Update: Why K-Dot should have won album of the year at the Grammys.
I’ve known Sphectacula since 2000, where he was my neighbor at Res at WITS. I know no other DJ/Producer cat more dedicated and passionate about music in general, and dance and urban music in particular. I don’t have to tell you about his and DJ Naves ultra-successful show on The Preparty on Metro FM on Saturdays. Sphectacula and DJ Naves live on music and this comes shining through in their album Kings of the Weekend. The DJ Micks produced and aptly named the Kings of Weekend Anthem which features Kwaito don Professor
is widely acknowledged as the song of the year, as evidenced by the airplay the joint receives on many popular radio stations such as Ukhozi FM, YFM etc. Spectaculah and Naves have the pulse of the mzansi urban music and for that they are our No 4 album of 2015.
We’ve already written a review of Black Messiah, read it here. I am still enthralled every time I play this album, even though I have had it for more than a year. It’s a masterful D’Angelo, completely in control of a swaggering and languid Vanguard. The music is sexy, sultry and proudly black. D’angelo lyrics are relevant, conscious and connected to the struggles of all black people worldwide against white supremacy and privilege. Black Messiah is a classic that stands proudly next to Brown Sugar and Voodoo. It’s our 3rd favorite album of the year.
When Black Coffee's new album Pieces of Me dropped my music circle did what we always do with seminal albums: a dedicated listening session. Black Coffee’s 5th album deserved no less. And we were not disappointed. All of the joints are hot and I mean ALL. The seminal hit “We dance again” with Nakhane Toure (a rising musical genius who we will cover soon) even sparked a social media trend. Our favourite track from the album and possibly our house joint of the year is Angelina with Naak Music and Mondli Ngcobo on vocals. There is no better way for Black Coffee to celebrate 10 years of being in the music industry than to drop the now platinum (in Mzansi) Pieces of Me, an album that places him firmly as the future of South African House Music. For that reason, he is our second favourite album of 2015.
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly arrived in April of 2015 and the music world was rocked to the core. The 11 Grammy nominations the album garnered attest to this fact. Here was a tour de force of an album, harking back to the days of concept albums, meticulously produced, yet wild and free from conformity. His combination of elements of funk, disco, rock, jazz with spoken word and hard hitting flows elevate this album to classic status. There is a wild abandon that flows through the album - that of a conscious cat strutting his obviously high IQ through some of the best lines in the game. His intellect is incisive and it sets him apart from his peers. To Pimp a Butterfly is dense, complex insightful and brutally honest. It’s a masterpiece. As we penned this piece we were reminded of Tupac Shakur’s influence on Lamar. Tupac always asked deep philosophical questions about the make-up of society and the black man’s place in it. Lamar reflects this influence in his music. His anger at the way things are is palpable. To Pimp a Butterfly stands heads and shoulders above all other main albums of 2015. It’s the one album that one day might be studied as a true reflection of black music’s influence on the zeitgeist. Just as Hugh Masekela’s music was and still is the soundtrack of the incomplete struggle for freedom in South Africa, so will Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly forever be connected to the black struggles of our time such as #Blacklivesmatter. No other album deserves to top our list of our favourite albums of 2015.
Update: Feb 2016
So the story has played itself out. Kendrick drops a seminal album, yet somehow in someone's universe a POP album deserves album of the year. Some have said this is another incident of refusal to acknowledge black excellence.