20 Best R&B Albums of 2015

The Weeknd, Erykah Badu, Janet Jackson and more

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Ty Dolla $ign, 'Free TC'

10. Ty Dolla $ign, 'Free TC'

After this lavishly conceived and arranged debut, singer-rapper-producer Ty Dolla $ign should be considered D'Angelo's heir as R&B's pre-eminent visionary. If not, mark it down to musical home training — D'Angelo's a devotee of Seventies uplift and Eighties sensuality, while Ty was weaned on the less-hallowed Nineties-gangsta ethos of partying with and/or mourning homies, while debating stripper-pole politics. But here, that's no hindrance. On an album dedicated to his younger brother Big TC — who's serving a life sentence for murder — there are hooky pleasures for days, with a varied cast (E-40, Jagged Edge and Babyface in classic form), a choir, an orchestra and Ty's effortless falsetto. Kendrick Lamar rips a flow ("L.A."), Future and Rae Sremmurd animate the darkly bubblicious "Blasé" and on stunning centerpiece "Miracle/Wherever," Big TC croons over a prison phone, joined by his brother testifying like a gospel vet. C.A.

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