5 Hip-Hop Albums You Should Listen To Before The End Of 2015
by Jonathan Diego
2015 has certainly been an eventful year for the world of Hip-Hop. After what some would consider a down year for Hip-Hop in 2014, much was expected in 2015. And for the most part this year has delivered a bunch of solid albums, with a few surprises as well.
Plenty of Hip Hop releases in 2015 have made waves throughout the music world, with big artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and A$AP Rocky, among others of course, topping charts and dominating the relatively-new frontier of music streaming. This year has also seen some artists rise to ridiculous new levels of fame (Fetty Wap, Future, and Bryson Tiller come to mind), and has given us releases from artists we haven’t heard from in quite some time (more on that in a bit). This year has been stuffed full of new albums and mixtapes from a lot of people, and it’s a lot to digest.
The goal of this list is not to rank the five best albums of 2015 (that’s a debate that I do not want to throw myself into), but rather this is a list of five suggestions. Whether you’ve already heard these albums completely or not, I encourage you to take some time and listen through each album (or at least to the one-song sample platter that I will provide after discussing each album) before the . This list was compiled with the goal of showcasing how diverse and unique each album is compared to the next, and it is arranged in no particular order as well.
- Rae Sremmurd- Sremmlife
Released: January 6th, 2015
What a way to start the year. This album, featuring two brothers from Mississippi that decided to name their rap group by spelling their home label’s name backwards, is a solid debut in the wake of what many thought would be a one hit wonder, No Flex Zone. Following the tried-and-true formula of rapping about money, women, and partying, coupled with solid production and a few catchy hooks, SremmLife takes the listener on a wild wide with two boys from the South, and at no point when I first heard this album did I want to get off. Songs from this album have been echoed from within houses, mansions, clubs, and sporting arenas across the nation, and will continue to dominate party and warm-up playlists for years to come. To quote Rembert Browne: “SremmLife is Crunk 2.0. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”
Featured song: No Type
- Dre- Compton, The Soundtrack
Released: August 7th, 2015
Dear Dr. Dre,
It’s been quite a while, huh? Fun Fact: The last time you released a full album, I was spending a majority of my time throwing toys around my living room while jumping around in Superman pajamas. Thank you for being so inspired by the production of Straight Outta Compton that you decided to drop a whole new album straight out of Apple Music. Not only did you manage to create even more publicity for one of the best films to come out this year, but you finally delivered new music after years and years of people clamoring for Detox. Thank you for reminding everyone who listens to this album that Xzibit isn’t just a meme that people can google, but a multi-faceted rapper that can deliver a kick-ass guest verse when called upon. This album is an excellent victory lap and a solid ending to your storied career as one of hip hop’s most influential and talented producers. Well done.
Featured Song: Deep Water (featuring, in my opinion, the best verse of 2015, courtesy of Kendrick Lamar)
- Joey Badass- B4.Da.$$
Released: January 20th, 2015
I’m a sucker for smooth, laidback hip hop, which is why I enjoy Joey Badass and his debut mixtape, 1999, a lot. He followed that up with Summer Knights, taking a more aggressive approach with his lyrics and flow, and it worked on some levels, but many fans yearned for Joey to offer a unique take on the old-school rap that influences his music rather than simply re-creating it. With B4.Da.$$ (solid title by the way), Joey has managed to mix the smooth and soulful aspect of 1999 with the different flows he exhibited in Summer Knights in a way that blends together in a cohesive album, but at the same time gives each song a unique flavoring. This album is perfect to play as background music while you’re doing chores or going for a late-night drive.
Fun Fact: Joey is only 20 years old (right now as of the publishing of this article). I hope this means that he has plenty more music in store for us.
Featured song: Paper Trail$
- Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
Released: March 15th, 2015
This year’s magnum opus is also the follow-up to Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut album that introduced him to the world as the latest king of west coast hip hop. He has solidified that position with this latest offering, and offered a complex look at what it’s like to be a successful African-American in today’s world. This is a huge project to digest as a music consumer, and it definitely took me a few listens to really appreciate and understand what Kendrick Lamar is saying to me. This album has the most memorable intro and ending of 2015, and the samples and layers of different music presented come together to deliver something truly special. While this album isn’t one that you can listen to casually, there are some songs that can hold their own outside of this album. If you appreciate thoughtful spoken word, funk, and jazz, this album has your name written all over it.
Featured song: These Walls
- A$AP Rocky- At.Long.Last.A$AP
Released: May 26th, 2015
I will admit that I was a little skeptical after hearing most of this album for the first time, outside of the singles that were released before the album dropped (Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2, Everyday, and L$D). Out of all the albums on this list, this one took the longest to grow on me, and it definitely took me a while to get used to listening to a laid back A$AP Rocky, as opposed to the A$AP Rocky that encouraged me to disregard being polite in order to be wild for the night. It’s nice to see Rocky show some progression on this album, but it can be pretty hit or miss, depending on what you expect coming into this album. On a side note, I would appreciate this project a lot more if Kanye re-did his verse/outro on Jukebox Joints, because it sounds like he scribbled that verse on the back of a napkin right before showing up to record with Rocky. However, all things considered, this album is another example of excellent background music, and since I’m a sucker for smooth hip hop, it was bound to grow on me at some point. I bought into the vibe that Rocky was curating with this album, and with it’s ups and downs, it makes for one of the more unique albums I’ve heard in 2015.
Featured song: Everyday