2014 was a pretty damn good year for hip-hop, and 2015 surpassed that benchmark.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Probably the most important album to come out this year. Simultaneously introspective about himself and acutely aware of the temperament of the world around him, TPAB is another example of Kendrick’s status in hip-hop today. Listen to the album and prepare for a whirlwind of emotions, social-political commentary, and dopeness.
Pusha T – King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prequel
Billed as the prequel to his next album King Push, this album was made solely for his fans. He delivered. Quotables for days, incredible production (especially from Timbaland), and ending with him pulling a page from Kendrick delving into social-political rap. If Pusha T wasn’t considered as one of the best rappers out today, he is now.
The Game – The Documentary 2 & 2.5
Most double albums suck. While double albums have their gems, there is a lot more filler that clouds them. While there are tracks that didn’t hit, most did. Releasing The Documentary 2 then 2.5 a week later, Game had a period of time this year that he had everyone paying attention. With inspired verses from Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Nas, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock, Game put out sequels to his most critically-acclaimed album that do more good than harm to the original.
Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth
Lupe is back. Breaking up the album into four parts (one for each season), each part is distinct and equally engaging. Not to mention there is another interpretation to be had if you listened to the album in reverse order. Some people have become lapsed Lupe fans feeling he deviated too far from his most acclaimed albums, Tetsuo & Youth evokes those early albums, while presenting where he is currently in his creativity. Good job, Lupe.
Ludacris – Ludaversal
Speaking of returns, welcome back Luda! Partly a response to people feeling he has gone too far in movies that his music career as suffered, Ludaversal is everything I ever want from him: funky flows, punchlines, and a dash of delving into deeper topics. While it isn’t my favorite album of the year, hearing Ludacris sound so energized gave me one of my favorite moments of the year. It’s also a reminder that Ludacris always comes correct on his album intros.
Prhyme – Prhyme (Deluxe Version)
The normal version made my list last year, and the deluxe version makes this year solely for the four new songs. With great appearances from the latest generation of rappers (Joey Bada$$ and Logic), and some jaw-dropping appearances from a select group of elder rappers (Black Thought, Phonte and MF Doom), it didn’t take a lot to make a huge impact. Sometimes I got to hear people rap, and Prhyme does that in spades.