35. Preston Harris – Love Crazy
Love songs are – for the most part – dead in 2015, which helps explain why Preston Harris‘ Love Crazy EP was so important. Almost entirely produced by Hit-Boy and lead by the self-titled single, Love Crazy brings back a amiable feeling that hasn’t appeared in music in a long time. The songwriting is filled with gems that make you wish you would have thought of when you wrote your girlfriend’s Valentines Day note in February. Sonically, the HS87 team meshes modern day drums, grubby basslines, and doo-wop to create a new type of soulful vibes that need to be the blueprint for the next generation of music. Trap R&B is in high demand these days, but one listen of this EP will have you rethinking that. The music on this EP is the kind of stuff you show your kids in the future.
At the time of the EP’s release, Preston made a statement that said “Love isn’t corny. It can still be fresh and dope.” That’s the Love Crazy EP in 10 words. – malbin
34. Jazz Cartier – Marauding In Paradise
Jazz Cartier is from Toronto, but he’s one of the few Toronto artists today not jumping on the OVO rap-singing wave. Instead, Cuzzi holds up an entire 15-track project by himself with a variety of beats and flows. Travis Scott comparisons hold true on tracks like “Dead or Alive” and “Holy Shit”, but he can get personal on tracks like “Too Good to Be True” or “Rose Quartz / Like, Crazy”. “New Religion” is easily one of the best songs of the year as well, with a really hard trap beat and a catchy hook. With a unique style for the area he comes from, I’m more than excited to follow where Jazz goes next. – Mitch
Standout tracks: New Religion, Rose Quartz / Like, Crazy, Switch
33. Main Attrakionz – 808s & Dark Grapes III
It had been a long time coming for Oakland based cloud rap duo Main Attrakionz, who had failed to make a big musical return since their breakout 2011, when they released 808s & Dark Grapes II and appeared on A$AP Rocky‘s Live.Love .A$AP mixtape. 808s & Dark Grapes III brings back the sound that made their earlier releases so attractive. Fellow Oakland-based producer duo FriendZone (known for producing Rocky’s “Fashion Killa”) were behind the boards for the entire project, providing Squadda and Mondre with more of their famous Clams Casino-esque instrumentals. Lyrically Squadda and Mondre are nothing special, but if you’re looking for an album to throw on in whatever mood, this is the one of the best possible just based on the great beats and chill flows. – Mitch
Standout tracks: Two Man Horror Film, Shoot The Dice, Dip
32. Czarface – Every Hero Needs A Villain
I was never even big on comic books growing up but this album is literally a comic book on record. The sequencing, the sound clips, it all plays into the album and theme so perfectly. Credit is due to 7L, who produced the entire album and with everything from those sound clips to the samples he chose for the beats, made this thing sound like an action packed comic. “Every Hero Needs A Villain” is a step up from the last album is every aspect. They used the first album as a warm up and this sophomore project is seminal album where they found the blueprint and also executed it to perfection. Esoteric’s punchlines are mostly brilliant, with only a couple corny ones to note and Inspectah Deck follows suit with probably a more likable flow and equally hard and memorable bars as his rapping counterpart. It’s such a likable album on so many levels and album that’s been getting constant spins throughout the year. – Trixx
31. Rashad – The Quiet Loud
Rashad released his second official album (which is mind-boggling knowing his backstory which starts with signing at RCA Records at the age of 13) this year with The Quiet Loud. Following up his 2012 debut album Museum (which was my #1 album of 2012), TQL brings much of the same feelings with a much better more serious tone throughout the 15 tracks.
Most notable shown on ‘Black Life’, where ‘Shad chants ‘Tell me why black life / comes so cheap / not something they wanna keep’ to start off the emotional track reflecting on the troublesome actions done to blacks over the years. The album features a handful of ram jams led by ‘As Long As You Love Me’ and a remorseful radio attempt ‘I Thought About Leaving Her’, which would have tore up radio waves in the mid 2000s and even on Urban AC stations today. The album also brings along ‘Turn Down’, ‘Slow Jam’, and ‘First Move’ – tracks accessible enough to bring in new fans to ease into ‘Shad’s patented sound.
Finishing off the album with ‘It Won’t Be Long’, a sorrowful track that leads one to believe that a blissful life is on the way. With a reported five albums on the way, ‘Shad definitely has some material cooking and ready to be delivered to us in 2016. – malbin