It’s an exciting time to be enamored with music, especially hip-hop. The best thing about being a music lover in 2015 (as opposed to being a fan back in the ’80’s) is that you have the ability to decide what you want to listen to now more than ever. The advertising departments of labels don’t play nearly as much of a role in terms of what we listen to as they used to. All it takes is someone relatively unknown writing about an album; people find it and do the advertising themselves without realizing it. We document every single thing that we do nowadays, including throwing a screenshot of the new favorite album on Twitter or Instagram. One Google search later the next person’s headphones are filled with your newest obsession, and thirty minutes later they are texting their like-minded friends about said artist.
This push towards finding more obscure hip-hop artists has helped to catapult the amount of interesting rappers in the mainstream community. Rappers like Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Rocky, and Travi$ Scott have been able to establish a very strong fanbase not in spite of, but because of their strangeness. Producers are given much more leeway to create what they want; no longer are beats created in a boom-bap fashion to appease listeners. Beat-makers like Erick Arc Elliot (Flatbush Zombies) and Blue Sky Black Death give tracks more atmosphere than they have ever had, which in turn makes the lyrical content less important. The art in hip-hop was always relative to the lyrical genius of artist, but now we have rappers with questionable rapping talent sitting at the top of the charts. It doesn’t necessarily point to a flaw in what we are enjoying as fans, though. The harsh truth is that there has always been some terrible artists sitting on top (remember Styles P? Ja Rule, anyone?), but now that the beats are more important in the construction of a track, it makes these rappers inherently more interesting.
This has in turn made hip-hop more interesting the past several years. We have watched the likes of Mac Miller teaming up with Rick Ross for a song without batting an eyelash. It has also allowed for hip-hop artists with something legitimate to say like Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples to ascend the ranks as well. A$AP Rocky’s At Long Last A$AP melds soul and rock samples in a smooth package that has been one of the highlights of this year, and Vince Staples’ double-disc release Summertime ’06 combines lurid storytelling with hypnotic beats. The glut of amazing albums this year proves that hip-hop is alive and well, or at the very least risen from the grave. The undead genre is lurching about and giving us the most creative listening this side of early Wu. I have included a list of songs from 2015 that you simply can’t miss this summer. Turn the bass up in your car and jam to these amazing tracks; thank me later.
1. Vince Staples – Senorita – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OAYMMod9Wo
2. A$AP Rocky (featuring Bones) – “Canal St. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf_fcj–Zxw
3. Drake – “Energy” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-AjsctjklI
4. Wale – “The Middle Finger” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86gxgtVWlAk
5. Meek Mill (featuring Drake) – “R.I.C.O.” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgRrxFsX538
6. Kendrick Lamar – “The Blacker the Berry” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AhXSoKa8xw
7. Lupe Fiasco – “Mural” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwS6Qn7hCcA
8. Earl Sweatshirt – “Grief” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ5Mu2gs-M8
9. Joey Bada$$ – “Paper Trail$” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stoLqWXsIOY
10. Flatbush ZOMBies – “Did U Ever Think?” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIoMfcyYXJw