It is that time of the year again. The time where we look back at the year and pick our favorites of the year before the new year rolls in. I did a post on the best music of 2013 last year so I will be following it up with one on 2014 as well. 2014 was a good year in music. We got great albums from Flying Lotus, ScHoolboy Q, Circa Survive and even Pink Floyd.
Keep in mind these are my choices for the best music projects of the year. Don’t blast me if your favorite album isn’t on here. They won’t be in any order. I don’t like to rank music that way since music can be very different in several ways.
So here are my picks for the best projects of the year.
Lets begin with some albums/mixtapes I really enjoyed this year but weren’t necessarily the best of the year.
Rise Against – The Black Market
Kool A.D. – Word O.K.
Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons
Smashing Pumpkins – Monuments to an Elegy
Thelonious Martin – Wunderkid
Jon Waltz – Alyss
Rome Fortune – Beautiful Pimp II
Saba – ComfortZone
Hurt Everybody – Hurt Everybody EP
Best of 2014
Wara from the NBHD – Kidnapped
Wara from the NBHD is from Atlanta but his style sounds nothing like southern rap. He sounds more like a rapper from New York City. Kidnapped uses the piano from beginning to end and it is damn great. Wara is very commanding on his music and I love that in a hip hop artist. Someone that will take control of the beat. That stuff just hypes you up so much. But check this album out if you’re in to hardcore rapping.
Listen to Kidnapped here
Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty
Shabazz Palace is a hip hop duo from Seattle. It is more of a experimental hip hop group. Experimental music is the best since it won’t sound similar to anything else and that is always something great to have. Lese Majesty deserves a great amount of recognition. I’m not sure why this album didn’t get as much hype as I thought it would or maybe I just didn’t see it. These dudes rap over very unordinary instrumentals. The beats they use almost remind me of El-P’s production. I recommend this album.
Listen to Lese Majesty here
Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]
I’m going to start off with this mixtape because I just can’t stop listening to this months after it was released. Mick Jenkins is a local hip hop artist in Chicago and when I first heard his first mixtape, The Mickstape, back in 2012 I knew he was going to become something big in the future. This mixtape got him a lot of attention throughout the country. Mick Jenkins can be so fierce in his music and he can also sing a melodic verse. What I like about Mick Jenkins is how fierce his voice will sound. When he wants to go hard on the beat he’ll do it. This is easily one of the best mixtapes of the year in my books.
Download and listen to The Water[s] here
Lucki Eck$ – Body High
Lucki Eck$ has slowly been gaining popularity in the city of Chicago. His Body High mixtape was a very solid piece of work. He performed this mixtape at several venues throughout the city this year. It even landed him a spot at this years Riot Fest in Chicago. It’s a lesser known piece of work from Chicago. The attention this year in Chicago has been more focused on Mick Jenkins, Lil Herb and Common with all of them also releasing albums/mixtapes this year. Check this one out though its a great collection of music.
Download and listen to Body High here
Mac Miller – Faces
Mac Miller was one of my favorite guys to listen to in high school. His popular mixtapes, The High Life, K.I.D.S. & Best Day Ever are some of my favorite mixtapes. Soon after the release of Best Day Ever he released his debut album Blue Slide Park which wasn’t his best work. I felt that album was rushed and it sounded like it too. The overall sound of the album was more like pop rap and it didn’t really fit the persona he had built with his previous work. After that album though he experimented with other sounds and I wasn’t a fan of all of them but it was good for him to do that in order to find what was best for him.
His release of Watching Movies with the Sound Off created a clearer sense of what direction and identity Mac would take with his music. Now I really enjoyed this Faces mixtape and I feel this is the type of direction he should be going in. If he continues to make music like this I will definitely be a fan of it.
Download and listen to Faces here
Calle 13 – Multi_Viral
Calle 13 has always been a favorite group of mine because of the topics they discuss in their music. This duo is from Puerto Rico and their music has always been categorized under different genres. They are one of the realest groups out there. They are not afraid of tackling any political or social issue in their music and that is admirable. Unfortunately they don’t get as much recognition in the hip hop world. Most of their recognition comes in the Latino community since their music is in Spanish and it relates to Latinos the most. Some people may not even consider them hip hop but I do.
Multi_Viral discusses a lot of things. One of the things that relates to hip hop the most is their discussion of violence and it’s connection with hip hop music. This is a great album to check out. If you don’t understand Spanish it may be difficult since most of the music is in Spanish but check it out if you can.
Listen to Multi_Viral here
Of Mice & Men – Restoring Force
I don’t just listen to hip hop and I like to represent other genres I listen to in these posts. With that being said another project I thought was really good was Of Mice and Men’s Restoring Force album. This heavy metal album feels fresh and different from the ordinary heavy metal album. They are able to provide this from beginning to end.
Listen to Restoring Force here
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
This album is one of the best hip hop albums to be released this year. I find it very disappointing to see that this album wasn’t nominated for a Grammy award. It is very deserving of the award. It is unfortunate but that is the way things are. Anyway Freddie’s hardcore street narratives flow perfectly over Madlib’s production. I hope another project comes out of this duo.
Listen to Piñata here
Circa Survive – Descensus
Circa Survive have consistently been releasing great albums since 2005 and Descensus just continues the trend of quality music from the band. It is incredibly strong and very innovative. This is all done in a music category of Alternative Rock where many other bands are being innovative but this albums stands out. Check this one out if you’re into Alternative Rock music.
Listen to Descensus here
Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End
Weezer has been a favorite band of mine for several years. Being able to watch them perform one of their trademark albums, The Blue Album, at Riot Fest this past September was a dream come true. This album that they released this year was a major improvement from some of the previous albums they have released in previous years. Everything Will Be Alright in the End went back to some of the fundamentals that helped me become a big fan of Weezer. As a fan it was awesome to have an album resort back to their signature style of music.
Listen to Everything Will Be Alright in the End here
ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron
ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron was one of the best rap albums of the year. His previous album, Habits and Contradictions was one of my favorites and that only grew my excitement for the release of Oxymoron. This album provides a great collection of music to play at a party. It is just banger after banger. TDE has been putting out great music as of lately and ScHoolboy Q just continued the trend with this album.
Listen to Oxymoron here
Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo
Another great release from the TDE group was Isaiah Rashad’s Cilvia Demo. I didn’t know much about Isaiah previous to this release but I’m glad I took the time to check out this album. This was only Isaiah’s first commercial release but it was really good. His storytelling throughout the album gives you a great insight to the person Isaiah is and the things he has gone through in his life. It is perfect context for his first commercial release.
Listen to Cilvia Demo here
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait EP
Vince Staples has consistently been releasing hip hop music in the past several years. He has done a lot of collaborations with Earl, Mac Miller and ScHoolboy Q just to name a few. Hell Can Wait includes some of his best work in my opinion. I believe Vince has finally reached a level that many knew he was capable of reaching. Everything from the beat selection to his lyrics were on point. It was a perfect release to put out before the future release of a full length album.
Listen to Hell Can Wait here
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
Flying Lotus is one of the most unique producers in the music industry today. I don’t even know how to describe his work. I listened to this album a lot when I would be working on school assignments. I like to listen to instrumentals and this album was just so unique and interesting that I just always resorted to it. Some of the tracks on this album remind me of video games I used to play like The Legend of Zelda. You’re Dead! is awesome check it out!
Listen to You’re Dead! here
Run The Jewels – RTJ2
I cannot express with words how much I like this hip hop duo. They just work together so great and you can tell these guys have a great connection from just listening to their work. It is quite amazing given their backgrounds and their individual musical styles. After they released the first album, Run The Jewels, I was hoping they would come back together and work on another one. RTJ2 is easily one of the best albums of the year. I can’t say it any clearer than that.
Download RTJ2 here
Logic – Under Pressure
I have kept up with Logic’s music for quite some time now. I have seen him perform at different venues in Chicago and each one being amazing every time. It also helps to be a fan of him when he shows so much love to Chicago, the city I was born and grew up in. His first sold out show was actually in Chicago. Under Pressure is his debut album and it doesn’t disappoint at all. It is all Logic from beginning to end. Only the deluxe version of the album has features on it. This allows Logic shows his skill because it is all him.
Listen to Under Pressure here
Ratking – So It Goes
Ratking is one of the more unique hip hop groups coming out of New York. These guys go against several normalized structures in hop hop and it is great because the music they come up with is so unique and different. These individuals are very young but so innovative. Hip Hop heads need to check out So It Goes ASAP. I would even say this group is the future of hip hop.
Listen to So It Goes here
Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy
Aside from the really cool album art, this album includes some of the best hip hop songs of the year. Open Mike Eagle is located in Los Angeles but is originally from Chicago. Not many people are aware of that. His release is very under appreciated. I felt that Dark Comedy was very innovative and the album provides amusing insights.
Listen to Dark Comedy here
Busdriver – Perfect Hair
Busdriver is a hip hop artist from Los Angeles and his music is probably best described as alternative hip hop. This album, Perfect Hair, is a great hip hop album. It includes features from Aesop Rock, Open Mike Eagle and Danny Brown. This album is rich in great lyrical content. The only other thing I can say is Check it out!
Listen to Perfect Hair here
Chevelle – La Gárgola
Chevelle has been a favorite band of mine for several years now. La Gárgola is their 7th studio album. Not many bands can say they have made that many albums. The fact that these guys are still making good albums is great! It is an improvement from their previous album.
Listen to La Gárgola here
Step Brothers – Lord Steppington
Step Brothers consists of The Alchemist and Evidence. This album was released very early in the year so many may even forget that it was released this year but it was one of the better hip hop releases of the year. The album includes a great list of features as well including guys like Action Bronson, Domo Genesis, and Blu. Lord Steppington is an album to check out if you haven’t already. The Alchemist and Evidence are two big names in the hip hop industry.
Listen to Lord Steppington here
Atmosphere – Southsiders
This album may have not gotten the most attention in comparison to a lot of other hip hop albums that were released this year but Atmosphere is still a force to reckon with in the hip hop industry. Southsiders is just another great piece of work from this hip hop duo. Anyone familiar with Atmosphere know that they never disappoint.
Listen to Southsiders here
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
Big K.R.I.T. put out a great album this year. A big improvement from his previous studio album. Big K.R.I.T. is one of the best rappers from the south and I really like his work. This album was a great improvement from some of his latest work and some people would even say Cadillactica was the best hip hop album of the year. Its up there with the best.
Listen to Cadillactica here
The Roots – …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
I’m going to close it off with the album The Roots released this year. …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is a great album because of the compelling story that is told in it. This album take a satirical look at violence in the hip hop industry and also in our American society. This album embodies the stereotypes in different characters created by them. This album connects to my studies in school and to several current events in the country.
Listen to …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin here
So that concludes my Best Music of 2014 post. Again this is all just MY opinion. I know everyone will not agree with this list and that is fine. 2014 was a great year for music hopefully 2015 is just as good. Comment below what you thought were the best albums/mixtapes of 2014