Top 15 Albums/Mixtapes of 2015

It has been a pretty great year for hip-hop and R&B fans. Kendrick Lamar delivered yet another classic album. Dr. Dre delivered his final album and it was impressive. Janet Jackson returned with a very cohesive effort. Adele returned from her four-year hiatus to dominate the charts and that's just the beginning. As 2015 comes to an end, it is important to reflect on those projects that made a lasting impression. The following list represents my favorite hip-hop and R&B albums/mixtapes from 2015. Unlike my Top 40 list, I also tried my best to rank these albums based on their merit. I hope you enjoy the list and these projects as much as I did. I'll see you in 2016!

To hear me talk about these projects in detail, check out Episode 18 of my podcast!

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1. To Pimp A Butterfly- Kendrick Lamar

 

2. Ego Death- The Internet

 

3. Surf- Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment

 

4. 25- Adele

 

5. Rodeo- Travi$ Scott

 

6. Summertime '06- Vince Staples

 

7. Beauty Behind The Madness- The Weeknd

 

8. You Should Be Here- Kehlani

 

9. Wildheart- Miguel

 

10. Tetsuo & Youth- Lupe Fiasco

 

11. Dark Sky Paradise- Big Sean

 

12. If You're Reading This It's Too Late- Drake

 

13. DS2- Future

 

14. The Album About Nothing- Wale

 

15. Compton- Dr. Dre

 

Honorable Mentions:

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Unbreakable- Janet Jackson

T R A P S O U L- Bryson Tiller

But You Caint Use My Phone- Erykah Badu

SremmLife- Rae Sremmurd

What A Time To Be Alive- Drake & Future

-AO

 

 

 

58th Annual GRAMMY Predictions

The 58th Annual GRAMMY Award nominations have been announced and Kendrick Lamar leads the pack with 11 nominations, the most since Michael Jackson was nominated 12 times in 1984 (MJ won 8 that night). Hopefully, it's redemption night for Kendrick and his amazing album—To Pimp A Butterfly—wins big, but you never know with The GRAMMYs. Check out my predictions of some important categories and some notable snubs below.

(My predictions of who WILL win are in bold, My thoughts on who SHOULD win are italicized.)

Album of the Year

  • Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes
  • To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
  • Traveller – Chris Stapleton
  • 1989 – Taylor Swift
  • Beauty Behind the Madness – The Weeknd

Record of the Year

  • "Really Love" – D'Angelo and the Vanguard
  • "Uptown Funk" – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
  • "Thinking Out Loud" – Ed Sheeran
  • "Blank Space" – Taylor Swift
  • "Can't Feel My Face" – The Weeknd

Song of the Year

  • "Alright"- Kendrick Lamar
  • "Blank Space"- Taylor Swift
  • "Girl Crush"- Little Big Town
  • "See You Again"- Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
  • "Thinking Out Loud"- Ed Sheehan

Best R&B Performance

  • "If I Don't Have You" – Tamar Braxton
  • "Rise Up" – Andra Day
  • "Breathing Underwater" – Hiatus Kaiyote
  • "Planes" – Jeremih feat. J. Cole
  • "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)" – The Weeknd

Best Traditional R&B Performance

  • "He Is" – Faith Evans
  • "Little Ghetto Boy" – Lalah Hathaway
  • "Let It Burn" – Jazmine Sullivan
  • "Shame" – Tyrese
  • "My Favorite Part of You" – Charlie Wilson

Best R&B Song

  • "Coffee"- Miguel
  • "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)"- The Weeknd
  • "Let It Burn"- Jazmine Sullivan
  • "Really Love"- D'Angelo & The Vanguard
  • "Shame"- Tyrese

Best Urban Contemporary Album

  • Ego Death – The Internet
  • You Should Be Here – Kehlani
  • Blood – Lianne La Havas
  • Wildheart – Miguel
  • Beauty Behind the Madness – The Weeknd

Best R&B Album

  • Coming Home – Leon Bridges
  • Black Messiah – D'Angelo and The Vanguard
  • Cheers to the Fall – Andra Day
  • Reality Show – Jazmine Sullivan
  • Forever Charlie – Charlie Wilson

Best Rap Performance

  • "Apparently" – J. Cole
  • "Back to Back" – Drake
  • "Trap Queen" – Fetty Wap
  • "Alright" – Kendrick Lamar
  • "Truffle Butter" – Nicki Minaj featuring Drake & Lil Wayne
  • "All Day" – Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

  • "One Man Can Change The World" – Big Sean featuring Kanye West & John Legend
  • "Glory" – Common & John Legend
  • "Classic Man" – Jidenna featuring Roman GianArthur
  • "These Walls" – Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat
  • "Only" – Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown

Best Rap Song

  • "All Day"- Kanye West
  • "Alright"- Kendrick Lamar
  • "Energy"- Drake
  • "Glory"- Common & John Legend
  • "Trap Queen"- Fetty Wap

Best Rap Album

  • 2014 Forest Hills Drive – J. Cole
  • Compton – Dr. Dre
  • If You're Reading This It's Too Late – Drake
  • To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
  • The Pinkprint – Nicki Minaj

Best Music Video

  • "LSD" – ASAP Rocky
  • "I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)" – The Dead Weather
  • "Alright" – Kendrick Lamar
  • "Bad Blood" – Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar
  • "Freedom" – Pharrell Williams

SNUBS:

Best New Artist:
Fetty Wap

Song Of The Year:
"Hotline Bling"- Drake (apparently the submission form never got to Cash Money)

Best Rap Album:
Tetsuo & Youth- Lupe Fiasco
Dark Sky Paradise- Big Sean
RTJ2- Run The Jewels
Wale- The Album About Nothing

The GRAMMYs will air on CBS at 8/7c on February 15, 2016. Head here for the full list of nominees.

-AO

 

 

 

 

 

Rihanna Announces 'ANTI' World Tour & Dates

Rihanna's eighth studio album—Anti—will be released on December 4th (November 27th on TIDAL) and she has announced a world tour to go with it. The "Anti" World Tour kicks off in San Diego on February 26th and runs for nearly 6 months before its final show in Zurich, Switzerland on August 12th. Travi$ Scott will be joining Rihanna on the US dates, while The Weeknd and Big Sean will accompany her overseas. Tickets go on sale to the general public on December 3rd and to TIDAL subscribers on November 30th. Get tickets here and check the dates below.

U.S. Dates

February 26 - San Diego, CA @ Viejas Arena
February 28 - San Jose, CA @ SAP Center
March 1 - Phoenix, AZ @ Talking Stick Resort Arena
March 4 - Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center
March 5 - Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
March 6 - Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
March 8 - New Orleans, LA @ Smoothie King Center
March 9 - Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena
March 12 - Jacksonville @ Jacksonville Arena
March 13 - Tampa, FL @ Amalie Arena
March 15 - Miami, FL @ American Airlines Arena
March 18 - Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
March 19 - Cincinnati, OH @ U.S. Bank Arena
March 20 - Charlotte, NC @ The Time Warner Cable Arena
March 22 - Washington, DC @ Verizon Center
March 23 - Buffalo, NY @ First Niagara Center
March 24 - Auburn Hills, MI @ Palace of Auburn Hills
March 26 - Hartford, CT @ XL Center
March 27 - Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center
April 2 - Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
April 3 - Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo
April 5 - Quebec City, QC @ Centre Videotron
April 6 - Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
April 9 - Baltimore, MD @ Royal Farms Arena
April 10 - Boston, MA @ TD Garden
April 13 - Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Center
April 15 - Chicago, IL @ United Center
April 18 - Winnipeg, MS @ MTS Centre
April 20 - Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place
April 21 - Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome
April 23 - Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena
April 24 - Seattle, WA @ KeyArena
April 27 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Vivint Smart Home Arena
April 29 - Las Vegas, NV @ Mandalay Bay
May 3 - Los Angeles, CA @ Forum
May 7 - Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena

European Dates

June 11 - Amsterdam, Holland @ Amsterdam Arena
June 14 - Coventry, United Kingdom @ Ricoh Arena
June 16 - Cardiff, United Kingdom @ Cardiff Stadium
June 18 - Sunderland, United Kingdom @ Stadium Of Light
June 21 - Dublin, Ireland @ Aviva Stadium
June 24 - London, United Kingdom @ Wembley Stadium
June 27 - Glasgow, United Kingdom @ Hampden Park
June 29 - Manchester, United Kingdom @ Emirates Old Park
July 4 - Stockholm, Sweden @ Tele2 Arena
July 7 - Copenhagen, Denmark @ Refshale Island
July 9 - Hamburg, Germany @ Volkspark Stadion
July 13 - Milan, Italy @ San Siro
July 15 - Nice, France @ Allianz Stadium
July 17 - Frankfurt, Germany @ Commerzbank Arena
July 19 - Lyon, France @ Grande Stade
July 23 - Lille, France @ Stade Lille
July 26 - Prague, Czech Republic @ Synotip Arena
July 28 - Cologne, Germany @ Rhein Energie Stadion
July 30 - Paris, France @ Stade de France
August 2 - Berlin, Germany @ Olympiastadion
August 5 - Warsaw, Poland @ PGE Narodowy
August 7 - Munich, Germany @ Olympiastadion
August 10 - Vienna, Austria @ Ernst Happel Stadium
August 12 - Zurich, Switzerland @ Letzigrund Stadion

-AO
 

The Weeknd's 5 Best Songs

The Weeknd's sophomore album, Beauty Behind The Madness, was released today. I haven't listened to it yet, but in honor of the release, I have made a list of The Weeknd's five best songs. Enjoy and get the album here.

1. "The Knowing"-House of Balloons (2011)

A track from one of The Weeknd's earlier mixtapes, "The Knowing" is a dark song where he confesses to knowing that his lover has cheated on him, but he's become numb to it all.

2. "The Zone (feat. Drake)"- Thursday (2011)

"The Zone" is a song that sees The Weeknd and Drake lost in a sea of strippers and syrup. By this point, The Weeknd had garnered much attention for his dark, self-loathing lyrics. OVOXO at its finest.

3. "Adaptation"- Kiss Land (2013)

The Weeknd's debut album, Kiss Land, saw him taking his sound to the main stage. "Adaptation" is a song of longing, for love lost in the midst of submitting to temptation.

4. "Wanderlust"- Kiss Land (2013)

Kiss Land was also an album where The Weeknd shows a lot of similarities to Michael Jackson. And I think "Wanderlust" showcases that perfectly. From the production to the way his voice hits every note, it's uncanny.

5. "Can't Feel My Face"- Beauty Behind The Madness (2015)

In The Weeknd's latest offering, the lead single "Can't Feel My Face" is a bonafide hit. The Weeknd is at the top of his game and I love it.

-AO

The Weeknd- "Tell Your Friends" (Music Video)

The Weeknd is releasing his sophomore album, Beauty Behind The Madness, on tomorrow and has now released the music video for his Kanye West-produced song, "Tell Your Friends." The video is very dramatic as it features The Weeknd burying a version of himself and killing what seems to be the devil, a character that also appeared in his video for "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face." He also features a portion of his song "Real Life" at the end of the video; this album sounds like it'll be a good one. Pre-order it here.

-AO

The Weeknd Announces 'The Madness' Tour

The Weeknd is going on tour with Travi$ Scott and Banks this fall to support the release of his upcoming album, Beauty Behind The Madness. "The Madness" Tour kicks off in Toronto on November 3rd and runs for over a month. You can get tickets here and check out the dates below. Beauty Behind The Madness drops on August 28th.

-AO

The Weeknd Announces Album Title & Release Date

The Weeknd has been releasing hit after hit since his last album with the releases of "Often," "Can't Feel My Face," and "The Hills." Well, he has now revealed the name and release date of the album that will house those songs. The album will be called Beauty Behind The Madness and will be released on August 28th. I thought his last album, Kiss Land, was very good and I'm interested to see if he can keep up this momentum. Preorder his new album here.

-AO

Made In America Festival (Lineup)

This year's Budweiser Made In America Festival will take place in Philly on September 5th and 6th. The headliners this year are Beyoncé and The Weeknd with other sets by J. Cole, Modest Mouse, Big Sean, and more. Get your tickets here and check out the full lineup below. Enjoy.

Beyoncé
The Weeknd
J. Cole
Axwell & Ingrosso
Bassnectar
Modest Mouse
Death Cab For Cutie
Banks
Meek Mill
Big Sean
Future
Duke Dumont
A-Trak
Santigold
Nick Jonas
Metric
De La Soul
G-Eazy
DJ Mustard
GTA
Cedric Gervais
Claude Vonstroke
Fabolous
Halsey
Action Bronson
Earl Sweatshirt
Ryan Hemsworth
Vic Mensa
Burns
Botnek
Aeroplane
Jacob Plant
Saint Motel
Young Rising Sons
Grits & Biscuits
The Struts
Flatbush Zombies
Lola Wolf
Creepoid
SuperHeaven
Hop Along
Waxahatchee
Strand of Oaks
Remy Banks
Mick Jenkins
Marian Hill
Post Malone
Mayeni
Bas
Cozz
Omen

-AO

 

The Weeknd- "The Hills" (Music Video)

The Weeknd has revealed the music video for a brand new song, "The Hills." This track sees The Weeknd embracing the sound that got him where he is today. The song and video are dark as the latter features The Weeknd escaping from a car crash. Check it out above and stay tuned for more information on a possible album from The Weeknd. Enjoy.

-AO

Ariana Grande- "Love Me Harder (feat. The Weeknd)" (SNL Performance)

Ariana Grande was the musical guest on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live last Saturday. One of the songs she performed was "Love Me Harder" and she brought The Weekend along to assist her. It was a great performance as they have some incredible chemistry on stage. Enjoy.

-AO

Top 40 Favorite Songs of 2013

I had originally intended for this list to include my top 25 favorite songs of the year, but after realizing that there were around 50 candidates, I decided to make it a top 40. These are my top 40 favorite songs from 2013, listed in order based on how much I enjoyed them, not their merit. Happy New Years everyone and here’s hoping that, musically, 2014 is as good to us as 2013 was. Enjoy.

  1. "Blood On The Leaves”- Kanye West, Yeezus
  2. “Wanderlust”- The Weeknd, Kiss Land
  3. "Let The Groove Get In”- Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience: 1 of 2
  4. "Acid Rain”- Chance The Rapper, Acid Rap
  5. "Lose Yourself To Dance (feat. Pharrell)”- Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  6. "Holy Holy (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid & Ab-Soul)”- Vic Mensa, INNANETAPE
  7. "Pusha Man (feat. Nate Fox & Lili K.)”- Chance The Rapper, Acid Rap
  8. “Nosetalgia (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”- Pusha T, My Name Is My Name
  9. "She Knows (feat. Amber Coffman)”- J. Cole, Born Sinner
  10. “Primetime (feat. Miguel)”- Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady
  11. "Ghosts That We Knew”- Mumford & Sons, Babel
  12. "Drunk In Love (feat. Jay Z)”- Beyoncé, BEYONCÉ
  13. "Tears For ODB”- J. Cole, Truly Yours
  14. “Answer”- Tyler, The Creator, Wolf
  15. "Too Much (feat. Sampha)”- Drake, Nothing Was The Same
  16. “48 (feat. Nas & Frank Ocean)”- Tyler, The Creator, Wolf
  17. “Victory”- Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady
  18. “Runaway”- J. Cole, Born Sinner
  19. "Worst Behavior”- Drake, Nothing Was The Same
  20. “Adaptation”- The Weeknd, Kiss Land
  21. "Part II (On The Run) (feat. Beyoncé)”- Jay Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail
  22. "Spaceship II (feat. GLC & Chance The Rapper)”- Alex Wiley, Club Wiley
  23. “IFHY (feat. Pharrell)”- Tyler, The Creator, Wolf
  24. "All Me (feat. 2 Chainz & Big Sean)”- Drake, Nothing Was The Same
  25. “Control (feat. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica)”- Big Sean
  26. "U.O.E.N.O. (Remix)”- Black Hippy
  27. “Rusty (feat. Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt)”- Tyler, The Creator, Wolf
  28. "World Ablaze (feat. James Fauntleroy)”- Big Sean, Hall Of Fame
  29. “Lit (feat. J. Cole & KQuick)”- Bas, Quarter Water Raised Me Vol. II
  30. "Too Early (feat. Gary Clark Jr.)”- The-Dream, IV Play
  31. "1 Train (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Yelawolf, Danny Brown & Big K.R.I.T.)”- A$AP Rocky, LONG.LIVE.A$AP
  32. "Somewhere In America”- Jay Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail
  33. "Chain Smoker”- Chance The Rapper, Acid Rap
  34. "Hopeless Wanderer”- Mumford & Sons, Babel
  35. "Electric Lady (feat. Solange)”- Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady
  36. “Cabaret (feat. Drake)”- Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2
  37. "Girls Love Beyonce (feat. James Fauntleroy)”- Drake
  38. "Time Is Money (feat. Rockie Fresh)”- Vic Mensa, INNANETAPE
  39. "Change Me”- Justin Bieber
  40. “Immortal”- Kid Cudi, Indicud

-AO

Top 10 Albums/Mixtapes of 2013

After MUCH deliberation, and some late nominations, I have compiled my list of top ten albums/mixtapes from this past year. 2013 was an amazing year for music in general, especially hip-hop, so this was tough to call. But, I have managed to finish a list that I am content with. To be clear, this list does not consist of which projects I think are greater than the others. I have assembled this list, in order, in terms of which projects were my favorites this year; these are the albums I enjoyed the most from 2013. So without further ado, the list:

1. Acid Rap (Chance The Rapper)

2. Kiss Land (The Weeknd)

3. Wolf (Tyler, The Creator)

4. Nothing Was The Same (Drake)

5. Born Sinner (J. Cole)

6. BEYONCÉ (Beyoncé)

7. The 20/20 Experience: 1 of 2 (Justin Timberlake)

8. The Electric Lady (Janelle Monáe)

9. Yeezus (Kanye West)

10. INNANETAPE (Vic Mensa)

Honorable Mentions: My Name Is My Name (Pusha T), Random Access Memories (Daft Punk), Love In The Future (John Legend)

It’s only fitting that my list began and ended with Chicago. Shout out to my city. Stay tuned for my list of top 25 songs of the year. Enjoy.

-AO