Welcome to The Odd Side, a column that explores the effects of Hip Hop’s transformation through new sounds.
2015 was such a good year in music. With many artists who’ve either planned to release their project or just dropped when they felt like it, we were blessed with a plethora of projects that prospered through unique production, a new approach to sound, or even progression from a prior album. This is why The Odd Side exists, to show where the sound Hip Hop (and music in general) is going . So to celebrate the new year, these 10 albums are best because they all succeeded in being both progressive musically and just really good to hear.
Here are the Odd Side’s 10 Best Albums of 2015:
A$AP Rocky – A.L.L.A.
Although ASAP Yams passed away long before At.Long.Last.A$AP released, there’s a good chance that the ASAP Worldwide Co-founder is smiling from the other side. A$AP Rocky’s second major-label project succeeds off of his unique blend of southern rap flair and New York hip hop bars, added with a new psychological addition to his production this time around. A.L.L.A. shows just how deep and dark Rocky can get with his music, using new sounds and dark times to tell the illustrate the struggles that come with his steady rise to become an A-list rap star.
Goldlink – And After That, We Didn’t Talk
When Goldlink first announced his newest project during his Washington, DC performance in July, we were excited to see where the star would take his sound. When the DMV rapper’s album And After That, We Didn’t Talk dropped in November, it did more than meet expectations. This album solidified the Goldlink’s futuristic twists to hip-hop and R&B beats, while also showing progress in the way he projects it by adding more of a vocal element to a plethora of his songs. With the help of radio show/record label Soulection backing the Link’s project, And After That, We Didn’t Talk is a step in the right direction for this up-and-coming artist.
D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah
Everyone was surprised when D’Angelo showed up with an announcement that Black Messiah would drop soon. In only one weekend started from possibly releasing to actually being available that Sunday night. What followed that faithful weekend was an entire album that cooks up a fresh combination of funk, soul, and rock to take on the racial injustice the way Funkadelic did with their album Maggot Brain in the past. Black Messiah proved that over 13 years of absence would not stop D’Angelo from creating incredible music. The album featured a vibe very similar to his past projects, but the raw addition of hard rock brings a new vibe to his sound, and fans loved it. Add that with lyrics that are meant to uplift our people at such a pivotal time, and you have a classic.
Mick Jenkins – Wave[s]
When Mick Jenkins arrived on the rap scene with his debut project The Water[s], listeners were intrigued with the Chicago rapper’s lyrical talent over a plethora of unique beats. Jenkins’ new project Wave[s] had only kicked things up two notches. Linking up with Kaytranada, one of the hottest producers in the Soundcloud music scene, for a plethora of tracks off of the album, Wave[s] succeeds in providing a new way of supplying super dope futuristic beats with the bars to match.
The Internet – Ego Death
The Internet’s music has always been a received generally okay reviews from critics, but beloved by fans. However, Ego Death might be the album that finally gets the love that it deserves. While being yet another act to use the production of Kaytranada for the incredibly dope single “Girl”, Ego Death manages to keep you grooving to their smooth vibes all throughout the album. Although there are some features included with this album, Syd’s vocals along with the band’s performance throughout Ego Death takes center-stage.
Bryson Tiller – T R A P S O U L
Bryson Tiller’s hit single “Don’t” flourished in popularity in 2015, but his album T R A P S O U L overshadows it. If you haven’t heard his album, drop everything you’re doing to give it a listen. This Louisville singer succeeds from singing and rapping over a plethora of hard-hitting beats and extravagent samples. Songs like “Rambo”, “Sorry Not Sorry,”Exchange,” and “Been That Way” are only a few golden hits off of this 14-track masterpiece, some of them possibly make “Don’t” a second thought once you hear T R A P S O U L in its entirety.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
This should be no surprise to many. If D’Angelo’s album is getting on this list, there is no doubt that To Pimp A Butterfly would end up being consider one of the best albums of the year on our column. Not only did Kendrick bring new Funk elements to his sophomore major label album, the Compton rapper had the balls to release one of the blackest albums in modern music. He even manage to link up with a plethora of dope artists including Rapsody, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, George Clinton, and Bilal. To Pimp A Butterfly successfully does what other rap albums in 2015 couldn’t do, drop a critically acclaimed album fueled by a powerful message of self-love and pro-blackness.
Future – DS2
DS2 is an album that finally shows where Future is going with his music. It took the Atlanta rapper two attempts to get it right, and third time was definitely the charm. From the memorial introduction to “Thought It Was A Drought” to notable bangers like “Trap Niggas” and “Where Ya At,” DS2 is goes back to the rawness of Future’s mixtape days, yet still shows the progression of his sound.
Shamir – Ratchet
I know that there’s a chance I might some flack for adding this album on the list, compared to the many dope rap albums that have dropped this year. However, Ratchet is one stumble on Spotify that quickly earned its position on this list respectfully. This Las Vegas singer’s new album is super dope, using 80’s electronic synths to follow Shamir’s surprisingly high vocals. “On the Regular” and “Hot Mess” are two trademark songs to get you grooving throughout this short, yet colorful album. Ratchet is proves to be a seriously dope break from the normal rap albums that may be in your rotation.
Robb Banks – Year of The Savage
It took two years for Robb Bank$ to drop his highly anticipated album Year of the Savage, but it was worth the wait. From beginning to end, YOTS provides 12 tracks of nothing but super savage lyrics and tons of yelling all throughout. With beats from a small group of producers including Zaytoven, Nuri, and Nuez, the album maintains a dark vibe that bursts with southern flair. Bank$’ lyrics may be a little intense for those with soft ears, but this Broward county, Florida rapper still supplies the bars, nonetheless.
Honorable Mentions: Ibeyi – Ibeyi, The Internet – Ego Death, Haitus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon, Big Grams (Phantogram x Big Boi) – Big Grams, Onra – Fundamentals, Raury – All We Need, Travi$ Scott – Rodeo