Finally, we conclude our year end lists with our favourite 20 albums of the year. Better late than never right? Whether it be a debut album, or veterans proving themselves yet again, this year was not short of quality bodies of work. We recommend you give all these albums a listen, but in case you need further convincing we’ll include our favourite song from each one. Thank us later!
(Note: A$AP Rocky’s album is not included as it is officially released next year)
Meek Mill – Dreams And Nightmares
Meek delivered a strong street-orientated effort on his first try. Unsurprising considering he has Rick Ross at the helm, but he still managed to hold his own against several high profile guests such as Jay-Z, Drake, Nas and Big Sean. Featuring mostly trap bangers, the only thing that could be said is Meek’s subject matter doesn’t exactly vary; but his voice is so raw every story he tells feels like it’s true.
Here’s our pick from Dreams And Nightmares: Amen (ft. Drake & Jeremih)
Ab-Soul – Control System
TDE had one helluva year, and first on our list from the crew is their deep thinker Ab-Soul. Probably the least well known member of the whole Black Hippy movement, Ab-Soul opened the worlds eyes and proved he wasn’t just there to make up the numbers.
Here’s our pick from Control System: Black Lip Bastard (ft. Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q & Jay Rock)
Slaughterhouse – Welcome To: Our House
Eminem’s cosign was what the most lyrical supergroup in the game needed to finally branch out to the mainstream. The album features an array of topics and production, but one thing which is always consistent and undeniable is the bars. Royce Da 5’9′, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I and Joe Budden all excel themselves, as they trade verses with some of the greats like Em himself and Busta Rhymes.
Here’s our pick from Our House: Goodbye
DJ Drama – Quality Street Music
The host of the ever popular Gangsta Grillz mixtape series proved it wasn’t just Khaled locking down the DJ album lane. This was a far superior effort than Khaled’s, and compiled artists that should of been put together ages ago (such as Tyler, The Creator with Wacka Flocka Flame, Common with Kendrick Lamar) and also came up with some more unorthodox combinations that still came together seamlessly (such as “Same Ol Story”, which combined Kid Ink, Schoolboy Q, Corey Gunz and Childish Gambino). This album is heavily slept on, but it provided just what the title suggested.
Here’s our pick from Quality Street Music: My Moment (ft. Jeremih, 2 Chainz & Meek Mill)
T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head
Tip had a lot to prove after several lackluster attempts at a comeback, not to mention several jail terms. His career looked to be over. But as Earl Sweatshirt put it “this is like 1990!”. T.I. proved he was still a force to be reckoned with and delivered one of his best albums in years. The fact it was released so recently and still makes the list is a credit to how good it is.
Here’s our pick from Trouble Man: Sorry (ft. Andre 3000)
Game – Jesus Piece
Similarly to T.I., Game had so much to prove with this album. Often the butt of many jokes in hip-hop, Jayceon provided an album that threw critics entirely by how good it actually was. It was hard to fault a lot of it, and Game found his niche again. Featuring some stellar production and guest verses (and although it’s laden with them, Game never gets outshines as has been the case recently) Jesus Piece really was a great piece of work.
Here’s our pick from Jesus Piece: All That (Lady) (ft. Jeremih, Lil Wayne, Big Sean & Fabolous)
TNGHT – TNGHT EP
A collaborative effort between Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, this album featured a few banging instrumentals which combined hip-hop and electronic music. The popularity into what’s being labelled as “Electronic Trap Music (ETM) is growing, and these guys are probably one of the main reasons.
Here’s our pick from TNGHT: Bugg’n
Usher – Looking 4 Myself
Usher proved why he is still an OG in R&B. Although the occasional David Guetta sounding song cropped up, they were very limited; in this album Usher brought back the soul of R&B. More personal, with less bells and whistles, this was a diverse project and one that surpassed expectations of many.
Here’s our pick from Looking 4 Myself: What Happened To U
Tyga – Careless World: Rise Of The Last King
Forever hated on, Tyga showed he’s actually a good artist who knows exactly how to compile a cohesive album. Plus, this album had Rack City on it… Enough said?
Full Review here.
Here’s our pick from Careless World: Motherfucker Up (ft. Nicki Minaj)
G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer
When you see “Presented By Kanye West” at the top of an album, you know it’s going to be G.O.O.D. Read our full review here. We should of rated it higher, but oh well.
Here’s our pick from Cruel Summer: Clique (Big Sean, Jay-Z & Kanye West)
Plan B – iLL Manors
We’re not going to lie, we thought this was just a soundtrack too. But it really isn’t. Plan B returned to his gritty grime roots, and provided a dark insight into street life in Britain. Featuring skits which are at times so gruesome its un-listenable (such as a kid stabbing someone then puking), Benjamin Drew really does shows the darker side of the nation.
Here’s our pick from iLL Manors: ill Manors
Big Boi – Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors
Big Boi proved on his last solo album that he wasn’t just “the other half of OutKast”, but this album solidified it further. He provided us with an alternative take on hip-hop, working with artists not usually associated with the genre, such as Little Dragon, Phantogram and Jai Paul. But it worked.
Here’s our pick from Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumours: Lines (ft. A$AP Rocky)
Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dreams
Miguel is one of several names bringing back R&B, and the re surging genre was epitomised in this album. Featuring a more indie approach, Miguel’s incredible and soulful vocals were the star of the show.
Schoolboy Q – Habits And Contradictions
The second entry from TDE comes from Schoolboy Q. The crews wild boy released his album at the start of the year, and it still gets constant play from us at #MuLa. Q’s unorthodox flow and delivery provided highly entertaining bars, and he surrounded himself only with his TDE comrades, as well as good friend A$AP Rocky, which led to a cohesive album.
Here’s our pick from Habits And Contradictions: Hands On The Wheel (ft. A$AP Rocky)
Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t
The Bawse struck again this year, with what is undoubtedly his best effort yet. He pushed himself further than before, with more diverse sounding records, and pitted his lyrical ability against the likes of Jay-Z and Andre 3000, as well as several good R&B blended songs with artists such as Drake and Ne-Yo.
Here’s our pick from God Forgives, I Don’t: Diced Pineapples (ft. Wale & Drake)
Frank Ocean – channel orange
Probably the most hyped about artist of the decade, Frank didn’t fail to provide after expectations were set so high. He avoided any scenario of “selling out” and most songs were performed by him alone, aside from a few outstanding guest verses from Andre 3000 and Earl Sweatshirt. I still play “Thinking About You” most days.
Here’s our pick from channel orange: Thinking About You
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
Breaking into our top 5 are newcomer rapper Macklemore, along with his producer-in-crime Ryan Lewis. This independently released album (which sold good numbers, might I add) is like nothing in hip-hop before it. Macklemore ranges from topics such as same sex marriage, to shopping at a charity shop, to sneaker-related violence.
Here’s our pick from The Heist: Thrift Shop (ft. Wanz)
Nas – Life Is Good
Nas is still the don. But this time around, for his tenth studio album (yes, TENTH), he delivered a more personal effort, discussing topics such as his daughter and his failed marriage to Kelis. He still hasn’t lost his rapping ability however, and he doesn’t deliver a poor line throughout.
Here’s our pick from Life Is Good: The Don
The Weeknd – Trilogy
And the runner up is… Abel! Read our full review here.
Here’s our pick from Trilogy: The Zone (ft. Drake)
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, M.A.A.D. City
And the winner is… of course, you already knew this was coming. There was only ever one winner. Read our full review here.
Here’s our pick from good kid, MA.A.D. City: Backseat Freestyle