The Year In R&B: 2015

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-As 2017 continues to roll on rather quickly, just a short two years ago, it looked like a resurgence of R&B was in full swing. The ever evolving sound would continue, and we'd be introduced to "TrapSoul", but  the elements that we loved were still there, just in newer artists (and some older artists). A line was drawn between the more commercial sounds and the traditional sound of soul and smooth rhythms. The year would be led by releases from Miguel, Chris Brown, Bryson Tiller, The Internet, Lianne La Havas, and many more. What are the best albums from 2015? The best songs? That's what we are here to discuss.

For me, there were six very solid albums on the year. The first is my favorite, the smooth and jazzy Ego Death from The Internet. The collective that came from the Odd Future group delivered above and beyond what I expected on this album. From the sounds of "Girl" to "Special Affair", and my personal favorite, "Get Away", the smooth production and vocal ability of Syd traps you and brings you into a musical trance that you likely won't be able to break out of. If I'm being honest, this is the best album of the year in the genre, and my 2nd favorite album in general in 2015, just behind Kendrick's TPAB. It's really THAT dope.

My 2nd favorite on the year comes from my personal favorite female singer in this era, the talented and beautiful Lianne La Havas. Her 2nd album "Blood" is a great vibe of Neo-Soul, Funk, and alternative rock/jazz music. She manages to coast over the beautiful production, strumming her guitar and singing her soul out on tracks like "Unstoppable", "Green and Gold", "Tokyo", and my personal favorite "Wonderful". Every song has a vibe of its own and the way she delivers this album is honestly classic. I'd say this album is probably the most slept on out of the ones I'm going to list and as I said, it's my 2nd favorite album of the genre this year, which puts it in very high company.

Another favorite of mine, Tuxedo is a self titled project from Jake One and Mayer Hawthorne that invokes the 70's and 80s sound with a bit more soul than expected. It features electric and soulful rhythms coupled with the smoothness of Mayer's voice. The songs range from smooth on "Get U Home" to upbeat and dance worthy on "Number One", but what never departs is the consistency and the good vibes every song brings. Though this isn't your "normal" R&B, it's a great album that ranks pretty high up on my list from the year. I think the execution from Mayer and Jake worked perfectly, and I can't wait to hear what they have in store next.

Bilal is a favorite of mine, and he returns in 2015 with his album "In Another Life". Though not as good as his debut album from 2001, this is probably his 2nd best official release. He has a lot of smooth production here and he seems to carry over his role on TPAB into this album as well, and he even had a Kendrick feature on this album. Still, with songs like "I Really Don't Care", "Love Child", and my favorite "Spiraling", Bilal comes with an album that was a front to back listen and probably an album that more people need to revisit or give a listen.

Babyface goes back to his roots for sure with "Return Of The Tender Lover", an album that showcases him sounding better than he has since the mid 90s. The production is perfect for what he needs on a comeback, and after his big duet album with Toni Braxton, this showed us that Babyface was still viable as a solo artist and this is an album that I think will be more appreciated once Babyface goes into the Songwriters Hall of Fame soon. Tracks like "We've Got Love", "Walking On Air", and "I Want You" show that Face is once again in his comfort zone and you've not heard this album yet, you should do so now. ASAP. At this moment.

The last album I wanted to speak on was my 3rd favorite of the year, Miguel's Wildheart project. One of the more experimental albums of the year, Miguel bucks the sound of his first two albums and goes more eclectic and electric for an alternative funk and soul vibe. It features solid songs like "Coffee", "waves", "DEAL", and of course the slow and melodic "the valley". Another good album for the year, Miguel doesn't ever disappoint, and this is no different.

I have opinions on some of the more mainstream releases from the year, but I'll save those for the outro. Let me pass the mic to someone else and let them speak on the year 2015.

Prince Royce released his 1st primarily english album, Chris Brown dropped "Royalty", which is an ode to his daughter, Kehlani brought her mixtape to the world, Kelela released an EP full of alternative R&B, Tyrese released his alleged final album "Black Rose" and so many more artists came out as well. I'll get into some of the albums I enjoyed.

Bryson Tiller dropped "Trapsoul" and although he may not be a power vocalist and is very close to a rapper in his cadence, he still does enough to be considered R&B IMO. I didn't rock with him at first, because he fits that "dirty mackin" wave I don't fuck with, but I put that aside. This album's production was dope all around, very modern, trap influenced with R&B melodies, samples & tempos. My top tracks on here were "Been That Way", "Don't" and "Exchange".

Miguel put out a very eclectic retro sounding album with "Wildheart". "Coffee", "Waves" and "gfg" are my favorite tracks on here. The album also includes edgy rock influences as well as slow melodic tones with heavy bass. He reached for a new take on the R&B sound and it worked well for him with his style of singing.

The Internet, a hip hop soul band released "Ego Death", a very well crafted album with production that was very laid back and smooth. With neo-soul being at its core with a jazzy feel, it works well to catch the ear of modern R&B fans and fan of the 90s sound. Lead singer Syd's light, lustrous, smooth voice blends with the production perfectly. My favorite tracks are "Partners In Crime", "Girl" and "Penthouse Cloud". This is an album to just press play, sit back and vibe to beginning to end.

Other nice tracks during the year were:
Chris Brown- Discover & Proof
Jasmine Sullivan- Brand New
Jeremih & J. Cole- Planez & Oui
Aleesia Cara- Here
Ne-Yo- Make It Easy
Monica- Alone In Your Heart

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal 
-The year had some interesting moments and of course, we have to talk about the popular albums  of the year. We know very well about the release from Bryson Tiller with the new age "TrapSoul" which featured his hits "Don't" and "Exchange". It wasn't a new sound so to speak, and despite his fans thinking he's the first artist to ever talk about treating your girl right (remember those stupid ass tweets and posts like "Bryson Tiller just be trying to tell you dumb niggas to love and appreciate your girl" and such? People are idiots), his music definitely worked for the audience he was aiming for. Bryson had a big year, earning a platinum plaque in the process, and much attention.

Another artist that always earns much attention is the infamous Chris Brown and his album "Royalty" named after his daughter dropped this year also. The album features the hit "Back To Sleep", and even though I feel the album itself is a bit uneven, it was an overall solid effort, just not among the year's best. The same can be said for the albums from Jordin Sparks, Janet Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Ciara, Kehlani, Monica, Ne-Yo, Jodeci, R. Kelly (The Buffet is a hilarious title) and Jill Scott (her "Woman" album was a bit inconsistent . However, the releases from Raheem Devaughn, Jasmine Sullivan, Tyrese, Andra Day, The Weeknd, Erykah Badu (her mixtape was simple yet very good), Prince (who didn't outdo his 2014 release with the two part album from this year, but the HitnRun phase albums were dope) and a few others were solid enough to round out the year album wise. Though 2015 wasn't my favorite or a top year in the genre, it had enough releases to keep fans satisfied, no matter what your style of music was.



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