Best of the year: (clockwise from top left) Thundercat, Mackned, DoNormaal, and Young Thug. DoNormaal by Una Blue.

"Black art thrives in times of revolution," said Twitter user @infiniteideal earlier this month. (Note to corporations: Always give proper credit to black people for shit they put on the internet.) Hiphop, a black art, pulsed with urgency and intent through the tumult of 2015—it wasn't always revolutionary, but the best of it was all very fucking free.

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Okay, the best show (possibly ever, really) was indeed D'Angelo at the Showbox. The best song: Thundercat's "Them Changes." The collaboration that ruined my best pants: Shabazz Palaces jumping in the pot with Flying Lotus and Thundercat as WOKE. The best rapper of 2015: Young Thug, obviously—the freest rapper on earth.

The best local hiphop releases of 2015, presented in no particular order, because I hate hierarchal thinking: THEESatisfaction, EarthEE; Mackned, Female; SneakGuapo, Konica; Romaro Franceswa, Balance; DoNormaal, Jump or Die; Silas Blak, Editorials (War Tunes); Malitia MaliMob, ISIS; Porter Ray, Nightfall; Raz Simone, Macklemore Privilege & Chief on Keef Violence and Trap Spirituals; Jarv Dee, Satellites, Swishers & Spaceships; OCnotes, Color Wheel.

(Oh yeah: I also include multiple entries and unreleased joints and plus there are 11 of them shits.)

Topping my list of favorite discoveries this year would be Seattle via Long Beach's DoNormaal—it's probably an easy comparison here, but her Jump or Die gave me the same excitement I had upon first hearing THEESatisfaction's first releases: the thrill of possibilities. Dex Amora's intimate, blissed-out basement vibes hark back—apropos given that he was literally raised in MPLS around the Rhymesayers familia. I knew about Astro King Phoenix before, particularly from his video work, but this year he made a definitive statement with a collection of loosies and his Aurum Silentium. Tacoma crew :30 were an instant South Sound sensation when they dropped their AM/PM tape on Soundcloud.

The best national rap releases: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly; Future, Dirty Sprite 2 and 56 Nights; Vince Staples, Summertime '06; Young Thug, Barter 6, Slime Season, and Slime Season 2; Denzel Curry, 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms; Rae Sremmurd, Sremm Life; Quelle Chris, Innocent Country; Earl Sweatshirt, I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside; Denmark Vessey, Martin Lucid Dream; Tef Poe, War Machine 3; Drake, If You're Reading This It's Too Late and WATTB.

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It's worth noting that Meek Mill actually made a record I liked, right before he got hit by a fuckin' bus—now he dead. RIP, Meek Mill. JK—he's doing just fine. Even though he learned, just like all of us, that the once-set rules of credibility and authorship in hiphop don't really matter like that anymore (that all would've gone far differently in pre-internet days), Meek Milli still knows in his heart that the singin' nigga who bodied him would still gladly trade places with him, if only for one night (c. Luther Vandross).

Lastly, I just wanna tell all of y'all making and appreciating music, turning up, being on the scene: Do me a favor and fucking take care of yourselves and each other. Everybody likes to party, but every party ends and has to get cleaned up. When this wave recedes, as they always always do, don't get washed. (Hit my e-mail for more clichés.) recommended

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