Tag Archives: Kendrick Lamar

2015 RAP

‘Tis the season for spending time with family and loved ones, sipping egg nog, and coming up with ranked lists of your favorite rap songs from the past year.  I used to be a staunch anti-lister: how could we attach such a rigid hierarchy to such personal, subjective material?  I also hated all the petty, pointless arguments that always ensued – such a waste of time that we could be spending on listening to more music.  I still think most of those arguments are dumb, but I’ve recently realized that, like many things I initially disliked, I was just thinking about them in the wrong way.

More and more I’ve come to see the value in these lists; not as what they seem – rigid value judgements about inherently unquantifiable subject matter – but as a starting point for conversation and possible introduction (or re-introduction) to material that might have slipped through the cracks for some listeners.  So this year I’m throwing in my votes for best rap songs of 2015.  I have purposely not looked at any other end-of-year lists so as not to be swayed by the judgements of others.  No doubt I will discover countless songs I should have included once I do see everyone else’s, but maybe someone else will discover something in these 35 selections from this great year in rap.  After the first 5 or 6 songs, I didn’t put much effort into the order so don’t get too caught up in that part of it.  Let me know if you agree, and DEFINITELY let me know if you disagree or have alternate selections, I hope to learn more than teach from this first attempt.

To keep this from being a list of Young Thug and Future songs I stuck to the standard format of doing one track per artist, except in a couple cases where groups have gone solo and where artists have been featured on another song elsewhere on the list.  I definitely see Rich Gang, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan as three separate entities, and Nef the Pharaoh gets featured twice since I didn’t put any of his own solo material on there.

Here we go!

  1. Rich Gang – Up, Up, and Away
  2. Future – No Compadre
  3. Young Thug – No Way
  4. Rich Homie Quan – Flex
  5. Tree – Well
  6. Dr. Yen Lo – Day 3
  7. Juego the Ninety – D’Juego
  8. Vince Staples – Norf Norf
  9. Earl Sweatshirt – Solace
  10. Kendrick Lamar – These Walls
  11. Foxx – Don’t I (feat. Wacko)
  12. Boosie Badazz – Mama
  13. Bandit Gang Marco – NO CASH (feat. Bandit Gang)
  14. Yung Gordon – Finna Hit My Walk (fast version)
  15. Black Zheep DZ – Ice-Hot
  16. Starlito – My Love (feat. Don Trip)
  17. Corn – Old School Hyphy (feat. Nef the Pharaoh)
  18. The Jacka – Ancient Astronauts (feat. Goldie)
  19. Bloody Jay – Want it Like This
  20. YG – Twist My Fingaz
  21. Butch Dawson – Brain
  22. Chance the Rapper – Israel (feat. Noname Gypsy)
  23. Young Jeezy – Birds Could Talk
  24. Jay 305 – Goin’ Up (feat. Dom Kennedy)
  25. DJ Chose – Everywhere I Go (feat. MC Breezy)
  26. Pablo Skywalkin’ – Feeling Myself
  27. Earl Swavey – What Would You Do? (feat. DJ Worm 2G)
  28. 22nd Letter – Blunt on Me
  29. Don Trip – Eviction Notice
  30. Kevin Gates – Khaza
  31. Denzel Curry – Lord Vader Kush II
  32. Zuse – Till I Die
  33. Shabazz Palaces – The Mystery of Lonnie the Døn
  34. Danny Brown – Worth It
  35. Rocko – I’m High

Honorable mention to “Coldest Summer’s Mine” by Justiiice which has inexplicably disappeared from the internet.  It probably would have bumped Rocko off the list had I found a link.

Special thanks to Rap Music Hysteria, The Martorialist, and Tumblin’ Erb for their constant inspiration.  This would have been a much shittier list without y’all.

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“And now, the incredible artist, poet, lyrical genius, positive icon, last bastion of hope in an unjust, sorrow-filled world and future savior of mankind Kendrick Lamar is here to perform a song about pussy.”

Kendrick Lamar – These Walls (Live on the Ellen Show)

I wonder how many of those free studio audience copies make it out of the shrink wrap.



I’m not quite finished formulating my $0.02 on the new Kendrick, that’ll have to wait for a future post, but I can say with utter certainty that this beat builds with the best of ’em.

Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta



Flying Lotus – Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

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Ooh another wickedly nice one-take video to go with Su and T-Pain’s from before.  Also notable for being the first rap song I’ve ever heard reference Dr. Zhivago.

Pusha T – Nosetalgia (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

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The other day Matt sent me this video with the simple commentary “no limit era snoop: the most under-appreciated era of snoop.”

C-Murder – Down For My N’s (feat. Magic & Snoop Dogg)

I probably don’t know enough about other people’s opinions of Snoop to confirm or counter Matt’s assessment, but I think that song is pretty interesting in light of this one.

Kendrick Lamar – Tammy’s Song

I think the relationship between these two songs is a nice microcosm of what Kendrick Lamar is: his roots, background, and inspiration are unquestionably in the street, but he adds a level of nuance and balance by subtly shifting turns of phrase (and also introducing a genuine interest in a female perspective), and then occasionally goes a little off track with it (the whole “turnin’ dyke” direction).  That part just feels a little too late in the game to make a joke, or at least that joke.  Don’t get me wrong, you can ask my girlfriend, my blog, or my iTunes play count if I like Kendrick Lamar a lot and the answer will be unanimously “yes”, but every now and then I remember that he also particularly turns me off sometimes.  Usually not though.  Usually he’s doing something cool like turning a C-Murder song into a relationship analysis or a Janet Jackson song into a complex reference to a Janet Jackson movie.

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Ok we gotta wrap this up.  I didn’t cover all of em, look the rest up yourself if you wanna know the rest.  Here’s the shortest, funniest one (use your imagination around 1:17) followed by the mellowest, most heartfelt one.

The Chakachas – Yo Soy Cubano

Grant Green – Maybe Tomorrow

Used in “Backseat Freestyle” and “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst“, respectively.

Let’s move on, huh?

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Wow, this one’s just blatant.  And weird.

Suspekt – Helt Alene (feat. Tina Dickow)

Kendrick Lamar – The Art of Peer Pressure

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This one wasn’t included on the mixtape that got this all started, but I’m seeing several other places that claim that this song is sampled in “good kid“, but all I’m really hearing is Pharrell interpolating the hook from the Ayers track, and pretty loosely at that.

Roy Ayers – We Live in Brooklyn

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid

Now this song samples some damn Roy Ayers.

Digable Planets – Borough Check (feat. Guru)

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This is probably the least surprising one, which isn’t saying much because this album is definitely drawing on some very unusual sources, but it’s really nice to hear.  Any excuse to get a little Janet Jackson in my ears is a welcome one.

Janet Jackson – Anytime, Anyplace

Kendrick Lamar – Poetic Justice (feat. Drake)

This one is especially interesting given the title of the Kendrick song, since it shares its title with the 1993 film Janet starred alongside 2Pac where she had the same difficulty (and solution to it) that the two rappers in this modern-day version seem to have: communicating directly with the people they care about vs. composing poetry about it.  For all the dodging of 2Pac comparisons Kendrick has been doing lately, this is a nice little wink for those who’ve been giving a shit about rap for a while.

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