In a year marked by violence and the unexpected, music rose to the occasion as a potent outlet for frustration, empathy, and celebration.

We seem to be no closer to solving music's digital quandaries. Downloads are increasingly irrelevant, and streaming is still in the midst of a fierce power struggle between Spotify, Apple Music, and a host of emergent competitors. Adele seems to be the only person who can afford to avoid them. Online communities like SoundCloud are beginning to bend—but haven't broken—to corporate pressures by introducing advertisements and banning uploaders.

Music's upper crust, however, produced enough amazing work to balance out all the confusion. Kendrick Lamar took a left turn at the peak of his powers, Drake played the chameleon and ended up with two albums on this list, and Chance The Rapper took his name off an album cover in the name of social experimentation.

There was plenty of new talent, too—the diminishing cost of a home studio is yielding musicians who are creating full-formed albums primarily on their own, like London O'Connor, Empress Of and Georgia.

We've had a crazy year at P&P, too: our No Ceilings shows are up and running (come check out the next one on January 20!), and we put out our first compilation album featuring 14 of our favorite up-and-coming artists.

It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with the endless amount of new music, especially in 2015 . But when we take a step back and realize the amazing work artists can create in just one year, it all seems worth it. On to the next.