[highlight]TOP 200 PLAYLISTS:

Read/listen to more:
TOP 200 OF 2015 – 26-50 / 51-100 / 101-150 / 151-200 [/highlight]

The definitive list of the finest music of 2015? Perhaps not but thanks to fatherhood and a start of the year that took me to Japan, South Africa and Lebanon I can at least claim to be definitively the latest.
The 200 were whittled down from over 500 favourites so every track on this list is something special, which makes me feel slightly guilty about the absence of words this year. However a shoddy best of in Feb is better than a well written one in March.

Visit Music Like Dirt on Facebook, Twitter or leave a comment at the bottom to let me know what I missed.

1. Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker the Berry

Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray… the last 18 months or so have provided ample evidence of the stark statistic that young African-American men are five times more likely than their white peers to die at the hands of the police.
Kendrick’s seething response stands in a long if dispiriting line of civil rights inspired hip-hop that dates back beyond Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ and Ice Cube’s reaction to the Rodney King beating or Speech Debelle’s “Blaze Up A Fire” after 2011’s Tottenham riots.
Justness or righteous rage don’t guarantee a great song but “The Blacker The Berry” manages to be furious, catchy, complex, and so well written that Pulitzer prize winning authors have taken to annotation site Genius. Dancehall veteran Assassin is also in fine gravely voice on the songs chorus.

2. Anohni – 4 Degrees / Hudson Mohawke – Indian Steps (Feat Antony)

I wanna see this world, I wanna see it boil”

Teaming up with producers Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never seems to have reinvigorated the freshly renamed Anohni (Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons).
On ‘4 degrees’ the producers provide Anohni with the kind of portentous backing suitable for a song about animals perishing due to climate change (the 4 degree rise of the title). The bellowing brass sounds are reminiscent of the ‘Inception’ soundtrack and despite the bleak message it’s good to have Antony and her wonderfully unique voice back.
Talking about about the song she said: “I have grown tired of grieving for humanity, and I also thought I was not being entirely honest by pretending that I am not a part of the problem. ‘4 Degrees’ is kind of a brutal attempt to hold myself accountable, not just valorize my intentions but also reflect on the true impact of my behaviours.”

3. BRAIDS – Miniskirt

I’m not a man-hater, I enjoy them like cake”

The Braids new LP “explores a number of heavy subjects, including pornography, abuse, and slutshaming“, so says the press release and as the first track to be heard “MiniSkirt” was one hell of a cathartic angry calling card.
Raphaelle Standell may sing sweetly but her lyrics scream with frustration.

4. Mariam The Believer – Invisible Giving (Wolf Müller Remix)

This one’s actually from 2014 but it totally passed me by. An incredible Wolf Müller remix of Mariam the Believer’s “Invisible Giving”, taken from her debut solo album “Blood Donation”.

5. Stormzy – Know Me From

Lo-look I’m a boss man like Birdie, I’m a badman like Shirley”

David Moyes, Dizzee Rascal and Shirley from Eastenders all get name checked in Stormzys biggest grime hit to date. The genius one take video (well apart from when a car blocks his path) also features Stormzy’s mum and the voice of Shirley giving Phil Mitchell an earful.

6. B. Dolan – Who Killed Russell Jones?

This ODB tribute by B. Dolan borrows the style and format of Bob Dylan’s “Who Killed Davey Moore?” to examine the brilliant, controversial and tragic arc of Russell Jones (AKA Old Dirty Bastard.) The repeated question of the song’s chorus demands an answer, though the verses suggest there may be enough blame for all of us to share. It definitely has parallels with the way the film ‘Amy’ documents Amy Winehouse’s life.
Although the track has been a part of Dolan’s must see live show for a few years, the rework for the ‘Kill The Wolf’ LP (available on Speech Development in the UK/Europe and Strange Famous in the rest of the world) takes an already stunning track to a whole new level.

7. Daithi – Mary Keanes Introduction

Daithi: “A few years ago my Grandmother was interviewed about what life was like in Clare when she was younger. When I heard the recording I couldn’t believe how personal and heartfelt it was, I hadn’t heard anyone her age talk so honestly about love. I put parts of the interview to some chords I was writing and everything clicked into place. It’s a great introduction to the upcoming record, which is inspired by living in the west of Ireland. My Grandmother is 90 years old, and still lives in a thatched cottage in Ballyvaughan”.

8. Mbongwana Star – Malukayi

Seven piece from Kinshasa, Congo featuring Konono No.1.

9. Busy Signal – Text Message

Why she got to be so rude?
She send mi a photo weh nude”

I was going to suggest playing the follow phone technology with Busy Signal game as he had a hit with “Unknown number (private call)” in 2008 and now in all likely hood “Text Message” in 2015 but he messed the chronology up completely by releasing “WhatsApp” earlier this year (I’m not making this up).
Anyway Busy recently claimed to have recorded 976 songs in the 10 or so years he’s been a fixture on the dancehall scene and I’d say “Text message” is in the top 10 of those.
It’ll simultaneously bury itself in your head and make you reach for your phone as the various ring tones and whistles punctuate Busy Signals comedy tale of girls and texting.

10. Miguel – Coffee (F**king) (feat. Wale)

pillow talk turns into sweet dreams
Sweet dreams turns into f**king in the morning”

11. Loyle Carner – Tierney Terrace

Trust, ‘cos all I wanted was a fucking man
To tell the fucking truth, hold my fucking hand”

12. Holly Herndon – Morning Sun

13. Kate Tempest – Bad Place for a Good Time

All over this city people are hungry
For things they don’t know the names off”

14. Jordan Bratton feat. Chance the Rapper – Prisoner

15. Mizan – 7 Billion

7 billion living
taking what they’re given”

16. Mélanie De Biasio – I’m Gonna Leave You (The Cinematic Orchestra remix)

In January 2015 a lorry fire in the Channel Tunnel looked like scuppering what was to be a triumphant performance at the annual Gilles Peterson Awards show at London’s Koko. Her ‘No Deal’ LP had been garlanded all year and I’d been looking forward to seeing her live for an age.

Thankfully a combination of P&O ferries and cabbies got her to the venue in time a scene stealing one song set. Performing her reworking of Nina Simones “I’m Gonna Leave You” she prowled the stage in almost darkness switching between half whispered vocals, yoga moves and flute playing. The track is a pitter pattering ever building transcendent jazz opus that had the crowd mesmerised.

Such is my love for her original I was initially unsure of the wisdom of even the Cinematic Orchestra attempting to play with perfection but they pulled it off. Built around a looped vocal their rework is more akin to the legendary tripped out Mixmaster Morris version of Coldcut and Janis Alexanders ‘Autumn Leaves’.

17. Fatima Yamaha – Whats a Girl to Do?

18. Popcaan – Never Sober

19. WizKid feat. Drake & Skepta – Ojuelegba (remix)

20. Percussions – Digital Arpeggios / Four Tet – Morning Side

21. Majical Cloudz – Silver Car Crash

I want to kiss you
Inside a car that’s crashing
And we will both die laughing”

22. Gidge – Norrland

23. Bad Guys – Crime

So I asked my father for a Tonka,
He said no.
Ask your mother”

24. Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney – FourFiveSeconds / Kanye West – All Day

2015 was one hello of a year for Kanye. He headlined Glastonbury with one of the ballsiest Pyramid performances of all time. No guest stars, no trying to get the crowd on side with cheesy Oasis covers, just one man on stage below several thousand lightbulbs.

On the Brits a panicked ITV cut the sound for the majority of his f’in and blindin’ performance of ‘All Day’. With half the UK Grime scene alongside him, he managed to cram more black artists on stage during one song than had appeared in the previous 30 years of the Brits combined.
Taylor danced, Lionel looked confused and Liam Gallagher pronounced it utter s%^t… so all in Yeezy must be doing something right.

25. Roots Manuva – Don’t Breathe Out

Run the good bad and ugly
We keep it cuddly”

[highlight]Listen to more:
TOP 200 OF 2015 – 26-50 / 51-100 / 101-150 / 151-200 [/highlight]

Archive: Top 200’s – (2005, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 )