25. Sevyn Streeter- Call Me Crazy, But…
I really like Sevyn’s sound. It takes me back to 90s and early 00s R&B. Honest, good songwriting and a great voice. I had It Won’t Stop on repeat for quite some time. Her EP, Call Me Crazy, But… is a great preview of what’s to come. Listen to Sex on the Ceiling and B.A.N.s. You’re Welcome.
24. Jhene Aiko- Sail Out
I just love Jhene. She’s so Indie yet R&B yet Hip Hop, it’s a dope mix. She’s been around for a long time, since she was rolling with B2K and them, but she has never really caught on. She is a really great talent. Her songs tell stories and capture emotion really well. From Comfort Inn Ending where you can get all in your feelings, to Bed Peace where you can get out of them. Here mixtape Sailing Souls to her EP Sail Out, she has a little something for everybody. Great music to zone out or soak in your feelings to. Her song The Worst…so much truth. Listen to it.
23. Tamar Braxton- Love and War
After coming into the spotlight on Braxton Family Values as the diva, Tamar set herself up to some big standards. She came out swinging with the lead single Love and War, which everybody was belting along to. Then came The One, and I was thinking I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the album. The album really is just a good R&B album. Some good slow ballads and a track or 2 to twerk to. Good balance.
22. Miley Cyrus
Hate it or love it, Miley Cyrus was definitely on top of the music industry this year. Her motto was clearly there is no such thing as bad publicity. I didn’t particularly care for Bangerz, but I have to acknowledge that Miley was the topic for the vast majority of the year. Hopefully it’s just a phase and she’ll change to something less disturbing for next year.
21. Ke$ha- Warrior
I really liked Warrior, I just felt like Ke$ha should’ve waited until summer to release it. With songs like C’mon, Crazy Kids, and Thinkin of You, I was on this album for a minute. It is nice collection of songs.
20. Emeli Sande- Our Version of Events
Where do I even begin with Emeli? Beautiful woman with a beautiful voice and beautiful songs. Next To Me was a sizeable hit, but I still feel like people didn’t really get into her like they should have. Her album is absolutely amazing. If you have not heard Our Version of Events, you need to change that asap.
19. Solange – Saint Heron
Solange has come into her own quite nicely. I love her style and her entire aesthetic. She is amazing. I absolutely loved True and played the hell outta of the Lovers in the Parking Lot video. Then she announces that she is starting Saint Records and dropping a compilation and I was so excited. I marked my calendar for it. Saint Heron is a great collections of artists and songs that makes you just want to go on a road trip. It features Cassie, Jhene Aiko, and of course, Solange. I love Solange and cannot wait to see what she does next.
18. Ariana Grande- Yours Truly
I remember watching the episode of iCarly when they combined with Victorious and seeing a little woman with a big voice and thinking, “Damn!” Then I started hearing this song on the radio and I thought that it was a new Mariah Carey song. Next thing I know, The Way is everywhere and it’s that little woman singing it. I love Ariana’s sound, it’s so good 90s R&B, complete with the hip hop samples. She has a really great voice and I really like the music she makes. Honeymoon Avenue definitely made the top songs of this year list for me. I love that song and spent a lot of time with it on repeat. I hope to see Ariana continue to grow. I hear she’s already working on her next album.
17. Fantasia- Side Effects of You
I’ve always thought Fantasia made good music. It just tends to get overshadowed by other things. From her debut to Fantasia to Back to Me, she has never failed to provide some good music. She did not disappoint with Side Effects of You. My only issue was that it was not pushed enough. The songs range from deep, emotional slow records to songs like Without Me, which I absolutely loved. I appreciate her ability to reign in her voice and not over-sing.
16. Katy Perry- Prism
Katy came back with a force with Roar. Roar blew up as soon as it hits, just like most of Katy’s anthem-like records. Prism is a great collection of songs, a little bit of everything. My personal fave is Dark Horse, which I took a whole day to twerk to. She’s just a solid artist and as pop as she can be, I just enjoy how free and fearless she is.
15. The Civil Wars- The Civil Wars
Many of you may not know about The Civil Wars, but I absolutely love them. It began with their song Poison & Wine, and from there I listened to their album Barton Hallow and I loved it. They’re more folk, almost country but they make some really beautiful songs. Their voices blend amazingly. Their self-titled album continues their amazing collaboration and their stunning songs. If you haven’t listened to them before and enjoy folk music, get in!
14. Kings of Leon- Mechanical Bull
Just for starters, Only by the Night is one of my favorite albums. I have loved Kings of Leon for a minute. They are Rock/Alternative type music, but it’s just good. I’m sure most of you have heard Use Somebody. If not, remedy that. Mechanical Bull continues in the great tradition of Kings of Leon. I am able to listen to the album pretty much in its entirety. I love it. If you’re into Rock you might enjoy it as well.
13. Kelly Rowland- Talk A Good Game
Talk A Good Game is a really good album. Kelly didn’t promote it as much as I would like, and I really didn’t like the single choices, though Kisses Down Low was cool. But the album as a whole is really good. I love the Destiny’s Child reunion, You’ve Changed. It’s just a really good listen.
12. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick came out last year and got everybody excited with his album, which featured quite a few records that people loved. But this year was really the year he took off and became the new heavy hitter in hip hop. That Control verse put everything into perspective and sent a much needed shock through hip hop that woke up many rappers. He garnered respect from most of those named and rattled many others just by not naming them at all. He just lined everybody up and virtually pushed them in the chest as a challenge to get back to that good competitive hip hop. Not beefs, just everybody fighting to be the best, instead of piling 10 rappers on one record just to make a hit. He made a powerful statement and hopefully struck a nerve in hip hop.
11. J. Cole- Born Sinner
Born Sinner was another one of those highly acclaimed albums this year. Power Trip was one of my top songs of the year. I love storytellers in hip hop, it’s always been one of the things I’ve loved most about the music. J. brings it back for me. I got tired of Crooked Smile, because the radio played it every few songs, but I enjoyed the album. I don’t know if J. Cole will ever make it to Jay z status, but I do think that he’ll always be around. Not quite mainstream, but with a sizable following. As long as he continues to create collections of music that people cite as the best out, he’ll continue to be fine.
10. James Blake- Overgrown
James Blake has a great voice and a very unique sound. His songs are very hypnotic and before you know it you’ve let the song ride a good 2 or 3 times without even really realizing it. I absolutely love Retrograde and Fall For Me, particularly how he incorporated RZA on Fall For Me. It’s just really good music to add to your musical library. His songs will easily get you through whatever activity you just need to drift off during. His voice blends so well into the music it really is mystifying. I’m already anxious for his next album.
9. Kanye West. Yeezus
A lot of people try to act like Yeezus is just trash, but it is not at all. I think Kanye’s actions overshadow the music, because I actually enjoy this album. It’s as Kanye as any of his albums, though not nearly as great as Late Registration, College Dropout, or Graduation. Still production wise and lyrically it’s still good. Some of the lyrics are hypocritical, but if you are able to separate the music from Kanye, you can really enjoy it. I love Bound 2, in spite of that awful video. Kanye is a great artist. If he could just stop with the ridiculous rants, he’d be fine.
8. Jay z- Magna Carta Holy Grail
Jay came out and just announced he had an album coming out in like a week and we were all like, “Oh? No promo, single, or nothing?” But he declared new rules, sold a million to Samsung to put out to Galaxy users through an app. And then went on to sell another million after it came out. It was a brilliant business move. Meanwhile, the production on the album is absolutely incredible. We were all bopping to F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit and Tom Ford. We would be bopping to Beach is Better if it weren’t too damn short. All in all, it was an exciting moment in hip hop and a great joint for the summer.
7. Drake- Nothing Was The Same
Drake back at it again. I’ll admit I was mostly annoyed by Started From the Bottom, probably because people played it way too much. Still Drake is one of those artists whose album you just have to listen to. After hearing Worst Behavior and Too Much, I knew I was glad I listened. Drake is at the top of the game right now. And All Me has gotten me to and from plenty of places. Drake is just good. People clown him and call him the ultimate light skinned dude, but the fact remains that he is one of the biggest rappers out and probably will be for a while.
6. Lorde- Pure Heroine
I first listened to Lorde at the suggestion of Crissle West. I instantly loved Royals. It made me feel like I was back in high school acting up with my friends. Then I listened to The Love Club EP and got a real admiration of Lorde’s songwriting. She put me in the mind of Lana Del Rey for teens. As soon as I heard Pure Heroine, I loved it. I’m pretty sure I left the first song on repeat for a while before even listening to the others. It’s a really good album to just let ride while you’re rolling to wherever.
5. Justin Timberlake- The 20/20 Experience
JT came back punching this year. The Grammys performance left me excited about what the album would hold, and I was happy to hear it. It’s just enough hip hop infused R&B mixed with pop. Timberland’s production is brilliant. The songs are really good. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this album for quite some time. I never really appreciated how much great music Justin has made until that VMA performance. He is a really good artist.
4. Childish Gambino- Because The Internet
This album is just amazing. I had only ever heard a song here and there from Gambino, but I was interested in hearing this album as soon as I saw some of the visuals for it. When I did, I was so happy. It is one of those albums that you listen to and as you’re listening you’re like, “Damn this is good!” The theme of internet on the record is genius and Childish Gambino is a great lyricist. It’s just really great hip hop. I have a hard time getting through the album because I just want to stop and repeat songs. I have no favorite song.
3. John Legend- Love In The Future
Love in the Future is just plain and simple good. Great loves songs, amazing production, beautifully sung, it’s just clicking on all cylinders. John has always made really good music and Love in the Future is definitely an extension. There are songs to 2 step to, songs to chill to, and songs you hope to be able to share with someone one day. All of Me and You and I (Nobody in the World) are gorgeous and will no doubt be a few people’s wedding songs. A great R&B album.
2. Janelle Monae- The Electric Lady
I have a fan of Janelle for quite some time. I remember being completely cultivated by her video for Many Moons years ago. Then I listened to The Archandroid and it became one of my favorite albums. So of course I was excited to hear The Electric Lady, particularly after Q.U.E.E.N. Janelle did not at all disappoint. Everything from her method of storytelling to the amazing features, from Esperanza Spalding, Solange, Erykah Badu, and Prince, is just magical. Her music takes me out of reality and teleports me into Metropolis and makes me want to be an android. She’s just an incredible artist. I was very disappointed that she was not nominated for all of the Grammys. But this should have been album of the year.
1. Beyoncé- Beyoncé
I’ll try not to stan too hard. I’ll suffice it to say that Beyoncé came through on a random Thursday night and just dropped an album with 14 songs and 17 videos like it was nothing at all. And people have been losing it ever since. I’m struggling to pick a clear favorite. The album is just amazing. Great music, great videos, just everything you could ask for from an artist. I just stopped playing only Beyoncé all day. Now I just play it most of the day. Playing Rocket as I type. It’s just great music. The best album of the year out of nowhere.
Sandy Redd- Ready for More
Sandy is a great artist from Chicago with an absolutely amazing voice. I got to see her live in concert and I was absolutely blown away. To the point where I bought her album afterward and I was so glad I did. It’s a great collection of songs sung with the beautiful and powerful voice of Sandy. The title track is definitely my favorite. Sandy also recently starred in The Wiz, which hopefully means we will be hearing a lot more from her.
Eminem- The Marshall Mathers 2 LP
Slim Shady came back with a vengeance on this one. It was definitely the sequel to The Marshall Mathers album. I have always loved Slim Shady for the ruthless delivering and complete lack of damns to give. He did a sequel to Stan and even did a song about his mother saying he regretted Cleaning Out My Closet for how she was represented in it. I said I wanted Shady back, and he more than delivered.