Top 20 Songs of 2015 So Far

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What would be the halfway point of the year without some lists? A few of our writers got together and squeezed the top 20 songs of the year. We probably missed another 20, but let us know what you think! (Shout out to SoundCloud and major labels for not having all the tracks.)

Kendrick Lamar—”Wesley’s Theory”

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly covers a range of sounds from jazz to pop to funk, and the album introduction, “Wesley’s Theory,” covers them all. Starting with the words, “every nigga is a star,” followed by the booming, “homie, when I get signed, I’mma act a fool,” gives To Pimp a Butterfly the head-turning re-introduction to Kendrick Lamar we needed after lacking an album for two-and-a-half years. Highlighting how he deserves the money record labels are throwing at him, Kendrick let’s the world know he’s in the game to stay and he’ll get every penny he deserve, but you won’t catch getting got like Wesley Snipes did. From here, Kendrick rides a roller coaster of emotions on making sure the record labels don’t take advantage of him while he’s trying to stay true to himself and his city. Kendrick is a star. – Mad Pat

Nxworries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge)—”Suede”

It’s a new name in 2015 and it has a fresh sound, but the two artists that make up Nxworries have been chiseling their crafts and spewing out gems for years now. Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge team up for their first single, “Suede,” and endless amounts of swag oozes out of groovy pianos and adlibs screaming “yes lawd!”  The simple-yet-infectious production puts movement in your shoulders immediately and .Paak’s delivery makes you wonder if it’ll ever be possible to be as cool as him. – Wontu

Post Malone—”White Iverson”

Saucin’… Saucin’… Saucin’… Nothing makes you feel as cool as an Allen Iverson cross up as Post Malone does on “White Iverson.” But at the same time he’s being sensual with his catchy melodic flow. His smooth talking about pushing practice aside and getting hoes because he has braids now is too perfect for the ambient banger. If you haven’t heard the song yet, you’ll know all the words by the end of the day today if you play it now. – Wontu

Masego & Medasin—”Girls That Dance”

Electrifying synthesizers, saxophone melodies, “trap scatting” and catchy vocals make Masego and Medasin a dual force not be reckoned with. “Girls That Dance” blends all of these factors into a melting pot of different eras and sounds that has no label (except maybe Masego’s self-named genre, “Trap House Jazz”). This track is fun and it turns corners like a roller coaster soaring through a fusion of a disco and jazz club. Scat away! – Wontu

Tame Impala—“Let It Happen”

Kevin Parker has yet to slip up. Improving with each project, he was able to craft a maximalist, psychedelic masterpiece with 2012’s Lonerism. Rather than sticking with his psych rock roots, he is venturing into more electronic territory for Tame Impala’s upcoming album Currents, and based on the four singles, it’s sounding like it’ll pay off. “’Cause I’m a Man” might be the track making the most waves, but “Let It Happen” is what started the hype. For nearly eight minutes, a tight drum beat keeps the song flowing along as retro synthesizers jam out, creating an atmosphere perfect for night driving. Disco influences are there, but the psychedelia is not lost. Once the vocoder comes in, prepare to lose your mind. Epic is the only way to describe this. – Zach Haught

Toro y Moi—”Spell It Out”

Chaz Bundick is one of the most masterful artists we have around today and his latest album as Toro y Moi continued to show his diversity. With more of a rock-ish feel than his past album, Chaz delivers a catchy and warm track on “Spell It Out.” It was the stand out of the album to me and a feel-good song.  – Fa†e

Future—”News or Somthn”

Future is on an absolute tear right now, becoming one of the most well rounded artists in hip-hop. “News or Somthn” stood out to me as it features a very emotional Future Hendrix at his best. – Fa†e

scallops hotel / milo—”gnosis, Black nationalism, rice”

milo turned into scallops hotel this year to give us a project, plain speaking, that had him in peak comfort zone throughout. milo has raised the bar on his production and aligned it with his lyrics and the opening track of his new album is the first link. “gnosis, Black nationalism, rice” is two straight verses over shivering, meditative production led by a constant piano chord and flirting percussion. He’s here to talk shit but in a manner to showcase where he’s come from and where he is now as he raps about his several rap names, his past projects and demanding results from those who aren’t demonstrating. I can’t help but want to scream “BARS!” after he flexes his philosophy muscles on lines like, “You ain’t put me on with that Hegel talk.” – Wontu

Alabama Shakes—”Gimme All Your Love”

The final two-and-a-half minutes of Alabama Shakes’ “Gimme All Your Love” might be best sound in music all year. When I first heard it on SNL up until the throws of the album it lays on (Sound & Color), Brittany Howard’s falsetto begging for all of her man’s love shines before the tempo and rock turn all the way up. “Gimme All Your Love” explodes into a melodic groove of guitar solos, beautiful vocals and an emotional plea to make for one of the best moments in music this year. Brittany Howard and the Shakes are here to stay. – Mad Pat

Bobby Raps & Corbin—”burdened”

Bobby Raps and Corbin, the artist formerly known as Spooky Black, haven’t ever disappointed when they work together. From SoundCloud loosies to their work with thestand4rd to their 2015 project, couch potato, their output is on its own island of creativity and “burdened” is a prime example of that. Bobby Raps serenades with a melancholic piano progression and contrasts it with buzzing synth melodies throughout. Surrounded by ambient tones and high-pitched crooning vocal bursts, the two artists lay their voices with raw emotion and ride the listener through this beautiful soundscape. – Wontu

Earl Sweatshirt—”Mantra”

Earl Sweatshirt flipped the script, stomped on it and then blessed it on his latest project, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. His emotions and delivery are raw and uncut through his rapping and his production. There’s probably a case for each song from the project to make the list, but “Mantra” is something else. The daunting, rugged production opens way for Earl to relieve himself of troubling memories and distancing relationships. Earl’s performance on this track is full of anger, but through his perspective, it’s meditation. – Wontu

Jamie xx—”I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” ft. Young Thug

“I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” is, in my eyes, the song of the summer. From the old soulful sample to start to the bouncy beat with Young Thug’s melodic rapping, it just has that feel to it. Jamie xx crafted a wonderful track here that everyone should be enjoying as the weather begins to warm up. - Fa†e

Unknown Mortal Orchestra—“Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”

Perhaps Multi-Love’s catchiest and most vital song, “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” walks the listener through frontman Ruban Nielson and his wife’s polyamorous relationship with another woman and the longing for her once she leaves. Even for those not going through a situation quite as complicated, the song has an easily relatable message about missing someone. An aspect of loneliness might dominate the lyrics, but you wouldn’t know based on the wonderfully hectic drums and funky melody. I’m all about songs that are catchy despite being a bit odd, and this is that perfect balance.

Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment—“Windows”

Few songs on Surf focus on Chance, but when they do, he makes the most of it. In perhaps the most touching song on the album, Chance gives an emotional warning to essentially steer clear of him. You can’t help but feel for him, hearing the sincerity in his voice. He has never been a technically gifted singer, but there’s something about his voice that makes it enjoyable. The Social Experiment paints the picture of a rainy day in the background, complementing the imagery of the song. Things eventually pick up and The Lion King’s influence shines through for some group singing and chanting on one of the album’s more memorable moments. – Zach Haught

Drake—”6PM in New York”

Drake’s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late was underwhelming for the fact it was a “mixtape” that cost $18 on iTunes. It was a surprise. While there were typical Drake singalongs like the widely successful “Know Yourself,” the best song on this tape, and one of the best of the year, was the album’s conclusion, “6 PM in New York.” Whenever Drake has a song where he exposes his emotions (“Hold On, We’re Going Home”), he usually contrasts by stunting over a 40 beat with a muddled sample a knocking bass (“0 to 100″). “6PM in New York” is a perfect mix of both. Without stopping for four minutes, he points out people “scream out my failures and whisper my accomplishments,” when he’s “rapping like the throne should be the three of y’all,” alongside Jay and ‘Ye. Bar-for-bar, “6PM in New York” is up at the top with any song this year. As someone who will critique Drake when he whines too much, I’ll praise him for when he shuts the game down. – Mad Pat

Kali Uchis—”Rush”

In a world absent of new Lana del Rey, the 21-year-old Colombian-American Kali Uchis filled the void with her EP Por Vida, singing over slow-tempo, ambient guitars, bass and synthesizers. The standout from the project, though, was the Kaytranada and BADBADNOTGOOD-produced “Rush.” It lifted an already-intimate EP to a quicker, groovier feeling of emotion. Though you can tell on most of Uchis’ songs her emotions run deep, the necessity of the person who she has feelings for to make up their mind elevated on “Rush.” Don’t let the wave of love pull you under. “Don’t fight what’s natural. Listen to the rush.” – Mad Pat

Hiko Momoji—”Late Nights” ft. Father, Abra

This is the Netflix and chill anthem. “Late Nights” is one out of five tracks from producer Hiko Momoji’s Howl EPThe drums click and bang as the sounds space out with Hiko’s sensual lullaby assisted by Awful Records artists Father and Abra. The two live on this planet of Hiko’s and they float along with their words on their late nights involving drugs, Netflix, sex and snacks. It’s impossible to not become entrapped in Abra’s harmonizing voice or Father’s catchy chorus. – Wontu

WebsterX—”Lately”

2015 may not have spawned a project from WebsterX, but his movements have been strong. Touching down with his city and doing performances such as for the Milwaukee Bucks, he’s only had time to give us one track, but it was enough. I couldn’t have said it better than our writer Miles when he described the track earlier this year:

“A new maturity manifests in the form of patient spacing and confident self-administered voice cracks and wispy come-and-gone hummings, all concatenating into a music-first experience. He slips into the Mic Kellogg production like a glass slipper, letting the beat breathe when need be and at times gently rolling over it like a soft pair of timpani mallets. And as if the listener’s pallet weren’t already saturated, WebsterX sews it all together with mindful lyricism, tumbling over the lines “if it’s all on me, if it’s all on me, then it’s all on team” again and again until it’s believable. He raps with an army behind him.” – Wontu / ElectricAnt

Vince Staples—“Senorita”

“Senorita” set the tone for Summertime ’06 right out of the gate. This gritty, banging beat provides the perfect backdrop for the mindset of a young Vince on the streets, with a perfectly eerie video to provide social commentary. If Vince isn’t enough to sell you, Future’s rapid spitting on the hook is surely enough to get you bouncing. – Zach Haught

Jay Electronica—”Road to Peredition”

It booms through the speakers better than any Electronica song since “Exhibit C.” It stunts harder than anything since “Shiny Suit Theory,” too. The beginning of the third verse may be some of the best bars delivered this year: “A thousand kisses to the haters ’cause they made me greater. A thousand wishes from slaves could raise a savior. A thousand visits to these dickheads at these major labels. From Big Daddy Cane to Big Daddy Cain and Abel, you pay cost to be a boss, nigga I paid the wager.” At first I didn’t enjoy “Road to Peredition” much. I thought the Jay Z “let that bitch breathe” sample messed up the flow. But I let the song breathe. I gave it time. It’s one of the best of the year so far.