￼Tracks Of The Year 2015
This list presents a broad cross section of songs we’ve been borderline obsessed with, along with those we just couldn’t shake this year. Some took the floor from under us one time in a pounding club, others existed purely on our laptops, to be replayed, replayed, replayed. Some we’d heard every morning before we left for work, others we’ve garbled at the top of our lungs on the late journey home. We started with a huge longlist of great tracks – here are the 50 which made the final cut.
FRACTURE + CHIMPOFrom Early Metalheadz
People went nuts for this hook up from drum’n’bass don Fracture and Manchester’s finest Chimpo. It tested Fracture’s signature experimentalism to its limits, fusing modern jungle with dancehall and footwork-inspired sounds. A soon-to-be-legendary collaboration.
YGTwist My Fingaz Def Jam
Compton native YG returned in full force with this laid-back g-funk strut: the first single from his hotly anticipated forthcoming release Still Krazy. YG’s past gang affiliation is well documented here, cleverly flipping references about the realities of growing up in Compton into comments on his current lifestyle. Although the track referenced past conflicts, it felt like a triumphant statement about where he’s come from and where he’s at now.
ANDREAOutlines Ilian Tape
Andrea made a play for Shed’s unofficial title of King of the Kick Drum with this emotive yet pounding track on Illian Tape, a no-hype label that plays the ‘no-hype’ thing without it actually being a pose. Referencing ‘classic’ techno – Jeff Mills at his most melodic, KMS & maybe Surgeon too – Outlines raises functional, beat-led techno to cerebral, mystical highs.
PSALM ZEROReal Rain Black Mass
Psalm Zero play an intricately deconstructed version of metal. They mine anthemic tension, industrial noise and a sprinkling of Gregorian pomp for good measure. Real Rain is a slice of medieval, disjointed cyber metal that sounds like it’s been produced in a factory by robotic monks. If that doesn’t pique your interest we honestly don’t know what will.
MIGOSOne Time 300 Entertainment
Never underestimate the power of the Migos. One Time was the first single from their somewhat lukewarm debut studio record Y.R.N. The Album, and it proved that their knack for creating total club anthems was still in shipshape condition. On top of some minimal production from underrated ATL producer Deko, the trio brag – justifiably – about how their minimal output has had such a monumental shift on the culture. They aren’t lying. While the rapid triplet-flow might be more prevalent than it’s ever been, One Time was a polite reminder of who we owe it all to.
SKEPTAShutdown Boy Better Know
It’s hard to recollect what things were like pre-Shutdown. An age where smoking areas wouldn’t instantly vacate on hearing the words “Mans never been…”, a time where Kanye West had never rubbed shoulders with Jammer, a simpler time some might say. There’s no denying that the stupendous success of Shutdown has signified a shift in grime’s target audience (shout out to the freshers screaming Selassie’s name at the top of their lungs) but the no-frills impact of this anthem can still be felt. If there really is a British invasion afoot and a new generation are revving up to make an indelible stamp on the world, then there’s no question as to who is leading the charge.
TY DOLLA $IGNBlasé ft. Future & Rae Sremmurd Taylor Gang / Pu$haz Ink / Atlantic
Blasé was probably the weirdest mainstream rap single of 2015. With a shifty beat that circled the rappers like a shark, Ty and Future drunkenly dribbled the hook with lisped pronunciation, while Rae Sremmurd croaked through their verses like wasted adolescents. The video? A compilation of tour bus debauchery, Tinashe and Dej Loaf cameos and hardcore punk moshpits that was heavily distorted by a lo-fi, warped VHS aesthetic. Genius.
BORAIAnybody From London Hotline Recordings
A hardcore club bullet with a wicked sense of humour. Big up Borai – an anthem dedicated to baiting the capital? Very funny, although not half as funny as the idea it might have actually upset a few people. Its hilarious sample of an MC lifted from 90s New Years Eve rave footage (Anybody From London? “fuck off out”), was driven by its propulsive, hardcore-influenced core and bittersweet jungle, making it a truly euphoric addition to the excellent Hotline Recordings roster.
SAUNA YOUTHTransmitters Upset the Rhythm
Four art-punkers riff on the transience of our mortal coils via shout-harmonies, hyperactive drums and one of the best guitar/vocals breakdowns you’ll hear this year. This busy band’s members have about twenty side projects each, but honestly if they’d just woken up and bashed this beauty out in a day, they would have earned their keep for the year.
JANET JACKSONNo Sleeep ft. J Cole Rhythm Nation / BMG
Unbreakable was let down in many ways by its clunky attempts at placing Janet Jackson in pop’s contemporary climate. No Sleeep proved that she could still flourish under one of the many styles she’d always done best. This weightless, unfurling single reaffirmed her status as one of pop and RnB’s true outsiders. Too fast to be a real slow jam but too slow to make any real dent in the pop world – Jackson stayed in her own lane and hypnotised us all over again with this neon-lit pillow-talk anthem.