2015 was a Great year in music, there almost wasn’t enough time to listen to everything. Without further delay *drum rolllllllllllll* thee 2015 Deffery Awards for best things in music I’ve seen heard and felt all year ::
Favorite Albums of Thee Year
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly.
I would call this the most important album of 2015. No matter what race you were this album cut deep into the heart of the current condition and state of mind of the culture. Kendrick could have pivoted into anywhere as an artist post “good kid MAAD city”. He became the mainstream bridge between the Low End Theory sound of Los Angeles with contributions of Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Anna Wise to the modern jazz sounds of Kumasi Washington, Bilal, and Terrace Martin to Compton. He came for the crown this year. There only being one other rapper featured on the album that being a woman of color by the name of Rapsody, I think really stands out and her verse is beyond quotable. You will find passion, pain and truth in every bar. Kendricks first album was about showing the world what growing up in post modern post NWA Compton was like in contrast “To Pimp a Butterfly” felt like it was showing Compton the world. Even tackling the concept of self love within the anatomy of dichotomy that exists in each of us in the songs “i” & “u”are as emotional as they are cerebral. The metaphor of the way we as black people are taught to achieve upward stratification is to pimp our talent and story to the highest bidder is both sweet and bitter. Kendrick is using his platform and rapid fire delivery to say more. Also the experience of listening to this album that each songs ends with a piece of a poem that once all stringed together become one poem tying all these ideas experiences and moments together into an interesting plot twist at the end really makes skimming or skipping through through this album a criminal act against yourself really. Such a charged yet cohesive project “To Pimp A Butterfly” was an album that felt like an ALBUM. It’s the project every conscious rapper today would like to make.
Gems :: Mama // The Blacker The Berry // Alright.
2. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
The most popular rapper these days dropped a surprise album out of nowhere and instantly you had it on repeat. The game has changed to much that I think it’s fair to say Drake has become the Steph Curry of this rap thang. He even knows how to make a phone call with his mother sound interesting on “You & The 6”. How Sway? Drake pretty much created a full of album of “Worst Behavior”. Darker than ever Drake samples some of thee best textures from sampling Ginuwine’s legendary “So Anxious” twice on “Legend” and “Madonna” (Which was so dope even Madona actually thought it was about herself smh). He even appropriately samples Donky Kong Jr. “Haunted Adventure” on “6God” (which might have thee best adlibs of the year). The most quotable mixtape of the year Drake is in rare form here. This was the project for the ppl that felt like Drizzy can’t rap and believe he’s like the Lionel Richie of rap or something crazy like that. The tape feels like an album and most modern attention span will find some snoozable moments on “Preach” and “Now & Forever” buuuut You can’t front on “6 Am in New York” , “No Tellin”. This is not Drake from 4 years ago he’s in a higher place.
Gems :: “Know Yourself” // “You & The 6” // “Star67”
3. Tame Impala – Currents
The one man band of Kevin Parker came together and formed an epic listening experience. As soon as I heard “Let It Happen” I knew I was in the middle of something that was the band Yes “Close To The Edge” status. By the way guys that’s just the first song. Honest there are songs on here that are worth some artists full projects. What I love about this album when really looking at in the context of other Tame Impala projects this isn’t even their best work yet it’s a progression that isn’t satisfied or stuck trying to give you a nostalgia of psychedelic rock on some hippy dippy trippy predictability. This album actually advances the genre of guitar driven rock music. The melody on “Love/Paranoia” alone is a work of art. There’s only one song I could do without “‘Cause I’m A Man” which oddly enough was a single. Rich in textures, I had this record on for a few days without complaints. It’s a record I would recommend to anyone w/o them texting me back like “yo this sucks I will never trust you with my ears ever again bro.” it’s truly g∞d.
Gems :: “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” // “Let It Happen” // “Love/Paranoia”
4. Toro y Moi – Samantha
In another random mixtape drop w/o warning (which I call feeding your feed) Chaz Bundick also known as Toro y Moi dropped thee link on his Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/lukespukashells/) which he’s turned into an art project. As random as it may have seemed I did see this one coming because I stalk his soundcloud and a month before the drop I heard two songs “Room 4 Zone” and “Pitch Black” that were honestly too good to not have a home. “Samantha” felt like effortless experiments I felt lucky to have in my iTunes. This album would be the epitome of what the kids call “vaporwave”. Kool A.D. steals the show repeatedly on this record on gems like “Real Love” (This songs sounds like a miracle happening) and “2Late” are sonically ahead of their time or maybe they are right on time.
Gems :: Pitch Black // Real Love // Boo Boo Mobile // Good Song
5. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
Alabama Shakes are leading the way when it comes to new music that sounds old. When I say old I mean like you are listening to some vinyl soul record from the 60’s. From the vocals to the textures there is so much to love about this record. It was popular for all thee right reasons.
Gems :: Sound & Color // Gimme All Your Love // Guess Who
6. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi Love
Multi-Love was multi levels of awesome. Let’s just begin with the song “Multi-Love” which is about a real life experience of the lead singer in the band who has now decided to open up his marriage to include a third person, another woman suggested by his wife. Imagine an experimental rock done at it’s best, the song writing on “Ur Life One Night” is an exciting time as is thee extremely catchy yoga flame of a song “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” After this album I hope everyone knows Unknown.
Gems :: Can’t Keep Checking My Phone // Multi-Love // The World Is Crowded
7. Vince Staples – Summertime 06
Vince puts together a HARD rap album that isn’t trying to be anything but itself. A double disc of anthems and bars. Direct like a DM the verses are a dense dope maze of life from the perspective of a young black man that is very in touch with his reality. Very sharp unapologetic penmanship is present from beginning to end. This project puts Vince in every conversation when we are talking about what the next generation of Hip Hop is bringing to the table and he’s just getting started.
Gem :: C.N.B. // Surf // Lift Me Up // Senorita
8. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
This album lives up to it’s name! This three disc display of supreme musicianship is both memorable and refreshing. A true modern jazz record you can (and I did) spend a FULL day listening to it and stillll be in love with every note. The album is pure daylight.
Gems :: The Rhythm Changes // Change of The Guard // The Magnificent 7
9. Travi$ Scott – Rodeo
This album is 2015 as fuck “STRAIGHT UP!” Travi$ really set out to be the sound of every turnt up kid at every festival. Amazingly dark and fashionable of what is currently trending it is EXTREMELY well produced and mixed and mastered (no really I obsesses over the mixing of this album) this album can’t be ignored. On songs like “Impossible” often you can’t tell how much he has influenced Kanye and how much Kanye has influenced him, it’s kinda scary. Unfortunately the most skippable song on the album is the one with Kanye West “Piss On Your Grave”. A very interesting pairing of Travi$, Pharrell and my favorite contemporary artist Toro y Moi makes for a very enjoyable highlight on this album on “Flying High”. Complex melody choices and drum programming get a lil bit overshadowed by very basic choices of subject matter (drugs, girls, turning up and swagging on the ppl that doubted you). If you can ignore that and you just want to party this is very very much up your alley. Travi$ is giving you a feeling that can’t be denied.
Gems :: 90210 feat. Kacy Hill // Antidote // Flying High
10. Archy Marshall – A New Place To Drown
This album by Archy Marshall aka King Krule was a multi medium release, with it came a 208 page book of poetry photo’s and sketches and a documentary about the creative process with his brother. Instantly this record sounds like a destination and state of being. This record is absent of any of his guitar work but you don’t miss it what he supplies are tracks that slap quite hard and creates an atmosphere and a space for you to think and sink into. There are even some spoken rap bars scattered in here. This is very day after the rain music. I highly recommend walking through your city to this album (no Ubering) actually take a walk and feel your proximity.
Gems ::Thames Water //Arise Dear Brother // Ammi Ammi (feat. Jamie Isaac)
Most Slept On Albums of Thee Year
(aka Albums I wish more ppl heard or talked about)
1. SiR – Seven Sundays
I think EVERYONE should have this album in their collection! Another notch in the Fresh Selects belt of quality releases this is some real first date music right here. SiR releases a pretty spotless project this year. “Seven Sundays” is one of my favorite releases of the year with heat from start to finish SiR’s vocals butter on thee hottest pancake as he seamlessly sings and raps through a tour of Inglewood (“In The Sky” featuring Fat Ron) and displays a wide range of languages of love (“Right By You”), consciousness (“Liberation” featuring a FIRE verse from Anderson .Paak) and conceptual pictures (“Bullet and The Gun”). I can’t wait to hear what he brings in 2016.
Gems :: The Real // In The Sky // Jay Z
2. Def Sound – Kings of Neon
This collection is everything you’ve known about Def Sound but just hadn’t heard from him yet. ∆∆∆’s . of . Neon is the 2nd installment in the Neon series (//Neon . Summer //). Everybody has energy, everybody has an aura displaying that energy, every aura has a color, neon isn’t a color, it’s the brightest state of a color. The only way you know how bright you are is in your darkest times. Writing his way through it “I N E E D Y o u 2 K n o w” which features production from Zack Sekoff and backing vocals and strings from Kadhja Bonet begins the awakening and sucks you into the 31 minute journey. Def covers a lot of ground on the project even asking very philosophical questions on “Eyes & Axx” like “If a womans ass can speak to you what would you say back? How would that conversation go?”. Ever evolving and finding new depths in his identity he waters you with “Black Boy” which is a very emotional and timely way to conclude thee project with poem that is sung as a black boy to other black boy’s about who they are and where they are in the postmodern world. Def Sound is an artists artist, this project is minimal maximalism it’s a full album without stressing you out with 18 songs. How much life can you fit into 6 songs? Kings . of . Neon . is thee answer.
Gems :: Trill Allah // I Need You 2 Know // Black Boy
3. Kelela -Hallucinogen EP
Kelea keeps it short and sweet on this release. This EP feels like a full night alone with Kelela just whispering sweet somethings in your ear. Every song feels sensual and perfectly placed. Kelela as usual finds herself collaborating with forward thinking producers but this time she enlists the very interesting cast of Gifted & Blessed, Arca and DJ Dahi. This album is unafraid give it a listen.
Gems :: Rewind // The High // Gomenasai
4. The Internet – Ego Death
Beautiful and very contemporary this album shows us a version of The Internet have come into full maturity, Syd as a vocalist has found her sweet spot and Matt has found a sound and assembled thee perfect band to bring the soundscape and ideas into focus and it all sounds effortless. Ego Death is an album you can start to end your day with, no matter your mood or mode The Internet will connect you to a higher frequency no AOL discs.
Gems :: Girl // Under Control // Gabby
5. Tiron & Ayomari – The Great New Wonderful.
From the moment I heard it this project felt very inspired. Tiron & Ayomari aka T&A have progressed into their own zone (Urban Americana as they would call it sonically) and decided to level with you and amplify their vulnerabilities while sampling life itself. Imagine if life was a song, they took all thee best parts and clips and snippets and created this record out of it. The Great New Wonderful feels like a maturation of two artists who are reaching the same conclusion at the same time. All we are is how we art. No more fear Love Is Real.
Gems :: Them Wallflowers // 2Kinds // Umbrella Song
6. J*Davey – P.O.M.P.
For those of you that don’t know P.O.M.P. it’s a lil inside joke that means Prince.Owes.Me.Pancakes (It’s true though, he really does). This release finds J*Davey in a new space which is still ahead of everybody else and they are just waiting for us to get there. With progressively danceable yet subtle production from Brook, Ms. Jck Davey sprinkles lines like “I’m on my tiny private island in a limitless ocean, no one around me so I’m drowning in my deepest emotion”. These Davey babies are their own genre.
Gems :: Strong Anticipation // Libido // High On Life
7. Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Too
Scottish evolutionary rap group comes with some very experimental sounds that are a vibe of their own. Young Fathers sing freedom songs for thee rebellious escapist in all of us. Very organ driven and soulful it’s church for thee non religious. Tabernacle.
Gems :: Shame // Rain Or Shine // Get Started
8. Versis – copeæsthetic
Versis provides a story that is both personal and our own. Colin has created a record that you can cry smiling to in the rain. No matter what your trajectory or taste level this album walks up to you and says “Hey man, how you doing? Fine. Word? Me too.” A 9 song 19 minute self produced masterpiece for thee headphones every sound bite and sample means something, you will find yourself not just listening to but living to as well.
Gems :: Rain On A Sunday // Love Is // Complacent Pl.
9. froyo ma – pants
Froyo Ma brings a very funky project for you to try on called “pants”. The entire record feels like you are sitting in on a hot afternoon jam session and every groove is speaking to you. A student from New Orleans he brings his own take on instrumentation keep your ears and eyes on him for 2016 and beyond. Listen to thee full project on http://froyoma.bandcamp.com/album/pants .
Gems :: hot // there
10. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
A very lush collection of stories are presented here on this very reflective concept album about Surjan Steven and his late mother. There is so much beautiful imagery and honesty in his penmanship on this project. I know it is
something somewhere you will be lost in.
Gems :: Should’ve Known Better //Fourth of July // Blue Bucket of Gold
Video’s of Thee Year
1. Vince Staples – Senorita
Dir. By. Ian Pons Jewell
2. MIA – Borders
Dir. By. MIA
3. Kendrick – Alright
Dir. By. Colin Tilley
4. Thundercat – “Them Changes”
Dir. By. Carlos Lopez Estrada
5. Def Sound – I N E E D Y O U 2 K N O W
Dir. By. mad-as.hell (Leila Jarman + Mike Leisz) mad-as.us
6. SEVALIZA – That Other Girl
7. Downtown Boy – Wave of History
Illustrated & Dir. By. Faye Orlove
8. Panda Bear – Tropic of Cancer
Dir. By. Dave Portner
Director of Photography Giovanni Ribisi
9. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Ur Life One Night
Dir. by . Manoj Leonel Jahson
10. FKA Twigs – M3LL155x
Dir.by. FKA Twigs
11. Stealing sheep – Not Real
Dir. By.James Slater
12. Missy Elliot – Where they From
Dir. By. Dave Meyers
13. Mocky – Living In The Snow
Dir. By. RAND SEVILLA
14. Drake – Hotline Bling
Dir. By. Director X
15. Chance The Rapper – Donnie Trumpet -Sunday Candy “Short Film”
Dir. By. Austin Vesely, Ian Eastwood & Chance The Rapper
16. Deebs & Jarell Perry – Relapse
Dir. by. Yoshino
17. NxWorries (Anderson. Paak & Knxwledge) – Suede .
Dir. By. Calmatic
18. Little Simz – Dead Body
Dir.By. Jeremy Cole
19. KAEB – When We Fall
Co directed by Alex Garland & Rob Hardy
20. Sun Araw – Gazebo Effect
21. Erykah Badu – Phone Down (periscope video)
An unrehearsed live video that enabled fan participation on a new social media platform called Periscope. If you caught it you caught it if you didn’t you can’t tell me it wasn’t tight.
Single Songs of Thee Year
1. Thundercat – “Them Changes” (Zack Sekoff Remix)
2. O Mer – “Now I’m Alive”
3. Toro y Moi- “Pitch Black”
4. Kendrick Lamar feat. Pharrell- “Alright”
5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Multi-Love”
6. Erykah Badu – “Hotline Bling [Remix]”
7. Milo – “Raygun”
8. Young Fathers – “Shame”
9.D.R.A.M. – “Cha Cha”
10. Tame Impala – Let it Happen
11. Empress of – Kitty Kat
12. Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy Late Show
13. Drake – “Back 2 Back”
14. Drake & Future – “Jumpman, Jumpman”
15. Def Sound – “†rill . ∆llah .”
16. Vince Staples – “Norf Norf”
17. Kelela – “Rewind”
18. Kanye West – “All Day”
19. Ty Dolla Sign – “Blase”
20. J*Davey – Strong Anticipation
21. Moses Sumney – “Pleas”
22. Nikko Gray – “Reserve”
23. Bells Roar – “Black Lives”
24. Joy Postell – “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”
25. Vōx – “Money”
26. Tiron & Ayomari – “2Kinds”
27. Owen Thiele x Zack Sekoff – Follow
28. Litany – “Woman”
29. Raf Riley – “Summer”
30. The Internet -“Girl”
Instrumentals of Thee Year
1. Toro y Moi – Boo booo mobile
2. Iman Omari – L.A. Vibe
3. Swell – “im sorry”
4. Jamie xx – Gosh
5. Jlin – Unknown Tongues
6. Linafornia – wettt
7. Lakim – Live From The Dorm
8. Callum Connor – .wake up
9. Finn – Keep Calling (Fallow’s Keep Ballin’ Remix)
10. Kenton Slash Demon – “Harpe”
Artwork of Thee Year
BATTLES – LA DI DA DI
Jamie xx – In Color
london o’connor – o∆
ANV-AGE OF TRANSPARENCY
Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
Jazz Cartier – Marauding in Paradise
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
Goldlink – And After That we didn’t speak
CHVCHES – Every Open Eye
Jme – Integrity >
Most Anticipated Projects of 2016
Whatever Moses Sumney is working on.
Anderson Paak – Malibu
Kanye West – Swish
J*Davey – Lite Wait Life
Zack Sekoff – Remnants of A Winters Sun.
See you next year !