Because it’s the holidays, I’m spending the last two weeks of the year talking about my favorite things from 2015. First up: my favorite songs. While #1 is a true #1 (I played it over 100 times), the rest are presented in no particular order.
Money Makes Us Happy – Skyzoo featuring Black Thought & Bilal
With every release, Skyzoo raises the bar on what I consider the Perfect Rap Song, confirming why he’s my favorite among the current crop of active MCs. Over his signature lush jazz sound, Sky trades entendre-laced bars with lyrical heavyweight Black Thought. Add Bilal’s jazz lounge-inspired croon on the hook and you’ve got straight up audio crack.
She Knows – Ne-Yo featuring Juicy J
Shaffer Smith is one of my favorite singer-songwriters of the last ten years, but his last three albums have left much to be desired for those of us who loved his mid-tempo R&B origins. With “She Knows,” he returned to his R&B roots and delivered a straight up banger that had me twerking through the first half of the year.
The Need to Know – Wale featuring SZA
While The Album About Nothing was a refreshing improvement from Wale’s last two releases, over time, it felt like he did his impersonation of a Kid Cudi album, circa 2009. That said, the brilliant use of Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends” for this present-day friends with benefits anthem got quite a few spins.
Lipstick – Tamia
From Tamia’s opus to love and marriage for grown ass women, Love Life, comes this solid #cuttycarol. The hook includes the lyrics “Messin’ up my lipstick, pullin’ on my hair, ruinin’ my outfit, I don’t even care…” Which makes you wonder what perpetually polite and smiling Grant Hill has going on behind closed doors.
Act Like That – Bridget Kelly featuring Mack Wilds
Light and fun for the summer, Bridget and Mack’s playful battle of the sexes was perfect for two-stepping and red cup sipping at a barbecue. [Hearing Little Michael from The Wire as a grown ass man bragging on his “long dick style” is…yeah.]
Love Where You’re At – Allen Stone
This track, from Blue-Eyed Soul representative, Allen Stone, was one of my favorite “get my mind right” listens. Over a folksy piano, Stone extols the benefits of accepting oneself, flaws and all. “The best part of learning is just lovin’ where you’re at….”
Deep Water – Dr. Dre featuring Kendrick Lamar
While I appreciated the depth of his lyrics on To Pimp a Butterfly, I enjoy “I Rap Better Than Everybody” Kendrick Lamar more than “Introspective, Socially Aware” Kendrick Lamar. The “C-O-M-P-T-O-Innovator” rips the third verse.
Standing on Ferraris – The Game featuring Diddy
Let’s start with the sample. Because Game had me at “hello” with this flip of Biggie’s “Kick in the Door.” Rap’s Ultimate Chameleon offers good old fashioned braggadocio with a signature Rich Nigga Rant from Sean Diddy Combs at the end.
Synergy – Jadakiss featuring Styles
Jadakiss and Styles over a Just Blaze production. Does it get any better? If I had my way, this is what all rap songs would sound like.
M.P.A. – Pusha T
The second verse. HMMMMMOHMYGOD. Pusha offers up an honest tale of dating for dollars, imploring women who’ve found no luck with men in the dope game to pursue greener pastures. “…until you learn to love him, make him spare no amount. Make him dig deeper to keep ya, knowin’ you deserve it. Take advantage of it ‘cause you’re worth it. Real bitches worth it.” [In the four days since I first heard this verse, I’ve analyzed it with as many people will listen.]
I’ve compiled the songs above with some honorable mentions (including my guilty pleasure track, Omarion’s “Post to Be”) into a Spotify playlist, SBG’s Songs of the Year: 2015. Make sure to check it out.
Stay tuned for my next installment, SBG’s Albums of the Year 2015.