The Top 30 Albums of 2015

20. Bryson Tiller – T R A P S O U L

Released: September 25, 2015

Bryson Tiller’s star seemingly cultivated at light speed and has no signs of slowing down. His single earlier in the year ‘Don’t’ ran laps around Soundcloud prior to the release of his debut, the effectively named TRAPSOUL, a loved and circulated benchmark for music that ultimately didn’t fuck with the traditional R&B formula. Bryson possesses a very familiar register and vocal inflection while not innovating much within his song structure either, but his ability to polish and brand a sound that is ever so popular at the moment is enough to respect the dude. He dips and dives out of the two genres mentioned in the album’s title with tracks like ‘Rambo’ one minute snapping over snares and hi-hats, but songs like ‘Right My Wrongs’ show that Bryson does have moments where he can deliver a stunning vocal performance, albeit without reinventing the wheel. – Vikash Dass

19. Death Grips – The Powers That B

Death Grips - The Powers That B

Released: March 31, 2015

When Death Grips said they were “at their best” back in July, it was hard to believe them. While I don’t personally think The Powers That B is there best album, I can see why the group thinks it’s their best. In one album, the band pushes the boundaries of hip-hop so far in niggas on the moon that they felt they’ve done the genre justice and move on to what’s next. It just so happens this next is to become Death Grips 2.0. Whether they’re making experimental pop-rap, hardcore punk music, or progressive rock, the band is constantly moving forward and I’ll make sure I’m always right behind them. – Matt Monroe

18. Miguel – Wildheart

Released: June 26, 2015

Occupying his own vestige of R&B music crafted his most interesting, thought-provoking and sensual project to date with Wildheart. He questions normalcy, realizing his ability to stand-out from his peers, yet touchingly he disassociates himself from society as a whole searching for solace in the bedroom. His instrumentals skip from the rhythmic guitar underlays of ‘leaves’ to the bursting synths and drums of ‘gfg’. Miguel’s voice capably ascends to lofty falsetto heights as do his self-ascribed ambitions. Miguel walks a new road on Wildheart and it is more ambitious and fulfilling than anything he has done before.  – Evan Vogel

17. Drake & Future – What a Time to be Alive

what a time

Released: September 20, 2015

Talib Kweli and Mos Def showed how good perfect chemistry can sound musically. Plenty of artists have buddied up and released collaborative projects over the years and they often strive for that synchronization. Now, my perspective and I imagine many others are changing. Drake and Future’s surprise collaborative effort showed that clashing can sound good too. Sticking Drake’s crisp, emoting vocals next to, or in some cases over, Future’s rumbling, drugged-out gasps strikes some weird balance that no universal law can explain. Metro Boomin, Future’s long-time production messiah crafted a palette of synths that allows Future to travel to unexplored galaxies yet remains rhythmic and familiar enough for Drake to comfortably draw the mood in as he does so well.  – Evan Vogel

16. Jay Rock – 90059

Released: September 11, 2015

Perhaps the most underrated member of Top Dawg Entertainment, Jay Rock put together an amazing sophomore album with 90059, and his first studio album since his 2011 project, Follow Me Home. With stand out records like ‘Neccesary’ ‘Gumbo’, and ‘Money Trees Deuce’ (a follow up to the classic collaboration between Kendrick and Jay on Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.d city album), 90059 is yet another great TDE album to paint a picture of Los Angeles’ worst neighborhoods. As you can expect, a number of Rock’s labelmates assisted him on the project to make it a Top Dawg classic, including great contributions from SchoolBoy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad, Ab-Soul and SZA. – Dan Garcia

ALBUMS 30-26 / 25-21 / 20-16 / 15-11 / 10-6 / 5-1

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