It’s hard for me to rank anything, favorite artists, favorite athletes, etc. So when it came to putting together my Top 10 albums of 2014, it was a task. I also didn’t want to produce a halfhearted list since I didn’t listen to close to half of the projects released, so I settled on just listing my 10 favorite.
Here they are:
Monch has always been one of my favorites, going back and delving through his work with Organized Konfusion to checking the shelved Internal Affairs to PTSD. His interview and recap of the album on the Combat Jack Show is must listen to. It really taps into his mind and where his psyche was when he wrote some of the songs. No doubt, the most introspective and deep album I heard in 2014.
Standout Tracks: Rapid Eye Movement, Broken Again, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Finding this album was all because of Twitter. I kept seeing tweets about Ether this, Ether that. Was Nas’ classic volley at Jay-Z making a comeback in popularity? Nope. It was about Boston native Phil Beaudreau’s album. Mixed with R&B, pop, and some rock influences, I didn’t expect this to be the gem it was. From early January to December 31 I played this album faithfully.
Standout Tracks: This Is Why, Something Better, Take It High, Anyway
After hearing the Beautiful Struggle in late 2010 I rode the Le$ wave for a couple years. After I while, I fell off checking his work. Expansion Pack was the first project I had checked from him since 2012. I slept! The throwback Cruisin USA inspired cover, the title of the tape and the fact I recently started playing my N64 sparked a brief moment of nostalgia. He ended up dropping 3 mixtapes this year and this was my favorite.
Standout Tracks: Sunday Drive, Comic Books, FWTS
Like the aforementioned Le$, I had cooled off on checking CyHi’s work for a couple years. After all, him being one of GOOD Music’s most talented lyricists releasing tape after tape with no album in sight had me scratching my head. This mixtape changed my whole mindset. Thematically based around, you guessed it, Black History, the topics range from the proliferation of drugs in the black community (“Barry White”) to his art (“Basquiat”), among plenty other topics. This is undoubtedly one of the more slept on projects on 2014. There’s supposed to be a Part 2 on the way…
Standout Tracks: Mandela, Barry White, February 29th
TDE’s first Southern signee. What would he sound like?
Quite honestly, on first listen it was hard to ignore the similarities to Kendrick Lamar. After the initial listen, it wasn’t as noticeable, he showed he could put together a project just as strong as his TDE cohorts. His respect for his Southern forefathers shined bright on Cilvia Demo, along with that he brings a unique perspective coming from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Standout Tracks: Cilvia Demo, R.I.P. Kevin Miller, Shot You Down
Cadillactica is a cohesive and focused. Not that K.R.I.T.’s debut, Live From The Underground wasn’t, it just wasn’t the soul stirring, life changer that his first 3 mixtapes were. For the first time, he featured producers outside of himself to lay the canvas. This album still featured the trunk knockin, soulful, introspective Krizzle we’ve come to appreciate, but with the discernible growth of an artist with 5 yrs of major label grind.
Standout Tracks: Soul Food, King of the South, Angels, Do You Love Me
Spitta did again with Drive In Theatre! It’s very easy to miss multiple projects from him with his high output. Spitta is that Jamal Crawford-like veteran who’ll give you 16 ppg, make some flash plays, but always be consistent. No other way to put Drive In Theatre than straight riding music.
Standout Tracks: Stove Top, $ Migraine, El Camino
If I were blogging in 2013 and the first half of 2014, I would be posting about The Internet nonstop. Their 2013 album Feel Good stays in rotation, and it’s no exaggeration, 200 plays across my different libraries. In 2014, I saw them at a show, bought their music, and merch, so anything they’re affiliated with I’m all in.
Anyways, for this project they linked with British actor/singer Jacob Anderson aka nee Raleigh Ritchie and remixed his Black and Blue EP. That EP, also released in 2014 was solid, but the new seasoning The Internet added what was missing from an already delectable dish. At a run time of 18:14, it’s worth listening to the entire project.
25 years in it and the Quiksta is still dropping quality work. A lot of artists his age just drop albums for the hell of it, but Midnight Life was focused and jammin as usual. I could’ve done without the production (“Trapped on The Tracks”) or hooks (“LIfe Jacket”) on a few tracks, but I overlooked those and gave the album a fair shot. This isn’t Way 2 Fonky or Safe + Sound, it’s 2014 Quik. However, if you think he’s washed, think again.
Standout Tracks: Puffin the Dragon, Pet Semetary, Why’d You Have to Lie
I had been waiting for this album since the Thuggin EP in 2011. Madlib and Gibbs dropped a few teaser EPs on the which whet my whistle until the LP. Piñata hit the streets in March and just hearing the gritty lyrics backed by blaxploitation era sounding production and soul samples was an early Christmas for me. If you know Gibbs catalog, you know he sounds comfortable over any type of production, it’s no different with Madlib’s production.
Standout Tracks: Deeper, Bomb, Robes