It took a while for me to do, but here it is, finally!!~
Congratulations, Game Grumps, on reaching 3 million subscribers! You guys have grown so much ever since Arin and Jon started up the channel, and I can’t wait to see how much more the family will grow <3
Keep up the great work, and I hope to stay as one of the increasing 3 million until the day you all retire. c:
5. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don’t like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
If this list was ordered by album titles alone, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside would be #1. As Tyler the Creator continued his transformation to adolescent rap gremlin to the N.E.R.D cover band he always wanted to be, Earl Sweatshirt quietly released one of the darkest rap albums of the year.
Dropped in March with little warning or fanfare, I Don’t Like Shit is a claustrophobic trudge through the world of a young and talented misanthrope. Earl is more focused than ever as he floats through lumbering beats, narrating a life of self-imposed paranoia and solitude. Millions chanted the words “Free Earl” during his time at a Samoan obedience school but in post-release 2015, Earl sounds more trapped than ever.
Best track: Grief
4. Young Thug - Barter 6
2015 was Young Thug’s most prolific year yet and if you were to take the best tracks from his debut full-length album Barter 6, as well as his late-year mixtape series Slime Season 1 and 2, you’d have an easy contender for album of the year.
Unfortunately, Thugger’s rambling unpredictableness is both a blessing and a curse. On the Barter 6’s stand-out tracks, Thug proves why he’s one of the most talked about rappers in the game and shows a talent that shines beyond the discussions on his sexuality and fashion choices. “Yes I got a dress on, aint worried about that” he warbles in album highlight “Check” – all the controversy in the world doesn’t mean shit if you can’t deliver good music and Thugger’s all-or-nothing approach makes for an eclectic, if frustratingly flawed experience.
The album brushes up against greatness on several occasions, on the tracks With That, Constantly Hating, Check, Half Time and the album’s frenzied closer Just Might Be. These soaring highs also make the lows feel even lower – the album contains several average mixtape-quality songs and sub-par guest appearances that struggle to be heard over Thugger’s versatile kitchen-sink approach. But despite a bit of dead weight (which was also present on the otherwise excellent Slime Season 1 and 2), Barter 6 was a worthy entry and a good part of why Thugger was one of 2015’s shining stars.
Best track: With That
3. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
In a year where Dr Dre finally released his Not-Detox-But-as-Close-as-You’ll-Get album Compton, Kendrick Lamar managed to outshine his mentor in nearly every way in To Pimp A Butterfly, arguably the most important rap release of the year.
While Good Kid, mAAd City was a snapshot of Kendrick’s childhood in Compton, TPAB is a snapshot of the world right now. Kendrick takes an in-depth look at race relations in America and his own experiences as an African-American male growing up in poverty. Album highlights i and Alright has Kendrick giddily declare “I love myself!” and “We gon’ be alright!” but as some of the darker tracks on the album show, it took a long time to get there. Kendrick’s wrestling with his personal demons of self-doubt and corruption, along with the racism and poverty he sees in the black community on a daily basis, makes his well-earned announcements of pride and joy come from a place of struggle and sincerity rather than cheap feel-good platitudes.
Yes, it’s bloated. Yes, it’s not the kind of album you’ll return to again and again. But it still remains a seminal masterwork in the genre and a perfect summary of the current political climate surrounding the black community. If any other artist released this album it would probably remained as overlooked as, well, name any other social-politically rapper of the last decade. But Kendrick deserves to be heard – he’s earned his stripes.
Best track: The Blacker The Berry
2. A$AP Rocky - At Long Last A$AP
While Kendrick went in-depth in his exploration of modern social-political climates, A$AP Rocky took a more familiar approach with his 2015 effort. On At Long Last A$AP, Rocky treads several familiar subjects – having money, being famous, getting girls, being from the streets, still not afraid to hurt you if he needs to. Rocky, as he’s quick to remind you, is still that pretty motherfucker.
While this album might not break any new ground it comes at the #2 spot for one solid reason – over a lengthy 18-song track list, there are probably a total of two, maybe three songs worth skipping. That’s an incredible hit rate for any artist, especially in a genre known for padding albums with filler material.
A$AP Rocky might never recapture the magic of his first full-length mixtape but after his rather lacklustre debut album Long Live A$AP, A.L.L.A is a welcome step in the right direction. While it might not blow anyone’s socks off, it’s an incredibly solid listen from start to finish with a few shining moments. Bonus points go to Lil Wayne delivering the best verse on the year on M$.
Best track: Excuse Me
1. Future - DS2
If love is the greatest muse of all, DS2 was Future’s anti-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. After his very public divorce from R&B singer Ciara, Future came out with a string of excellent mixtapes which lead up to the defining moment of his career, even rap music this year.
“Tried to make me a
pop star, but they made a monster” Future sneers on album highlight I Serve The
Bass and that one line summarises everything he’s become. Peel off the
exorbitant amounts of money and women Future attracts on a daily basis and an
undertone of nihilism and unhappiness bleeds throughout. Future doesn’t just
take you to the party, he takes you through the early mornings of drunken
regret, remorse and paranoia, knowing fully well you’ll go through it all again
tomorrow. In Future’s world, the parties are endless but the consequences constantly
loom overhead like a sword of Damocles constructed from Styrofoam cups.
After a fairly disappointing
2014 for rap, Future flooded 2015 with no less than three fantastic mixtapes
(including a Drake collab) and one benchmark album, firmly firmly cementing his status at the top of one of hip hop’s
most exciting years. What a time to be alive, indeed.