December 8, 2015

Listicle

The 20 Best Albums of 2015

In the streaming age, it's become a tougher and tougher sell for artists to make complete bodies of work instead of a collection of singles when it comes to their albums. But the following 20 records aren't important because of the individual songs within them: They beg to be digested in their entireties. 

From rock and rap to dance and K-pop, these are the albums we were listening to front-to-back again and again. Check out the Fuse staff’s picks for the 20 albums that mattered most in 2015, from A$AP to Adele.

Words from Jeff Benjamin, Zach Dionne, Jessica Letkemann, Jason Lipshutz, Maria Sherman and Mark Sundstrom

#1Kendrick Lamar, 'To Pimp a Butterfly'

Kendrick Lamar could have made a sophomore album full of vociferous, "m.A.A.d city"-esque bangers; maybe he will someday, because he certainly has it in him. Until them, he is a student of the album as an art form, and storytelling as the essential component of music. To Pimp a Butterfly is angry, elusive, frantic, jazzy, provocative and personal, but more than anything, it is complete. To remove one song or change the track order would be to leave Kendrick’s message or disrupt a perfect balance. This album is 79 minutes long, and every one is essential.

Listening to To Pimp a Butterfly leads to a new question: How high can Kendrick Lamar now soar on a list of all-time musical artists? With two classic albums and ideas spilling out of his mouth to no end, the Compton MC has become one of the most indispensable artists of the decade, and is working toward creating a towering legacy. He may be interviewing his idol, Tupac Shakur, at the end of To Pimp a Butterfly, but in many ways Kendrick’s already surpassed him as a thinker and leader. Jason Lipshutz

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