We asked some of our favorite creators and changemakers to tell us what they loved listening to, reading, watching and seeing in 2015. But as we poured over their (many) responses, we noticed that certain songs, albums, shows and films came up more than the rest. Check out our breakdown of these crowd-pleasers below. And after you’re done, head over to our companion piece to see what Questlove, Patrisse Cullors, Dan Charnas and more chose.
"To Pimp A Butterfly" and "Alright," Kendrick Lamar
"This was a challening year for anybody who cares deeply about the world. Remaining hopeful and continuing to work towards a better world in the pile-up of such horrific injustice is no small feat. This song, this reminder, was necessary—and on repeat constantly." —Nefertite Nguvu, director of "In the Morning"
"I believed Kendrick when he said, ‘We gon’ be alright’—and still do. Hearing Kendrick and Tupac ‘speak’ to one another during [album closer] "Mortal Man" was the highlight of the album for me. It was surreal and gave me the chills." —Walter Thompson-Hernández, creator of Blaxicans of LA
"Best free jazz record of 2015." —Karna Ray, drummer for The Kominas
"But You Caint Use My Phone," Erykah Badu
"[The mixtape] is better than all the essential oils in the world mixed into one giant bubble bath. With a playful take on cell phones she reunites with ex Andre 3000 in "Hello" to make me want to vote for them for prom queen and king. More deliciously, she bucks Drake’s and Usher’s patriarchy in covers of "Hotline Bling" and "U Don’t Have To Call." —Ricardo Gamboa, artist and activist responsible for this anti-Trump video
"The Epic," Kamasi Washington
"This album is a beautiful progression of jazz. Listening to it makes me feel like I’m floating." —Tracy "DJ Monday Blue"Adams
Honorable Mentions: Drake’s "Hotline Bling" and Hiatus Kaiyote’s "Choose Your Weapon." Several people picked D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s "Black Messiah," but it came out last December.
"Seeing Michael B. Jordan on the big screen alongside ‘Rocky Balboa’ felt iconic."—Patrisse Cullors
"’Creed’ all day, everyday, in every way." —Asali Solomon, author of "Disgruntled"*
"Aside from the fact that this was filmed on an iPhone, the storyline had me at ‘Where’s Chester?’"—Assefash Makonnen, Race Forward, Colorlines’ publisher
"I loved the development of the characters and the storyline. It’s an instant L.A. classic." —Walter Thompson-Hernández
Honorable Mentions: "Dope" and "Amy"
"Between The World And Me," Ta-Nehisi Coates
"I know he may shy away from it, but that James Baldwin comparison is fair. He grips you in gorgeous prose and never lets you off the hook. His work keeps me in ‘Blackness’ in the same way as Baldwin. He really is our generation’s voice." —Elissa Blount-Moorhead, author of "P is for Pussy" and co-founder of TNEG
Honorable Mention: Asali Solomon’s "Disgruntled"
"Master of None"
"I feel like every brown person is going to say ‘Master of None,’ but fuck it, so am I. The ‘Parents’ episode basically solved half of my identity crisis. I watched the whole series in like a week." —Shahjehan Khan, guitarist for The Kominas
"I am so happy with so much about this show: the casting, the music, the art direction (that apartment!), the locations, the emotional and comedic tones, Aziz’s parents. I mean, there’s not much to critique. I know he mostly dates white women on the show and that’s something to think about, but there’s so much else to celebrate! If I were to make a show, in my head, it would feel like this and I’m so happy it exists." —Maori Holmes, founder of the BlackStar Film Festival
"Watching the show felt like gulping down a gallon of water after wandering around lost in the desert. It was so refreshing to see fully fleshed out characters of color. Not the funniest, but so glad it exists." —Anita SenGupta, co-founder of Conflux Magazine
"I don’t think ‘Black-ish’ gets the Black love it deserves, partly because it airs opposite ‘Empire,’ which I think is a show people still watch in real time. But both are awesome. Two great moments: A sequence during the second season premiere where the Black men in the office brainstorm a list of non-Black people permitted to say ‘nigga." I belive this was the first and last time Terror Squad will be referenced on a network show. And the episode in which Dre’s mom, played by the sublime Jenifer Lewis, gives a rundown of ‘Empire,’ coining the phrase ‘White Rhonda.’ Poor White Rhonda!"—Asali Solomon
"I cringed when this was first announced, and saw clips from the Season 1 pilot. Stuck with it and ended up enjoying the first season, though it was uneven at times. This second season, they really hit their stride and each episode, each week the show gets better and better. Love it!" —Lance Millionz, co-host of "The Sunday Shutdown Show"
Honorable Mentions: "Empire," "Jessica Jones" and "Black Jesus"
*Asali Solomon is the sister of Colorlines’ editorial director Akiba Solomon