20. Phony PPL – Yesterday’s Tomorrow
It dropped back in January, when 2015 was still infantile but we haven’t forgot about the Brooklyn band Phony PPL and their strong record Yesterday’s Tomorrow. The album’s a gentle ride in a top down convertible, breeze blowing through the air but the wind’s not a distraction to the sounds rattling through the car’s speakers. It’s meant to be played in its entirety, as all good albums are but I personally can’t help but abusing the replay button on both “HelGa” and “Why ii Love The Moon.” “HelGa.” Specifically hits a chord as Hey Arnold, the TV show that inspired the song was a key to my childhood. Vocalist Elbee Thrie kind of flips the roles around as in this song, he has adoration for Helga Pataki while in the show, the roles are the opposite and Helga admires Arnold. The show doesn’t really have much weight in the song itself other than Helga’s name but the childhood, puppy love type of song concept is something so real and looking back, I had that elementary school crush. Fast forward and it never amounted to anything but a drunken hookup that aroused because we both confessed we had crushes on each other back then but that’s way off the point. While Elbee’s songs are my personal highlights of the album, Sheriff PJ adds another dimension to the album with his raps. It keeps the album fresh and gives it new life if you ever thought of getting bored with the album. But you’d be crazy to even think that might be happening. – Trixx
19. The Weekend – Beauty Behind The Madness
No one could’ve forseen The Weeknd’s pop transformation when looking at him in 2012 when his debut album, Trilogy, released or even a year later when he released the follow-up, Kiss Land. After a feature on an Ariana Grande song, doing the theme song for 50 Shades of Grey and finally releasing his own #1, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, Abel Tesfaye’s pop transformation was almost complete, he just needed to release a full album. Beauty Behind the Madness had pop, a few goodies for the OGs, and some interesting records that appealed to both sets of fans.
I tend to enjoy pieces of this album separately rather than playing it front to back as there are a few songs, such as ‘Real Life,’ ‘Losers,’ and ‘Earned It,’ I don’t particularly care for not to say they are bad songs. BBTM shines pretty much everywhere else, between the pop-focused singles, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and ‘In the Night’, bass-loaded hit ‘The Hills,’ Kanye-produced ‘Tell Your Friends,’ and tension filled ‘Acquainted’ and ‘Prisoner (feat. Lana Del Rey).’ While I will forever wonder how the music between him and Doc would’ve turned out, BBTM is likely my only favorite pop album. – Tommy
18. Dave B – Punch Drunk
Simply stated, Dave B is my favorite new artist of 2015. I’ve had my ears on the local acts of Seattle for a while, all in thanks to the Internet and I caught Dave B through his affiliations to The Physics, Sol and most importantly Jake One. Dave B only has this one project Punch Drunk as well as some loosies on his Soundcloud but there is not one song from the guy that I dislike. His sound’s clean, well recorded and mixed, the production’s wavier than the pacific ocean crashing into the islands of Hawaii and Dave B just a great presence on the microphone. His flow is the furthest thing from basic and often, he incorporates harmony into the way he inflects each word. On Punch Drunk, Dave B keeps it short, with no dull moment to be found. Just 27 minutes of vibes. – Trixx
17. Future – Beast Mode
On ‘Kno The Meaning’ from DS2, Future revealed that Beast Mode was recorded when DJ Esco was locked up in Dubai for 56 days. The project has a completely different vibe then his previous release Monster, but the nine track, Zaytoven produced project is a nice switch-up from his demonic self. Boosting glistening keys from Zay and a zestful vocal performance, the project has some of Future’s biggest street hits of 2015 including ‘Layup’, ‘Peacoat’, and ‘Real Sisters’, which later ended up as a bonus track on DS2.
Beast Mode is Future‘s second project on the list thus far and is not his last – a testament to how big his 2015 run was. There isn’t a skippable track on the project and was a great project to lay down the foundation for his historic 2015. – malbin
16. Maxo Kream – Maxo 187
While several albums this year made noise for exposing the tough lives for blacks in American ghettos, Maxo Kream raps about the exact opposite. His raps range from scary to straight out ruthless at times, detailing his time as a drug dealer and in some extremely violent gang confrontations. With every release of his, Maxo has improved his flows and beat choices. This holds true on Maxo 187, where he grabs some of the grimiest instrumentals of the year, and couples them with an unusual selection of guests (who would have though Fredo Santana, Father, and Joey Bada$$ would end up on the same tape?) to create one of the darkest and most aggresive records of the year. – Mitch
Standout tracks: Thirteen, 1998, Cell Boomin