The Best Rap Songs of 2015
December 14, 2015 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Passion of the Weiss: The Best Rap Songs of 2015. It's the best year-end list I've come across -- thoughtful, articulate stuff from people who get it, and the majority of it is criminally overlooked/obscure and well worth your time. No matter how in-the-know you are, there's lots of new, crucial stuff here for you. (And no Drake in sight.)

A mission statement of sorts, from @passionweiss:
"People asked for a Spotify playlist, so I made one. That said, 1/2 these songs aren't on Spotify. Proud of that.

"No shots, but these year-end lists have devolved into corporate sham. Same artists, labels, same 3 PR outlets repping every one. Fuck that. We try to dig for obscurities, what's original, and what flies under the radar of those looking to tech co. playlists for musical discovery. If you genuinely think Big Sean made one of the best anything of 2015, more power to you. But you're wrong and missing out on so much better.

"There's a ton of talented writers and editors. I appreciate them immensely. But these lists are embarrassing to us. We need to do better. We made our list with a $0 budget. I lose $$ on [Passion of the Weiss]. Our writers killed it. I'm proud. If you like it, share it, support artists. Rant over. In conclusion, I will never stop going in."
posted by naju (38 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
I like Drake, and I like when music is on Spotify b/c it is easy to listen to it.
posted by joelhunt at 11:25 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know the Drake thing is controversial, sorry. I tend to side with @passionweiss as he says: "Every time you praise Drake, y'all are like restaurant critics telling me the finest meals are at Cheesecake Factory"
posted by naju at 11:27 AM on December 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

Ignore the words, listen to the music - if nothing else, this list is worth it for Gabe Nandez, “Sifu” - and that's #49 on the list (and as far as I've gotten so far). Fffuuuu, so good.

But back to the words, they provide more context and insight that would otherwise be missing if this were just a list of video links. Good stuff, thanks!

(I am a glutton for music, never content with listening to old songs when I know there's something new and interesting out there)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Easily the best list of the year.

I don't hate Drake or anything, but everything on this list is better. Plus that Sauce Walka track...that's some high quality unfiltered malice.
posted by ndfine at 11:54 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, so much good production on these tracks. Thank you for this! (I swear I won't be dropping in every 5 songs to add another comment, I have things to get done, must focus, must focus.)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2015

LOL @ 14, 23.

In all seriousness, reading these lists is depressing because they only cover English language rap. I'd love to see a hip-hop blogger cover Spanish-language MCs (Ana Tijoux and La Mala are consistently the most innovative and engaging artists on the global hip-hop scene), or some of the artists coming out of the Middle East, like Hichkas or Shadia Mansour. Hell, even Anglophonic MCs like Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, and HEEMS put out albums and singles that could go head-to-head with most of what's on this list.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:20 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm sure there are blogs that cover foreign-language rap for an English-speaking audience. Passion of the Weiss isn't one of them, and that's okay.

This is a good list, naju. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:39 PM on December 14, 2015

love drake, love this post, would love to see a non-english list too! woo, music!
posted by nadawi at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Man that Mystikal/Mark Ronson song is so much better than Uptown Funk
posted by AceRock at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2015 [10 favorites]

I like the list. Not sure about the shots at Drake. You couldn't find one song off that mixtape with Future better than Whip It?
posted by MetalFingerz at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

spotify's discover weekly playlist showed me that mystikal/ronson song and i can't listen to it enough. it's so good!
posted by nadawi at 1:03 PM on December 14, 2015

This list is very good. It also seems very... L.A. But I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
posted by koeselitz at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2015

That reminds me! I need to listen to some new hip hop this year.
posted by Hoopo at 1:19 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I almost skipped straight to the Spotify playlist, but the songs that aren't on it are worth checking out. The effect of the Ty Money song over the Laquan McDonald dash cam video was chilling.
posted by AceRock at 1:22 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

making my way through the list - i freaking love the t-pain remix of classic man. it just so fun to bop to.
posted by nadawi at 1:26 PM on December 14, 2015

Apparently Dr Dre's Animals audio is removed from everywhere on youtube. The video linked in the post only has an instrumental track, which I don't even know is the right one or not, since it doesn't fit the running time. It's also not on Spotify. I haven't checked the less-than-legal sources yet though.
posted by numaner at 1:40 PM on December 14, 2015

I don't know if the oversight was because the album only came out this October, or simply because Cunninlynguists are consistently slept upon, but multiple tracks from Deacon the Villain's Peace or Power could easily be on this list. Ghosts Don't Lie, in particular, is a combination of getting your head bobbing and giving you chills.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:05 PM on December 14, 2015

Loving this list. So much new stuff that I'm I'd only vaguely (if at all) heard of. #50 is awesome, and it just keeps going.
posted by petrilli at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, needs more Young Thug. You could make a decent top 50 list with Thugger's 2015 output. Here's a top 15:
1) Best Friend
2) OD
3) Power
4) I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)
5) Halftime
6) Flaws
7) Check
8) Numbers
9) Constantly Hating
10) Again
11) With That
12) Pacifier
13) Thief in the Night
14) No No No
15) Beast
posted by MetalFingerz at 3:22 PM on December 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

It looks to me like they forgot about Dre.
posted by Chuffy at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2015

Danny Brown and Clams Casino? Nobody told me?!

Wasn't expecting to see Ezale for some reason. I like Ezale.
posted by atoxyl at 3:44 PM on December 14, 2015

Man that Mystikal/Mark Ronson song is so much better than Uptown Funk

Man, could the kid in that video be any more adorable?!

Thanks for the post, Naju, and thanks to everyone for the additional links and recommendations.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:52 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


na-na na-NAAA
posted by Hoopo at 4:31 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is a great list; good pointers to US hiphop (not a thing I'm in touch with very much). I love that Mystikal track. The UK grime and hop hop scene has continued its strong work from over the last few years too. Skepta's been everywhere, and along with some of the older crown (Kano's back! Dizzie's still killing it!) some amazing young talent's been shining through (Lady Leshurr - I mean come on).
Also, Lady Lykez managed to write a diss track name-checking the famous male UK grame scene in a spectactular down a challenge to almost the entire grime scene back in January. She can write and spit quick.

In no particular order:

Skepta: Shutdown (Idris Elba spitting on the remix? Sure)
Dizzie Rascal feat Giggs: Nutcracker
Kano: Hail
KSI feat Jme: Keep Up
Lady Leshurr: Queen's Speech 4
Stormzy: Where Do You Know Me From?
Little Simz: Dead Body
Bugzy Malone: Watch Your Mouth
Novelist x Mumdance: 1 Sec
Lady Lykez: Nobody Can
posted by sarcas at 4:35 PM on December 14, 2015 [12 favorites]

this list is great, going to enjoy exploring it. my hip hop song of the year is a tie between every track from i don't like shit, i don't go outside: an album by earl sweatshirt which is a profoundly unique statement on depression and mental illness from what is probably rap's most exciting young artist. odd future has been an important part of my life for the last few years, and i think earl has made an album that maybe eclipses their collective catalogue so far (the only other contenders for the throne are wolf, channel orange, or the song oldie).

would also recommend his 10 minute ep solace, it's only been released on youtube so it flew under the radar but it goes to some very dark and personal places.
posted by JimBennett at 5:31 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some of my thoughts after skimming the article:

- My Krazy Life is my most listened to and quite possibly favorite album of 2014 and I don't agree with their #1 pick.
- I thought the new A$AP Rocky album was pretty disappointing and even if I were making my own 50 top tracks this year from a much smaller pool of albums there wouldn't be anything from A.L.L.A. on it.
- Did everyone forget that Lupe Fiasco and Joey Bada$$ both released albums at the beginning of this year?
- I really don't understand Young Thug.

The list is more indie than I usually go but I mostly agree with what I recognize outside of the exceptions listed above.
posted by C^3 at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think Young Thug is a love-him-or-hate-him kind of proposition, with no use convincing either side otherwise. If you love him, he's kind of the best thing ever.
posted by naju at 8:08 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thank you so much for that list of British track, sarcas. There's not a clunker among them.

Agree with JimBennett that Earl Sweatshirt put out my favorite stuff this year. One of those albums that just struck a chord from start to finish (I'm not all that familiar with Odd Future).

I also have a lot of love for Ghostface Killah's collab with BadBadNotGood Sour Soul, (which was part of filthylightthief's fantastic BadBadNotGood post)

I don't know if the oversight was because the album only came out this October, or simply because Cunninlynguists are consistently slept upon

Gotta be the latter. Time of release doesn't seem to be an issue here, since that Aesop Rock x Homeboy Sandman EP just came out like 2 weeks ago (and damn do I love it). But thanks for the rec on Deacon's album. I'll check that out.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:20 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, of everything that came out this year, this set by Ho99o9, while probably more punk than rap, is probably the thing that's going to stick the most. I've watched it full through probably a dozen times and still can't get my head around it. Fantastic stuff if you're into weird noisy genre-blending fucked up stuff (get's a bit NSFW at the end due to some non-gratuitous nudity)
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:34 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Okay, I'm gunna add a song (that hit my super-heavy personal rotation for about a month)... Bambu - Crosshairs (w/DJ QBert). (yeah, it was 2014, but you still should see it if you haven't).
posted by el io at 10:23 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not a great list, IMHO. Big US bias, and big West Coast bias, evidenced by the lack of any of the great shit billy woods and Elucid put out. There's stuff on WATTBA (live from the gutter, digital dash, jumpman) that's good enough to overcome the (decently logical, I think) Drake blackballing. And I don't think Serengeti should be anywhere near any top-whatever lists.

Psyched that Boogie made it though. Oh My Goodness is definitely a top 5 of the year for me.
posted by still bill at 8:03 AM on December 15, 2015

I did feel #1. That track had no awkwardness and just held nothing back.

But overall, it seemed like "The Best Rap Songs of 2015…for the Pitchfork Crowd." There were quite a few interesting tracks, but interesting in an intellectual way. Introspection, novelty, and reservedness do have a place in rap. I'm just not feeling it.

Does anyone have a list of good songs from this year from artists that just went for it in the vein of Immortal Technique or Public Enemy or the YG track in this list?
posted by ignignokt at 11:25 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Honestly no best of 2015 list that doesn't have at least one thing from IYRTITL or WATTBA is complete. Seems kind or ridiculous in year of our lord drake 2015 to not include him and also boast that stuff isn't on spotify.
posted by anthropophagous at 11:39 AM on December 15, 2015

I think the point was to avoid promoter/mainstream hype, and thus Drake was cut from the list. We all know Drake, why push him more?

Back to Gabe 'Nandez (#48), his Bandcamp account has a bunch of stuff for whatever price you name. If you just want to download it and check it out, mark it as free and you'll instantly get a DL link. I'm digging his stuff - Sifu is still tops, but some good tracks here.

More from the Brits, not featured on the list because they probably spin out of the Passion of the Weiss' wheel well: Roots Manuva - 'Don't Breathe Out' (relying heavily on a dope sample from Barry White's "Honey Please, Can't Ya See") - the whole album is good, but this is the most soulfully produced song of the lot, if you're digging that vibe.

Also, needs more Young Thug
In that case: how do you feel about Jamie xx feat. Young Thug and Popcaan - 'I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)' -- I can't listen to it too closely because some lyrics don't work for me ("ride in her pussy like a stroller" - srsly?), but over all, pretty good stuff.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2015

I listened to all of these tracks and read all of the commentary (finally) and I am a better person for it. Thank you naju, that was awesome!
posted by carsonb at 10:45 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by naju at 11:11 AM on December 22, 2015

How did I miss this? Thanks for the post, naju!
posted by box at 5:30 AM on December 30, 2015

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