2015 was a wild ride for Culture Currency and everyone involved in the process. As the dust settles on a whirlwind year, we are glad to present the best (and worst) of 2015 according to us. So we hope you enjoy. If you don't, there is always 2016 to look forward to. You can check out Andy Wilcox's Best of 2015 here or Addison Garry's Best of 2015 here.
Action Bronson feat. Chance The Rapper “Baby Blue”
This isn't a list of of the best videos of 2015, because this video is that list, so I won't drone on about this “Coming To America” parody and it's greatness. The hook, “Why you always all on my back / Why you gotta do me like that / Why you gotta act like a bitch when I'm with youuuuuuuu” is catchy and singable, even if it's not what you want to be singing while you're grocery shopping. The song hits the perfect “You suck, I'm great, watch me shine” tone, fitting an upbeat sample with a bitter hook which makes it epically listenable. And then just to make sure you didn't dismiss Action's point because he was too funny, Chance drops some bitterly clever poetry that ties it all up with a bow just in time for the horns to close it out.
Rick Ross “Hello (Remix)” AKA: The Adele song with a Rozay verse.
You've heard this song, and you've lied about singing along to it in your car while blinking back “allergies”. It's amazing. Adele made something that transcends from breakup music to the general expression of sentimentality that we all feel on a long road trip or the journey home. The issue is that it's too poignant. The solution is a few “Maybach Music” drops and a verse from Renzel which includes, “Tears fall all the way to the South of France / Poverty line hang lower than my pants”.
Jamie XX feat Young Thug and Popcaan “I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)”
I first heard Young Thug doing “Picacho” two years ago, and I thought it was hilarious. I figured it would reside in my phone as a song I'd play to make friends laugh. Then last Christmas I was at a small bar in Rice Lake, WI and Rich Gang feat Young Thug's “Lifestyle” came on. People knew the words, or I should say, I saw people in a small town in Northern WI mumble along with Young Thug's insane ramblings. So he's official. And Jamie XX made an amazing song. I don't love everything that Young Thug does (mostly because he's dead ass insane, not always in a funny way) but when he's produced correctly he's fascinating and listenable.
Pusha T “Untouchable”
Timbaland makes a beat with a built in hook courtesy of Biggie Smalls. Then Push does his thing over it. This song comes from Darkest Before Dawn which is definitely on the top 10 list for the year, but this song makes the list because Timbaland gave Push a hit, and Push made it credible with lines like, “I’m aiming for the moguls, why y'all niggas aiming at the locals? / And rap niggas broke like them, they’re mere hopeful / Still wishing on a star / The last one to find out that Baby own the cars.” He's taking shots at Weezy F Baby, not because he needs to, but because it sounds so cool when he does.
Alabama Shakes “Don't Wanna Fight”
It's the squeal/scream that Brittany Howard lets loose as she starts in after the long intro of rhythm guitar. That sound is the TL;DR of the song. Exasperation, sadness, frustration, love, and sorrow, all wrapped up into an almost dog whistle. I'm convinced we could replace all DOD Psy-Ops against ISIS with Beats pills taped to drones flying around the Levant with this song on loop. Try playing it the next time you and yours get into it. Actually, shit, it's the holidays, you're in a fight right now, rig it into your parents Hi-Fi and you'll be making up before you finish that burned Christmas cookie your Grandma forced into your hands.
Justin Bieber, “Sorry"
This song kicks the shit out of “What Do You Mean”. The dancehall beat, with the electric pan flute trill, and the trap snare build up, all in a row build to the “Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh's” in a moment of pure pop ecstasy. The Bieber of it all is tough at first. We've progressed to a post Bieber hate era, but his face is still so punchable. I thought I wouldn't be able to stand this song even after being captivated by the video. But I can stand it, I can stand it at high volume while all my friends watch. Skrillex and Blood (Blood Diamonds) did an amazing job producers of the song. They took the ember of pop genius from “What Do You Mean” and stoked it with goofy noises until it was a fully blown classic. Hate me, I don't care I'll be practicing body rolls in the mirror to this video and loving every second of it.
Post Malone feat Zuse, “On God”
I'm not generally a fan of the Dancehall Patois like the one Zuse uses in this song. But Zuse manages to enunciate it enough that I can clearly make it out when he says. “Stinging the game like a beehive, while I'm hitting your girl from the behind”, and at that point I don't care if he breaks into an Esperanto falsetto. The hook, well, you heard it right? It's swaggy. I don't want to do that you, but when I'm moving with this song I feel like I could, and feeling that confident is fun as hell.
Drake, “Hotline Bling”
I'm not going to explain it, it's a phenomenon that speaks for itself. I will say that as I was listing songs that stood out in 2015 I had “Jumpman”, “Back to Back”, “Big Rings”, and “Energy” at a minimum. But I'm not listing multiple songs by one artist. Hotline Bling isn't up for a Grammy this year (apparently because Cash Money screwed up the application) but it's okay, because “Back to Back” got nominated. A DISS SONG THAT HE SNEEZED OUT IS GRAMMY NOMINATED! So whether you think this video is a corny mistake, or a media genius Memeing himself on purpose it's a great song and a landmark of 2015.
The Weeknd “The Hills”
This was the year that The Weeknd convinced me, along with everyone else. There are no more original ideas, but this version of the love/hate song gets close. Plus when it drops, and the bass makes your neck hairs shake their asses? A song about miserable people that slaps is something I can get behind, even if I hate the title.
Fetty Wap feat Drake “My Way (Remix)”
In August Jeff Rosenthal of @itsthereal tweeted:
“An interview came out today where Fetty Wap is asked if he fears being a one-hit wonder. He has four songs in the Top 10 on Billboard”. That's four at one time, 40 percent of the top 10…. and he's a debut artist. I'm not saying it's impossible for him to go away. Though the thuggy joy of “Trap Queen” was ruined by it's overarching popularity, Fetty Wap was not. So play this loud.
Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars feat Mystikal “Feel Right”
Mystikal is great. And the Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson project was pop magic. Uptown Funk was everywhere, but no performance this year brought me joy like watching SNL and realizing that they man dancing and yelling was Mystikal and that he had returned. If you're downloading it, download the explicit version because you're an adult, and you can handle a few F bombs. But this performance is unfiltered joy, and so is this song.
by Nathan HM Hankins (@nathanhmhankins)