The Best of 2015: According to Neighbor Baker Blanding


If there’s something poppin’ happening in Philly, we’re willing to bet a hefty amount that Neighbor Baker Blanding will be there. Baker graciously shared with us his favorite albums and songs of the year. Check them out below.

ForteBowie- Something Else About Bowie

“A great and compact EP from Forte Bowie has the singer-rapper digging deep on lost love in “Love 4 Me” and his favorite cut-buddy/smoking partner on “Cigarillo Cinderella” among other topics in that emo Millenial wheelhouse.”

Kelela -Hallucinogen

“I just discovered Kelela this year and I might be in love! The dreamy production toes the line of ethereal EDM and whatever drugged out sounds that come out of Weekend/PartyNextDoor/OVOXO clique. Her voice is frail, yet angelic and she never strains it too far sticking to notes that her range can handle. Perfect soundbed for late nights and early mornings.” 

Future- DS2 & What A Time To Be Alive

“Let’s admit it, Future is more singer than rapper. And let’s also admit that these albums exist together. It makes no sense to even try to separate the two and their important places in 2015. DS2 has Futch finally realizing that he should take his mixtape material and actually charge people for it, make it Grammy-eligible, and force stuffy music sites and magazines to take a trip down to the Purple-stained Trap to review it. He could’ve given it to us for free but we were all too happy to pay for it. Of course WATTBA was on again-off again and rumored more than a teenage couple, but when it finally dropped the world went from “Yes, it does exist!” to “I mean, I thiiiiink I like it” but by the time we all got to “Diamonds Dancing” we were back to “Where has this been all of my life?!”. Thank you, Future. Drake, you had a year, too and this was the icing on the cake, for sure.” 

The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness

“You couldn’t escape The Weeknd this year. 50 Shades of Grey, every award show of the year, and headlining TWO festivals in Philadelphia, alone! I was actually tired of seeing him live but the music is undeniable. According to interviews with Rolling Stone, he was tired of making the drugged out ballads he gained fame for because it had become a standard in music so he went left to make pop music and……that’s news to me! Sure, “Can’t Feel My Face” could’ve easily been a Michael song but it’s really about drugs, so that’s classic Abel. And “The Hills”? That’s the first R&B song that will give me nightmares with it’s imagery. That’s a testament to how great The Weeknd is on this project as even when he’s taking a first stab at something new, he sticks the landing perfectly.”

Top Songs: 

Sia - “Bird Set Free” and “Alive”

“Yup, another 1-2 punch. The theme of Sia’s next CD is her recording songs that she originally wrote for other artists, but the artists passed on. So yes, some songs that we’ll hear were turned down by the Beyonces and Rihannas of the world. That’s dope, but I prefer to hear Sia’s limited vocal range crack and strain in a way that is unique to her and her passion comes through on these two tracks.”

Freddie Gibbs - “Careless”

“I know, you’re thinking “But Gangsta Gibbs is a rapper! This is an R&B Blog!” and you’re probably also thinking “We gave you a pass with Future, you’re trying your luck with this record I’ve never heard of”. Well, true and true, but Gibbs switched it up and is singing on this new record and it sounds good. It’s on Spotify; check it out. You’re welcome.” 

Jussie Smollett - “ I Wanna Love You" 

“Outside of Future and Drake, what else ruled 2015? That’s right, Empire! The entire life of the show has been in 2015 and it feels like we’ve been with the characters for years. This track is the stand out from the Season 1 soundtrack (it’s from the scene when Jamal performs for Sway) and actually sounds like it could exist on the radio outside of the storylines of the show–and that’s no small feat compared to the rest of the music on Empire.”

Janelle Monae - “Yoga”

“I’ve loved Janelle since she was first signed to Outkast Records (formerly Aquemini Records and finally Purple Ribbon) and was singing hooks and songs for Big Boi and Dre. Then she got signed to Bad Boy and I kinda fell off until she dropped Electric Lady and brought me back in (shout out to THAT CD and title track!), but I didn’t run to every release because she was too inconsistent for me. Then I had a chance to go to the BET Awards and she performed “Yoga” there. Imagine the first time hearing this song and it’s LIVE. I was floored; the song is perfect. Bouncy, throbbing bass, harmonies on deck, and hell, it’s 2015–throw in some Jidenna, too! And when the Eephus Tour slid through Philly, I was front and center to hear it all over again but this time I got to sing along. Alright, I’m lying. I was in the balcony at the Eephus show. But you get the point.”

Music & NewsEvon Burton