So 2014 is already half way over and I just wanted to take the time to share some of my favorite hip-hop albums that have dropped so far this year. Here are my top 25 rap albums of 2014 (as of June 30th), in alphabetical order.
I just got my end of year Top 25 Rap Albums of 2014 list posted up. Below is the list as of June 30th, 2014.
Awon and Dephlow - Dephacation - Awon and Dephlow start off the list with their crazy collaborative project with Portland hip-hop producer Phoniks that dropped back in May. As usual with these guys, the beats have a strong "golden era" boom-bap feel to them and both Awon and Dephlow sound great over them as they shit on wack emcees throughout the project. Very good album.
Azaia - Re-Animations - French hip-hop producer Azaia dropped his insanely dope "Re-Animations" album back in April and it was definitely a banger. The project is fire the whole way through, keeping with the theme of resurrecting hip-hop while featuring appearances from Dirt Platoon, John Robinson, Blu, Skanks and many others. I really enjoyed the consistency of the production and the rhymes, making this album easily one of my favorites of 2014.
Brother Beatbox - Vol. III - UK producer Brother Beatbox also delivered a real ill album with his recently released "Vol. III" project. The beats on here all have a vibrant, summary feel too them and all of the featured emcees sound right at home over them. This one is going to get a lot of play this summer.
Buckshot and P-Money - BackPack Travels - Boot Camp Clik / Black Moon emcee Buckshot linked up with New Zealand producer P-Money for this album and man was it dope. Buckshot's rhymes on here bring back memories of me fiending for BCC projects back in the mid 90's and the production compliments his rhymes perfectly. Very dope project.
CunninLynguists - Strange Journey Volume 3 - CunninLynguists dropped the third release in their series of Strange Journey projects and it was definitely a banger. The beats, mainly produced by Kno with some help from Thomex and RJD2, were just stellar throughout and the rhymes from both Deacon and Natti (as well as all of the featured guests) all kept with the theme of the track they were spitting on. Don't sleep on this one folks.
Chief Kamachi - Radio Raheem - Philly hip-hop veteran Chief Kamachi delivered his latest album back in May and I really enjoyed it. The beats alternated between having an old school hip-hop feel and having that darker sound that Kamachi usually rhymes over while the lyrics were deep and filled with positive messages.
El Da Sensei - Try Again EP - Legendary hip-hop artist El Da Sensei came through with a 3 track EP that got quite a lot of play from me since it dropped. Each of the songs on here featured head nodding production and El rips it, as always.
Fel Sweetenburg and DJ Brans - The Invisible Garden - I had initially slept on this project when it first dropped simply due to the large amount of music I receive daily. Man was that stupid. French beatsmith DJ Brans provides the soundscape of gritty, yet beautiful, boom-bap bangers and Fel Sweetenberg simply kills it with the rhymes throughout the entire album. Very dope.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Pinata - I had really high expectations for this LP when it was announced a few years back, but the end result actually ended up exceeding them. Madlib's beats are absolute fire throughout the entire album and Gangsta Gibbs just spits his ass off on here. This one is incredibly dope.
Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo - TDE's Isaiah Rashad dropped his debut album, mixtape, whatever this is and it was quite good. I really had no expectations going in so I was pleasantly surprised. The beats were all real dope, with some containing traces of that old Dungeon Family sound, and the rhymes were crazy as well, with Isaiah providing some really catchy hooks amid all the introspective rhymes.
Ka and Preservation - 1200 B.C. - Brownsville emcee Ka hooked up with hip-hop producer Preservation and delivered one of my favorite EP's of the year so far. Ka's rhymes were as vivid and poetic as ever and the beats by Preservation suited his flow perfectly. Too bad this was just an EP since it kept me wanting more.
Meyhem Lauren and Buckwild - Silk Pyramids - Queens emcee Meyhem Lauren teamed up with D.I.T.C.'s Buckwild and delivered a really great album back in May. Buckwild's beats on here were simply beautiful and Mehyem murdered them all. Very dope album.
MindsOne and Kev Brown - Pillars EP - This EP is yet another of the collaboration projects that made my list, this time with emcees KON Sci and Tronic linking up with Low Budget Crew producer Kev Brown. The beats had a real nice boom-bap sound to them and the rhyme schemes and wordplay by KON Sci and Tronic were very intricate, with each line containing a slew of metaphors and imagery.
Mobb Deep - Infamous Mobb Deep - The legendary Mobb Deep reunited for their first group album in quite a few years and it was really good. The beats were surprisingly dope and Havoc and Prodigy's rhymes were on point. While not as good as some of their other classic albums, I was pleasantly surprised with this release. The real star of the show, however, was the second disc of remastered and unreleased material from "The Infamous" era. That shit alone made this an instant cop.
Pharoahe Monch - PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Queens wordsmith Pharoahe Monch dropped his latest project back in April and it was real nice. The LP is a conceptual album following up 2011's "W.A.R." and finds the artist in the story recovering from the war he fought against the industry by going independent. The beats and rhymes are pretty bleak and depressing throughout, but the project comes together nicely and ends up being a highlight of 2014 for me.
Raf Almighty (of Dirt Platoon) and DJ Brans - G.T.F.O.M.Y. - Raf Almighty (one half of Baltimore hip-hop group Dirt Platoon) dropped his solo album produced entirely by French hip-hop producer DJ Brans and it's really ill. The beats all have a modernized boom-bap sound and Raf rips them in his signature aggressive flow. Very dope album.
Raw Product - Supplying The Demand - UK duo Raw Product (consisting of emcee Mista Flix and producer Stealf) also dropped an ill project that sounds like it came straight out of hip-hop's golden age. The beats have a gritty boom-bap sound and the boastful and aggressive battle raps by Mista Flix sound perfect over them. Another very dope album.
Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron - This is the second TDE release on my Top Rap Albums of 2014 list and I honestly was really surprised the reviews were so mixed on this one. Some people just weren't feeling it, which is fine since music is always subjective. I, however, was really feelin' the album, from it's darker street tracks to more radio friendly bangers like "Man of the Year".
Shabaam Sahdeeq - Keepers of the Lost Art - Brooklyn emcee Shabaam Sahdeeq dropped his latest album back in April and it was quite good. Sure there were a few tracks that I wasn't feelin' that much, but the Lewis Parker produced tracks and Shabaam's lyrics more than made up for the few missteps.
Shinobi Stalin - Invisible Man - Shinobi Stalin also dropped a real dope album this year that featured the Orlando-based emcee spitting some really personal rhymes over a variety of boom-bap instrumentals. The production and rhymes on here were top notch, easily getting the album into my top 25 list.
Skyzoo and Torae - Barrel Brothers - Brooklyn emcees Skyzoo and Torae also delivered a banger of an album this year, with both emcees wrecking beats from DJ Premier, Apollo Brown, Black Milk and others. Can't go wrong there. Another very dope release.
Step Brothers (Alchemist and Evidence) - Lord Steppington - Alchemist teamed up with Dilated Peoples emcee Evidence and dropped another of my favorite rap albums of 2014. The beats ranged from boom-bap bangers to more experimental production and Al and Ev both came correct with the rhymes, as should be expected.
The AbSoulJah - Dim The Light - Queens emcee The AbSoulJah also makes my list with his "Dim The Light" project that dropped back at the beginning of the year. The beats all had a real dark vibe to them and meshed nicely with AbSoulJah's vivid street rhymes. This is a very dope album that I feel didn't get the props it deserved.
The Legion - Lost Tapes - "The Lost Tapes" was sort of a compilation of rare and unreleased tracks that Bronx hip-hop trio The Legion recorded back in the 90's. It's always great to hear new music from that era and this album was no exception. To top it off, The Legion also included a few tracks that were recently recorded and they were just as dope as the older material in my opinion.
Willie The Kid and Bronze Nazareth - The Living Daylights - Willie the Kid and Bronze Nazareth? Cmon son. You know this is going to be dope before even listening. Bronze definitely delivered with the beats on this project and Willie sounded right at home over them, helping to push this album up near the top of Willie's discography along with last years "Aquamarine" mixtape.
Ab-Soul - These Days...
Iron Braydz - Verbal sWARdz EP
Onyx - Wakedafuckup
The Doppelgangaz - Peace Kehd
The Roots - And Then You Shoot Your Cousin...
And there you have it. Did I miss some? Sure. I didn't get a chance to hear everything I wanted to hear and surely didn't get a chance to review everything I wanted to review. Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts. I'd love to get some other recommendations of albums I missed or to see some of your lists. Thanks for reading.