Fashionably-Early’s Top 50 Albums of 2015

25. Rae Sremmurd – Sremmlife

sremmlife

PURCHASE: iTunes || Amazon (CD, MP3, Vinyl)

Singles rappers don’t make good albums. This is a known fact that has been proven again and again as rappers with huge singles try to release albums and mixtapes that don’t get any sales or recognition. Hence, why they are known as singles rappers. But with a production team strong enough to launch two huge singles, ‘No Flex Zone’ and ‘No Type,’ from the then unknown Rae Sremmurd, Sremmurd was able to craft a compelling debut album, SremmLife, even if every song was a banger. While SremmLife is filled with songs that are singles, they don’t sound much different than Sremmurd’s typical songs. SremmLife is digestible as individual pieces or altogether, though be ready to turnup and party if you do decide to play it all the way through, even if it’s just you sitting at your computer. – Tommy

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24. Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise

Big Sean Dark Sky


PURCHASE: iTunes || Amazon (CD, MP3, Vinyl)

Big Sean’s first two albums aren’t projects I enjoy listening all the way through. Actually, I mostly stay away from the music on them completely, save ‘Marvin & Chardonnay’ on occasion, while his mixtape releases get most my attention from the Detroit rapper. On Dark Sky Paradise, it was clear Sean had turned around the music, still with focus on the singles, but quality throughout the entire project. With some of the biggest singles of last year and 2015, Sean created a compelling project with plenty of good features with Kanye West, Drake, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and PARTYNEXTDOOR although he holds his own on every song. Big Sean has plenty of growth left as a rapper, but the progress is evident on Dark Sky Paradise. – Tommy

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23. Towkio – .Wav Theory

Towkio Wav Theory

Around the time Chance the Rapper’s and The Social Experiment’s disappointing Surf came out, Towkio released .Wav Theory, an impressive mixtape loaded with fresh instrumentals and energy-driven delivery. Towkio proved he could select a wide range of well-crafted production, source a variety of big features and collaborations while putting his own personal touch on things with vocals that sound like a cross of Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa. Although the album is less than 40 minutes, it sonically packed and has plenty of replay value. Songs like “Free Your Mind (feat. Donnie Trumpet),” “God In Me (feat. Leather Corduroys)” and “Heaven Only Knows (feat. Chance The Rapper, Lido & Eryn Allen Kane)” have particularly interesting instrumentals which let Towkio shine and show that he is not just another Chance the Rapper clone as part of the SAVEMONEY crew. – Tommy

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22. Young Thug – Barter 6

Young Thug Barter 6

PURCHASE: iTunes || Amazon (MP3)

Young Thug surprised the world by naming his debut retail mixtape after his idol’s, Lil Wayne, famed Carter series. While initially unimpressive because of the number of records I had previously heard from the mixtape, after some time to reflect on Barter 6, it soon became one of my favorite 2015 and Thug releases. Barter 6 is a dark, hazy, drug-induced world of Jeffrey Williams, better known as Young Thug. It is primarily powered by Thug’s trusted produces, Wheezy and London on da Track, although Wheezy does the majority of the production. The booming and bouncing ‘Constantly Hating (feat. Birdman)’ displays one of Wheezy’s most left field beats yet, that Thug sounds effortlessly at home over. Past this, Wheezy’s production gets much darker such as on the aggressive “Never Had It (feat. Young Dolph)” and stoned out “Dream (feat. Yak Gotti).” London provides some of the project’s best instrumentals with the “Check,” where Thug easily switches unique flows, the rapid “With That (feat. Duke)” and grand “Numbers,” the penultimate track.

The project is likely Thug’s most focused project ever, despite being a mish-mash of random songs recorded over the previous two years. However, this is not surprising that random Thug songs from the same producers could be put together to create a cohesive project as he easily churns out 5 complete songs a day. Barter 6 is surely not the best work Thug can produce, but it shows even a project of quality of leftovers from the weirdo-MC can be some of the year’s best work. – Tommy

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21. Drake & Future – What A Time To Be Alive

what a time to be alive

PURCHASE: iTunes || Amazon (MP3)

With a name as “Drake” as ever, wave as booming as Future’s and cover art as stock as DS2’s, What A Time To Be Alive, was Drake’s second mixtape of his “off” year and another entry into Future’s growing catalog. WATTBA proved to a tape full of club tracks and aux cord classics with typical yet interesting trap production from Metro Boomin and Southside. Although having plenty of successful bangers like ‘Jumpman,’ ‘Big Rings,’ and ‘Digital Dash,’ WATTBA had some songs with less typical Future instrumentals like ‘Live from the Gutter’ and ‘Diamonds Dancing.’ While ultimately being a project of Future songs with Drake hooks and verses, WATTBA was a huge moment for both artists, selling more as a mixtape in the first week than most rapper’s albums sell, despite not being either of the artist’s biggest project of the year. 2015 was both Drake’s and Future’s year, despite being a non-album year for Drake and a partially a rebuilding year for Future, and WATTBA was the musical embodiment of this fact. – Tommy

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