Here it is again! A collection of some under-the-radar hip-hop and rap tracks (in no particular order) that you might have missed this year with an extra goodie thrown in at the end.
Father – 2 Dead, 6 Wounded
– Off of his Young Hot Ebony mixtape, the Atlanta native spits about gang violence over a mellow but bass heavy beat. Father’s flow is what I love most about this song and it compliments the beat perfectly. If you dug “Look at Wrist”, then give this whole project a listen because it is pretty solid.
Ezko – $truggle Rap$
– This shit right here? I am calling it and saying 2015 is the year Ezko blows up. If you haven’t checked him out yet then do yourself a favor and introduce him into your playlists. His ear for beats is unmatchable in the underground scene right now and he absolutely carries the track without any lulls in the verse.
Black Milk – Everyday Was
– The opening track off of If There’s a Hell Below is exactly what hip-hop needs right now. The bluesy guitar loops underneath Black Milk’s amazing story telling ability is unlike anything else I’ve heard in 2014. To be honest, this was my first exposure to the rapper/producer and I became a fan instantly after hearing the track.
Cozz – I’m Tha Man
– I am pretty excited for Cozz because after being signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville, he can only go up. He has a great ear for beats and has total control over his rhyming ability bouncing between flows. This track is no exception to that and will have you yelling “I’M THA MUTHAFUCKIN MAN” for three days straight.
Logic – Gang Related
– I had to show love for the Maryland native, I mean come on we grew up like 10 minutes away from each other. This song is definitely a highlight from his debut album Under Pressure. The beat is eerie and Logic’s flow is absolutely insane, especially on the last 8 bars of the second verse.
Moodie Black – The Mass
– This song dropped near the end of 2013 but I’m still counting it because the album it is off of, Nausea, dropped earlier this year. Shout-out to Myke C-Town for this one because Moodie Black quickly became my favorite group after watching his review. The instrumental is dark and the hook will probably end up getting stuck in your head. Moodie Black got me through a lot of commutes so I’m looking forward to whatever they’re putting out next.
Isaiah Rashad – Modest
– Probably my favorite track off of the Cilvia Demo (although the whole project is dope), Isaiah Rashad spits with such emotion on this song. He is not the most lyrical rapper on TDE but Rashad is a perfect fit to the West Coast label. This track juxtaposes a relaxed instrumental with aggressive spitting that acts like the perfect introduction for anyone who has been sleeping on him.
Travi$ Scott – Basement Freestyle
– Off of what is acting like a prequel to his debut album, Days Before Rodeo was an overall decent project but there were a few highlights I was playing on repeat all year. This track was one that got stuck in my head with a booming beat produced by Lex Luger and Scott himself that is perfect to throw on your New Years party playlist.
Mick Jenkins – Jazz
– Check out my short review of the track here. This song is smooth with a great message. Mick is definitely going to be someone to look out for next year.
Lil Ugly Mane – Hideous Disfigurements
– The news of Lil Ugly Mane retiring from the rap game is still upsetting to me today. What’s great is that some unreleased tracks have been slipping through the cracks making it seems like the Virginia rapper might be making a comeback sooner than later. This song is in particular Ugly Mane fashion with an old-school Three 6 Mafia-inspired beat complimented by his graphic pitched down lyrics.
RATKING – So Sick Stories
– RATKING just scream gritty New York rap in the 21st century. Their music, similar to Moodie Black’s, put you in a different place with dirty beats and an aggressive but at the same time beautiful lyricism. King Krule is a great addition to track delivering a melodic hook in his trademark style.
Childish Gambino – Grindin’ My Whole Life Freestyle
– Alright so this wasn’t an official track or anything but the HOT 97 freestyle over the Hit Boy track is absolutely nuts. Gambino is notorious for his amazing freestyles (remember this gem?) and this is one to add to the list.
J. Cole – A Tale of 2 Citiez
– What a great way to end the year. 2014 Forest Hills Drive was the J. Cole album I have been waiting for. Every song on this album is great but this one was a stand-out for me. The beat is stripped down but does what it needs to do and Cole just completely destroys it telling a great story at the same time.
Alt-J – Bloodflood pt. 2
– Now for the inclusion of the non rap song! Alt-J is an alternative/experimental band out of England with a lot of influences coming from hip-hop and rap. Whether you’re a fan of thoughtful and well-written music, or you just want to introduce yourself to something new, then you have to do yourself a favor and give these guys a listen. PS – If you can spot the Big Pun reference on this track, then go ahead and give yourself a gold sticker because you earned it.
And that is it! This list is my opinion of some of the best tracks from 2014 that might have slipped right past you. For hip-hop, 2014was the year of atmospheric beats layered with heavy drums and great story telling. I am excited for what is coming up in 2015 and can’t wait to find even more new artists than I found this year.