Donald Glover continues to create his own lane with his new 1970s R&B-inspired Awaken, My Love! Soulful elements of George Clinton, Funkadelic, Tower of Power and The Isley Brothers can all be heard on the stunning project. Rapping is noticeably absent from the album, but the harmonization over twangy electric guitars, electric pianos and flutes on its 11 tracks provide a breathtaking and dream-like experience for the ages. Stream via Spotify below.
2015 was such a great year for music that I ended up writing about way too many albums that resonated with me. Here is my list of personal favorites in no particular order.
Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth
His best work in years, Lupe‘s masterpiece divided into four seasons includes clever punchlines and discusses social issues accompanied by a medley of instruments including violins and atypical banjos.
Erykah Badu – But You Caint Use My Phone
Dedicated to society’s fixation with cell phones, Ms. Badu analyzes their affect on relationships over futuristic Funk on a project sparked by Drake‘s “Hotline Bling.”
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Already earning countless accolades including 11 Grammy nominations, Kendrick documents his battles with inner demons while exposing racial inequality and promoting Black pride on a unique fusion of Jazz and Funk.
Logic – The Incredible True Story
A space travel concept album that takes place in the future makes an intriguing listen filled with rapid-fire flows and stellar production influenced by Yeezy, Outkast and golden era Hip Hop.
The Internet – Ego Death
The mature and developed effort by the former Odd Future act wows longtime and new fans with Grammy-nominated sensual and airy R&B melodies.
Phony Ppl – Yesterday’s Tomorrow
The nine member band exhibit alluring and state-of-the-art instrumentation that dazzles on this mellow Jazz, Hip Hop and R&B laced work.
Tyler, The Creator – Cherry Bomb
Tyler showcases a vast range of beautiful production (based on his favorite musical genres) that includes strings, electric guitars and xylophones as he encourages listeners to soar to new heights.
Freddie Gibbs – Shadow of a Doubt
Gangsta Gibbs displays bold versatility on a hard as steel album that touches on old drug habits and features unexpected guests like Gucci Mane.
Kali Uchis – Por Vida EP
Kali‘s candy coated voice perfectly complements this well-executed smooth and nostalgic R&B album that sounds like it escaped from the 60s.
Travis $cott – Rodeo
A dark and melodic ode to indulging in libations and the Hollywood lifestyle, Rodeo channels elements of his mentor’s most influential album – 808s and Heartbreak.
Dr. Dre – Compton
Dr. Dre‘s return to Hip Hop brings Compton to life with a rich and pictorial West Coast soundtrack assisted by both legends and newcomers.
Mick Jenkins – Wave[s]
Mick Jenkins urges present day society to seek more truth and provides listeners with awe-inspiring bars and overall good vibes.
A$AP Rocky – A.L.L.A.
A kaleidoscopic and experimental approach to his sophomore effort finds Flacko not only rapping over organs and guitars, but harmonizing on tracks from time to time.
Puff Daddy – MMM
Puffy and his formerly absent Family make sure the hustler’s spirit lives on thanks to his latest gem dedicated to Money Making Mitch from Paid in Full.
Pusha T – Darkest Before Dawn
Dense lyricism and an unconventional assortment of first-class beats compose an album so resplendent it is sure to pique fans’ interest in 2016‘s King Push.
Tame Impala – Currents
Tame Impala‘s third studio album filled with colorful psychedelia will have you floating on feel-good notes perfect for mood lifting or scenic drives.
Snoop Dogg and Pharrell – Bush
Snoop and Pharrell team up to create 1970s inspired grooves that pay homage to some of California’s finest assets: women, weed, and weather.
Miguel – Wildheart
Miguel‘s sexy collection of love songs is fiery and well-produced, yet also manages to simultaneously emit honesty and rawness.
It’s that time again. The following list includes my personal favorite Hip Hop & R&B albums of 2014.
Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron – Representing Hoover Street, Q brings West Coast Gangsta Rap on his first major label project with catchy, chant-like hooks and A-list guests. [My Review]
<Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata – Gangsta Gibbs’ gritty lyrics sound exceptional over the raw and standout production Madlib is famous for.
Theophilus London – Vibes – Listen to a melodic and electronic alternative R&B album that boasts executive production from Kanye West and an appearance from Leon Ware.
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 – Rapper Killer Mike and producer El-P solidify their impressive chemistry as a duo on their hard-hitting sequel with unorthodox, but satiating beats.
D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah – D’Angelo’s much-needed album feasibly addresses political issues and meshes various eras of R&B over upbeat instrumentation.
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica – The self-proclaimed King of the South spits transparent rhymes, and his production manages to surprisingly resemble beats from Outkast’s classic, Aquemini at times.
PRhyme – PRhyme – Royce da 5’9″’s raw lyrics over DJ Premier’s exquisite beats create an exceptional 9-track album you’ll need to play multiple times to truly appreciate all of its clever wordplay.
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! – Experience a Jazz infused death trip accompanied by Kendrick Lamar, Snoop, and Thundercat interspersed among psychedelic, funky and divine instrumentals.
YG – My Krazy Life – Take a trip through Bompton with beats that embody the traditional West Coast sound reminiscent of classic acts like early N.W.A. and Tha Dogg Pound.
Pharrell Williams – G I R L – Enjoy a feel-good, uplifting album rejoicing femininity from the legendary Pharrell Williams featuring everyone from Daft Punk to Alicia Keys. [My Review]