Best Artists of 2015
Big Sean is back on the charts with his new album Dark Sky Paradise. It’s safe to say there isn’t one bad song on the entire project. On Dark Sky Paradise we got the real Big Sean with a crazy blend of lyricism and flow along with sensational features from Kanye West, Jhene Aiko, and PARTYNEXTDOOR. He also sold out shows across the U.S.
After Tiller’s salute to Drake with covers of "Trust Issues" and "Girls Love Beyoncé", he dropped “Don't” and “Sorry Not Sorry”. There was no denying his talent, but the release of T R A P S O U L finally cemented his name in the music industry. Tiller just announced his “T R A P S O U L” tour which begins on January 24th.
Just a few days into the New Year, the hip hop duo out of Atlanta, Georgia dropped their first studio album "SremmLife." Although they were rookies, we were already bumping Rae Sremmurd enough to know they could produce hits. What was a party with "No Flex Zone," "Throw Some Mo", or "No Type?" Once the album dropped they got lots of support from hip-hop heads rotating their songs. Getting lit has become a theme of 2015. Rae Sremmurd is currently on “The Dedication” tour with headliner Lil Wayne.
Travis Scott warned that he wasn't going to keep quiet in 2015. Fresh from Houston, Texas, Travis Scott had one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, Rodeo. With tunes containing The Weeknd, Quavo, Future, Justin Bieber, and Toro y Moi, every song brought us along on a different stage of his rodeo. Currently he is opening up for The Weeknd, and next up is his combined “Anti” tour with Rihanna.
Recently when we hear the name Chris Brown, it’s not associated with music. He needed a comeback. In the year 2015, Chris Brown reigned once again by killing every single track with artists like Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Sevyn Streeter, Migos, Meek Mill, and Nicki Minaj.
Justin Bieber: After dropping “Journals”, Justin Bieber seemed to get carried away living the life of a young celebrity. However, he caught the public’s eye when he hopped on “Maria, I’m Drunk”. Now, even hip hop heads started to slightly anticipate his album “Purpose”. Justin is sitting behind three of his equally strongest singles “Where Are U Now” ft. Jack U, “Sorry”, and “What Do You Mean?”. “Purpose” appeared as number one on the Billboard 200, becoming his sixth album to do so. Justin Bieber is starting his Purpose World Tour on March 9th, in Seattle, Washington.
TY DOLLA SIGN
Ty Dolla $ign is one of the most versatile artists in the game. It’s something about his raspy tone or Cali style delivery that prompts us to start bobbing our heads. Dolla Sign is a strong artists because of his ability to make a song work with himself and anybody else in the industry. His debut album, “Free TC”, was released November 13th which contained the likes of Kanye West, Fetty Wap, Trey Songz, and of course his TGOD brother Wiz Khalifa. In addition to his album, fans were brought on a 7 month ride which gave us single by single. Don’t believe in Dolla Sign? Google his name or your favorite artist, and I bet they have mixed song together. Ty Dolla Sign is the opening act for Future on the Purple Reign Tour, beginning February 17th in Wisconsin.
Right now it’s about the numbers. Adele’s third studio album “25”, released on November 20th, features themes like the passage of time, motherhood and regret. Why is she one of the best? Good music = crazy sells. “25” debuted at number one in more than 25 markets and broke first-week sales records in multiple countries. In the US alone the album sold 3.38 million copies in its first week of release, marking the largest single-week sales for an album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking purchases in 1991. In one month, she came and conquered. Adele will embark on her third tour in 2016, entitled the Adele Live Tour starting in Belfast on February 29th.
Honestly, how could we not include Fetty Wap? Native of Paterson, New Jersey, this one eyed singer inevitably leaked into all of our speakers. From “Trap Queen” to “679”, Fetty Wap was already making platinum records. He really took off when he and Drake teamed up for “My Way”, a song you probably heard every day for months. Fetty Wap's debut studio album was released on September 25, 2015. His album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. Along with the street cred Fetty Wap earned as becoming one of the best emerging new artists, he ends his year with two Grammy nominations.
This Canadian born singer has been releasing a plethora of PBR&B since 2010. However he rarely saw recognition without help from Drake until “Wicked Games” surfaced and became popular in 2013. That is until the Weeknd sung “Earned It” for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. If you’re a real fan of The Weeknd, you know what Trilogy style music to expect when you see his name, but in 2015 he evolved with the rest of the game, killing features on tracks with Meek Mill, Travis Scott, and Future. The Weeknd released his second studio album “Beauty Behind the Madness” on August 28th behind “Earned It”, “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”. BBTM is currently Grammy nominated for album of the year. The Weeknd will be joining Rihanna and Travis Scott on the Anti tour in 2016.
DRAKE AND FUTURE
And lastly, we all knew this one was coming, Drake and Future. Both artists have been extremely successful, Future with DS2 and “March Madness”, and Drake with his Grammy nominated diss track album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Drake and Future made little noise when they dropped “DNF” but when they changed their collab style to trap-esque sound, they broke the internet and the industry. What a Time to Be Alive debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 334,000 copies in its first week. WATTBA became both Drake and Future's second albums to chart at number one on the Billboard 200 in 2015. 2 crazy albums, 2 crazy singles, and 1 collab project un-arguably made them kings of 2015.
Best Music Videos of 2015
ASAP Rocky – LSD/Excuse Me (Directed by Dexter Navy & ASAP Rocky)
In March, ASAP Rocky gave a sneak peek of the psychedelic side of his album, At Long Last ASAP by dropping the music video for “LSD/Excuse Me.” This is undoubtedly the trippiest song on the album, and they have made an equally trippy music video. The video is modeled after Gasper Noé’s 2009 film Enter The Void, following the drug-induced hallucinations of the main character.The best part of the video may be the creative transitions, switching from one scene or angle to another, and even one song to another.
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Sunday Candy (Directed by Austin Vesely, Ian Eastwood, and Chance The Rapper)
Well done single-shot music videos, more often than not, end up being spectacular. "Sunday Candy" is no exception. Opening in what looks to be a 1950s candy shop on a film studio stage, the entire video takes place on the stage with Chance The Rapper as the focal point. Lighting changes and rapid set changes are used to keep the video interesting. Much credit can be given to the choreographers of the video who planned out many killer dance routines to contribute to the light and happy aura of the video.
Young Thug - Best Friend (Directed by Be EL Be)
“Best Friend” is not on this list for its storytelling or incredible shots, but rather for its unique randomness, and its place in the legend of Young Thug. The video features multiple Young Thugs interacting with one another, and such spectacular imagery as Thugger joyously dancing through the woods with his friends. This list of strange yet entertaining moments goes on and on. Do yourself a favor and watch the video.
Kendrick Lamar – Alright (Directed by Colin Tilley)
Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” deserves a high spot in anyone’s best music videos of the year lists. The song has already become one of the most powerful songs of the decade, being chanted at protests and marches throughout the US. The black and white visuals promote positivity in the face of hardship, violence, and racism. At almost seven minutes long the video almost plays more like a short film. One could go on and on about the concepts and deeper meanings behind everything happening in the video, but it is best left to the viewer to watch and break it down themselves.
Tyler, The Creator – Fucking Young/Deathcamp (Directed by Tyler, The Creator):
Tyler, The Creator is on the short list of artists who can be consistently counted on to release original, entertaining, and visually pleasing music videos. The best part is he directs them all himself. In “Fucking Young,” Tyler’s bright aesthetic and entertaining storytelling results in one of the year’s best videos. Make sure to watch all the way through as not to miss Tyler and friends recreate Mad Max, driving Go-Karts recklessly through the desert to “Deathcamp.”
Travis Scott – Piss On Your Grave (Feat. Kanye West) (Directed by Nabil):
The colors, shots, and clothing choices in this piece work perfectly with the music to create an eerie yet beautiful aesthetic. The video is carried by the sheer energy of Travis, Kanye, and Mos Def placed in such an absurd yet incredible setting. Nabil is one of the best music video directors, if not THE best, and "Piss On Your Grave" is another testament to his genius.
By: Lucas Markham
Artists To Watch In 2016
Though the group Brockhampton officially formed in the beginning of 2015, the artists in the group have been on the grind and working together for years, birthed out of a Kanye West Forum. Through quality music, fan interaction, and great usage of social media, the group has already formed a strong core fanbase. Led by Kevin Abstract, who released one of the best projects of 2014 with MTV1987, the group contains some of the most creative, talented, and unique young artists today. From the looks of it, 2016s first (and biggest) release from the group will be Kevin Abstract's They Shoot Horses, so make sure to be on the lookout for that as it is sure to make waves in the music world.
London O’Conner released his debut album O∆ earlier this year. With under only 3,000 twitter followers, London managed to be reviewed on pitchfork, have features done by The Fader and Complex, and perform at tour dates in the US and overseas. He is an artist with an incredibly unique sound, and a relatable and intriguing persona. Much of the music industry has already caught on to London’s talent and potential, and it’s only a matter of time before his fanbase skyrockets. With a new release, 2016 may just be his year.
Demo Taped first came to the attention of many Syracuse students earlier this year when he opened for Raury at one of this fall’s Bandersnatch concert. At only 17 years old, the producer and singer has come out of the gate with a refreshing soundscape, reminiscent of the reclusive Jai Paul. Although he currently only has 5 songs out on his SoundCloud, they are promising enough to lead me to believe his next project is going to hit big.
Coming out of Birmingham, Alabama is Sage Williams. The 19 year old has been working on his craft for over 5 years releasing multiple projects. His new album Lost is projected to drop in 2016. Sage is a skilled writer, producer, rapper, and singer, who presents a very relatable image through his art. Once Sage’s music gets out there, his fan base will grow one hundred fold.
The biggest name on this list, without a doubt, is Allan Kingdom. As a solo artist, Kingdom has released 3 projects, most recently Future Memoirs. He is even up for 2 Grammys for his appearance on Kanye West’s “All Day,” a victory for bedroom artists everywhere. Kingdom is also a member of the group “thestand4rd,” along with Corbin (previously known as viral sensation Spooky Black,) Bobby Raps, and Psymun. He has one of the best deliveries in the game, spitting unique flows and singing in a variety of voices. We will definitely see more of Allan Kingdom in 2016 with his next project.
By: Lucas Markham
Hottest Songs of 2015
Looking back at this year in music, all we may be able to say in conclusion is “wow”. The entire year was filled with unexpected, anticipated, and high-caliber songs that kept our heads moving. Now we will take a look into the hottest songs of 2015.
The Weeknd-"I Can’t Feel My Face" and "Earned It": When songs like “Earned It” and “I Can't Feel My Face” dropped, fans were uneasy in the direction The Weeknd may have been going. The significance is that these two songs gave The Weeknd a spotlight he held all year and opened up his fan base tremendously. After all of the hype, genuine fans like myself can admit that not only were these songs everywhere, but they were in fact hot. “Earned It” peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “I Can’t Feel My Face” at number 1.
Fetty Wap- "Trap Queen", "679", and "My Way": Oh yes, this was the year of Fetty. “Trap Queen” concluded the winter, “679”moved the summer, and “My Way” hit its peak as soon as fall touched. Admit it, at least one of these three songs were in your playlist at some point. This was a great year for Fetty Wap and he had great influential songs to prove himself and his artistry. All songs were in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 upon their release; “Trap Queen” at number 2, “679” at number 4, and “My Way” at number 7.
Major Lazer and DJ Snake ft. MO- "Lean on": "Lean On" was a huge success that no one could avoid. It is a style of music you wouldn’t even play yourself, but it still kept your head bobbing. “Lean On” peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number two on the UK Singles Chart. In November 2015, "Lean On" was named Spotify’s most streamed song of all time, with over 526 million streams globally. If you don’t know this song by name, take a quick listen and watch what happens.
Kendrick Lamar-"Alright": Kendrick Lamar is undoubtedly one of the best rap artist in the game. This song was an anthem linked to any struggle that could be thought of at the time. This song was strong in the sense that it became a modern pledge of allegiance. “Alright” allows us to join, overcome, and progress which pertain to no limitations. Not to mention “Alright” was nominated for four Grammys. Hands down, it was one of the hottest songs of the year.
Travis Scott-"Antidote": With one of the highest anticipated albums of the year, Travis Scott dropped one of the hardest singles to date. “Antidote” is straight crack. The song has peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Upon its release, “Antidote” became the turn up anthem. Turn your volume up and take a listen, you’ll feel as if you’re right at the Rodeo.
Rihanna-"Bitch Better Have My Money": Her 8th studio album Anti is crazily anticipated, and “Bitch Better Have My Money” tells a rather compelling story. Word in the press is that the video was rooted in a scandal between Rihanna and her agent, particularly concerning royalties. The song was already fire but once the video dropped and we had more proof that Rihanna might really be about that life, the song got that much better.
Post Malone-"White Iverson": We all know “White Iverson."Listening to “White Iverson” is like putting yourself in a really turnt, sedated dream. “White Iverson” is the song everyone wants to hear after the party gets shut down, but everyone’s still lit. Post Malone makes music for people who just want to experience life and chill but “White Iverson” became an anthem for everyone’s life, not just the party goers.
Taylor Swift-"Bad Blood": Taylor Swift is at that point in her career where you can’t deny her talent. Yes, you may still consider her just a country singer, but over the years she has really expanded her craft. One of her hottest expansions is definitely “Bad Blood". With a star studded music video and a remix appearance from rap idol Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift has people in urban areas playing it as their theme song.. The song and its music video were nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video at the 58th Grammy Awards.
Big Sean ft. Drake and Kanye West-"Blessings": This GOOD Music collab with the addition of Drake was dope from verse to verse-start to finish. Sean, West, and Drake murdered their verses behind a beat that knocked in your head all day. “Blessings” just really worked and started the year off with a high standard of release.
Jidenna-"Classic Man": Newcomer Jidenna has us all feeling classy again in an age where ratchet is normal. “Classic Man” also served as one of the most notable anthems of 2015. Honestly, the song is moving. It’s interesting to see hip hop exemplified in a more positive light. In December 2015 “Classic Man” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
OMI-"Cheerleader": At first, I thought “what is this?”, but then my head started bobbing. Jamaican singer OMI master minded one of the catchiest songs of the year. “Cheerleader” became a massive global success, reaching number one in 20 countries. It went multi-platinum in many territories. Three separate music videos were released for the song. I can't deny, it was a hit.
Future-"Commas": “Commas” inspired us to get up, turn up, and spend endless money with our friends. Now of course this may not have been the entirely true, but the anthem persuaded everyone to go have fun. “Commas” can be coined for telling us to live large, let your mind wander when you press play. Everybody knows this tune.
Drake-"Hotline Bling/ Back to Back": Drake shows two sides of himself in his two hits.“Back to Back” broke the internet and threw jabs at Meek Mill that Mill clearly couldn’t combat, and “Hotline Bling” had us thirsty for a text message. “Back to Back” was nominated for a Grammy and “Hotline Bling" reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well becoming his highest-charting single as a lead artist. The video for “Hotline Bling was released on October 26th. Question is, how serious was Drake with that dancing?
Just missed the list: “Where Are You Now?” by Justin Bieber, “Jumpman” by Drake and Future, “Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars, “RICO” by Meek Mill ft. Drake, “Exchange/Don’t” by Bryson Tiller, “Slow Motion” by Trey Songz, “Paradise” by Big Sean, and “The Hills” by The Weeknd.
Best albums of 2015:
To Pimp A Butterfly: Kendrick Lamar’s third studio album To Pimp A Butterfly is a prophetic commentary on today’s society, analyzing important themes like racism and consumerism in America with a brave tongue and the backdrop of musical styles ranging from jazz music to soul. The album is cohesive and smooth, tied together by a dark poem written and spoken by Kendrick himself. Even Barack Obama agrees. The President named the James Fauntleroy featured track that tells an almost biblical tale of the selfishness that money creates, “How Much A Dollar Cost,” as his favorite song of 2015.
D'ANGELO AND THE VANGUARD
Black Messiah: Though released in December 2014, Black Messiah is eligible for recognition this year due to its Grammy nominations and having missed many of the lists last year. It was originally supposed to come out this year; however, the Ferguson and Eric Garner cases prompted him to release it early. After a fourteen-year hiatus from music, this release was one of the most exciting ones, and it did not disappoint. Using catchy guitar riffs and undeniable beats in songs like “Ain’t That Easy,” and “The Charade” and allowing his voice to anchor the album he managed to keep classic R&B and Soul both current and timeless.
DS2: This year has seen the meteoric rise of the giant that has been slept on for years, Future. He has managed to completely dominate the rap game, releasing banger after banger and proving his undeniable value to music. DS2 is dark (see “Blood On the Money”), heavy (see “I Serve the Base”), humorous at times (see “Thought It Was A Drought”), and always lit, making it the number 3 album of the year.
In Colour: Jamie XX created one of the freshest albums of the year with a creative and spacey vibe that is relaxing, yet still has depth. With pieces of melancholy and pieces of joy, In Color is a perfect title for what the album does- puts the full spectrum on display and turns it into music.
25: Even if this album was half as good as it was, it might still make the list simply because of the effect it had on music this year. Selling an unheard of 2.8 million records on its first week and continuing to shock the system with how much it sells, this kind of global adoration for an artist has been exciting to behold. With timeless songs harnessing what she does best, singing and writing, this album is everything the world hoped it would be.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late: One cannot talk about music this year without talking about Drake. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late rocketed Drake to an even higher level than he had been on in past years. Armed with some of the cleanest production in the game and some of the most enjoyable rap lyrics,this album is flame after flame, and for that reason, the 6 God holds down number 6 on the list.
At Long Last A$AP: A$AP Rocky’s second solo album At Long Last A$AP was two years awaited, and worth every minute. Rocky honed his ideas to execute a creative, trippy, visual album with swagger and style. Already an invaluable asset to rap, he managed to create music that only he could pull off, with songs like “L$D,” and “West Side Highway,” while still keeping it lit with “LPFJ2” and “Electric Body.” This album could only be A$AP’s, making number 7 on this list.
DONNIE TRUMPET AND THE SOCIAL EXPERIMENT
Surf: Chance the Rapper managed to make the least selfish album of the year, not even putting his name in the artist box. However, his family mentality and love for music drips from each note in every song. Anchored by Chance’s sure voice and standout tracks like “Sunday Candy,” this album makes you love the people you’re with even more and call them up to tell them that.
Summertime ’06: Vince Staples is one of the most exciting young rappers out there. Staples is a fearless and intelligent man with a story to tell. He has created an album that features hard hitting tracks about his own life- which he is unafraid to dive deep into- and fresh beats, solidifying him as an important voice in rap to look out for in the future.
Art Angels: Grimes represents one of the most creative artists in music right now, Claire Boucher. With Art Angels, Claire took the idea of Grimes to a whole new level. With pop anthems like “Flesh Without Blood”, her own intricate production, and even her own drawing as the cover, Art Angels is as much of a force of nature as the idea of Grimes is.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Internet- Ego Death, Sufjan Stevens- Carrie and Lowell, Kehlani-You Should Be Here, Ty Dolla $ign- Free TC.
Best New Artists:
Bryson Tiller: Kentucky singer and songwriter Bryson Tiller is already making huge waves in music with his debut studio album Trapsoul, which dropped in October of this year. He has all the makings of a future heavyweight in the industry. With a smooth voice and beats that can still get a crowd going, he cannot be missed heading into the new year.
Leon Bridges: Leon Bridges has gotten some amazing coverage for a new artist, and rightfully so. Armed with a stunning voice and soulful spirit and musicianship, Leon Bridges is showing us that talent still matters, and he is the prime example.
Post Malone: How could Syracuse born Post Malone not receive acknowledgement? If you haven’t listened to his breakout hit “White Iverson,” first of all, you should, but second, you will be hearing him plenty very soon.
Kevin Garrett: The young Roc Nation singer and songwriter has released his own EP this year, featuring his beautiful smooth voice and some of the best lyrics around. Garret combines current sounds with his skilled old soul inspired writing, making each song more stunning than the next. Not afraid to analyze himself and his woes in the songs “Refuse” and “Never Knock,” Garrett has a voice all his own. It only will become louder in the near future.
Kiiara: This young Chicago-born singer has a unique sound and vocal style that has to be heard to be understood. With catchy anthems like “Gold” slowly taking over the world one Zane Lowe and Apple Watch commercial at a time, she will be everywhere soon.
Demo Taped: This young performer that has already made an appearance at University Union’s own Bandersnatch Series is one of the most talented newcomers to watch. His sound is unique and unexpected with intricacies that never seem to get lost. With fresh beats and an uplifting voice, his music goes beyond just being current- it is heading towards the future.
Cousin Stizz: Even without his mini co-sign from Drake for his song “Shoutout,” Cousin Stizz would still be on his way to a rap game takeover. With mesmerizing chill trap beats, his music ropes you in and keeps you listening until the very end.
Nao: The South London singer has a unique sound with daring beats to accompany her. If you want to hear what a sugary sweet voice sounds like with some fierce production and imagery, listen to her song “Bad Blood”. You will be seeing more of her very soon.
Smino: This St. Louis rapper has been making his way up this year with the help from crazy beats, courtesy of his Zero Fatigue Crew member Monte Booker for the L.A group Soulection. They have created a sound of future trap music that is danceable, hard-hitting, and exciting to listen to, and they’re just getting warmed up.
Taylor Bennett: Yes, he is the brother of legend Chance the Rapper, but he also has his own voice and his own power. Having just dropped a sample-free album, Broad Shoulders, he is making his own way and doing it well. It never hurts to have Chance near anything either.
Other notable newcomers: Ishdarr, Reece
by Rachel Blackman
Top 5 Comebacks of 2015
John Mayer: We haven't heard a lot from John Mayer, since his 2013 release of Paradise Valley, besides his on and off relationship status with pop-sensation Katy Perry. Luckily we have something more interesting to talk about. Mayer is being employed for his mastered guitar skills, as he’s been accepted into the remaining band of Grateful Dead members. The band, now calling themselves Dead & Company, will be making their stage debut as a group on Halloween at NYC’s Madison Square Garden.
Adele: I think it’s unanimous that, as fans we have truly missed Adele and her heavenly sound. After a short but seemingly infinite leave of absence, fans were highly anticipating the release of 25 all year. After taking the time to write, produce, and master it all her own, 25 is the perfect addition to her already beautiful discography.
Macklemore: Macklemore is back with a new hit single, an Ed Sheeran assisted track called “Growing up. The song is inspired by his bundle of joy baby Haggerty, who was brought into the world this year. After struggling for 3 long years with addiction between his first crash into the rap scene back in 2012 and the Heist, Macklemore is back and ready to grow with his music.
Dr. Dre: Dr. Dre hasn’t released much of anything new in 16 years. Therefore, it is and understatement to say fans were excited to hear the Straight Outta Compton inspired album titled Compton. I believe the album was a success because it sounds like a movie. The intro, skits, the stories, the voices, even how the songs trail off at the end give it a visual feel.
Coldplay: Martin has two big announcements concerning the future of Coldplay: The next album will be named A Head Full of Dreams, and it will likely be their last. It is truly an end of an era my friends. This time 15 years ago, Coldplay settled into our hearts and radio waves with Parachute. The band has released The Coldplay Timeline ahead of the seventh album as a way to connect with fans and follow the journey to releasing A Head Full of Dreams. This end is definitely bittersweet.
By Genna Schindel