Top 30 Hip Hop and Rap Albums of 2015 Courtesy Of KTB

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The top 30 hip hop albums of 2015.


 
27 of our 30 albums charted number one on Billboard’s Hip and R&B or Rap charts for atleast 1 week. Nicki Minaj dropped in 2014 despite appearing on the January 2015 charts. Our albums were ranked according to three criteria:
 

Attention Grabbing

It’s not about whether we liked it, but whether we were drawn to it. Did we remember it afterwards? Perhaps we didn’t enjoy the album, but we wanted to go back and listen to it.
 

Depth On Repeated Listens

Layers, motifs, double entendres etc. in lyrics were crucial. This wasn’t necessarily synonymous with complexity, for simple albums poignantly striking specific emotions can certainly have depth even with elementary lyrics.
 

Staying Power

Were we able to listen to the album and enjoy it after listening for depth on multiple listen?. Many albums reveal themselves to be boring or bloated after a number of spins.
 
This is obviously all subjective. These rankings essentially boil down to a combination of the kinds of beats we like or sounds that we’ve never heard before, lyrics that resonate with, and an album put together as a cohesive unit as opposed to a collection of songs.
 

Top 30 Hip Hop and Rap Albums

Shaka Shaw writes how Hip Hop, as described by Afrika Bambaataa to describe the culture that emceeing belonged within. Hip-hop is the culture and rapping is one of five elements contained therein—the others being breakdancing, DJing and graffiti, and knowledge.
 
If there’s any distinction to be made, it’s made along the lines of quality or purity. Encouraged by labels, top-selling artists make records now indistinguishable from R&B or pop, appealing to a community in order to secure a place on the charts. Artists and songs are often categorized now based on who they are without identifying what they are. This allows those who have gotten their start within the hip-hop community to make other types of records, and still be classified as “hip-hop/rap” in order to appear at the top of the heap in terms of sales.
 
Ultimately, there are MCs creating art and contributing to the culture, and there are rappers whom are packaged products of record labels contributing to their own coffers with little regard for contributing to the art form nor its evolution. Formulaic output and the reluctance to take risks in the industry is just the harsh reality that is the result of hip-hop becoming so lucrative.
 
We encountered this phenomenon while listening to and evaluating many albums released in 2015. We feel our list accurately reflects the paradigm within which we live now when it concerns hip hop and rap. Here we go.
 

30) Lil Dicky: Professional Rapper

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Lil Dicky made our top 30 off the strength of his own hand.


 
Lil Dicky is a funny guy who raps pretty well. Lil Dicky is a pretty good rapper who’s also funny.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

29) DJ Khaled: I Changed A Lot

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DJ Khaled is the only non rhyming DJ in our top 30.


 
Khaled once again collected all of the hottest names in the game. He’s still trying to overwhelm with grand bangers, but there’s some dancehall and reggae in here as well.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

28) Jay Rock: 90059

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Jay Rock makes our Top 30 though he is never too high nor too low.


 
Jay Rock comes with another solid, strong, consistent performance. This album is a changeup from his freshman debut, but you will enjoy the most sophomore followup from the most traditional of the black hippies.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

27) Kid Ink: Full Speed

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Kid Ink is Top 30 by default


 
Kid Ink is clearly following a formula that has brought him success. Fast beats, tingling synths, and old school new jack swing. Why mess with success?
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

26) Future: DS2

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Future is lower in our top 30 than most would expect.


 
Future seems to be in a syrupy haze throughout the entire album. His vocals are sprightly, and the production is hypnotic. The album is almost psychedelic making the self coined Future Hendrix fairly apt.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

25) Fetty Wap: Fetty Wap

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Fetty wap could not be left off of the top 30 this year.


 
He goes hard on every line, and his surging voice gets your ear. Squad anthems celebrating victories, and stories of triumph of the will over hi hats and bass kicks makes Fetty’s hip hop contagious and singable.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

24) Young Thug: Barter 6

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Young Thug has the most unique flow in the top 30.


 
The album is inventive and Thugga is impossibly abundant with voice and sound. He bends, twists and warps his vocals making this album a tongue-twisting, syllabic exercise, though he offers glimpses of himself behind his malleable voice.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

23) Snoop Dogg: BUSH

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We didn’t know what this is, but it’s definitely top 30.


 
This is more of the new crooning Snoop. We’re not even sure that it’s hip-hop, but everyone’s on it, and it’s smooth as hell.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

22) Machine Gun Kelly: General Admission

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Cleveland makes our top 30


 
This album is a tour of MGK’s hometown of Cleveland showcasing his versatility as the best of both Bad Boy Records and Believeland right now. MGK is not Yelawolf.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

21) Rick Ross: Black Market

Ross is back to making his classic Maybach music landing him just outside of the top 20 in our top 30.

Ross is back to making his classic Maybach music landing him just outside of the top 20 in our top 30.


 
Ross has set the mood for a mellower more contemplative expectation from his music and Black Market is just that. There’s still some of what we call the traditional “Maybach Music”, but there are some loose, 90’s style beats and plenty of R&B features. Additionally, Ross seems to preach of the perils of success as much as he has celebrated them in the past.
 
KTB Approved Track::
 

 

20) Yelawolf: Love Story

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This is the album with the most country and rock in our top 30.


 
Yelawolf has expanded his musical boundaries in inventive ways, embracing his lifelong love of Southern rock and country, all the while dashed with his signature Bayou hip-hop flair. Risky, but definitely an involved and researched project.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

19) Joey BadA$$: B4.Da.$$

The most nost

The most nost


 
A gritty, witty and lyrical alternative to mainstream hip hop today. Over boom bap and soul samples, Joey updated the street vibe of 90’s rap for millennials with a flow that is part Nas and part Mos Def.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

18) Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt

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The rawest album in the top 30 bar none.


 
This album is a dark, fascinating trip to the bottom of ourselves. It’s raw but shows less is more. The lo-fi effect found throughout the entire album makes it the grittiest album on the list.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

17) Dr. Dre: Compton

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He’s definitely the richest guy in the top 30.


 
Dre’s last album is Dre 2015. There’s still genius production, singular perspective, and visionary collaboration. with future soul hooks. The simmering frustration is also familiar, but the observations are older and wiser. The nostalgia is also warmer.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

16) Jadakiss: Top 5 Dead Or Alive

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The most consistent rhymer in our top 30.


 
It’s chock full of lyrics as you would expect from the J-a-d-a, but acknowledges what the present game is and what the future will most likely be. He eschews it anyway and gives you bars over street shit.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

15) Drake and Future: What A Time To Be Alive

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Drake and Future is the highest ranked “mixtape” in our top 30.


 
This answered a lot of questions. Would is be better than the solo Future album? Yes. Would it be better than the solo Drake album? No. It’s a mixtape no doubt, and while their chemistry is generally good, they still decided to end the project with separate checks.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

14) Meek Mill: Dreams Worth More Than Money

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Meek took the biggest rap L in our top 30 despite putting out a really good album.


 
After three years, Meek makes great use of start-studded features with nice pacing. The solo tracks are also solid. Humiliated in the battle with Drake, this was nonetheless a really good album.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

13) The Game: The Documentary 2

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By going forward, The Game took it back at 13 in our Top 30


 
This is an ambitious sequel to his 2005 debut. We get a reflective album filled with vintage sample and battle raps. Game daydreams about the past and dreams about the future.
 
KTB Approved Tracks:
 

 

12) Rae Sremmurd: SremmLife

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Definitely the youngest in our Top 30.


 
The debut from brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy prove that southern rap is as celebratory and upbeat as ever. This album marks them as the Young Princes of the Turn Up Generation.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

11) Tech N9ne: Special Effects

Tech N9ne, in a normal year would be Top 10 in our Top 30.

Tech N9ne, in a normal year would be Top 10 in our Top 30.


 
Tech N9ne gave us ruthless production with every feature bringing their best. The Midwest influence is heavy and apparent with some rock and punk. The album will make you a Tech N9ne fan if you aren’t already.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

10) Wale: The Album About Nothing

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It’s about nothing, but is top 10 in our top 30.


 
The Seinfeld presence is a novelty and a constant theme throughout the album and inventive. It’s great music with good songs. Not much bad can be said about the album except that it’s about nothing.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

9) Travis Scott: Rodeo

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Travis Scott, more than anyone in the Top 30, has his own sound.


 
We labeled this project Kid Cudi 2.0 and not as a bad thing. There is superb production throughout as it’s clear Travis Scott is trying to create his own signature sound.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

8) Tyler The Creator: Cherry Bomb

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Tyler is the top entirely self produced album in our top 30.


 
This album starts off as more or less punk rock. It evolves into the jazz instrumentation that Tyler has been using most recently as he produced the entire album himself.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

7) Mac Miller: GO:OD AM

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The highest album in our top 30 not to be a Billboard number one album for any week.


 
This album is Mac Miller with clear eyes and a strong focus. He imparts the value of experiences and repercussions with crazy stories, deep discussions, and laughs.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

6) G Eazy: When It’s Dark Out

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G-Eazy or the “white Drake” was almost top 5 in our top 30.


 
G Eazy rhymes about his own changing landscape; specifically, the spoils of success. Though full of trap numbers, the late night confessional tracks are vulnerable and soul bearing.
 

 

5) A$AP Rocky: AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP

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Rocky marvels at his own success with beats carefully chosen spanning rock, soul, pop and the traditional bass heavy sound we’ve come to enjoy from him. This is meditation on both fame and happiness.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

4) Logic: The Incredible True Story

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The best concept album in our top 30


 
This album is a widescreen epic. Buoyed by a narrative of two space travelers gunning through the galaxy, Logic slays bars across jazz, electronic, and boom bap production styles. His ambition even spreads to lyrical and thematic realms while still paying homage to overcoming struggle.
 
KTB Approved Tracks:
 

 

3) Big Sean: Dark Sky Paradise

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This album sits comfortably between pomp and humility. It’s a plea for respect as Sean flexes his flashy lyrics with ambition throughout the entire beat saturated project.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

2) Kendrick LaMar: To Pimp A Butterfly

Top 30

Kendrick could’ve easily been in our Top 30.


 
Kendrick provides us with an uncompromising listening experience here with some depth. Jazzy production and remarkable lyrics reveal how Kendrick is dealing with being a young, famous, black man commenting on black on black crime and even referencing Roots.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

1) Drake: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Top 30

Drake tops our top 30 for 2015.


 
Every single track charted in the Billboard Top 100. Nothing else really needs to be said, but I’ll continue nonetheless. Drake contemplates and confronts over beats by 40 questioning the loyalty of old friends and considering his own mortality and legacy. It set the standard for 2015.
 
KTB Approved Track:
 

 

Why 30?

You can listen to one album a day over a month and be caught up on 2015. You now also have a 30 track hip hop and rap playlist that’s roughly two hours long. Whether you like the list or not; well, you’re welcome.

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KTB Editors

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