Exclaim!'s Top 27 Albums of 2015 So Far

1. Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp a Butterfly

How do you build on a classic major label debut? How do you remain true to your West Coast roots while remaining innovative and enticing more minds to get blown? In the immortal words of Coolio, you better make a left.

Kendrick Lamar's funktastic good kid, m.A.A.d. city follow-up, To Pimp a Butterfly, is more nuanced, less reverent and harder to digest than its vaunted predecessor. Trends get slew-footed; ideas flourish; a spoken word motif in which he slowly reveals what he's learned since being a good kid teases listeners until the record's poignant end.

Yanking the race examination, George Clinton influences and raw pain of great rap music past (see: early Ice Cube, 2Pac) and bleeding it all out of the sharpest pen in the modern game, Kendrick takes the risks we want our greats to take. The scrappy Compton poet could've landed on this list for "The Blacker the Berry" alone; instead, he's made another full-on modern rap classic.
Luke Fox