30. Testing by A$AP Rocky (hip hop)
This may be A$AP Rocky’s best album, but it also can be confounding. He experiments with a vast array of styles, which means that he sometimes misses the mark, but when he hits the target, you’re hearing a great young rapper at the top of his game.

29. Lucky by Carter Sampson (country folk)
Delightful. Just delightful.

28. Lostsol by ShortFyuz (underground hip hop)
This shit is so underground, you probably won’t even be able to find it. But if you do, don’t sleep.

27. Everything is Love by Jay-Z and Beyonce (As Major Label As It Gets
A very personal album from two of the biggest musical artists of our time–or any time.

26. Don’t Gas Me by Dizzee Rascal (EP) (British dancehall hip hop)
An all-too-brief collection of the best Dizzee Rascal songs I’ve heard in a long time.

25. Mi Vida Local by Atmosphere (indie hip hop)
This may not have been Atmosphere’s most “catchy” collection of songs, or its most entertaining, but Mi Vida Local is probably the most fully realized Atmosphere album yet.

24. Future Me Hates Me by The Beths (indie pop)
Awesome pop debut from New Zealand—a band to watch.

23. A Breukelen Story by Masta Ace and Marco Polo (mature, positive rap)

22. Bobby Tarantino II and YSIV by Logic (hip hop underground sensation breaking into mainstream)
Last year, he got a Grammy. This year, he capitalized on it by exploding with two full albums’ worth of material, with lots of strong stuff. Logic’s flow is undeniably one of the best in the business. Once his content catches up, he’ll be a top ten rapper for sure. It’s exciting to watch him rise.

21. Nina Cried Power by Hozier (EP) (moody Irish mystic music)
He’s back!

20. Shiny and Oh So Bright by Smashing Pumpkins (grunge)

Don’t hate.  They done good.

19. Bars over Bullshit by David Bars (Bronx DITC rap)

18. Springtime and Blind by Fiddlehead (Massachusetts Punk)
Proof that punk can be deep. And by punk, I mean real punk: DIY, edgy and experimental angst that grinds down your soul and pulls all your anger out.

17.  Kamikaze by Eminem (rap God rap)
I loved Kamikaze the first time I heard it. Then I heard Machine Gun Kelly’s response and thought, “God damn. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to listen one of MGK’s songs all the way though, but I’ll be damned if he isn’t right about everything he’s dissing Em about.” But then I listened to Kamikaze again. Yeah, Eminem is a crank who will never be happy, no matter how successful he is. Yeah, he’s too old to be so bitter about new rappers. And yeah, his last album wasn’t very good. No matter how much Eminem tries to convince us we were just too stupid to appreciate it. And yet…

Wasn’t Em always a crank? Wasn’t he always beset and besieged? Didn’t he always blame everyone else for his problems rather than own his own shit? Yeah. Kamikaze isn’t all that different. But what makes it his best album since The Eminem Show is that he knows he’s still doing the same thing, and he’s gotten a lot better at it. His vocabulary is broader. His images, while still crude, are LESS crude. He’s still able to change styles on a dime, compressing more in a few bars than most modern rappers put on an entire album. So, sure, he’s still the same Eminem. He’s grown up a little, but not enough. He tragically seems to have no idea how to find the happiness within himself, despite claiming to be sober and off drugs.

But he’s still better than just about everyone else.

Cheers to an album that inspired the second-best rap battle of the year. And yeah, on balance, Em won.

16.  Sweet Bunch by Andy Jenkins (indie)
Straightforward indie folk, catchy hooks and riffs, smart lyrics. Yeah, sometimes just writing good songs is more than enough. A sweet bunch of tunes.

Next: Go on to the top 15!

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