Jones's Top 5 Albums of 2015
2015 was a huge year for music. My personal genre of choice, rap, saw several of its biggest artists release projects. With Spotify by my side, which allowed me to listen to as many albums as I wanted without paying for them individually (thank you, Spotify), I was able to analyse much more albums than usual this year. With so many to choose from, I have decided to compile and share my favorites. The albums below were all released in 2015, and I have provided an abridged review of the album in its ranking.
I have excluded their ratings as with this list, I ranked my decisions based on the “decimal” of the album I enjoyed, rounded to the nearest full number (eg. 9/12 track = 0.75 = 8/10). I then decided to switch rankings, based on my gut feeling of which albums I admired best conceptually, aesthetically or as a whole, making numerical ratings irrelevant.
Jay Rock – 90059
TDEs perhaps least publicized member released his first album in a few years. Using mostly his Top Dawg friends for features, 90059 is a gritty look at West Coast Hip Hop with some modern influence instrumentally, and an overall collection of great tracks. From the aggressive title-track “90059”, to the humourous, yet hype Black Hippy Posse Cut, “Vice City”, 90059 is a worthy listen.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance): “Easy Bake” (feat. Kendrick Lamar & SZA), “90059”, “Vice City” (feat. Black Hippy)
Least Favourite Song: “Wanna Ride” (feat. Isaiah Rashad)
Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise
G.O.O.D. Music’s Big Sean returned this year with a more artistically ambitious album than he’d released at any point in time before. Including features from industry heavyweights, Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and more, DSP is a star-studded album, which showcases what Big Sean is capable of.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance): “Blessings” (feat. Drake), “Deep” (feat. Lil Wayne), “Outro”
Least Favourite Song: “Stay Down”
The Top Five Albums of 2015:
5. Schama Noel – Ear Candy EP
Orlando MC Schama Noel released the Ear Candy EP this year, a collection of electronic inspired “bangers” for him to perform on tour. This short but sweet project does not disappoint, providing us with brag rap, inspirational songs and Schama’s classic method of introspection about relationships he’s been in. Altogether, Ear Candy is a bright, energetic showcase of Schama’s lyrical skill.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance): “Lady’s Man”, “All Rappers Suck Except Me”, “Can’t Be Broke Down” (feat. Courtlin Jabrae)
Least Favourite Song: “Game On Lock”
4. Spazzy D – The Nile EP
Spazzy D’s EP, The Nile, is an offering of music that is both soulful and impressive, with cascading flows and relaxed, acoustic instrumentals surrounding the motif of water. With only one feature, which is Slyrex on the hook to “Waterfalls”, The Nile acts as a deeply personal look into Spazzy’s life and emotions.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance): “Drown Me”, “Waterfalls” (feat. Slyrex), “Awake”
Least Favourite Song: “H2O”
3. Pusha T - King Push – Darkest Before Dawn, The Prelude
Acting as a musical pre-game for Pusha T’s 2016 LP, Darkest Before Dawn is a solid mixture of quality guest features, ruthless instrumentals and Pusha T’s raw lyrics. From the unorthodox drum patterns of the lyrically vicious “Untouchable” to the Kehlani’s powerful hook on “Retribution”, Darkest Before Dawn has me excited for what’s next.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance): “Intro”, “Untouchable”, “F.I.F.A.”
Least Favourite Song: “Sunshine” (feat. Jill Scott)
2. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside
To say Earl Sweatshirt’s career path has been an interesting one would be more than accurate. From his exile to Samoa to his rise to rap stardom with Odd Future, Earl has been through a lot in his young life. On IDLSIDGO, Earl delivers a follow-up to 2013’s Doris, and it does not disappoint. From it’s dark, heavy instrumentals to its rhyme-scheme-heavy lyrics, Earl shows us the dark side of fame, struggles with family, and the ugly vices of substance abuse.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance): “Huey”, “Off Top, Wool”
Least Favourite Song: “Mantra”
1. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
It was a major surprise when Drake released a “Retail Mixtape” suddenly in March of 2015. IYRTITL shows us a new Drake, one that is harder, more experienced and more understanding of the industry he’s a part of. With its collection of very plain, sample-based instrumentals, Drake showcases his singing and improved rapping chops. The result is a very balanced Mixtape full of the “bangers” and introspection we’ve come to expect from the 6ix God. This mixtape also provides a huge batch of Twitter quotables, as per usual, which have reigned over the Internet for much of this year. Altogether, IYRTITL leaves me excited to see what Drake will do in the near future.
Favourite Songs (In order of appearance):” Legend”, “Energy”, “10 Bands”, “Star67”, “Company” (feat. Travis Scott), “Jungle”, “6PM in New York”
Least Favourite Song: “Wednesday Night Interlude”