The Best Free Projects of 2015 [Editorial]

Posted on January 3, 2016 by

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2015 was a pretty great year for hip hop all around. That is a mostly consensus belief at this point. And I am not sure if it a factor of the year’s albums being SO strong but I didn’t find myself listening to too many mixtapes over and over again. That being said, There were some that stood out including Perfect Black by DeLorean, Yo Gotti Concealed, Lloyd Banks Halloween Havoc 2, Malik Ferraud Infinity and Daytona and Harry Fraud’s MINKS.

10. Snow tha Product The Rest Comes Later

I don’t know what the hold up is but as the title of this mixtape suggests, we are still waiting on something from Snow Tha Product. In the meantime, we can “settle” for these 15 new tracks featuring production by Blue the Misfit, DJ Pumba and many more and one hook from Ty Dolla $ign. This mixtape also announced a tour for Snow which will hopefully lead to enough traction that we get an official album.

9. Jakarta Records Winter in Jakarta

Another dope compilation from Jakarta Records featuring Like, Oddisee, JuJu Rogers, Iamnobodi, Stwo and many more. If you’re cold again this weekend, throw this one on now.

8. Kevin Gates Murder For Hire

We were supposed to get Gates debut album in 2015 but it unfortunately got pushed to the end of this month. Murder For Hire was more of the same but Gates but did give me something to take my mind off his crazy outside-the-booth antics.

7. Raz Simone Cognitive Dissonance 2

Raz Simone opened the year very strong with consecutive releases in each of the first three months. Our favorite was the sequel to Cognitive Dissonance that Raz released track by track.   It has the same scathing social commentary as the two releases after but it was missing the anger that came from legal situations and Seattle music relationships.

6. Boldy James Trapper’s Alley 2

I think this one flew under the radar for the most part but Boldy really delivered with this one. At 20 tracks and the same amount of features, some of it could have been trimmed but there is enough meat in there to justify the ‘filler’.

 

5. Towkio WAV Theory

Another new project and another alluring talent from Chicago’s Save Money Crew: Towkio’s Wav Theory. Towkio was on Chance’s Family Matters Tour, got two guest verses from the rapper but more importantly, grabbed our attention with this project.

4. Nipsey Hussle Mailbox Money

The follow-up to Nipsey’s Crenshaw didn’t come with the fanfare of $100 mixtapes but it was just as good. If not better. Nipsey’s Cali blue music continues to bang and Nipsey is as clever as ever on Mailbox Money. Favorite track is easily “That’s How I Knew” but there are a ton.

3. Big KRIT It’s Better This Way

Big Krit is so consistent that some of come to find it a problem. Sort of like Curren$y, Krit is so good at making the music he does that it comes off as too easy. Some people want to see Krit push boundaries and test himself. They are definitely aren’t wrong but I am not going to get tired of new soulful Southern bangers about cars and/or social issues.

2. Busta Rhymes The Return of the Dragon

You would think that a mixtape boasting Q-Tip’s absence is destined for disappointment but The Return of the Dragon: The Abstract Went on Vacation was fantastic.   Busta avoids the main trap of older rappers of getting too caught up in today’s sound while also avoiding the 2nd main trap, sounding too dated. He found a great balance and bridged the gap from classic features like Raekwon, Mary J Blige and even a Lords of the New School Reunion to today’s names including OT Genasis, Wiz Khalifa and Rick Ross.

1. Jay IDK Subtrap

A full on hip hop musical. I was blown away by my introduction to Maryland emcee Jay IDK. On SubTRAP, Jay IDK’s story is not necessary brand new but I don’t remember anyone doing it like this guy. Over 15 songs, we hear a story of someone trying to make it out of a bad born situation he was born into but we hear it from six different perspectives. All six characters reappear throughout with their own takes on addiction, crime, family, loyalty and more.