2014 was a very interesting year in hip hop. Although, there arguably was not the flash or notoriety of albums from years past, there is no doubt that 2014 offered an extremely diverse collection of albums.
After checking out the DEHH crews favorite albums of 2014, the writers’ of deadendhiphop.com decided to come together and show you ours.
In order to create one list that’s representative of all of our favorites, we had averaged out the positions in which albums had appeared in each of our individual lists. It’s important to note that an album was only included in the combined list if it appeared at least 3 times within our individual lists.
Although we’re a bit late on the end of year lists, take a minute to read through our top 7 hip hop projects of 2014:
7. Childish Gambino – STN MTN/Kauai
Written by: Chican George
||Following up with 2013’s most complex and creative concept album, Because the Internet, Childish Gambino takes us home with STN MTN/Kauai. Excited to see where he was going, I was anticipating another genius conceptual project. He didn’t disappoint with this project. At first listen, one can say that it’s reminiscent of Gambino’s Royalty. This was his love-hate project for many fans. Personally, I didn’t have too much of a problem with it, other than having a tad bit too many features.|
The mixtape starts off with Childish Gambino speaking on a dream. This is very important as it goes along with the concept behind the project. If you skip or miss the intro, you may not fully get the angle in which Childish Gambino is trying to pull off for the project. Within the dream, Childish Gambino talks about how he “ran Atlanta” and how he was on every radio station. With that said, we understand that the project is going to solely have an Atlanta sound and Childish Gambino also says within the dream that “107.9 was 97.5 again”. As he continues, he talks about things from his past. This lets us know that the style, flow and approach of the project was going to embody the sound of Atlanta within the late 90s and early 2000s. Many may say that he isn’t being lyrical enough, but he is representing the sound of Atlanta and what he was accustom to hearing.
One of my favorite tracks off of the project is “U Don’t Have to Call”. I’m just going to have to put it out there and say that Childish Gambino does a way better job with that track than Usher. I respect the fact that Childish Gambino can show us so many sides of him and what an artist is supposed to be.
6. Logic – Under Pressure
Written by: Shah-Rukh Faridi
Logic’s debut album Under Pressure is exactly what Maryland needed in 2014. A state that is known for crabs and The Wire, it is not regarded as hub for great hip-hop like Atlanta or Brooklyn. So naturally, being a Maryland native it has been exciting to see the journey of a kid who grew up minutes away from me rising in the rap world. Under Pressure is a direct result of breaking through a ceiling that existed mainly because of Wale’s rise a few years ago. Logic paints a gritty but inspiring picture of growing up in Gaithersburg, Maryland to moving out to LA and being signed to Def Jam Records.
As someone who followed Logic since the Young, Broke, and Infamous mixtape that dropped in 2010, his natural progression as an emcee and a wordsmith has been evident going from project to project. It is safe to say that Logic is rapping his best on Under Pressure. He has total control over the beats and is never outshined by any of them. In his usual multi-syllabic and sometimes double-time rhyming skill, Logic bounces between flows but never loses his personality or subject matter. The best example of this is from one of my favorite songs on the album, “Gang Related”. The airy beat, produced by long-time collaborator, 6ix, gives Logic the ability to attack it from any angle he chooses. He tells a story from his and his brother’s perspective about the trials of gang life and drug use in his hometown. The flow on this song is absolutely masterful as Logic literally raps his ass off in both verses. The best moment is the last 8 bars of the second verse where he raps in double-time, mimicking an automatic gun, but still in control of the words and flow.
|There are some great technical moments on this album but it is not strictly for anyone who likes listening to that kind of rap music. Every song is accessible to fans of rap in general because Logic can blend in all of these different influences ranging from old school to new school to create his own sound. The production is polished and it contributes to how much you find yourself enjoying the album. Linking up with No I.D. was the perfect move for Logic’s career because even through his previous projects were great, they were lacking direction. Under Pressure is focused and a great debut for Logic to hopefully just build off of in the years to come.||
5. J. Cole – Forest Hills Drive
Written by: Feliciano Segundo
You see how I maneuver this game, I ain’t stupid,
I recognize that life is a dream, and I dream lucid.
– Fire Squad
Cole’s 3rd album blew December out of the water as far as hip-hop releases go. It was a sixty-four minute homage to his hometown of Fayetteville, NC. Starting from the intro, Cole lays down his aspirations to be free, and invites us to come along for the ride as he shares tales of young love, phobias about the future, and what life in young Hollywood really looks like. Besides the juxtaposition of production which flips back and forth from fiendish drums on “A Tale of 2 Citiez” to gospel driven vocals on “Note to Self”, here we also have a much bolder and ambitious version of Cole who is no longer scared to go “toe-to-toe with the greatest” and has declared his mission to snatch the throne of the rap game and destroy the crown with style.
4. PRhyme – PRhyme
Written by: Shane George
Detroit native, Royce da 5’9, teamed up with hip hop producer extraordinaire, DJ Premier, to give his fans his first solo album in 4 years, PRhyme. The album gives you exactly what you would expect from this awesome pairing, which is fierce yet technical raps in combination with flawless classical hip hop beats. On top of that, the 9 track album also includes a cast of all star features. From TDE affiliates, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q to hip hop heavyweights in Jay Electronica and Common, each track makes sure to mix it up all the while carrying a similar feeling which gives a solid sense of direction.
Surprisingly, Royce also offers a great collection of hooks to go along with his beastly. In the end, PRhyme is easily one of the best projects to be released in 2014.
You ain’t gotta appreciate it, but you better respect the fact,
That I’m a rapper and nothin’ wack done came out my mouth yet
– To me, To you
3. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
Written by: Darcwonn
A life of crime is all we ever shared from then to now,
And I’m a crook and you crooked, that’s all we got in common.
Deriving from a vivid dream Freddie Gibbs had, Cocaine Piñata was to be an impressive project between him and Madlib. While he eventually changed the name, the hardcore content remained potent as ever. Easily switching lanes between relishing his street cred in “Thuggin” to a past love gone wrong on “Deeper”, and even his favorite chicken spot off of 15th and Grant in Gary, Indiana in “Harolds”, Freddie made a lot of thug magic happen. Equally, Madlib cooked up production both dusty enough to satisfy the underground and heavy on the bass to satiate the hood. What we end up with is an album that proves dreams can literally come true.
2. Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo
Written by: Sam Seid
||Isaiah Rashad came out of nowhere this year with easily one of the best rap albums of the year. For the majority of Cilvia Demo, Isaiah Rashad muses deeply on his relationship with his father, and in turn, Isaiah’s relationship with his own son. Isaiah also spends a lot of time directly and indirectly discussing depression, but this album is not one filled with sob stories. Isaiah picks apart his feelings and really tries to find why he has become the man he is. His unbashed honesty and vulnerability makes him a very relatable MC to a lot of people. The smooth production is perfect for the dark and introspective subject matter but the undercurrents of traditional southern bounce compliment Isaiah’s style of rhyming. He also utilizes several different flows, which somehow manage to seem effortless and aggressive at the same time.|
The replay value of this project comes with its versatility. If you want to sit and analyze lyrics, then there is plenty of material perfectly suited to that. Conversely, if you just want some music to drive around late at night with the system turned up, the production of Cilvia Demo is hard to beat. Isaiah Rashad gave us one of the best projects of the year and if you aren’t thirsting for another project from Rashad this year, then you need to give this record one another spin, because this guy is something special.
1. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
Written by: Darcwonn
What seemed like an odd pairing of heavily underrated emcees actually made sense on a deeper level: Killer Mike and El-P are brethren of independence. They do things their way and don’t give a damn who is offended. This is why Run The Jewels 2 works so well. From the defiance of “Close Your Eyes (And Count To F*ck)” to the deliciously nasty “Love Again”, Mike and Jaime do things with little regard of what naysayers have to say. That disregard, and sheer self-reliance, is turning their second album into the catapult for a cult following even they couldn’t imagine coming into fruition.
I’d lend a hand but they stuck in a fist and gun position
We run a brand where destruction’s the number one commitment
– Blockbuster Night, Part. 1
Do you agree or disagree with our list? Let us know in the comment section.