5. “The Album About Nothing” -Wale
This album is without a doubt one of the most underappreciated albums of the year, yet one of the biggest highlights. “The Album About Nothing” shows that Wale is a lyricist to be reckoned with, and it proves to be his strongest body of work to date. The album content is meaningful and mature, touching on issues that range from racism to commercialism.
“The White Shoes” is an amazing track that talks about materialism and its affect on how people view others. Wale argues that people care more about how they look than what they are doing with their lives. Album highlight, “The Need To Know” discusses the fine line between friends and lovers. These stories make “The Album About Nothing” standout from the other mundane rap albums that 2015 brought.
4. “Beauty Behind The Madness” -The Weeknd
This album spawned multiple Billboard top 10 singles, and for good reason. The Weeknd’s sophomore debut marked his first step into mainstream music, without leaving his signature drug and lust content behind. With sleek production by Kanye West, “Tell Your Friends” lets listeners know that he is still The Weeknd they fell in love with through his lyrics, “I’m that n**ga with the hair/ singing bout poppin’ pills/ f**cking bitches/ living life so trill,” he croons. “Dark Times,” is arguably the best song on the album, painting the picture of late night bar fights and failing to keep one’s promises. The content here is dark and bleak, but that’s what makes it so memorable.
3. “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” -Drake
Drake has been getting a lot of backlash over the years from everyone, with comments that say that he is too emotional and soft. This album proved that Drake was everything but that. No hooks, no pop songs, just good ol’ lyricism at its finest. Everyone is used to Drake rapping about losing love, and while there are a few tracks that show that, most are Drake proving that he is not to be messed with. His machismo and bravado are abound in this album. Drake vents his anger, his paranoia and the hardships of keeping friends in this business, all with amazing ferocity. The Ginuwine-sampling “Legend,” finds Drake bragging about being, of course, a legend in his city. It’s this sense of confidence that makes every track standout. “Jungle” slows everything down, and takes the listeners to a Drake they are most used to. This album left fans wondering where Drake will go next.
2. “To Pimp A
Butterfly” -Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar puts civil rights at the forefront of the album, rapping about the realities of our world. The MC reminds everyone that systematic oppression still exists, and that it’s time for people to stand up and make a change. Everything from old school hip-hop to funk to soul are present in this album. “King Kunta” finds Lamar rapping about people who are afraid of a black man with power. With slick funk productions, Lamar raps, “B*tch, where was you when I was walking?/ Now I run the game got the whole world talking/ Everybody want to cut the legs off him (Kunta)/ Black man taking no losses.” “Alright” is an uplifting track, finding Lamar rapping about the struggles he’s been through. There’s so much weight in the content presented, that it leaves its mark as the album ends.
1. “You Should Be Here” -Kehlani
Newcomer Kehlani stole the show this year. This album is the shot in the arm R&B needed. It’s about joy and sadness, jealousy and hate, love and lust. It takes a listener on a journey through one’s life. Kehlani’s voice is raspy, yet filled with so much soul. The great thing about this album is that no two tracks sound similar. Each song is carefully woven into a different story. “Bright” is a blues influenced song about self-love. “The Letter” is a powerful ballad that discusses her broken relationship with her mother. Album highlight, “The Way,” is a smooth and slow production that weaves in and out of its bouncy synth, and is helped by a memorable verse from Chance the Rapper. The song finds Kehlani showing her true feelings to the man she’s with. “Never met someone who spoke my language/ never met a n**ga done with playin’/ you the type of n**ga make me lane switch,” she sings. Kehlani’s album is astonishing and is a must-buy for any music lover out there.