Familiar themes such as Sex, Drugs and
Rock n Roll Rap are littered throughout the album without sounding cliché or stale. Simply put, G-Eazy is “the coldest white rapper in the game since the one with the bleached hair.”
10. Donnie Trumpet & Chance The Rapper – Surf
Surf is a unique musical project. On the surface, it seems like Chance The Rapper’s second album. However, upon further inspection this is hardly a project that focusses on the vocal stylings of one Chancellor Bennett, but rather leverages the diverse talent to be found in the Social Experiment band, namely Donnie Trumpet. His is the first name on the bill, after all. And on songs like “Slip Slide” and “Familiar” listeners should be quick to understand why. The blend of sounds on ‘Surf’ is different that one could expect from Chance The Rapper or Donnie Trumpet alone, but their collaboration together has produced something beautiful.
9. A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.A$AP
In the two years since his debut, A$AP Rocky has gone through a multitude of life changes. He became a cultural icon – from fashion to acting Rocky has always been destined for success. Leading up the release of the album, A$AP Rocky stated that At.Long.Last.A$AP would be expansive, psychedelic and full of life – he was not lying. The lyrics are deeper; traversing through topics on religion, love, culture, youth, and inspirations. At.Long.Last.A$AP is a great experimental Hip-Hop album showcasing the evolution of A$AP Rocky and cementing his position as one of Hip-Hops brightest stars.
8. Future – Dirty Sprite 2
2015 without a doubt has been Future’s biggest year as a musician – he released his third studio album Dirty Sprite 2, countless solo mixtape’s, What A Time To Be Alive – the joint mixtape with Drake and sold out shows across the continent, to name a few of his highlights. Dirty Sprite 2 is filled with Future’s signature codeine laced, melodic trap sound and the results are amazing. Future goes back to his roots and showcases why he’s one of the best entertainers today.
7. Pusha T – King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude
King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, is Pusha T’s best solo work to date. He has the ability to paint vivid pictures when he rhymes, which instantly pulls you into his world. The album features 10 excellent dark and honest songs with no fillers. Darkest Before Dawn is Pusha doing what he does best by rapping his ass off, delivering bar after bar over excellent production.
6. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Although technically a mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late shows Drake at the top of his game. It’s more aggressive but always honest – Drake is charged up and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is a statement that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s filled with hazy production, club anthems, and showcases Drake enjoying his moment on top of the rap world. Since it’s surprise release, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late has been the topic of conversation for many hip-hop fans – from the Drake ghostwriting allegations to the questioning of Drake’s greatness, one thing is for certain (whatever your views maybe) this is one of the 2015’s great albums. What a time to be alive and to be a Drake fan!
5. Rae Sremmurd – SremmLife
Rae Sremmurd was 2015’s most surprising act. The brother duo came out of the shadows and stole your favourite rappers shine with their outstanding debut album, SremmLife. The chemistry between the two is electric; their lyrics are witty, the delivery is energetic – backed by the pulsing beats of super producer MikeWillMadeIt, the stars were aligned in Rae Sremmurd’s favor. This is fun, raw Hip-Hop at it finest.
4. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Get Outside is a short and dark album at just 10-songs and clocking in under 30 minutes it makes Illmatic seem like a double-disk feature. It is filled with a very moody and atmospheric production that has hints of soul and jazz. The minimalistic approach blends perfectly with Earl Sweatshirt’s druggy, introspective lyrics. Here Earl is brutally honest; he raps about his darkest demons from his relationship with his mother, a breakup, his depression and drug use. The albums gloomy subject matter will never be for everyone. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Get Outside is best listened on your own, without distractions, where you can fully digest the lyrics. It may take a few spins, but it definitely grows on you.
3. Oddisee – The Good Fight
Just press play…
2.Vince-Staples – Summertime ’06
As another California native, Vince Staples has thrived in Kendrick Lamar’s shadow. Whereas King Kunta calls Compton home, Staples is a Long Beach rapper worthy of his own lane. From the moment the gun goes off to begin “Lift Me Up”, Summertime 06’ ts a relentless assault of dense beats stamped with Staples’ stick-and-move flow. “Norf Norf”, “Birds And The Bees”, and “Loca” are all part of a very strong A-side on one of the year’s best surprises in hip hop.
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
To Pimp A Butterfly is resolute in its sonic, thematic, and emotional mélange. Many seminal rap albums have reverentially appropriated historical works of genius like Bitches Brew, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Live At The Apollo, Maggot Brain, and 125th and Lenox. Instead of paying homage, Kendrick Lamar up and amalgamates these records in an hour-and-twenty-minute paroxysm. Perhaps no album to date has done it so completely and prolifically. It is frenetic, and unnerved, and tempestuous—a stupefying odyssey through a glut of torment, injustice, and creeping self-doubt. The whole affair feels like more than Kendrick Lamar’s statement album. It feels perhaps like the 21st century’s most well constructed and ubiquitous musical documentation of one black man’s struggle in America.