The Biggest Rap Albums of 2015 So Far


What’s up music lovers?! We are officially one third through the year, and music album releases–particularly in hip hop–have been high in both quantity and quality. The amount of ‘surprise’ drops we’ve seen already has been something special, and it can honestly be hard to sift through it all. That’s why we here at WUD Music have done our best to highlight some of the most prominent releases from 2015, with special commentary on our favorites. The following are listed in order of their release. Let’s dive in.

Rae Sremmurd – SremmLife

I heard “No Type” for the first time in a while last night, and it was glorious. A mood booster in any situation, Mike WiLL Made-It’s beats are designed to turn people up. While the duo known as Rae Sremmurd (‘ear’ and ‘drummers’ backwards)  are new to the bigger stage, don’t be deceived. These guys have an energy unlike many of their older rap colleagues, and this album reflects that energy.

Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$

You can check my review of B4.DA.$$ for Jonk Music by clicking this long ass link here.

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Year after year, Drake earns a bit more of my respect. With his shotgun drop of IYRTITL, he has finally been established in my personal lens as a legitimate hitmaker MC. Right from the opening track, “Legend” Drake uses this mixtape-album-hybrid to showcase the most boastful rap I’ve heard in recent memory. It’s confident, carefree, and chock full of lyrics ready for candid use at social gatherings (not necessarily because they’re appropriate, but because they’re fun to say). If you haven’t told someone you’ve been running through (insert your city of residence here) with your woes, you need to stop sleeping now.

Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise

I don’t really fuck with Big Sean (as he doesn’t fuck with me, apparently), buuuuut he appears to have strung together enough songs to have a notable album in 2015.  Features from Kanye, Drake, and Lil Wayne with production credits from DJ Mustard, Boi 1-da, and Mike WiLL Made-it aren’t too shabby either. I haven’t listened to it too much, so I requisitioned the opinion of a friend for this one:

Sam would also like you to know how game-changing the extended version of “Paradise” is. Sean goes in.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (By Joe McAsey)

Everyone has likely heard about Kendrick Lamar’s new record To Pimp A Butterfly, and that it is already in contention for album of the year. Any review that I can give for it would never be able to do it justice, but I hope to pinpoint at least some of the reasons why it could stand as one of the best hip hop albums of decade.

One aspect of this album that makes it so important is its cultural relevance in terms of lyrical content. With an increasing number of publicized incidents of police violence against black people, race has become a huge topic. Any given song off of the album addresses race in some way. You’ll find that Kendrick has quite a bit to say about race issues in society today.

Another interesting dimension of the record is its place in Kendrick Lamar’s discography. After releasing a classic such as good kid m.A.A.d city, it is nearly impossible to follow up and deliver. The album contains a strong funk influence, which reconnects with the some of the roots of black music and black pride. The genre also places Butterfly in a completely different realm from from his previous record. He does not try to recreate good kid m.A.A.d city, although some of the important themes carry over.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the meaning within the album, but if you have not listened to it much or at all, you need to hear it. Even if you don’t enjoy the music itself, the lyrics say a lot about society today. If you are interested in reading more, you can check out my track breakdown off of the first song on the record “Wesley’s Theory.” This track manages to pack the major themes and metaphor of a “pimped butterfly” in under five minutes.

Thanks to Joey for this contribution. You can check out more of his stuff at Cup O’ Joe Music.

Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful (By Brennan Haelig)

Back in March, gourmet chef-turned-MC Action Bronson released his major label debut LP Mr. Wonderful on Atlantic/Vice Records. After just the first few tracks, it’s clear that Bronson wrote the album as more of a cohesive project rather than focusing on individual tracks, even stating that “I don’t care about individual tracks, I’m trying to create a complete, classic project”. Overall the album favors production from live instruments over computerized beats. With production credits from Mark Ronson (of “Uptown Funk” fame) and Alchemist to Statik Selektah, Mr. Wonderful takes listeners on a journey through a variety of soundscapes. Most of the instrumentals are laced with influence from jazz, funk and blues. The lead single “Baby Blue” (featuring Chance The Rapper) stands out as one of the album’s most intricate tracks. Action Bronson tells a story of love lost, and makes his singing debut on the crooning chorus of the track. The album features various interludes and instrumental sections that add a nice flavor to the LP, seguing seamlessly from track to track. The lyrical content encompasses a lot of the same material we’ve heard from Action before, from lavish adventures to boastful metaphors, sprinkled with a fair share of references to marijuana and gourmet cuisine. The project concludes with “Easy Rider”, Bronsoliño’s bad-boy anthem to debauchery and the rock star life (“who gives a fuck? I’m a sinner”). The track sets the mood perfectly for Mr. Wonderful to “ride the Harley into the sunset”, closing out the album in true Action Bronson fashion.

Props to Brennan for this review. You can find him on Twitter.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt
(by Laura Oberwetter)

2 years after the successful release of “Doris”, Earl Sweatshirt is back with the darkly minimal I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. Doris was by no means the feel good album of the year, but it’s amusing samples and features, quick verses, and lighthearted beats are now almost completely gone. I Don’t Like Shit is a deep, grim motion of poignant maturation for Earl.

The opening track, “Huey”, is as lively as the album gets with its carefree organ and bright sound effects. Following the relatively cheerful “Huey” are songs like “Grief” and “Faucet”, laden with somber and distorted noise; the tempos lumber along so slowly that it feels like these tracks could fall apart at any moment. It’s stripped down, letting Earl and his verses take the front seat before wobbling and wavering melodies. The gloomy, bare music only makes sense paired with the lyrics. Earl Sweatshirt isn’t a “pop that molly” lyricist anymore. He talks about self-medicating to cope with the loss of his grandmother, the shadows of addiction, longing for solidarity while surrounded by people he mistrusts, and the trouble that fame and attention have brought him. It’s intimate, almost to the point of discomfort.

Although it’s a move in a new direction from his past work, this may be a more accurate representation of Earl as an artist. In at interview for NPR’s Microphone Check, Earl Sweatshirt says,“[I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside] is the first thing that I’ve said that I fully stand behind”. It may take fans a couple listens to readjust their vision of Earl’s style, but the honesty and effort put into this album is salient, and likely well received. Some artists can’t pull off a dramatic shift in style; evidently, Earl Sweatshirt is not one of those artists.

Props to Lauren her contribution. She too, is on Twitter.

Tyler, the Creator – Cherry Bomb

Announced soon after fellow Odd Future friend Earl Sweatshirt’s album, Cherry Bomb is the most recent “surprise release” we’ve seen. What’s not a surprise is how Tyler’s sound continues to evolve, slowly shifting from internet rap to heavily jazz-influenced pieces. Tracks like “FIND YOUR WINGS”, “2SEATER”, and “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT” showcase Tyler’s jazzy style, while the album’s self-titled track and “DEATHCAMP” show the rapper can still exude the DGAF attitude he’s been known for. It’s wide-ranging project, so it definitely takes a more open mind to enjoy.

Hope this puts y’all on to some new stuff. By NO means is this a comprehensive list, so if you’re looking for more I would check out Wikipedia. Brennan would have you know that list does not include MOD SUN, and I would have you know it doesn’t include CRASHprez. Until next time, enjoy the Hip Hop.

WSUM and WUD Music Present: The Podcast E01: Revelry Music and Arts Festival 2015


Saying it was easy to get a bunch of music geeks together to talk about music for a podcast would be an understatement. So here we are, with a collaboration between WSUM, the official student radio station of UW-Madison, and yours truly. Check out our preview of Revelry Music and Arts Festival below, and let us know what you think!

DISCLAIMER: The following was recorded in March of 2015, before many details regarding Revelry Music and Arts Festival were available to the public. Commentary throughout this episode is meant to provide an analysis of Revelry’s Main Stage lineup. Enjoy!

These 5 Fake Shows Will Change Your Outlook On Live Music

Here at WUD Music, our mission is to produce free live concerts on a weekly basis that showcase quality music by local, regional, and national acts. We even book international acts sometimes (see: Mac Demarco)!

Because of the high volume of shows we put on and the smaller venues we book for, we obviously cannot afford to produce concerts at the level of quality everyone’s favorite superstars would expect. Regardless, it’s still fun to to see how much it would cost to make these fantasies a reality.

The following show fliers represent some of the awesome design work our marketing subcommittee has been up to, as well as what we would have to charge for tickets to these uber-intimate concerts that we would all kill to witness.

1. Lady Gaga 

Fake LadyGaga

Lady Gaga has been more focused on her duets with Tony Bennett for the last year or so, but that doesn’t mean one of her solo productions doesn’t still break the bank. Ticket Price: $3,555

2. Kendrick Lamar w/ ScHoolboy Q

Fake KendrickLamar

Speaking of “Break the Bank”, how about we have ScHoolboy Q come to Madison? That would be a dope show, but if he OPENED for Kendrick Lamar?! That show would be beyond lit. With the release of To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick is bound to cost a bit more for live concerts, but I sense that many hip hop heads would be willing to shell out the same amount as a weekend at Lollapalooza for a TDE set in a 500-person venue.
Ticket Price: $295

3. Lana Del Rey

Fake Shows - Lana

A favorite of college students at all campuses, somber pop songstress Lana Del Rey would put on an amazing stripped-down set in Der Rathskeller. Just so long as no one tries to run up on stage and hug her to death first. Ticket Price: $688

4, Mumford and Sons

Fake Mumford

The boys are back together! After a break up/hiatus for the past year or two, Mumford and Sons return to prominence with a new album set to release on May 4th. I guess they couldn’t resist making tons of money, as evidenced by another exorbitant admission price for a nonexistent show. Ticket Price: $1,425

5. Taylor Swift

Fake Shows - TSwizzle

Oh man. This show might be the most expensive of the five, but based on her impromptu performance at the SNL 40 afterparty, at least we know she’d be nice enough to make it happen if we could shell out the dough.
Ticket Price: $4170

There you have it. Have a favorite flier? Want to know the price of a different show? Hit us up on Twitter (@WUDMusic). You can check out our REAL list of shows via our Facebook events list. We hope to see you at one of our FREE shows soon!





WUD Music Presents: Bryce Vine w/Chris Labella, Der Rathskeller at 8pm

The only way this Friday the 13th will be unlucky is if you don’t check out these young talented fellows. Chris LaBella, a local rapper will be opening for Bryce Vine all the way from LA! Check them out at Der Rathskeller tonight (Friday 13th) at 8pm!

I got to ask Bryce a couple questions during his busy route to town.

Where were you born, and what brought you to Los Angeles?

I was born in a small apartment in Manhattan. I moved to LA when I was about ten because my mother who was an aspiring actress at the time landed a role on a daytime soap opera.

Did you start as a rapper?

Actually, no.  I started as the lead singer of a punk band. 

How did you come about the name (of the new album)? 

Laissez-faire was the name of the little party boat my mom used to have.  My friends and I spent many summers on the lake drinking and rock jumping. The album title was a tribute to those memories.

Who is/are your biggest inspiration(s)

Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind and Frank Ocean are some of my favorite writers.  Big fan of Kid Cudi, Brother Ali, and The Wombats, also.

Would you be looking for a girl to go see 50 Shades Of Grey with? 

I’d Probly rather go alone and pretend to weep next to happy couples.

kama-surfing-pigWhats your spirit animal?

Kama, the Hawaiian Surfer Pig…Google him. –>

What would you do to get some free sour patch kids?


 What is your favorite thing about performing on College Campuses?

College students hold nothing back when they are feeling the music.  They go ape shit.

What is the weirdest talent you posses?

My perfect impersonations of Macy Gray and Shaggy.

Is there anything crazy we can expect from your show tonight?

Two words…Panda Cannon

Thank You

VUD Music Presents: A Vednesday Valentine’s Playlist


Because alliteration guys! The smells of dating culture are in the air, and ve couldn’t help exercising our poor German accents to make a cool blog post about our collaboration playlist vith The Visconsin Union! Check the Valentine’s Day-themed tracks below, and have a Vonderful Vednesday!

Need more Valentine’s Week Music? Local favorite Ben Ferris is curating a special Valentine’s Day show in The Sett at Union South Saturday night at 5:00 PM. You can check you out the full event info by clicking anywhere on this sentence!

WUD Music’s List of Lists #6: The Spring 2015 Lineup (So Far)

This is Mod Sun. (Photo copyright by Evan Dell)

This is Mod Sun. (Photo copyright by Evan Dell)

We’re just over a week away from free live concerts picking up again at Memorial Union and Union South, and we have a solid bunch of shows we’d like to share with you. Save the dates!

Friday, January 23rd in Memorial Union – Raura w/ Xoe Wise
Friday, January 23rd in Union South – Pat McCurdy
Saturday, January 24th in Memorial Union – The Racing Pulses w/ Busy Living
Saturday, January 24th in Union South – F. Stokes
Friday, January 30th in Memorial Union – Saturday Looks Good To Me
Friday, January 30th in Union South – Chicago Afrobeat Project
Saturday, January 31st in Memorial Union – The Living Statues
Saturday, February 7th in Memorial Union – Barley Jacks
Saturday, February 14th in Memorial Union – White Arrows
Saturday, February 14th in Union South – A Ferris Ferris Ferris Valentine’s Day (featuring music curated by the one and only Ben Ferris)
Friday, February 20th in Memorial Union – TV Girl
Saturday, February 21st in Memorial Union – JMSN
Thursday, February 26th in Union South – Cakes Da Killa
Friday, March 6th in Memorial Union – Lust for Youth
Friday, March 6th in Union South – Sidewalk Chalk w/ Kiernan McMullen
Saturday, March 7th in Union South – Wave Chapelle w/ Charles Grant and Max Meridius
Friday, March 13th in Memorial Union – Mod Sun
Saturday, March 14th in Memorial Union – Jake Armerding
Friday, April 10th in Union South – Foxygen
Shows in Memorial Union will take place in Der Rathskeller, and shows in Union South will take place in The Sett. All showtimes are 9 PM, except for shows in Memorial Union in February, which will be starting at 8 PM (it’s a pet project!).
Hope you like the list so far! We will be announcing more shows periodically throughout the semester, so make sure to check back here, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter! Peace!


TRAP SHOW IN THE PLAY CIRCLE – DJ Sidereal w/ Soundkill3r and Zendro

Do you like hard-hitting, loud, bass-in-your-face trap and hip-hop? Then don’t miss out on this Saturday’s show in the Play Circle Theater! This weekend we have DJ Sidereal along with Soundkill3r and Zendro playing a FREE trap show that’s sure to get the whole building crackin’.

At just 18 years old, Minnesota native DJ Sidereal is taking the world of hip-hop by storm. Having survived brain surgery at the age of 11, Sidereal turned to his passion for music and has been relentlessly pursuing his dreams ever since. Opening for rappers Macklemore, B.o.B, Mike Stud, G-Eazy, Waka Flocka Flame and many more has earned him a reputation as one of hip-hop’s most exciting DJs to watch. Sidereal brings a wild energy to every single show; known for crowdsurfing, confetti cannons and spraying champagne on stage. Playing at every major venue in his home town of Minneapolis has given Sidereal the chance to prove himself as a top-notch performer, earning him a spot on the Paid Dues tour and at Rock The Bells in 2012 in San Bernadino, CA. This exposure has earned him sponsorships from both G-Pen and Young & Reckless, along with the release of his clothing line and a number of hit singles that have reached the top 20 on the indie hip-hop charts. Check out his new mini-film about his journey from Tragedy to Triumph:



Don’t forget to arrive at 8pm to catch Soundkill3r and Zendro! Both student artists here at UW, these DJs are bringing their A-game along with sets full of hard-hitting trap to get the crowd turnt up. Soundkill3r has been producing electronic music since his teenage years, earning him opening slots at Segredo for artists like Cedric Gervais as well as a headlining his own club shows. He’s known for expertly mixing various genres of EDM, crafting sets that get crowds off their feet and lost in the music. You don’t want to miss Soundkill3rs live show this weekend! Head over to his facebook page and hit that like button!



Zendro will be getting the night started with a set full of heavy trap beats that would make Gucci Mane quiver in fear. Also a student at UW, Zendro has been honing his production skills for a number of years. If you like heavy bass and trap, get to the show at 8pm to catch Zendro! Check out his page here:




Saturday, November 15th from 8-11:30pm

DJ Sidereal with Special Guests Soundkill3r and Zendro

Located in the Frederic March Play Circle Theater on the second floor of Memorial Union