Award season is over, here’s 10 (or so) albums you should have actually been listening to.
There is no more recognition for making a great album anymore. These traditional media outlets are supposed to be on the cutting edge of what’s new and hip or old and hip. MTV, Video Music Box, radio mix show DJs. They all used to educate and entertain us. Now it seems the only ones doing it right is country music. If you are one that looks to popular radio or tv or award shows to tell you what’s good then you are missing out on so much good music. Here’s my end of season recap of the music you didn’t hear and no one told you to listen for it.
First let’s talk Honorable mentions. These albums came out a bit early to be included in the 2015 Grammys but they weren’t recognized in the previous year either so I want to give some props.
Ab-Soul “These Days”- The lesser known member of TDEs “Black Hippy” made in my opinion the 2nd best album of the crew after “good kid maad city”.
Jack White “Lazaretto”- You feel like rocking out? No one does it like Jack White and his attention to detail makes this sonically the best sounding album of the year. Up loud, in the car or with headphones doesn’t matter this man makes sure you hear it all.
Prince “Art Official Age”- Disclaimer I’m a huge Prince fan, probably the biggest. However I can be honest enough to say when he drops a dud. He did not drop a dud with this album. How in the world you can still make quality albums 40 years later I have no idea by the Purple One has again found away to marry that MNPLS Funk, Rock and Soul into a refreshing album of work.
In doing my research for this piece I found that some albums from my original list actually were nominated in one way or another but very quietly and of course not televised so I wanted to give them some shine too.
-The Internet “Ego Death”- This Odd Future affiliate band is everything that new school R&B should be right now and no one even knows it.
-J. Cole “2014 Forest Hills Drive” The best rap album to come out in that time span. Period
-Charlie Wilson “Forever Charlie” Like Prince, Charlie finds a way to keep doing this at the highest level and on this album showed us all what R&B music should sound like and could sound like while still keeping it hip enough.
And now let the Big Show begin.
10. Gary Clark Jr. “The story of Sonny Boy Slim” No one knows what to do with Gary Clark Jr. They bring him out every year when it’s time to do a tribute for someone but he plays the hell outta that guitar but they still act blind to the greatness of his original work.
9. Ryan Leslie “MZRT”- Ryan only puts out music via his own website via subscription so most people reading won’t hear it. Good album, worth paying attention to for sure
8. Fall Out Boy “Make America Psycho Again”- Yea there’s already a category for best rap/sung collaboration but it’s stupid. This remix album is really good, go listen to it.
7. Lecrae “Anomaly”- Easily one of the best rap albums of the year. Never will be nominated because people don’t know what box to put him it. Used to be labeled a gospel rapper but this is just ghetto gospel. Lots of life lessons based on his own history and a killer flow. We don’t need boxes, it’s just music man
6. Run The Jewels 2.- Back in 2012, Killer Mike contracted Company Flows El-P to produce his entire album “Rap Music”. Still one of the best projects I’ve heard in a long time, the two decided to then Run The Jewels. The 2nd installment puts the duo right in their groove and is almost flawless.
5. Joell Ortiz “Human”- This Ortiz project with producer Illmind reminds us of how great rap can be when you get together and make an album instead of a group of songs. Just like Run The Jewels, there’s something to be said about having just one producer oversee a project. Having said that…
4. PRhyme- Royce Da 5'9 rapping his ass off as usual, DJ Premier scratching Adrian Younge samples for an entire album. Is that something you would be interested in?
3. Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment “Surf”. Another one you probably haven’t heard of and doesn’t sound like a hip hop album. Fusing Jazz/Soul production with the raps of frontman Chance The Rapper this album is very solid all the way through.
2. Wale “The Album About Nothing”. In a close 2nd to J. Coles album, Wale made the one of the best rap albums not only of last year, but in a few years. Combining the old “concept album” idea, keeping to the Seinfield theme while hitting all of the important points it’s a shame this album didn’t get more play.
1. Ty Dolla $ign — “Free TC”. Dedicated to raising funds in an attempt to get his brother out of jail, this album is a refreshing collection of soul/hip hop music. Not at all what I expected from what I thought I knew about Ty. Instead of an album full of DJ Mustard, he joined forces with folks like Babyface, Jagged Edge, Kanye West and Diddy, he even found R. Kelly somewhere. Go give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed.