The Best of 2015: According to Our Creative Director Evon Burton
Y'all really didn’t think I wasn’t going to share my favorites of the year, right?! Y'all should know by now that I like to talk about music more than anything else. Musically speaking, I had an amazing year. 2015 proved what I already believed; that R&B and Soul Music have never and will never (!!!) die.
I don’t know how I did it but I dwindled my list of favorite albums and songs to 5 of each. Check out my picks below.
Of course, I have to show my Hometown Hero Jazmine Sullivan some love. Reality Show has controlled my Beats by Dres since its release last January and I’m not mad one bit. Jazmine was able to prove what many have already known for years: that 1) she can outsing 99% of your faves and 2) she may have the sickest pen in the game.
A great album should be reflective of the times and that’s what Kendrick did with To Pimp a Butterfly. I’ve always said that Black men are some of the most complex creatures on the face of the planet and this album proves my point. As a twentysomething Black man, I have had many of the personal struggles discussed on the album and it was very refreshing to see another brotha own up to them so freely. Thanks, Kendrick! I heard you and more importantly, I felt you.
To echo our dear friend Eric Roberson, I have know idea what Nai Palm (lead singer of Hiatus Kaiyote) is saying 65% of the time but quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. Choose Your Weapon is like a tribute Soulquarian album. There are so many Bilal/D'Angelo/Badu references that it isn’t even funny. And you know what, it worked! Nai Palm’s powerful vocals on top of the band’s punchy rhythms made me a believer.
When my big sister in my head Tamia dropped "Sandwich and A Soda,” Love Life’s steamy first single, I knew she was about snatch some wigs. However, I was fully unprepared for the amount of “Classy THOTiness” on this album. Tamia showed the folks that you can be married, happy, and well-sexed at the same damn time! GOALS! To be very honest, “Lipstick” is song “Partition” was supposed to sound like. (Sorry, Bey!) To make matters worse, she had the nerve to close this album out with a remake of the unofficial Black National anthem, Deniece Williams’ “Black Butterfly.” My edges will return in 2016.
Jamie Woon can do no wrong in my book. He took some time away from the industry to find himself as an artist and that time off was well-spent. Woon came back sounding like a softer, less funkier D'Angelo. This is the perfect album if you just want to chill at home with a glass of Pinot Noir. The vocal production on “Skin” sends me to Christ with each listen.
The “Vocal Performance of the Year” Award should go to Jazmine for “Let It Burn.” There are so many things to love about this song. The truthful lyrics, Key Wane’s flawless use of the After 7 Sample, and of course, Jazmine’s pipes. I mean… someone should do their PhD dissertation on the key changes on this song.
The “Self-Empowerment Song of the Year” Award goes to Kendrick Lamar for “Alright.” At the top of 2015, I vowed to use the year to find my authentic self. Kendrick’s “Alright” gave me permission to do so. Sometimes we all need a peer (not someone older) to give us a pep talk about life and that’s exactly what Kendrick did. He didn’t come off preachy but like a friend who’s going through the same thing as many of us. He spoke. I listened. I’m gonna be alright.
The “Love Song of the Year” Award goes to Tamia for “Stuck With Me.” I’m currently happily single at the moment but Tamia’s “Stuck With Me” had me wishing I had a bae. You can really hear in Tamia’s voice her angst in being physically apart from Grant Hill. (Once again, GOALS!) However, as the bridge tell us, you’re never really apart from bae if there is a deep interpersonal connection. *cues Oprah ugly cry* Thanks for the reminder, ‘Mia! Also, kudos to the legendary Polow Da Don for this flawless ass production.
The “Deep Album Cut of the Year Award” goes to Philly’s own Vivian Green for “Work.” Everyone knows Vivian for her ballads (I’ve fake cried to “Emotional Rollercoaster” more than most human beings) but she came through on this uptempo track.
The “Twerk Anthem of the Year” award goes to Teedra Moses for “You’re So Different.” 2015 was a great year simply on the fact that Teedra Moses dropped two projects this year. (Three, if you consider her California Vibes EP released in late 2014.) And you know what, she came back very hard! “You’re So Different,” which is included on her Clair Voyant EP is so damn good. Teedra’s flowing over this twerk-worthy beat like BET cypher freestyle. This is easily one of the favorite melodies this year.