[Welcome to the 2015 edition of the Best of the Booth Awards, DJBooth's annual selection of the best music of the year. For a more detailed explanation and a full list of all the categories and winners, click here.]
Decades from now, when we're all fighting off athritis and our grandchildren ask what hip-hop was like in 2015, we'll tell them the story of Drake's "Back to Back."
When Meek Mill first made his ghostwriting allegations he had to know Drake might respond, but what he clearly didn't realize was that he wasn't battling another emcee on the streets of Philly, he was battling the man who had mastered how to move in the age of the internet like none other. Drizzy didn't respond with bars, verses full of lyrical fury, he responded with a song he could push to radio, a song that was as much a meme-generator as a musical work. Drake waged his war not on wax but via Instagram posts. Drake didn't just respond, he responded in front of a crowd of thousands while the screen behind him displayed a constant stream of Meek Mill memes.
Meek thought he was battling Drake, but what Meek understood only too late, was that he was actually battling Drake and Drake's marketing department and merch department and stage designers and the legion of internet dwellers he summoned to battle. "Back to Back" wasn't just a song, it was sonic proof of Drake's cultural power, Drake laying down the blueprint for how to make an impact in 2015.
Drake didn't say "Back to back like the cover of Lethal Weapon" just because it was a hot line, he said it because he knew the internet was going to turn it into a meme, and it worked. Gone are the days when an artist could just throw out a song and sit back. In 2015 you need to be operating on multiple channels simultaneously, you need to know that old barriers truly don't exist and a "diss" track can become a number one hit and be nominated for a GRAMMY. And let's not forget that for all of the secret-sauce Drake threw on cop of "Back to Back" none of this would have been possible if the song itself wasn't a sonic drone strike, perfectly calibrated to enter your brain and explode on impact.
It wasn't an easy call, other songs this year were more meaningful ("Alright") or more musically impressive ("Senorita") or more popular and we were particularly blessed with more great songs this year than we can name here, but it's simply impossible to write the history of hip-hop in 2015 without writing about Drake, and in many ways "Back to Back" was the most Drake song of the year.
It's official, Drake’s "Back to Back" is the Best Hip-Hop Record of 2015. We've also added some of our other top picks of the year, feel free to add your own selections and vote up or down. Let's see what you got.
[By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]