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2015 was a standout year for hip-hop. While the likes of Future and Young Thug pumped out content from Atlanta faster than we could listen to it, Kendrick Lamar and mentor Dr. Dre dropped heat on the West Coast. Here are the 20 best rap albums of 2015, as voted for by Genius.com visitors. — Michael Heal 20. Big Sean - Dark Sky Paradise While both Finally Famous and Hall Of Fame missed the mark, Big Sean cooked everything up just right on his latest record, Dark Sky Paradise. Sean's artistic and personal maturity lead to diversity between bangers and introspective songs. The project flows smoothly from one of the best songs of 2014, "I Don't f** With You" to the star-studded “Blessings” and tear-jerking “One Man Can Change The World," a tribute to his late grandmother. Sean's wide sonic spectrum features a collection of high-profile guests, with mentor Kanye West appearing no less than thrice on the LP. — MvdS 19. Drake & Future - What A Time To Be Alive It was never going to be the project we hoped for—after all, the mixtape came together in just 6 days. That's the kind of pace at which Future regularly operates. Drake? Not so much: “It's tough to see someone do four, five songs in one night and not try to match it.” The result was a hit-and-run snapshot of strip-club rap at its absolute pinnacle. The unrestrained joy of "Jumpman" juxtaposed with the lights-on sadness of "Plastic Bag" doesn't get any more Magic City. Neither artist was in album mode, but the temptation to label WATTBA as a throwaway project would be unwise. The substance lies in the process, and the result is more enjoyable than 95 percent of music released in 2015. That's really all that matters in the end. — Theonlydjorkaeff 18. Meek Mill - Dreams Worth More Than Money Meek Mill's soph*more album came with an abundance of prepackaged drama and anticipation. Three years after his debut album and subsequent incarceration, Meek finally delivered a record ordained and ready for the streets he roamed as a nappy-braided youngin. From symphonic tracks like “Lord Knows” with Tory Lanez, to flamboyant whip bangers like “Jump Out The Face” and "R.I.C.O." a**isted by Drake — Dreams Worth More Than Money showcases Meek's versatility and storytelling repertoire. His alliance with Nicki Minaj adds a touch of love to a gangsta's paradise, the self-proclaimed Queen of Rap appearing on “All Eyes On You” and “Bad For You.” This record showed listeners that with the right combination of braggadocio, drama, and emotional depth, even a street album can reach the ears and minds of the world. — Slickk 17. Logic - The Incredible True Story Logic's soph*more album is a sci-fi epic. Semi-frequent interludes dubbed "scenes" are interwoven throughout the album's hour-long runtime, separating some of Logic's best songs to date. The concept piece, composed during a one-night writing session, chronicles the journey of two astronauts looking for a hospitable planet dubbed "Paradise." While on their journey, the pair pa**es the time by listening to Logic's The Incredible True Story in the year 2115. Behind the 18 tracks stand 9 producers, not including Logic who makes 10, and a sole feature verse from Logic's long-time friend and RattPack member Big Lenbo on fan favorite “Young Jesus.” With the project's stellar production and lyrical content, it's easy to see why he achieved his goal of 100,000 units sold in the first week. "This is the album that changed everything." — Skhills 16. Mac Miller - GO:OD AM GO:OD AM is a departure from the sad, drugged-out Mac we were used to. He felt motivated and confident from the get-go and it's clear Miller wanted this album to reflect that change. The Mac from K.I.D.S joined forces with the introspective nature of Watching Movies With The Sound Off, finding balance on the LP. The result: his strongest project to date. The MC from Pittsburgh held his own on every song, with clever punchlines like: “You put the ho in honest baby, so complicated” on the standout “100 Grandkids”. He often outshines guests like Ab-Soul, Little Dragon, Miguel, and Chief Keef over production by Tyler the Creator, DJ Dahi, and ID Labs. GO:OD AM is another solid display from Miller. — YahwehSolomon 15. Rae Sremmurd - Sremmlife In time when a full-time job seems like 60 hours a week, stepping back and having fun is underrated. That's where Rae Sremmurd's debut album SremmLife comes in. While the duo don't tackle social issues like Kendrick Lamar or have the intricacies of Pusha T, they make hit records. Even Push admitted their brilliance: “They make songs that I can't” he acknowledged on Hot 97. And he's right. Slim Jxmmy and Swae Lee are hip hop's new dynamic duo, full of chemistry and swag, strutting their stuff over Mike WiLL Made-It bangers. In a project filled with lead singles, the stars aligned with three charting on the Billboard Top 100 and two, “No Flex Zone” and “No Type” became instant hits. Hit up your friends, crack open some bottles and let Rae Sremmurd be the soundtrack to your holiday season. — MvdS 14. Young Thug - Barter 6 Just when you thought Kanye West was the most polarizing artist in popular culture, along came Young Thug in 2013. Though many disregard Thugger as a weird and wacky singer, by Thug standards, Barter 6 is articulate and clear. Song structure takes center stage as his melodic voice dances over Wheezy & London on Da Track production. Accompanied by Cash Money boss Birdman on the standout “Constantly Hating," Thugger slows things down from his usual all-over the place delivery, making sure his haters understand every single word. Solo highlights include “Check” and “Halftime,” with the latter featuring several flow changes as Thugger switches between rapping and singing effortlessly. Despite the initial Tha Carter VI controversy, Thugger delivered an exciting preview to his proper full length debut Hi-Tunes slated for a 2016 release. — Michael Heal 13. Jay Rock - 90059 The long-awaited follow up to Jay Rock's 2011's Follow Me Home finally arrived this year, and it didn't disappoint. The '90s inspired, action-packed album fits 11 blockbuster tracks into 45 minutes and one zip code. 90059's street philosophy is evident on tracks like “Gumbo” and “Money Trees Deuce,” while Rock's TDE brethren join him under the Black Hippy moniker on posse cut “Vice City.” Lyrics and perspective are Jay's fortes and he brings both in abundance on this record. The intro track, “Necessary” paints a vivid picture: The struggle is real, the struggle is real, the struggle is real You gotta do what you got to just to get over the hill When you live in America, either k** or be k**ed — Vuk Aleksić 12. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment - Surf Despite hopes this would be a solo Chance The Rapper project, The Social Experiment's Donnie Trumpet took the helm on the collaborative Surf. This paid dividends—the free album was downloaded 618,000 times via iTunes in its first week. Sporting a star-studded tracklist filled with high-profile names like Big Sean, J. Cole, Erykah Badu and Busta Rhymes, highlights include “Sunday Candy," an ode to Chance's grandmother, as well “Wanna Be Cool," a reminder that the coolest thing you can ever be is yourself. The band, comprised of Donnie, Chance, Peter Cottontale, Greg Landfair Jr. and Nate Fox, delivered a unique, genre-bending album that we can't get enough of. — MvdS 11. Game - Documentary 2.5 It can be tough pinpointing The Game's personality on any one of his albums. His voice is often lost among the bevy of top-cla** talent at his disposal and while the Documentary 2 & 2.5 promised a similar outcome, with close to 20 top-drawer collaborators, Game's concept and vision shines through on the second disc. One of his strongest ever vocal performance propels "From Adam" to another dimension, and his constant to-and-fro between gangland harmonizer and Blood soldier is a sight to behold. A shuddering verse on "Gang Bang Anyway" exposes the inner torment of a ghetto truth others are desperately afraid to touch. But Game has never dealt in the currency of shame, and this record is a stark reminder why his voice will remain important in hip-hop. — Theonlydjorkaeff 10. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like sh**, I Don't Go Outside I Don't Like sh**, I Don't Go Outside clocks in at 29 minutes, just enough time for Earl Sweatshirt to retreat into the depths of his mind and unleash an LP packed full of raw lyricism: “I don't act hard, I'm a hard act to follow, n***a / Like it or not, when it drop, bet he gotta listen" he raps on standout “Grief." His accession in the rap game is a common theme throughout the album, while other topics range from a break-up to outgrowing his parental home. With the exception of "Off Top," Earl produced the whole album (as moniker randomblackdude) and only four rappers are featured artists. His mood changes may be swift, but Earl's self-realization and unbarred honesty deserve to be praised. — Sem Groeneweg 9. Dr. Dre - Compton Compton was unexpected. While we were all sitting around joking that Dre will never drop an album again after the decade-plus wait for Detox, the Doctor had been busy in the lab. Dre gave us a soundtrack, encapsulating a cinematic experience perfectly timed with the release of the Straight Outta Compton film. You can hear it, Dre was inspired. He drew from a plethora of experiences to meticulously craft the LP. The frightening “Deep Water” serves as a metaphor depicting Compton as a giant shark tank, while the soulful, melodic, deep-cut “Animals” sees Anderson .Paak invite the listener sympathize with his message. Dre spared no expense with this album, a**embling a crew of all-stars and rookies. Not only did he create an album that serves as an epic finale to his career, but also mapped out a legacy for the younger generation to follow. — Dr. Strange 8. Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$ Always praised for his nostalgic aesthetic, Joey Bada$$ delivered another updated boom-bap project with B4.DA.$$. While the LP hasn't made a bigger impact than 1999, Joey surprised fans with more personal lyrics and a great ear for beats. Big time producers like DJ Premier, Statik Selektah and Hit-Boy blessed the young MC with dope drum breaks to spit over. Credit is due to someone who can ascend their pa**ion. So while hip hop's chosen one hasn't reached his full potential yet, B4.Da.$$ is a step in the right direction. — Sem Groeneweg 7. Travis Scott - Rodeo Despite the name of his 2014 prequel/mixtape Days Before Rodeo, Travi$ Scott's debut album arrived almost a year later. The enigmatic Scott emerged from the blogosphere in 2012 with almost industry plant level hype as a signee to both T.I's Grand Hustle and Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music. Over the next three years, Scott's various features, production credits, and mixtapes would shape the sound of Rodeo. This sound was crafted with the help of fellow Houstonian Mike Dean and this year's Most Valuable Producer Metro Boomin to create a Mo City Yeezus. Dark, menacing synths and slab-rattling 808s on the opening track “p**nography” set the tone for the album as Travis acts as a conduit, morphing potentially overshadowing features from Migos, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber and others into songs that make up an album that is uniquely La Flame. — BasedGator 6. Future - DS2 On his third studio album, Future's hallmark repetitive, pounding sound was replaced by agile and varied raps over sweeping, addictive productions. It both silenced skeptics and galvanized Future's fanbase, cementing his position at the center of the rap game and the top of the charts. From trap bangers like “Where Ya At” and “Blow a Bag” to the emotional storytelling of “Kno the Meaning” and half-lidded-gem “The Percocet & Stripper Joint,” there's a ton of variety, but no dull moments. Lead single and highlight “f** Up Some Commas” doesn't even show up until track 18 on the deluxe edition, but you don't find yourself waiting for it to arrive. A lot of the talk around Future this year focused on his impressive output: four full-length projects, two of which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The fact is, Future's been flooding the market for most of his career: He put out the same number of projects (including the original Dirty Sprite) in 2011. The difference this year was that the music demanded our undivided attention, and no project drove this point home as much as DS2, the shiniest purple diamond in the already-j**el-encrusted crown of 2015's #futurehive. — Ezra Glenn 5. Drake - If You're Reading This it's Too Late Originally billed as a DJ Drama, mixtape, If You're Reading This It's Too Late became Drake's reported escape from Cash Money Records. The 17-track “mixtape” proved to the world Drake is truly running this rap sh**. With no prior announcement, the record managed to sell 495,000 copies — the best first week for a rap album in 2015. Executive produced by Drake, 40, and Boi-1da, Drizzy churned out hit after hit. Before anyone knew it, the whole project was on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. From call-outs to his enemies on “Energy” to a long-awaited “5AM In Toronto,” sequel, aptly titled “6PM In New York,” Drake solidified his place as a hegemon in the rap state. Negative energy may have tried to take Drake down, but the 6 God was too busy running through the six with his woes in 2015. — Slickk 4. Vince Staples - Summertime '06 Summer of 2006, the beginning of the end of everything I thought I knew. Youth was stolen from my city that Summer and I'm left alone to tell the story. — Vince Staples Summertime ‘06 is a candid, vivid depiction of life in the streets. In just under an hour, Vince Staples immerses the listener in his world. From the brash and unapologetic “Norf Norf” to the trap-inspired “Señorita” and the hopeful closer “Like It Is,” Staples delivers a range of cuts unlike most debut albums. Not only is he ambitious with sound, Vince is ambitious in content, releasing a double-disc project. Veteran super producer No I.D served as executive producer with appearances by Clams Casino and DJ Dahi. Summertime '06 is a fantastic debut LP, highlighting how far he's come as an artist and more importantly, showcasing his potential to go ever further. — YahwehSolomon 3. A$AP Rocky - At.Long.Last.A$AP Although titled in the same breath, At.Long.Last.A$AP was a departure from the sound that made A$AP Rocky famous. With no Clams Casino behind the boards or spoon-fed hits like “f**in' Problems,” Rocky delivered a sonic platter of dark, psychedelia-infused joints. Harlem's own found solace in d** after the pa**ing of longtime friend and collaborator A$AP Yams, moving to London where he recorded the majority of the LP with newfound friend Joe Fox. Standout features include underground rapper Bones on the marauding “Can*l St.” and Kanye West on the soulful “Jukebox Joints.” With impeccable production and little filler, A.L.L.A is still on repeat, six months after its release. — Michael Heal 2. Lupe Fiasco - Lupe Fiasco - Tetsuo and Youth While Lupe Fiasco delivered his fifth studio album Tetsuo and Youth in January, the LP remains one of the best rap albums of 2015. Super Lupe delivered a seasonal concept; “Summer” to “Fall,” followed by “Winter” and “Spring.” These “palate cleansers” serve as interludes between lush production and razor-sharp lyrics. From Lupe's eight-minute epic intro track, “Mural” to Terrace Martin's saxophone solo on “Body of Work” and Billy Blue's deep gruff on “Chopper,” T&Y is as expansive in sound as it is lyrically deep. The Chi-Town MC even suggested listening to the LP backwards. Talk about Genius. Only Lupe could pull off something so intricate. — Michael Heal 1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A bu*terfly Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A bu*terfly follows his rise to fame and subsequent survivor's guilt after the release of good kid, m.A.A.d city. K. Dot finds himself struggling through a war waging within his psyche, challenged by the dichotomy of his poignant insecurities and exceptional collectedness. Quite often, he finds himself entrapped in a self-constructed mausoleum—and only here, does he begin to realize his own shortcomings—prompting self-reconciliation and the determination to apply what he's learnt to the rest of his community. The standout “u” delivers raw, visceral anger, while its counterpart “i” promotes self-love and inner strength. Meanwhile, “Alright” serves humanity, inspiring those fighting against social injustices. To Pimp A bu*terfly wasn't just the album we wanted—it's the album we needed. — Eon2323 Check out the 50 Best Rap Songs of 2015 here.