While the list of music released within this past school year seems to go on infinitely, here are a couple of standout hits from different genres to satisfy every type of music lover out there.

Rock n’ Roll: Alabama Shakes give listeners a taste of what it’s like when four talented musicians with real instruments come together and let loose.
Their second album, “Sound and Color,” released in late March, achieves a level of soul that few artists of the 21st century have reached. “Gimme All Your Love,” the second single of the album, displays this passion. What would a female Zeus sound like if she was begging someone to spare her from grueling loneliness? Lead vocalist and guitarist Brittany Howard answers this question as she melodically screams the title line over a roaring guitar riff.
The album covers everything from speedy 12-bar, distorted rock n’ roll, to gradual keyboard-led soul ballads. “Sound and Color” recently reached number one on the Billboard Hot 200 charts and has received praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and more. With the type of fire the Alabama Shakes displayed on this record, it is safe to say they have deserved every word of this critical acclaim.

Rap: With the March 15 release of his latest album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Kendrick Lamar has ascended above mere rap greatness, and into the realm of music history.
Driven by the sonic jazz-funk of producer Sounwave and the soulful saxophone of Terrace Martin, “To Pimp a Butterfly” is highly alluring to the ear on an instrumental basis alone. However, it is Lamar’s willingness to tackle the vast spectrum of emotions running through his head that makes this album a masterpiece. Lamar offers a first-hand perspective of the internal and external struggles of a poor, black Compton boy who has traveled far and attained wealth. With references to Lamar’s thoughts on Trayvon Martin, the devil, self-hatred, and self-loving, “To Pimp a Butterfly” lets us fully admire Lamar the way we have always wanted to.

graphic by Leo DiPierro
graphic by Leo DiPierro

R & B: With a precise falsetto voice backed by a silky, psychedelic wall of sound, only D’Angelo could’ve created “Black Messiah,” the most listenable album of the 2014-2015 school year.
“Black Messiah,” released in late 2014, is a showcase of carefully crafted modern funk. Backed by a group named The Vanguard, D’Angelo was able to create 12 tracks of enticing instrumentals and heartbreaking vocals. Although there is hardly a hook in the entire album, the grooves D’Angelo and the Vanguard create are catchy and smooth
Additionally, many of D’Angelo’s lyrics are rooted in his frustration with the systemic racism he feels African-Americans experience today. Through and through, “Black Messiah” demonstrates D’Angelo’s ability to create an original, beautiful sound based on his unique rhythmic approach.

Pop: Through the past year Chance the Rapper and the Social Experiment have exemplified their ability to combine scratchy vocals, electronic and brass instruments, and wits into original music that is to-die-for catchy.
“Wonderful Everyday: Arthur” is a remake of the “Arthur” theme song. And. It. Is. Awesome. There are no other artists singing theme songs from toddler TV shows. This single proves the willingness that Chance and the Social Experiment have for taking far fetched ideas and turning them into musical gold.
In “I am Very Very Lonely,” Chance raps and sings about wishing someone would call him while making everything rhyme with “La Cucaracha.” It’s hard to label a genre for these guys, but songs like “Sunday Candy” are so ridiculously catchy, that the only thing to call this sound is pop… really, really good pop that is. Chance and the Rapper and the Social Experiment have a full album rumored to be coming out soon, so be on the look out.


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