Editorial, Main, yearend

Special’s Top 5 Albums Of 2015

First things first, I hate lists. I’m not a fan of “countdowns” around this time of year, as they’re WAY…

First things first, I hate lists. I’m not a fan of “countdowns” around this time of year, as they’re WAY too subjective in nature, and often result in tons of shade from other fans, writers and – well – urban Twitter on a whole. For this reason, I’ll simply be sharing a list of five albums I found significant this year. Please note, this is my personal top-five, and may not necessarily reflect the entire team. I’ll share some of the how and why along the way, as well.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful

Does Action Bronson sound like Ghostface? Yes, kind of. Do I care? No! Much like Shyne, he has little control over his vocal cadence. So what other obstacles do you have blocking you from enjoying this man’s music? Exactly.

Do yourself a favour and give him an honest listen. I first got into Bronson off of SAAB Stories and then began digging through his past catalogue. More than his music, though, his overall brand is on point. From his Fuck That’s Delicious series – and – his videos in general to his upcoming book, he’s using what used to be a hobby to help him fuel his true passion, which is food/cooking.

Mr. Wonderful is a dope listen to cover to cover. From dropping salty-ex boyfriend slang on Blue Eyes with Chance The Rapper and skating the fine line of mainstream hip-hop with the 40 produced Actin’ Crazy to the dreamy flow of Terry, he delivers a well-balanced meal for the real heads –flavourful, with tons of spice. See what I did there?

Wale – The Album About Nothing

I was into this album before it even dropped, just because of the promotional campaign. The videos with Jerry Seinfeld on WorldStar, the spread in Complex – it spoke volumes about what we can/should expect from Wale. From the beginning, his affiliations always painted a vivid picture of the hype that surrounded this man, from his early collaboration with Lady Gaga (when she was at the top of her shit), to this relationship he’d seemingly struck up with one of the wealthiest and more respected comedians in the game. Wale is at that level, so not taking one of his releases seriously seems irresponsible on our part.

That’s the message he projects, anyways.

This album was underrated in my opinion. I felt like I didn’t see enough chatter about it. When I tell you that I could not stop singing The White Shoes in my head for the latter part of the year, I’m not exaggerating. The album cleverly uses monologues and conversations with Jerry, and clips from the show as a jump off points for an honest, and at times heartfelt, collection of music. Covering topics that range from marriage to police brutality, This album is another cover to cover kind of project. Recommended listening includes: The Glass Egg, The Girls On Drugs, and The Pessimist featuring J.Cole.

Joey Badass – B4D A$$

Every generation needs a Nas and Joey kind of fits that mould. It takes a special kind of artist to get DJ Premier school-girl-giddy hyped – just saying. Not that nobody else under 25 was on the wave, but Pro Era has certainly made it cool as fuck for kids to excavate the 90’s and mine that nostalgic sound into their records. From the first time you hear Waves, you just knew this kid was special. B4D A$$ was highly anticipated, and rightfully so; the album lived up to the hype, and gave fans exactly what they wanted: realness.

If you can honestly listen to Paper Trails and Big Dusty, or – shit – even Save The Children (which kicks-off the album), and tell me he isn’t talented as hell, then we can’t be friends. The album sounds like Joey built a time machine and recorded it in a dusty NYC basement circa 90’s aesthetically, yet it’s relevant, immediate and oddly innovative. This kid is only 20, wrap your mind around the damage he’s going to over the next decade.

Stop blaming kids for killing hip-hop…

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar is a difficult artist to listen to – for me anyways. I like to immerse myself in the culture but am often turned off by things that have too much hype surrounding them, à la Drake for example. Maybe it’s the perpetual hater in me. As a writer, I often feel like I don’t need to convince or cast too much opinion on universally accepted norms because yawn (what’s the point). What I’m getting at, is that I feel like not liking Kendrick means something is wrong with you, because he’s the best. It’s hard to walk into his music objectively.

This album, though, was brilliant. It was – in all honesty – a brutal listen. It was powerful, and at points uncomfortable; however, it was honest, and ridiculously well executed. He refuses to sit idly amongst the rocky climate of today’s reality on the streets of America. While some artists within the circumference of his apex may decide to make “art” that seems to serve as lifestyle branded commercials for opulence many of us will never experience, Kendrick did a great job of showing not only his artistic range but his ability to swim upstream (so to speak) and not get his crown wet. It’s a must-listen, period.

Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe Fiasco has certainly had a frustrating go at music over the past few years. Honestly, I’m not afraid to say I hated Lasers. It felt very watered down and lacked pretty much everything I loved about Lupe on his debut and The Cool. He seemed to lose his way, and to add injury to insult; it sold amazingly well. This album, though, Tetsuo & Youth, was his opus – and seemed to display a Lupe that real heads who have been watching him for years knew he could be. I liken him to Goku, powering up in the mountains before becoming a super-sayan.

The album is daring, immensely detail-rich, and devoid of any overbearing need for commercial recognition. It’s artistic, inspiring and a must-listen for artists and “real” heads alike. Lupe plans on releasing 3 albums in 2016, so let’s hope he stays in this lane for the whole trip.

Early. [drops mic]


Runners-Up

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

I can’t front, this album, which Aubrey dropped out of nowhere, is hype as hell. If you exist – and like hip-hop – you’ve heard this album, and don’t require my co-sign. I just wanted you all to know that I’m not a hater, even though I fail to recognize Drake very often here on the blog.

He doesn’t need me – at all.

Pusha T – Darkest Before Dawn

Just dropped a review of this album last week. It deserves all the recognition it gets, and I can attest that everything you’ve heard about it is the truth. Pusha T delivers his best project to date. Get your hands on this ASAP (like Rocky).

What were your fave albums of 2015? Tweet me and let me know!

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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Cameron Airborne – “No Cuffing ” ft. Jackboy

Today South Florida artist Cameron Airborne, drops the music video for his song “No Cuffin” featuring buzzing rapper Jackboy. In the Andrew Colton directed music video,…

Today South Florida artist Cameron Airborne, drops the music video for his song “No Cuffin” featuring buzzing rapper Jackboy. In the Andrew Colton directed music video, listeners get a hazy and psychedelic visual to go along with Cameron Airborne‘s catchy Summer bop. 

“The beat was a collaborative track with K.E. on the Track. He laced up the beat and I got Jackboy on there for the hook too. It’s just real catchy, we shot the video for the track and it just a had kind of club or pop vibe to it. It’s definitely a Summer song and its very upbeat and kind of fast paced, it def keeps the head nodding.”

Combing elements of guitar and singing, Cameron Airborne has found a lane doing his own thing combining it all with rap after performing in a band early on in his career.

“I play guitar because I had played in a band before and I ended up rapping. It gave me stage experience and the drive to want to do my own thing.” Cameron Airborne explained.  “I branched out and started doing my own music and I always wrote my own poetry so transitioning to rapping was natural. I can make trap music, I can make pop catchy sounding music and I can make real lyrical stuff too.  When I put out a projects I try to put out a little something for everyone to take something away from the project.”

Although most of the world has been shut down over the past few months with COVID-19, Cameron Airborne remains busy producing instrumentals and gearing up for his own studio where he will be able to record artists there. 

“Im just on the independent grind, I’m opening up my own studio and that way I can make money, just recording and doing sessions,” Cameron Airborne explained.   “I’ve been producing my own instrumentals and so I have a lot of music lined up and some big features tucked away for the right time to present them.”

 

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Dallas Rapper Fat Yunginn Signs with Cash Money Records

Recently Dallas, Texas rapper Fat Yunginn and Cash Money Records are happy to announce the Pleasant Grove rapper’s signing to their iconic rap label. Pictured above with Birdman and Ronald “Slim” Williams, this young upstart…

Recently Dallas, Texas rapper Fat Yunginn and Cash Money Records are happy to announce the Pleasant Grove rapper’s signing to their iconic rap label. Pictured above with Birdman and Ronald Slim” Williams, this young upstart has officially inked a deal with one of the most iconic Hip-Hop/Rap labels in the history of music. 

First getting notoriety for his song “Sack Up” in 2016, Fat Yunginn says he always wanted to sign with Cash Money Records and that it’s a “perfect match.”

“I grew up off Cash Money, I grew up listening to them. I ain’t gonna lie I always wanted to be on Cash Money and I always wanted to sign with them. I don’t really go off what other people say or what they do and say about Cash Money. Birdman came up talking about he was the #1 Stunna and if you listen to my flow you can hear my ooh flow fits with this brand. Sack Season / Cash Money Records. It’s a perfect match.”

Raised in Dallas’ Pleasant Grove, Fat Yunginn drew inspiration from his father’s passing and from there began to take off on the strip club scene in Dallas. 

“I’m from Dallas Texas, from a hood out there called Pleasant Grove. I started doing music once my Pops passed away and I just took to music and it was just going up from there. Once I dropped Sack Up it went crazy in the strip clubs and so after that I started taking it more seriously. One night I went in the strip club and tipped a couple of females and this big DJ in Dallas named DJ Hit That began spinning it.  It took off from there and I did my first paid show off that song,” Fat Yunginn said.   “As far as Dallas and the surrounding areas I was able to perform Sack Up out there and I was able to build up my brand. We’re called Sack Season Ent, but we call ourselves Sack Babies. Anything that has to do with a sack of money we about that. Thats basically how they know me around here.”

Going forward Fat Younginn is preparing for the release of his next single called, “Show My Ass” featuring fellow Dallas rapper Yella Beezy.

“I got another song called Show My Ass thats another club banger with Yella Beezy and we gonna release that one through Cash Money. I got the visual for my next track, it’s just to get my sound out there a little more and my ooh flow. Its my ad lib you can hear in a lot of my songs. Then I have another with Rylo Rodriguez and another one with Euro Gotti. I got a lot of unreleased music I can’t wait for the fans to hear it,” he added.  “I can get in there and start from scratch, the ooo flow, I have fun in the studio. When I came up with the ooh flow I was just playing around people have just been gravitating towards it.”

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Gabby and Madi Re-Imagine Classic with “Swing My Way”

This week  Gabby and Madi serves up their rendition of K.P. and Envyi’s classic hit “Swing My Way”, with a…

This week  Gabby and Madi serves up their rendition of K.P. and Envyi’s classic hit “Swing My Way”, with a 2020 spin by producer justdoitBRISK. The teen duo have been blazing new trails with young audiences, delivering single after single in recent months. Check out their latest, “Swing My Way” here.

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Ill NyQuil Teams Up With 10cellphones For “Night”

Ohio’s Ill NyQuil collaborates with 10cellphones to show the world what it looks like when Ohio and North Carolina come…

Ohio’s Ill NyQuil collaborates with 10cellphones to show the world what it looks like when Ohio and North Carolina come together in their latest single “Night.” Catering to the vibe enthusiasts, “Night” is available on all platforms.

 

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