The 7 Best Rap Albums of 2015 (So Far)

There's a lot of music to come, but these are my picks for the best hip-hop albums of the year so far.

Update: 15 Best Rap Albums of 2015

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Because To Pimp a Butterfly is a concept album with a convoluted arc that Kendrick follows with rare discipline. It retains vestiges of good kid, mAAd City themes, with Lucy (Lucifer) supplanting Sherane. And because it deserves a seat alongside timeless works like Fear of a Black Planet and Amerikkka's Most Wanted.

Highlights: "Alright," "King Kunta" More »


Because Tetsuo & Youth is a four-suite, full-bodied concept album that returns Lupe Fiasco to his poetic provenance. There are songs about pizza delivery guys that are actually about the hood and catchy love songs that are actually about mud slingers and songs about prison reform that are actually about prison reform.

Highlights: "Prisoner 1 & 2," "Deliver" More »

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Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Sh-t, I Don't Go Outside


I Don't Like Sh-t, I Don't Go Outside makes sound like a pop album. Earl's second album is dark and moody--the voice of a man clawing his way through the belly of a beast. He switches up his style from song to song, like a surgeon switching to the instrument that best suits each procedure. 

Highlights: "Grief," "DNA," "Wool"


Because Drake just might be the angriest dude not named Kendrick Lamar in today's blithe hip-hop climate. Like drunk thoughts at midnight, If You're Reading This... sees Drake berate rivals, reminisce about his roots. All set to dank beats that smell like cloudy limos.

Highlights: "Energy," "Know Yourself" More »

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Heems - Eat Pray Thug


Because Heems, known for his alt-rapper role on Das Racist, is in delivering powerful stories with blunt force. His first album outside his Greedhead imprint, Eat Pray Thug, is at once personal and political, silly and serious, vexed and breezy. Only Heems can lament xenophobia and make you dance on the same album.

Highlights: "Flag Shopping," "Home"


Because Joey's debut is a beautiful love letter to the Old School. And because Bada$$ ponders the struggles of being young and black and oppressed in America with a voice and heritage that are impossible to ignore. 

Highlights: "Hazeus View," "Curry Chicken" More »

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Fashawn - The Ecology


Because Nas added Fashawn to his Mass Appeal roster and the Fresno MC rewarded his idol by quietly dropping one of the best rap albums of 2015. With beats that knock and lyrics that don't bore ,The Ecology is worth a visit.

Highlights: "Something to Believe in," "Out the Trunk"