For fairly obvious reasons, people are infatuated with both lists and numbers…so what we did here was give you neither! Here’s just a hodge podge of projects released in 2014 AD that you either listened to or most likely should have. We’re not talking about numbers here, we’re talking about music period. So check out the sonic fingerprints of some artists who have just begun to leave a profound impact on music.
Raury – Indigo Child
When I first heard about Raury, I was down the street from my new apartment celebrating a homie’s birthday. Couldn’t tell you exactly what led to us talking about Raury, but it was probably because Kanye West was brought up in the conversation. What I thought was barbershop conversation rang true. Less than two weeks after the release of his “Mixtape”, Raury was flown out by Kanye West to discuss business. If you need a better reason to lend an artist your ear, then you better be Kanye.
I call Indigo Child a “Mixtape” because what we have come to know as a mixtape is Hip-Hop straight up and down that is typically released to remain hot or get a buzz going. That is precisely what Indigo Child is not although it did accomplish its most probable goal of getting a buzz. This is a well thought piece of work that thrives at the intersection of acoustic Indie Rock, Electronic music, and Hip-Hop. Littered with everyday coming of age arguments that are equally as relatable as they are profound, Indigo Child is a standout project music heads will most definitely be able to appreciate with great song writing and production capable of bringing groups of people togetherness regardless of color, creed, gender, race, or religion.
Alternative Title(s): Cotton Kids, Tobacco Adolescent, Descendent of Slaves and Cash Crops
Highlight(s): Woodcrest Manor, Cigarette Song
Lowlight(s): Chariots of Fire, Seven Suns
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
Well well well…After being slept on and slowly but surely being discovered by Hip-Hop heads across the globe, Run the Jewels 2 had pretty big shoes to fill. Evidently this large feat was accomplished hence their being placed amongst this elite group of albums. Run the Jewels 2 is exactly where lyricism of 90s Golden Era boom bap and Future Bass meet. It’s undeniable that Future Bass is birthed from Hip-Hop, and it’s equally undeniable that El-P’s production will move you both literally and figuratively. The 35+ “real” Hip-Hop crowd got slapped upside the head 2 years in a row with exactly what it needed. What might this crowd need? Quite Frankly it’s 5 tool super lyrical raps over forward thinking Golden Era production on STEROIDS. If you’re unfamiliar with Killer Mike at this point, chances are you’ve been living under a rock. That being said, anyone who knows of the man will readily admit that he is quite possibly one of the most underrated lyricists in Hip-Hop period. Pigeons and Planes labeled him the most important rapper of 2014. This album has the depth, infectious production, great hooks, purpose, and cohesiveness necessary to make it Hip-Hop album of the year. Quite frankly this album is hard as fuck.
Alternative Title(s): Fcuk EVERYTHING you heard…ever, More Than You Can Chew
Highlight(s): Oh My Darling Don’t Cry, Angel Duster
Lowlight(s): None this album just keeps swinging
Neck – Can’t Get
In most instances, other people would probably say that this doesn’t count because it is technically an EP of remixes. Then you listen to the project and how much the house producer better known as Monkey Neck transformed these tracks into something that is undeniably a sound of his own. The album essentially is a jazzy, chopped and screwed, funktified, and sexy sound gracefully floats over genres for you and your best friend for the night. It’s energetic enough to keep things moving for you and your company, and soulful enough for folks to take notice and ask, “What the hell is this”??.
Alternative Title(s): Doctor Knock Boots: The Return
Highlight(s): Flying Fish
Lowlight(s): None yet again
Pearls Negras – Nossa Gang Mixtape
Okay, so if you’re ready to you need not look any further than this Pearls Negras. These young ladies get shit turnt, and I haven’t even ever seen them perform live. Since dropping Biggie Apple one year prior, the trio has tightened its flows and beat selection with Nossa Gang. Their charisma will bring life to watching paint dry. This is honestly all I can really comment on, because I haven’t been on Duolingo in ages for my Portuguese. At the end of the day, I know what it feels like to be somewhere on a side of the world opposite the US where no one speaks a lick of English but loves 50 Cent and/or Wu-Tang. Yes I realize that side opposite could potentially be the ocean, but I’m sure at least 5 whales have heard Hip-Hop and I guarantee at least 2 were feeling it.
Alternative Title(s): ::Kanye Shrug:: I don’t speak Portuguese
Highlight(s): 174, And Rs Rs
Lowlight(s): Make It Last
Sango – Da Rocinha 2
Ever since hearing “Differences (Reprise)” off his initial Da Rocinha release, it was plain to see (or hear) that Sango has always been equally as dope as he is fresh. With that in mind, my biggest gripe was that he like many other producers on the Future Beats scene aren’t the best at putting together full fledged projects. Da Rocinha 2 is assuredly Sango’s best solo release to date. When he first emerged on the scene about 2 years ago, he definitely felt quite formulaic about the situation chopping up and using the same Baile Funk vocals over and over. While the tracks continued to remain just as infectious as the ones he kicked things off with, Sango gradually developed to the point where he could release a project like Da Rocinha 2 and not have the listener fill his/her ears with monotony for 13 straight tracks. Da Rocinha 2 is ALL about Sango and how skillful he is at flipping these tracks anyway he pleases to provide the appropriate mood for the people. These songs are beautiful. These songs are dance worthy. These songs are good to live your life to, and in other words they have high replay value which is all one could ever ask for. It’s all about the nuances with this project and Michigan native welcomes the magnifying glass with open arms and plenty of hi-hats.
Alternative Title(s): Baile La Trap
Highlight(s): Três Horas & Maluco
Lowlight(s): Nas Colinas
GoldLink – The God Complex
I didn’t know much at all about GoldLink besides the fact that his soundcloud avatar was turqoise with a gold chain. Thank the music gods that dude is very much able to spit. Even with the fact that the man’s flow, delivery, breath control, and beat selection are damn near second to none that is not the reason the project is one of the best of the year. The God Complex is live because of its content and originality. When Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock and Chubb Rock came out with their relatively uptempo dance songs they were not praised for their depth. “It Takes Two” and “Treat Em Right” were embraced because they made you move. Believe it or not, GoldLink is able to move you and your hips by lacing uptempo dance tracks with heartfelt and meaningful stories. That’s not all he can do, and as you listen to The God Complex you can see it. GoldLink definitely is not the most lyrical rapper although he’s got more lyrics than your average for now. His command, beat selection, and poise on a track are where his appeal lies.
Alternative Title(s): Give Us This Day,
Highlight(s): Ay Ay & Planet Paradise
Lowlight(s): How It’s Done & CNTRL
Future Bass, Hip-Hop, Neck, Raury, Sango