Best of 2015: Album Awards
It is that time again, where we close out the year with our Best of 2015 Awards. In our Best of Awards, geared towards all of the projects that have dropped this year, we take a look at the best lyrical album, conceptual album, slept on album, and more.
With our nominations, albums, ep’s, and mixtapes were taken into consideration. Albums that were released after Dec. 1 were not considered in the Best of 2015 Album Awards. However, they will be considered for next year’s (2016) awards.
The Wade-O Radio Team voted in each category. Each member was allowed three choices, ranked as first, second and third choice. Those choices were given points, and each nominees points were calculated. The album(s) with the most points were appointed winner.
The Best of 2015 Album Awards results are on two pages.
Best Slept on Album
Nominees: The Battery – ‘The Change Up,’ NF – ‘Mansion,’ Alex Faith & Dre Murray – ‘Southern Lights: Overexposed,’ Armond WakeUp – ‘The Epiphany of Marcus Graham,’ Theory Hazit – ‘Fall of the Light Bearer,’ Eshon Burgundy – ‘The Fear of God,’ Reconcile – ‘Catchin’ Bodies’
Winner: NF – ‘Mansion’
The rookie and first hip hop signee to Capitol CGM Records came out of nowhere when he dropped his debut album ‘Mansion.’ Since the release, he has garnered a huge following and has topped the music industry charts. Granted, you may have overlooked NF, but you may not want to sleep on him anymore. It’s time to wake up.
‘Mansion‘ is a project that is taken head on, as NF spits with aggression, passion, and transparency. He addresses the thoughts in his mind and his past hurts of abuse, fear, and anger – among other things. He was very transparent with his struggles. Songs like “Wake Up,” “Intro,” “Mansion,” “All I Have” and “Turn the Music Up,” coupled with solid production, created a great debut album from NF. This is a project many are sleeping on. The risk Captiol took with NF is paying off incredibly, as he possess both passion and talent.
Best Lyrical Album
Nominees: JGivens – ‘Fly Exam,’ Eshon Burgundy – ‘The Fear of God,’ John Givez – ‘Soul Rebel’
Winner: JGivens – ‘Fly Exam’
Lyricism is the foundation of hip-hop. It’s what makes hip-hop an art. Lyricism is a craft, a beautiful skill that needs to be nurtured and honed. Lyricism is what turns good rappers to legendary emcees. There are a lot of dope lyricists in CHH now but few have crafted a lyrical masterpiece like JGivens did this year. ‘Fly Exam’ was nothing short of breathtaking. It was incredible to listen to. Each track was almost like lyrical gymnastics. It was complex, layered and beautiful.
‘Fly Exam’ may take a few listens to understand, but that is part of it’s charm. You can grow with this album. Every listen brings another jaw dropping element. If you appreciate lyricism, then this is an album you have to own. ‘Fly Exam’ is lyricism done to perfection. It’s beautiful art, and a difficult skill done with complete mastery. This is easily the best lyrical album in 2015 and will go down as one of the best ever.
Best Album from a New Artist
Nominees: Ki’Shon Furlow – ‘Keep an Open Mind,’ Taelor Gray – ‘The Mocker and the Monarch,’ NF – ‘Mansion’
Winner: Taelor Gray – ‘The Mocker and the Monarch’
My first experience with Taelor’s music was ‘The Straw Man’ mixtape released in 2013. Over the next couple of years, Taelor would go on to release single after single, including a collaborative project with popular producer Wes Pendleton. All of this work culminated in the release of ‘The Mocker and the Monarch,’ Taelor’s first solo album.
‘The Mocker and the Monarch’ (#MOCXMON) enlisted a stellar supporting cast for production and features including Peace 586, Wit, Christon Gray, Jurny Big, Swoope, DJ Efechto and more. For many new artists, this many features and high-power producers would show the artist’s lack of confidence in their solo ability – this could not be farther from the truth for Taelor. In Taelor’s case, this team effort shows his patience and consistency as an artist who has built strong relationships throughout hip hop. Because he didn’t opt to pay some big name artist for a random feature, the result is cohesive, the project flows together with no featured artist or producer sticking out as a misfit.
Taelor hit the nail on the head with ‘The Mocker and the Monarch.’ A project with solid collaborations, hot singles (“Vogue” & “Famous”), and overall cohesion as a complete body of art. I cannot wait for his next move.
Best Conceptual Album
Nominees: Sean C. Johnson – ‘Circa 1993,’ Eshon Burgundy – ‘The Fear of God,’ Alert312 – ‘The Upside Eternal,’ JGivens – ‘Fly Exam,’ John Givez – ‘Soul Rebel,’ Tony Tillman – ‘CAMDEN’
Winner: John Givez – ‘Soul Rebel’
Conceptual albums can be a little tricky, because some people don’t think that concepts are necessary. There have been great albums in hip-hop that have been void of any real concept. Fans don’t always want to be tied into a story every time they play some music. However, when a concept is used correctly, it enhances the listening experience in a way that nothing else can. John Givez encapsulated this idea perfectly with his album ‘Soul Rebel.’
John Givez tells a beautiful story about the struggles of a boy becoming a man. His struggles of trying to understand the Christian faith and make it his own, takes the forefront of the story. What makes ‘Soul Rebel’ so special is how the story is layered. Each song tells it’s own story within the greater story that John is telling. It’s a deep and convoluted brand of story telling that is nothing short of beautiful.
John also ties the production into the story by using it more as a canvas. The production lays the foundation for the story. John Givez used everything that he could to present the story on ‘Soul Rebel.’ He was totally committed to the story and delivered it perfectly. ‘Soul Rebel’ is creativity at its best and conceptual lyricism at it’s absolute best. John Givez showed just how beautiful hip-hop can be.
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