The Best Retail Albums of 2015 Pt. 2, 10-1 [Editorial]

Posted on January 5, 2016 by

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To read Part 1 which features albums 25-11 and 5 honorable mention, click here.

10. Add-2 Prey For the Poor

Add-2 has always been an ill emcee able to put together complete projects. Since signing to Jamla though, and gaining access to beats by the Soul Council and musical direction by 9th Wonder, he has been on another level. A number of stellar features and an EP have led us to Prey for the Poor.

9. Joey Bada$$ B4.Da.$$

Joey Bada$$ was able to transfer most of his positive qualities from the projects that put him on the scene to his official debut. It is clearly the guy that made 1999 but things have been trimmed, and sound less efforted. Plus production from DJ Premier, Statik Selektah, Kirk Knight, Chuck Strangers, J Dilla, Hit-Boy and more is quite the lineup! Some thought one of the low points was the too poppy or radio-friendly “Teach Me” but I thought it was a fun record with a nice video to match. Meanwhile the highs from the album (No 99, Christ Conscious, Hazeus View) are some of my favorite tracks of Joey’s.

8. Curren$y Canal Street Confidential

This is about as far as Curren$y stretches outside of his normal zone. Canal Street Confidential feels like the typical Curren$y album with a bigger budget. The first single with a sex-themed chorus from August Alsina may have surprised some but Curren$y also decided to make it an all New Orleans affair and recruited Weezy to go IN. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Curren$y radio single. The rest of the album has more of that, “Superstar” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, and more of the usual, “Winning” with Wiz Khalifa. Pretty much, Jet Life! Jet Life! Jet Life!

7. Wale The Album About Nothing

Like Big Sean in Part 1, Wale, who came out around the same time as Sean, was able to make a step this year that he hadn’t yet. Both had big followings and many mixtapes to prove why but when it came to major label album, something always went wrong.   While Big Sean jumped into new territories, Wale reached back to his Seinfeld inspired mixtapes and pumped some steroids into it. For starters, for the first time, Jerry Seinfeld was actually completely on board and a contributor. That was big. Musically, Wale was able to bring his independent creativity to a major label release for the first time.

6. Pusha T Darkest Before Dawn

YUGGHCK! Since Pusha T explained how to spell his adlib in his recent Reddit AMA, I have been typing it a lot… Push is kind of like the Spurs in that he is SO good at what he does that we don’t mind that he hasn’t changed for 20 years. That being said, Darkest Before Dawn seems more geared at Pusha himself than previous releases and tracks like “Sunshine” with Jill Scott focus on social/legal issues that aren’t drug related, another rarity for Pusha T. The album is filled with layers upon layers of tightly packed lyrical tricks that will keep you busy for the next few years.

5. Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly

The controversial album that no one seemed to REALLY disagree about.. Is this album something that I listen to all of the time? Personally no, but there are times where certain tracks apply more than others and I can appreciate a lot of what Kendrick put into it. It obviously isn’t meant to be the music you listen to while you party or a number of the other main ways that we consume music so it shouldn’t be compared against anything in that vein. “Alright” has been adopted by many protests throughout the year as a new anthem.  His videos speak to the audience he intends them to do while the rest of the music lovers write think pieces about why they don’t like ’em. It is clear that 5, 10, 15 years from now, this album will still garner the most attention/discussion of any album this year.

4. Ka & Preservation Days with Dr. Yen Lo

This album got a little more hype when Earl Sweatshirt send out very high praise for Ka recently on Twitter but it is one that mostly went unspoken about. Ka’s complicated rhyme schemes are exactly the type of impressive lyricism that I am inclined to bump up in a list like this. The guy is a modern-day wordsmith and listening to him play with the English language over a dark backdrop provided by Preservation ended up being one of the best albums of the year.

3. A$AP Rocky At Long Last A$AP

I had a conversation with fellow Da-What co-founder Anu years ago, like 2011 or so, about A$AP Rocky. We were praising his early releases but more importantly, his general sense of aesthetics. That talent, the ability to know what will please our various senses, shines through on Rocky’s 2nd album, At.Long.Last.A$AP. He takes it upon himself to be the bridge between guest features as diverse as Rod Stewart, ScHoolboy Q, M.I.A., newly discovered guitarist Joe Fox and Mos Def.   Heavily influenced by psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD, everything from the artwork to videos to tour set up gave us a thoroughly a trippy experience. After losing his close friend ASAP Yams, this album was undoubtedly a major moment for Rocky and the rest of the Mob.

2. Freddie Gibbs Shadow of a Doubt

Nobody does it like Gibbs. If you are looking for 2015 gangster rap, your search should begin and end with this man here. The Gary native has a new wife and daughter to celebrate and the success of this album should only add to those wins. The album features Black Thought, E-40, frequent collaborator Dana Williams and more but Freddie handles more than half of the albums tracks himself.

1. Vince Staples Summertime 06

This album took me a very long time to listen all the way through. First, I had to listen to “Lift Me Up” at least 5 times. Then when I finally allowed my iPod to make it to track 2, it was a wrap. “Norf Norf” was another 5 or so times before I backtracked to the beginning. At 20 tracks, there are songs that didn’t HAVE to make the cut but I am certainly not mad at the double album. Releasing a two-disc debut that can hold the listener’s attention is quite a feat in 2015. Summertime 06 does more than just hold your attention and as a bonus, Vince is once of the best guys on social media right now. Go follow him too.