This year has been filled with incredible projects. If you are one of those people who say “nothing good came out in 2014,” then you simply weren’t listening. To round out the year, our key contributor Lease (@LeaseHHYW) compiled a list of his favorite projects. The only requirement was that they were released in between January 1st of 2014, and December 31st, 2014. That leaves albums like Childish Gambino’s incredible because the internet off the list, amongst many other fourth quarter 2013 albums. Below you will find his honorable mention picks that were great (and just barely made the cut,) as well as his top 15 albums/mixtapes of the year (in his opinion.) It’s been a wild year, and we thank you for taking this ride with us. Enjoy!
Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order)
2 Chainz – Freebase
This EP went hard as hell from start to finish. It’s definitely one of his best releases so far.
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
I didn’t get a chance to give this too many listens before I made this judgment, but I love what I’ve heard so far. K.R.I.T. just keeps getting better.
Childish Gambino – STN MTN/KAUAI
The half mixtape/half EP came together very well, and Childish really shows off his evolving lyricism with this project. While because the internet was a very focused, streamlined endeavor, STN MTN/KAUAI allowed Donald to play around with many different sounds, an it works very well.
Chuck Inglish – Convertibles
Chuck is one of the illest doing it right now, and Convertibles only adds on to his legacy.
Curren$y – The Drive In Theatre
This was Spitta’s strongest effort of 2014 in my opinion. This tape still gets burn, even though it was released in February.
Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons
This album was completely unexpected, but it delivered on everything the Wu-Tang Clan album didn’t; dope storytelling, gritty lyricism, and punch-you-in-the-face beats. Ghostdini is still the wizard of poetry.
Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo
Nothing about this sounds like a “demo.” You’ve got to check this out.
J Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Another solid showing from Jermaine. This one is one of his most personal projects to date.
Lord Steppington – Step Brothers
Alchemist & Evidence is a winning combination every time, and this is their crowning achievement.
RiFF RAFF – NEON iCON
This album is entertaining from top to bottom. Hate all you want, but isn’t that what it’s all about?
Stalley – Ohio
I’ve never really listened to much of Stalley’s music in all honesty, but Ohio was a good introduction.
Travis $cott – Days Before Rodeo
The beats on this are absolute fire.
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Vince is gonna be a problem. I can’t wait for his debut full length album.
@LeaseHHYW’s Top 15 albums/mixtapes/EP’s of 2014
15. Pharrell – G I R L
Skateboard P announced an album was dropping, then two weeks later it was here. It was new, it was funky, it was fresh, and I guarantee you’ll never forget Happy for the rest of your life. “When you environment seems to get brighter / You know it’s good / And the situation doesn’t seem that bad / You know it’s good / Can you imagine this started with a lighter? / You know it’s good / Perception that you never had / You know it’s good” – Know Who You Are
14. Hurt Everybody EP
Treat Me Caucasian was one of the most important songs of the year, and that is not up for debate. Aside from that, the Chicago collective put together a great introduction for the world. Don’t sleep, Hurt Everybody is here to stay. “Bury me in a sarcophagus, stashing the last of the weed in my moccasins / Girl I be hiiiiiiiiiigh / All of this work just to prove my hypothesis / Blowing this purp ‘til we run outta oxygen / Girl I be hiiiiiiiiigh / If you don’t believe me / I can taste this power / I can see the future / I can taste the power / If you don’t believe me / You, you don’t believe me / I can see the future / Put you on this power” – Transmissions (Warning and Contact)
13. Sir Michael Rocks – Banco
I gotta put this album on here strictly because the speakers in my car blew out while Drug Dealer was playing. The rest of the album is dope too, and we can’t forget about #FuckSeaWorld
“My nigga I’m playing Final Fantasy and drinkin on ‘Tussin / When Aerith died, nigga I admit it, I cried a bit / Takes a real nigga to acknowledge it (you probably did too) / I’m eating tangerine flake crusted chicken empanadas from Poppy’s, Akuma prayer beads lookin stocky / I’m jumping from the box seats / I’m up high watching this Key & Peele while I peel fruit into my Kashi / Organic gang going green for the thotties / We take a nature walk I guarantee she finna top me” Fuck SeaWorld
After years of working together sparingly, DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9” finally put out an entire full length album. If you’ve ever heard Boom then you know what it is already. The bars on this are absolutely ridiculous.
“I don’t know why y’all so highly regarded / You rhyme like you’re borderline mildly retarded / I show you what my father done started / A rhyme on a God level, the godliest artist / Y’all follow artists who target their audience, but not me / I target the artist and follow the target” – You Should Know
11. D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah
The instrumentation on here alone should warrant this a top 15 spot, but the sultry vocals and poignant lyrics make this easily one of the best releases of the year. It lived up to the hype, and that’s hard to do with an album that has been discussed since 2002.
“Carbon pollution is heating up the air / Do we really know? Or do we even care? / Acid rain dripping on our trees and in our hair / Are you there? / Clock ticking backwards, on things we’ve already built / Sons and fathers die, soldiers, daughters killed / Question ain’t “do we have the resources to rebuild?” / It’s “do we have the will?”” – Till It’s Done (Tutu)
10. Jeezy – Seen It All (The Autobiography)
Snowman hit on all fronts on his fifth Def Jam release. With this album, it’s further proof that aside from Pusha T, nobody can talk about the whip game quite like Young. Trust me, Jeezy ain’t going nowhere.
“Stove on and the water running / the yayo told the soda “look, the water coming / it’s gonna be a lil cool, be prepared / nigga whatever you do, don’t be scared!” / I’m bout to get a cooking show on Netflix / and ima call that motherfucker there The Best Bricks / cause it ain’t no limit to this shit, Mia X bitch! / Me and this fork and my wrist, we the best bitch!” – What You Say
9. Future – Honest / Monster
Riding the momentum of Pluto 3D into the new year, Future Hendrix delivered not once, but twice this year. The first time with his follow up album Honest, and once again with his Halloween release Monster. There is a high entertainment value on these projects, and they each sound so different from one another that I couldn’t pick just one.
“His momma hate me, her momma hate me…they hate that I made it / They love when I struggle, they love when I suffer / I got all the scars to prove it, too my scars and made a movie / I got all my niggas with me, through the bad and the good / I got all my jewels on me, and I’m still in the hood / I can never stop from grinding cause I made it out the mud” – Special
8. Mac Miller – Faces
After slowly becoming a Mac Miller fan after the stellar Watching Movies With the Sound Off, Faces continued to impress. Keep up the good work, Mac. “Temptation victim to the church of Lucifer / Internet rappers ain’t shit when no computers work / You spent your whole advance on two chains (2 Chainz) and a Gucci verse?… I did it all without a Drake feature!” – Here We Go
7. The Roots – …and then you shoot your cousin
The only slight I have on this album is that it didn’t feature more Black Thought verses because they were all on point. Other than that, the story and concept for the album is crazy, and it’s one of the more interesting and well put together albums to come out in 2014.
“The law of gravity meets, the law of averages / Ain’t no sense in attempting to civilize savages / Even though I wish I could be spared my embarrassment / I’m a nigga, other niggas pale in comparison” – The Dark (Trinity)
6. Saba – Comfort Zone
Chicago emcee Saba put this project out for his hometown, and he definitely put on for his city. Do yourself a favor and listen to this album as soon as possible, especially if you’re from the 773.
“I walked in Def Jam on my 19th birthday, I can’t recall my 18th / Came a long way since the day where we stolled like we homeless and loitered on State Street / I just pray that you get home safely / Ironically the Green Line trained me / Cause I was softer than cotton starting college, something that here you can’t be” – Welcome Home
5. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Cocaine Piñata
Madlib provided his usual wizardry on the beats, and Freddie Gibbs emerged as one of the definitive best rappers in the game. And yes, I prefer to call this album by it’s original (better) title, Cocaine Piñata.
“Damn bitch, I’m in the mob, I always got a job / Breakin’ down the Keisha getting Brandon Marshall for the quad / Brett Favre for the zone, five bands for the whole / Wrist piece solid gold, neck piece arctic froze” – Robes
4. Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]
Mick is poised to be one of the best rappers out of Chicago, and the U.S. in general. Dope lyricism and a great ear for beats made for a winning combination.
“Niggas in the club throwing pesos / Niggas on the block throwing pitch forks, and they not from Barbados / I don’t give a fuck how you rep your flag / Catch him in the cut when he roll his truth / And I don’t give a fuck how you stuff your bags / Touch the sky, it’s much more than trees / What can you tell me about your roots?….Thank God for the waters, waters” – The Waters
3. YG – My Krazy Life
YG 4 Hunnid came correct with his debut album My Krazy Life. The trademark sound that he has crafted with DJ Mustard provided an album that is full of bangers from top to bottom. After (deservedly) selling tons of records worldwide, he’s just bicken back bein bool. “First, you find a house and scope it out / Find a Chinese neighborhood, cause they don’t believe in bank accounts / Second, you find a crew and driver, someone to ring the doorbell / And someone that ain’t scared to do what it do / Third, you pull up at the spot…park…watch…ring the doorbell and knock / Four, make sure nobody is home / They gone? Okay, it’s on” – Meet The Flockers
2. Run The Jewels 2
This might be the hardest record to drop in years. Punch your eardrums (in a good way) by listening to this incredible (and free) album.
“Got hope for the living / Got prayers for the dead / In the sky, got whiskey and rye for the voices in my head. / Got kush for the pain / Cause the world is dangerous driving great men insane” – Angel Duster
1. ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron
There were no other projects that got more spin from me this year. It’s versatile, unpredictable and pure insanity on wax. I love every minute of it. “GROOVY! When I die tell Spike Lee make a movie / Ooh wee, cops bringing dogs, hope they don’t sniff my bitch booty / OXY, O-X-Y only feel like I could stop me” – Oxymoron