Best Album

The 2015 “So Far” Awards: Best Album

To say that 2015 has been an eventful year in the world of hip-hop would be an understatement. Surprise album drops, celebrity beefs, epic performances, blockbuster collaborations…we could go on. We’ve seen exciting new artists emerge, established stars hold court, and learned that the meek don’t always inherit the Earth.

Prompted by a suggestion from Ti, who also runs, some members of the Artistic Manifesto staff and extended family put their thoughts together in regards to a number of categories, the first of which is the Best Album (So Far) of 2015.

Our thoughts can be read below. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to us on social media if you agree or disagree.

Ayara Pommells (@YahYahNah)//London, England via Jamaica
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Not really much to say here. Everybody loves Kendrick, and I hate to go with the majority in situations like these, but the album is solid. He has always had something to say. He’s in a position where he could have turned his back on consciousness completely, but he cares about his community. He doesn’t want to be a flag flyer for the cause, but he is by default. His music places him in that category – the dreaded ‘conscious rapper’ category. Plus, Rapsody shined so bright on “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” that he deserves this for that track alone. Beast!


Cheyenne Davis-Mullings (@Cheyenne_Dm)//London, England
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

I yelled on the street on my first play of “The Blacker The Berry.” I had witnesses.


Darren Gooden (@Darren_Gooden)// Fort Myers, Florida
Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise

I believe that Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise is his best work to date as a project, overall. He has shown growth as an artist by incorporating more of his personal life into his music and displayed that on the album. The album has a string of songs that could easily be considered for commercial radio and others that will appeal to fans who are not as interested in commercially driven releases.


Jordan Walthour (@BlacktrickEwing) //Located in D.C., heart resides in Brooklyn, New York
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Really, only one project that came to my mind. To Pimp a Butterfly, the sophomore release from Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar, easily earns that distinction. In an era where popular music is mostly vacuous, devoid of soul and a definite message, Kendrick takes a clear stance on a musical and lyrical basis. Delivering an album that addresses complex issues such as depression, racism, police brutality, and self-identification, K. Dot takes a courageous stand for not only black lives, but black music as well.


Marc Miller (@mvrcmiller) // Honolulu, Hawaii
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick absolutely topped GKMC with this release. Everything from the instrumentation, lyrical context, moxie on the mic, and heartfelt emotion made this LP outshine any other piece of work released this year so far. Kendrick got mixed reactions with this release from various listeners at first, but it has come to embody the “classic” feel, due to it’s part in the resurgence of soul, funk, and jazz fusion, along with its inclusion of political and social references. Everything was crafted beautifully. I haven’t gone a day this year without listening to at least a track of two off of this masterpiece.


Mercedes F Benson (@MercedesFBenson) // London, England
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar clearly has to take the lead on the best album of 2015 so far, in my eyes. I could go on about for the remainder of the year. This album is a classic and will stand the test of time in hip hop. Like all his other projects, TPAB has a concept that is so relevant to what is currently going on in our society right now. The metaphors are intelligent; production and collaborations are carefully chosen; not to mention the surprise element of it coming out a week before it was due on iTunes. Kendrick always manages to engage and captivate, and that’s why he will always be number one.


Michell Clark (@MichellCClark) // Alexandria, Virginia
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

“To Pimp A Butterfly” I was in Brooklyn when it dropped. It was late at night, and I happily stayed up listening to it multiple times, way past midnight. We heard a dense, emotionally impactful, Afrocentric project full of heavy thoughts and tough topics. We heard anthems. We heard beautiful musicality. We heard a Kendrick Lamar who had become much more comfortable with himself as an artist, not just an emcee. Many of us have yet to stop listening. Before this album campaign began, many were debating whether Drake or Kendrick was the superior artist. When the dust settled after TPAB‘s release, we all realized that regardless of which artist we personally favored, there is no valid way to compare the two.


Titilayo (@MyNig) // From Atlanta, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

There have been quite a few dope albums to drop thus far, but even in its few months of release, we haven’t stopped talking about TPAB. Sure, we’ve multi-tasked and moved on to Dirty Sprite 2, and experienced other extremely good non-hip-hop albums like Tori Kelly’s, but the fact remains that Kendrick has kept us all talking. From the album’s quick release, to the poignant subject matter, to K.Dot performing on police cars and the accompanying videos, TPAB has been a highlight of 2015. I’m extremely pleased that “Alright” is finally on the radio. “These Walls” could be a follow-up single as well. With police brutality and overall Blackness being threatened, this pro-Black album is desperately needed. That’s no knock on the Dirty Sprites’ of the world, but these kids need substance. Kendrick provides us with plenty.


Veronica Larsen (@fluffvera) // Stockholm, Sweden
A-Laget: Nokke Feita Vol 4

Being a music critic is often an inner struggle. On one side of the battlefield is everyone else’s opinion, on the other side is yours. Sometimes there’s truce, you agree on a mutual opinion. Sometimes there’s full war, you think the other way around. You want to speak your mind, but you do not want to lose your head. Or maybe that’s just human behavior. We’re all a bit afraid of being the one standing outside the community; rebel heart or not. Having said that, rating a Norwegian mixtape as best project of 2015 so far is either brave, or just foolish. But you know what? I don’t care, because Nokke Feita Vol 4 makes me wanna drink, dance and have sex. And sometimes, that’s all you need in life.

The 2015 Artistic Manifesto “So Far” Award Winner for “Best Album” is Kendrick Lamar, with seven out of nine first place votes.

Purchase To Pimp A Butterfly via iTunes.