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My Favorite Albums of 2015 (So Far)

To say 2015 has been an INCREDIBLE year for music is an understatement. Every other week has been just a haven and music fan’s dream coming to fruition, so much so that this is the first top list of albums I’ve made that ISN’T in a particular order! This list encompasses more than just hip hop as well mind you so there’s should be plenty for any music fan to enjoy here. Sound off below on any of your favorite jams this year as well if you think I missed any!

Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly

As abstract and bold as ever, K. Dot manages to completely reinvent himself within the landscape of hip hop and the ever changing image of black men in America throughout his journey of coming to terms with his identity, humanity, and status as a whole, nailing every single concept he lays forward with absolute perfection. Whether it’s the ignorance wobbles of “Hood Politics” the gut wrenching suicidal thought of “U” the politically charged anger of “The Blacker the Berry” or the false hope of “Alright”, Kendrick brings in a well molded perspective that is solely unique to him, yet remains singular in his own way.

Jamie XX — In Colour

Leave it to the producer of The XX to make me like song featuring Young Thug (“I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times”) and make one of the best electronic albums in recent memory. Warm and immediately accessible and electrifying with tons of satisfying depth to them that make each and every song rewarding, tracks like “Girl”, “Gosh” and songs with his XX cohorts (“Loud Places”, “SeeSaw”) will stick with you (and in your head) long after you finish playing them. Jamie took his sweet time recording this album enough to put one of the biggest indie pop outfits in the world on hold to do so, and was rewarded handsomely in the end.

Hiatus Kaiyote — Choose Your Weapon

An interesting but underdeveloped album with a Grammy nominated song featuring Q-Tip later, this Austrailian neo-soul outfit has managed to craft their own signature sound with a bliss ho-hum one second and blazing electronic synths in another. The warm energy of “Molasses” juxtaposed with the beatnik rhythms of “Atari” with the eclectic mashup of all styles in “Jekyll” can leave you breathless trying to catch up to it all, whether it’s their frantic energy, Nai Palms soulful and beautiful vocals (where it’s at her best on “Fingerprints”) or the ingenious lowkey single of the year in “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk”.

Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment — Surf

For those wanting more of Chance or more rapping, you gotta understand this: THIS IS NOT A CHANCE THE RAPPER ALBUM. However, it does bring Chance’s abundant joy into the mix with the debut of Surf. Tracks like “Just Wait” and “Slip Slide” showcase the other talent the group has to offer, while Chano shows no signs of faulting lyrically either, as “Miracle” and “Warm Enough” show that he’s more than apt to hang with some big stars (Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, J. Cole, Big Sean, Janelle Monae) in their space as well. Mixing live instrumentation with its eclectic styles keeps the record fresh throughout 52 minute listen.

Sufjan Stevens — Caroll & Lowell

Seven albums in, and not only has the most innovative indie singer-songwriter of his time manage to reinvent himself once again, but he brings forth what may be the best album of his career thus far His songwriting excellence shines once again on tracks like “The Only Thing” and “Should Have Known Better”, displaying the heartbreaking love Stevens had for his parents. Though the production is easily his most stripped down of his album, it’s this exact approach that makes it hit all the harder for it.

Vince Staples — Summertime ‘06

To think that a rapper who was only previously known for guest spots on an Odd Future record would make the best hip hop debut album since Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is still a wild concept itself, but even thinking his first album would be a double disc affair is even crazier. But as “Senorita”, “Norf Norf” and “Street Punks” are set to remind you, this record is serious business, and it’s even crazier that it all worked. No I.D. lends Vince some of his best production in years that hits you hard despite some songs being over in a flash.

Father John Misty — I Love You, Honeybear

Humorous and cynical, Josh Tillman’s knack for songwriting is still as great as ever. From the harmonic synths of “True Affection” to the soul influence of “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me”, the beautiful range shown throughout the album is one that immerses you instantly, and even a few that make you genuinely laugh at such politically charged tracks such as the self-deprecating humor of “Bored in the USA” (sitcom laugh track notwithstanding). The former Fleet Foxes bandmate has never sounded better.

A$AP Rocky — At.Long.Last.A$AP

After taking an extremely long break from the biz in London after exploding onto the scene (along with the surprising passing of his former mentor A$AP Yams), A$AP Rocky returns with his best commercial project yet with even crazier ideas, better songwriting and most spectacular production and guests to accompany him. From Miguel on “Everyday”, Danger Mouse as the executive producer, a reinvigorated Lil Wayne on “M’s”, Kanye West soulful production (and drunk ramblings) on “Jukebox Joints”, MIA on “Fine Whine” and even Mos Def closing it with “Back Home”, A.L.L.A. shows substantial growth while also retaining Flacko’s signature charm and flow as well. Excess that remain gully is the name of Rocky’s game and it’s never been better than it is here.

Leon Bridges — Coming Home

Music revival is one of the slipperiest slopes to cross in this day and age, as it can either win you acclaim or date your music and reputation from the start. Fortunately, Leon Bridges translates this old school love into a great album from start to finish. As the title track “Coming Home” transports you back to where artists like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding were surpreme, Leon makes the environment crackle like the jukebox it and other songs like “Lisa Sawyer” and “River” were meant to be played in.

Earl Sweatshirt — I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Ever the loner in Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt releases his 2nd studio album that manages to be bleaker and more interesting than his preceding album. Surprisingly well produced by himself throughout (along with one Left Brain credit) songs like “Grief”, “Mantra” and another scene stealing Vince Staples verse on “Wool” create a dark atmosphere for a more livelier sounding, monotone-free Earl to showcase his lyricism and cynicism in one fell swoop.

Drake — If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late

Easily his most aggressive and confident sounding album to date, Drizzy managed to shock his audience with an album that nearly reinvents his sound while knowing what still can pull in radio plays at the same time. Whether it’s the hyperactive “Energy”, the catchy melody of “6 Man” and “10 Bands” or sheer boastfulness of “Used To”, “Legend” or “6 God”, Drake leaves no expense into making this project (still unclear what it should be referred to) one that may even be bigger than the album he on the way later this year.

Miguel — Wildheart

As Miguel opens the album with the words “Accept the new, don’t mingle on the “past”, Miguel manages to reinvent himself and blend a myriad of styles into one of the best R&B albums since Channel Orange. Breaking into bad boy gangsta of “NWA” with an appropriate verse from Kurupt, the disco like groove of “DEAL”, the sexy rhythms of “Coffee” and the Jai Paul produced “FLESH”, and his varied songwriting from the expressive freedoms of “A Beautiful Exit” or the aggressive, hilarious lyrics about wanting to fuck like they’re being filmed for a porno in “the valley”, Miguel’s idiosyncratic style knows no bounds, not even to himself.

Shamir — Ratchet

Shamir is one in a long line of pop aficionados (Charli XCX, M.I.A.) that is quietly reinventing the approach to the genre. However, it’s the dark and wonky sound that songs like “Call It Off” and “On the Regular”, the downtempo and melancholy feel of “Youth” and downright madness of “Make A Scene” make this an album that betrays normal pop conventions that embraces all the sleaze but shows that more emotional moments such as “In For The Kill” that help the fellow Vegas native wear his heart on his sleeve.

Oddisee — The Good Fight

Oddisee has always shown his strength as a producer yet always faulted on his rapping. Though as the song “That’s Love” shows, Oddisee has been hard at work trying to master his hands at both. “Want Something Done” highlight his frantic flow, with “A List of Withouts” bang some new age boom bap in many coming-of-age tales. Blissful, ambitious, and consistent throughout, The Good Fight sharpens his jazzy, free formed flow that leave him only more room to grow from.

In making the film itself a virtual consciousness, Nitoslawska and her team help us experience Schneemann’s profound difference as both an artist and a woman of her generation. Whereas many other groundbreaking artists around her looked to experimentation and theory as discrete elements and processes in the formation of their ideas and art, Schneemann seems to merge with phenomena and mind as organic wholes not to be broken down, but rather to be refashioned into new intertwining ways of experiencing them. 

G. Roger Denson writes for the Huffington Post about Breaking the Frame, a film by Marielle Nitoslawska about the art and life of Carolee Schneemann (AP Mentor).