Jan 7, 2016

#AOTY Staff Picks 5-1 A Niles P. Joint

And I’m back. I gave you the criteria and revealed albums 10-6 of my list here. That half was much murkier inasmuch as some of those albums could be interchangeable depending on your palette on any given day. The top 5 has been solidified for over a month. Let’s get down to it, here’s my top 5 albums of 2015.

5.) Grandeur by Apollo Brown - While he’s been active for a few years now, 2015 was the year that was his magnum opus (for this year, at least.)  Whether he was crafting songs for legends like M.O.P. and Masta Ace or assisting up and coming artists like Dynasty and Westside Gunn, this album had replay value that will last for awhile.  The tempo was pretty even keel throughout but it just means that pretty much ever song was a banger.  If you were wondering what (Apollo) Brown can do for you, Grandeur was the answer. Detroit beatsmith Apollo Brown cemented himself as one of the top producers in hip hop. He also raised the profile of his label, Mello Music Group considerably. Grandeur

4.) LOA by Bobby Sessions - Talk about coming out of left field, or in this case, Dallas, TX.  Everyone else on this list I had heard of before and some of these albums I was expecting.  But Bobby Sessions came through with a debut album that was too good to ignore.  To have that much versatility to be able to have a fun jam like Peyton Manning on the same album as social commentary like Black America is astounding.  I usually temper my expectations for rookies but every once in awhile you find one good enough to make the All-Pro team.  That’s what Sessions did.  I gave it an honest listen and realized I had no real qualms with this album.  Stakes is high for the young
southwestern spitter from here on in, but I have a feeling he can deliver.

3.) B4DA$$ by Joey Bada$$ - Technically this was Joey’s debut album but he had gained an audience already via the mixtape circuit so I was already acquainted.  And he had three singles with videos come out before a release date was even announced.  When the album dropped in January, it not only exceeded expectations but also held up throughout the course of the year.  Previously heard songs like Big Dusty meshed well with newer ones such as Save the Children.  Joey also experimented with different sounds and guests, such as helping introduce Raury on Escape 120 and making a danceable poppy song with Kiesza on Teach Me. He made the transition from mixtapes to studio albums, now the trick is figuring it out where to go next.

2.) Lucky 7 by Statik Selektah - This was also the year we saw super producer Statik Selektah completely master part of his craft.  Dude made his seventh and final producer/compilation album in the span of three months.  In tradition with last year, let me just list the people he could get on short notice: Rapsody, Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Your Old Droog, Styles P, Royce Da 5’9”, Big KRIT, Mick Jenkins, Smiff & Wessun, Young MA, Dave East, Illa Ghee, Sean Price, Fame, Bun B, Ab-Soul, Talib Kweli, CJ Fly, & Cane.  That’s unbelievable clout.  He continued his tradition of bringing in live horns to play over his sampled beats and also  had a couple joints that were completely made by him (In the Wind being a stellar example). I’m vaguely sad that Statik won’t make any more albums of this ilk, but I know he has some things up his sleeve for years to come.

1.) To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar - This may be one of the most anticlimactic AOTY lists King Kunta was a funk-infused dance hit. How Much A Dollar Cost was a great storytelling track and Obama’s favorite song of the year. Alright became the new Black National Anthem and was played everywhere from music festivals to protests. The album’s staying power was incredible and I feel like its impact and themes will be discussed and dissected for years to come. Even more astounding is the fact that Kendrick’s debut album was arguably an instant classic and he more than exceeded expectations on this one. If his eventual third album is even half as good, he’ll be able to sit at the table of the genre’s royalty. But as it stands he’s the best rapper in the game and the king of the West Coast. Since its premature/accidental midnight release on iTunes, I knew TPAB was special.  And now, it’s my 2015 Album of the Year.
in the history of the culture.  But Kendrick Lamar created an undisputed masterpiece.  While there was a ton of great music released this year, nothing encapsulated the social climate while still sounding great. And it was still eclectic and fun. 

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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