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Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”

1. Kendrick Lamar – “To Pimp a Butterfly”

Labeled as the successor of Tupac Shakur and known in Compton as the African-American messiah, the best album of the year goes to the album that summed up every hip-hop album that has ever been released, combined them into one, while also featuring an intricate storyline.

The Californian rap-god tackles topics such as self-love on “Complexion,” politics on “How Much a Dollar Cost” and race on “The Blacker the Berry.” K-Dot plays with the love he has for “Lucy,” which can be interpreted as a metaphor about how evil is welcomed into our lives too easily, and his constant struggle with his inner demons.

The hip-hop, jazz blend that Kendrick uses on the album fuses with deep and meaningful lyrics, which makes it undoubtedly the best album of the year.

2. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – “Surf”

Orchestrated by Nico Segal (a.k.a. Donnie Trumpet)

“Surf” was one of the most anticipated albums of the year, with the help of front man and lead vocals Chance the Rapper. Along with Donnie and Chance, Peter Cottontale, Greg Landfair Jr. and Nate Fox make up the Social Experiment band. The album is full of features from the likes of BJ The Chicago Kid, Big Sean, KYLE, B.o.B, Busta Rhymes, J. Cole, Quavo, Erykah Badu and more. On lead vocals is Chance the Rapper, who was able to explore outside his comfort zone by joining a band-setting and making unique music with the intent to spread good vibes and positive messages. In the closing song, “Windows,” Chance encourages his audience by saying “Don’t you look up to me, don’t trust a word I say,” encouraging his followers to be themselves and follow their own ambitions.

3. Jamie XX – “In Colour”

Yes, we all knew Jaime Smith from his previous work with The XX, but listeners did not know what to expect when Smith released his solo project “In Colour.” On both albums with The XX, Smith never once disappointed with the melodic sounds. However, on this 11-track album, Jaime completely visits a new realm in music. In fact, that was Smith’s intentions. He had been working on “In Colour” collectively for five years. Smith aimed to create an album unlike one from any era. Combining sound bits with groovy and acid-like beats, Smith capitalizes on the record. Smith uses a comfortable features approach with fellow XX member Romy on “SeeSaw” and “Loud Places” and independent songwriter Oliver Sim on “Stranger in a Room.” Then, he explores new areas outside his comfort zone with his clash with Young Thug and Popcaan on “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times).”

4. A$AP Rocky- “At. Long. Last. A$AP”

Mark my words, 10 years from now, rappers will be referencing “At. Long. Last. A$AP.” As a prelude to the album, Rocky released the best single of the year, “Multiply,” which set the serious yet inventive tone for the album. Hard beat songs such as “Canal Street,” “JD,” “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye” and “M’$” are perfect hard-hitting songs to listen to with heavy bass.  However, Rocky experiments with new sounds on “Electric Body,” “Fine Wine” and “L$D,” which combine slow beats and smooth vocals that add to the drug-based album.

5. Tame Impala -“Currents”

After two albums that had fans begging for more, guitarist and vocals Kevin Parker and the rest of Tame Impala delivered quite a unique sensation with “Currents.” Using Pink Floyd-esque guitars and sounds, the album is an easy listen. The theme of break-up is seen almost evidently throughout songs such as “Eventually.” The somber, melancholy tone is seen through songs such as “Let It Happen” and “’Cause I’m a Man.” Synthesizing pop beats combined with a ballad guitar gives this album a sweet and easy listening groove.

6. Logic – “The Incredible True Story”

Set in the future as two space travelers reminisce on when music was good, Logic’s sophomore album takes flight to all new heights. The 25-year-old rapper from Gaithersburg, Maryland, continues to spit flows on godly levels, and this album does not disappoint. Stellar tracks, such as “Young Jesus,” “Innermission” and “Like Whoa,” highlight Logic’s diverse ability to rap on bars. This album gives Logic a claim to be known around as one of the greats.

7. Alabama Shakes – “Sound in Color”

“Sound in Color” is Alabama Shakes discovering new heights as folk artists  while still incorporating sweet, electronic sounds. The 12-track record kicks off with “Sound in Color,” possibly the best intro song of the year. The track sets a soothing, newfound tone for the album. Throughout the album, 60s rock & roll influences bounce throughout the songs. Other songs to check out are “Gimmie All Your Love” and “Don’t Wanna Fight.”

8. Adele-“25” “Hello”

 Adele-“25” “Hello” is the five-letter word that Adele uses to capture her audience after her prolonged hiatus from music. “25” is not like Adele’s previous work. In her new work of art, Adele enters a new deep realm of meaning. She continues her classical, orchestrated sound, but uses mainstream pop and faster beats to clash with her vocals. “I Miss You” and “Remedy” are the typical Adele tear-jerkers. However, that is not all the album offers. With acoustic guitars, faster piano play and folk drums, Adele discovers new heights with “25.”

9. The Weeknd – “Beauty Behind the Madness”

The ex-underground, R & B sensation Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, finds the limelight in “Beauty Behind the Madness.” Tesfaye delivers radio hits with the likes of “Often,” “Earned It,” “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills,” but he does not float too far away from his roots. This album was as if he combined his first three mixtapes, “House of Balloons,” “Echoes of Silence” and “Thursday,” and picked what he liked best from each one. Transitioning from quirky trap sounds and orchestrated beats are what this album goes through. “Tell Your Friends” is more for his long-time fans, using the line, “I was broken, I was broken, I was so broke, I used to roam around the town when I was homeless…Now we get faded, when we want girl, we got choices.” The come-up for Tesfaye was a long process, but now that he has made it, he bursts through in this album.

10. Drake– “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late”

Love him or hate him, Drake was the most talked about artist of 2015, and this mix tape did not fail to give more credibility to Drizzy as an artist. The album, which came out in the first quarter of 2015, can still be listened to nowadays with total ease. Hits like “Energy” and “Know Yourself” are trap-filled and get the listener excited. Drake also slows it down with fellow Toronto artist PartyNextDoor on “Preach” and “Wednesday Night Interlude.” “Jungle” can be related to his older sex-driven songs, “You and the 6” brings innocence to Drake by bringing his mom into the song as a metaphor for him venting on the harsh reality of fame. This album was a prelude to Drake’s fame for 2015, paving the way for his project with Future, “What A Time To Be Alive,” his beef with Meek Mill and having everyone singing “Hotline Bling.”

Just Missed it

Wale – “The Album About Nothing”

Quite the contrary to the album title, this album encompasses everything. From drugs, to sneakers, to societal movements, “The Album About Nothing” is a view on society from the eyes of an East-based rapper.

Travis Scott – “Rodeo”

Maybe in the league of the darkest albums of the year, Rodeo gives trap/hip-hop lovers a new feel for dark and trap music. Features shine on this album and leave listeners wanting more out of Travis Scott.

Miguel – “Wildheart”

If  you told me Miguel would be a part of this list at the beginning of the year, I would’ve called you crazy. However, this Cali-artist uses influences from Frank Ocean, Trey Songz and Jeremiah to captivate the listener in this drug-filled wonderland of an album.

Mac Miller – “Good A.M.”

Mac’s constant battle with sobriety and moderation clashes with theology in this album. It’s an easy listen and separates Mac Miller from his stereotypical hype up music that he used to be about.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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