Unlike last year, 2015 was a great one for music.
The meh residue of 2014 quickly disappeared and 2015 emerged as a permanent no flex zone populated by big blessings, pimpin’ butterflies, and a dope band called the ‘Bama Shakes.
From comebacks to clapbacks, 2015 presented itself as a very interesting year for music. Not only did Meek Mill get “bodied by a singing n*gga,” but Adele came through in the fourth quarter with 30 seconds on the clock and dropped the highest-selling album of 2015.
Most of our list consists of veterans who are maintaining their reign, but there are a few debuts that’ll solidify the game for newcomers like Bryson Tiller and Rae Sremmurd. This year was almost too good to be true, and these are the artists that made some memorable music moments.
Check out the 15 best albums of 2015.
15. A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.A$AP
Released: May 26, 2015
When A$AP Rocky dropped his “Multiply” video in October 2014, it was a warning shot that the A$AP Mob was returning for a 2015 takeover. But then their founder Steven “A$AP Yams” Rodriguez was found dead of an accidental overdose, and the Harlem-rooted hip-hop collective was paralyzed with devastation. Thankfully, Rocky and the rest of the Mob pulled themselves up by their boot straps and moved on with the releases the “Puerto Rican R. Kelly” meticulously planned for months. Despite bittersweet sentiments surrounding the album’s release, A.L.L.A. exhibited Rocky’s growth as an artist and a rapper. Songs like “LPFJ2” and “Electric Body” reminded us why we fell in love with Rocky, but songs like “L$D” and “Everyday” reminded us that Rocky’s a moody ever-changing artist influenced by art, fashion, and anguish.
14. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf
Released: May 28, 2015
Who knew Chance The Rapper had so many talented friends? Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment made an album that’s indicative of their love for music. Not to mention, the album boasted some pretty dope features from heavyweights like Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, J. Cole, Janelle Monae, Big Sean, and newcomers like D.R.A.M. Surf is a fun album, made by fun people, who have fun making music. The end.
13. Justin Bieber – Purpose
Released: November 11, 2015
Some of the artists on our list went through some trying times, but no one had growing pains like Justin Bieber. Between his legal troubles and obnoxious behavior, Justin Bieber found himself focusing on everything but what made him famous – the music. Somewhere in between peeing in a mop bucket and egging his neighbor’s house, Justin dropped a great R&B project called Journals, but unfortunately, it was overlooked by the general public. Fast forward two years and Justin dropped one of the best albums this year. With songs like “Sorry” and “What Do You Mean?,” Bieber managed to revive not only his image (sort of), but also our faith.
12. Adele – 25
Released: November 21, 2015
Talk about long overdue. After a four-year hiatus, Adele returned with a power ballad titled “Hello” and all hell broke loose. Not only did Adele sell over a million single copies of “Hello,” but she went on to move four million units in a mere three weeks. Despite being the highest-selling album in 2015, 25 fell short of the hype and lacked the melodramatic greatness of 21. Still a solid piece of work, but when you’re Adele, solid isn’t always good enough.
11. Bryson Tiller – T R A P S O U L
Released: October 2, 2015
Bryson Tiller’s debut project is the perfect marriage between hip-hop and R&B, hence the name, T R A P S O U L. After his breakout single “Don’t” leveraged him as a legitimate artist and not just a Soundcloud singer, the Louisville native found himself negotiating with Drake for a record deal and collaborating with legendary producer Timbaland. Bryson ended up turning down Drake’s OVO deal, but it all worked out. RCA Records backed the singer/rapper’s album and it became a year-end banger with great songs like “Exchange,” “Sorry Not Sorry,” and “Let Em Know.”
10. Travi$ Scott – Rodeo
Released: September 4, 2015
It’s been a long time coming, but Travi$ Scott finally released his debut album this year, and boy, was it a hell of a ride. Similar to his shows, Travi$ takes his listeners on a rollercoaster of dark emotion and aggression. The album’s breakout single “Antidote” served as an introduction to the album’s overwhelming theme of sonic onslaughts. Trav’s biggest cosign comes from Yeezus himself, and despite his polarizing reputation, Rodeo confirms there’s so much more to learn about the kid behind the plaits.
9. Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise
Released: February 24, 2015
After releasing a shockingly mediocre album (Hall Of Fame) in 2013, many people were worried Big Sean had officially been cursed by the “sophomore slump.” But the fact is, Big Sean’s actually a good rapper. The Detroit emcee went back to the drawing board and delivered one of the best singles of 2014 with his E-40-assisted “IDFWU” and kept the momentum going with the arrival of “Blessings” featuring Drake and Kanye West. With two mega singles under his belt, Big Sean released Dark Sky Paradise, which single-handedly restored hope in those who were ready to write Big Sean off. Dark Sky Paradise should be called “The Revival,” because that’s exactly what it did for Sean’s career.
8. The Internet – Ego Death
Released: June 26, 2015
It was a great year for music, but an even better year for R&B. Odd Future sub-collective The Internet delivered one of the best R&B albums of 2015. Ego Death is jazz, funk, soul, and classic R&B wrapped tightly in an unsuspecting package. Between Matt Martian and the band’s melodic instrumentation, Syd’s soft vocals, and melodramatic subject matter, Ego Death is a special project.
7. Rae Sremmurd – SremmLife
Released: January 6, 2015
Who knew hip-hop would get a revamped version of Kriss Kross in 2015, but thanks to Mike WiLL Made-It’s good ear for talent, we met Rae Sremmurd. The two brothers from Tupelo, Mississippi released viral singles “No Flex Zone” and “No Type” back in 2014, but it wasn’t until their LP SremmLife hit store shelves in January, that the world realized these boys can party and make great music to go alongside. From the beginning to the end, Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi dropped 11 flawlessly infectious songs. The playback value on this album is an absolute ten, but unfortunately, it lacks depth. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty good debut album.
6. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
Released: April 21, 2015
Sound & Color is the most fitting title on this entire list. Alabama Shakes is one of those bands that you’ve been hearing about all year, and if you haven’t downloaded their album, it’s never too late to fall in love with Brittany Howard’s retro soul-inspired vocals. Sound & Color is passionate, emotional, downright nostalgic, and undeniably feel good. If you truly enjoy soul music at its most basic form, Sound & Color will satisfy your spiritual needs.
5. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
Released: June 30, 2015
All we have to say about this album: slept on. Vince Staples, who’s garnered popularity for being the cute, funny rapper from Long Beach, actually dropped a commendable project. Don’t know how he did it, but Vince managed to create and cram 20 songs (technically a double disc album) in under an hour. And while any title with the word “summertime” in it sounds like a jolly good time, Summertime ’06 is far from that. Vince reports live from the f*cking gutter (word to Future) and the reality of shouting out what’s happening on the streets can be heavy. For a kid so charming, Summertime ’06 proves that Vince is more dynamic than his witty internet persona reveals.
4. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
Released: August 28, 2015
Thank God for sophomore albums. The Weeknd burst onto the music scene in 2011 as an elusive crooner obsessed with sex, drugs, and dysfunctional love. Not much has changed, but the 25-year-old singer/songwriter has figured out how to make his dark underground anthems into pop hits. The first ten songs on Beauty Behind The Madness are honestly flawless. From the freebie tune “Often” to his seductive mega smash “Earned It,” Beauty Behind The Madness is just a glimpse of The Weeknd’s potential to become the “King of P*ssy Pop” or in laymen’s terms, a “Freaky Michael Jackson.”
3. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Released: February 13, 2015
Besides Beyonce and Frank Ocean, who else in the urban world could drop a surprise album and sell a million copies? The answer is Aubrey “Drake” Graham. Being a true team player, Drake blessed the nation during NBA All-Star Weekend with 17-tracks of shade, swag talk, and quotables. What we didn’t know was that If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late would be the prelude to Drake having a phenomenal year in music. Although we still don’t have Views From The 6, between IYRTITL, WATTBA, and “Hotline Bling,” we’ll be OK until mid-2016.
2. Future – DS2
Released: July 17, 2015
If Kendrick Lamar didn’t release To Pimp A Butterfly this year, Future would’ve had the number one spot. Not only did the Atlanta rapper drop one of the most influential hip-hop albums of 2015, but he effortlessly unveiled two outstanding mixtapes – Beast Mode and 56 Nights. DS2 is a clear testament of Future’s emo tendencies, depression-induced drug dependence, and infatuation with unrequited love. Kind of odd considering it’s all expressed over immaculate trap beats, but it works. DS2 is another win for Future.
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Released: March 15, 2015
In a time when America is plagued by racial tension, homophobia, xenophobia, and the list goes on and on, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly couldn’t have come at a better time. The 16-track album encompasses the plight of black men in America. Suicide, survivor’s remorse, resentment, self-acceptance, and love are recurring themes Kendrick Lamar masterfully addresses while jazz, funk, soul, and of course, hip-hop permeate the airwaves. With culturally important songs like “Alright,” “i,” and “The Blacker The Berry” leading the album’s narrative, To Pimp A Butterfly is undoubtedly the most important album to drop in years. Not to mention, the President of the United States thinks “How Much A Dollar Cost?” is the best song of 2015. Not bad for a kid from Compton.