As our first year as an official blog comes to a close, the staff has compiled a list of their favorite projects of the year, as well as the the projects that did not live up to their expectations. As noted by much of the staff, 2014 was somewhat of a lackluster year for mainstream hip-hop, but their have been a few artist who have proved that they can shine among the many artists in the genre.
Favorite: Days Before Rodeo - Travis Scott
My favorite tape of the year by far was and still is Days Before Rodeo by Travi$ Scott. The tape is so damn good I'm actually listening to it right now! To me it was a full culmination of the year in rap/hip hop as a whole, a genre which I haven't yet titled but is trap lyrics with a hipster flow and auto tuned singing all in one. A lot of people tried this style this year, the keyword being tried. Travi$ Scott's tape was perfect music for the kickback, the car ride, and a concert. The young thug and rich homie quan features never hurt anyone either.
Disappointment: Hood Billionaire - Rick Ross
My disappointment tape of the year is Hood Billionaire, I wish I could tell you why I'm so disappointed in the album in detail but I can barely listen to it. The tape had so much promotion online that I just expected more. The only songs I like are "neighborhood drug dealer" and "brimstone" and I only like brimstone because of the BIG KRIT feature. Sorry Ross, good dude, keep eating pears, I'm eating pears now too.
Favorite: Pinata - Freddie Gibbs
Explain to me the last time you heard an album this cold? Madlib blessing the production and providing a perfect canvas for Freddie Gibbs to paint the bleak picture of life in the streets as he knows it. Coming off of a rough separation from Jeezy’s CTE label, Gibbs found himself re-focused and revitalized on this project. It’s my hands down favorite from two of the most underrated in the game today. Don’t sleep on this one.
Disappointment: These Days - Ab Soul
Ab-Soul came into These Days with an exceptional debut under his belt, and a lot of raised expectations. Soulo was no longer the underdog. In a year where TDE had promised total domination it has been underwhelming to say the least and a big reason behind that was the uninspired project that was These Days. The album found the Carson emcee giving in to having DJ Mustard-esque attempt of a hit in “Twact”. It’s as if Ab-Soul showed up late on this record. Hopefully in the future we can get material that favors more of the focus that was evident on Control System.
Favorite: Gleesh - Fat Trel
My favorite project of the year surprisingly enough has to be Gleesh by Fat Trel. I had a hard time coming to this conclusion, but then I looked through my phone and realized that Gleesh was one of the few projects I kept on my phone since it's release, and according to my "most played" list many tracks from Gleesh were positioned at the top. I can't even lie and say I don't thoroughly enjoy this tape from intro to outro. I didn't know how I truly felt about the mixtape when it first released, however I certainly do now. Shocking pick, but I feel it fits 2014.
Disappointment: Cadillactica - Big KRIT
I really don’t know if anything in 2014 disappointed me because I didn’t really expect too much from a lot of the projects coming out. But Big K.R.I.T.’s Cadillactica was a disappointment in my eyes. It just didn’t do it for me, K.R.I.T. has been falling off to me for a little while now. It’s not necessarily the lyrics, but the actual music itself doesn’t hold my attention. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s almost like sometimes he’s trying too hard. Either way some people really like Cadillactica, but I couldn’t get with it. I struggled to get through the whole tape once, and after maybe a day or two removed it from my phone. I may not have had super high hopes for the album, but my hopes were higher then what was delivered, a disappoint in my eyes.
Favorite: Beach House EP - Ty Dolla Sign
Beach House EP is my best of 2014 because never before has an EP hooked me like this one. After hearing Wood & Leather at a party I decided to check out the project, still not really knowing who Ty Dolla $ign was. The project didn't disappoint and the tracks that I had happened to hear before, even the radio hit Paranoid, grew on me. Wood & Leather remains one of my favorite tracks of the year, with Or Nah and Familiar definitely landing a spot in my playlist as well. However I checked out Ty$'s newest project Sign Language afterwards, expecting the same quality of music, and was disappointed. Nonetheless, I've definitely gotten past not even wanting to check out his music due to his name.
Disappointment: Rich Nigga Timeline - Migos
Rich Nigga Timeline from the Migos was probably my biggest disappointment of the year. After a great tape in YRN and a solid offering in No Label 2, I only expected the best from the most exciting group of the past 2 years. Other than a good last 5 tracks at the end of the tape that you can play straight through, there's nothing else that really stood out on the tape. I appreciate it for Wishy Washy, All Good, and Take Her, but I could've done without most of the rest. The tape wasn't bad; just not what I was looking for, but we expect that big things are coming from the Migos in the future. Their presence on the standout 2014 project Days Before Rodeo is definitely appreciated.
Favorite: Trigga - Trey Songz
2014 was not an amazing year for anything, except for Trey Songz. His “Trigga” album is literally amazing. The entire album kept up with this carnal, intensified, everlasting party theme, and had amazing vocals to match. His features (Nicki Minaj, Mila J, Ty Dolla Sign, Justin Beiber, and Juicy J) were impeccably placed and gave each song an extra oomph. I loved it. I honestly think “Trigga” was the best RnB album put out this year.
Disappointment: The New Classic - Iggy Azalea
Finding a least favorite album isn’t hard. Iggy Azalea “The New Classic” was trash and I actually never listened to it. If we think about album’s I did dabble my ear into, we could come up with a few, with X by Chris Brown being the only album of this entire year in which I listened to it, in its entirety and could not grasp as to why it just really….sucked. I mean, I am one of Chris Brown’s biggest fans, and I couldn't connect to the album. It just wasn’t interesting. I feel the songs were hit and miss, and I skipped over too many to count. Excluding the radio singles, i had nothing else I wanted to listen to. I wouldn’t say that this was the worst album of the year, but the worst that I have listened to.
Favorite: The God Complex - Goldlink
To be honest, when 2014 started I had never even heard of Goldlink. Fast Forward a few months, and I've found myself telling nearly all of my friend's about the Landover native's debut mixtape. From the beginning to the end of the mixtape there are two things that are very apparent: 1. Goldlink has one of the most unique styles of any newcomer and 2. Dude has an immaculate ear for beats. This is definitely a tape everyone needs to hear.
Disappointment: Trap House 4 - Gucci Mane
Don't get me wrong, I like hearing a new Gucci song just as much as anyone else. But when you're releasing 6+ mixtapes a year, it becomes kinda hard to look forward to every new release and this is a problem that I feel is plaguing Gucci Mane. Outside of a few key tracks, Trap House 4 just felt extremely lackluster in comparison to 2013's Trap House 3. Luckily, Gucci released countless other projects this year to satisfy my trap needs.
Favorite: Tha Tour Pt. 1 - Rich Gang
When I first heard about “Rich Gang Tha Tour Pt. 1” I was immediately turned off because of the artists who collaborated together for it. Although it features two of 2014’s hottest rappers in Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan; brought together by the notorious Birdman, I’m not a fan of any of these artists as individuals, but collectively they bring the best out of each other. From start to finish the newly titled “Rich Gang” go in on great production with catchy ad-libs and chorus to boot. “Flava”, “Imma Ride” and “I know it” are among the best songs on this tape. Admittedly I didn’t like the mixtape a lot during my first initial listen; however if you give it a chance you’ll realize this tape is a must listen from beginning to end.
Disappointment: Big Gucci Sosa - Gucci Mane & Chief Keef
As a big fan of “trap” music, when I first heard of collaboration mixtape that would include my two favorite artists, Gucci Mane and Chief Keef, my expectations were through the roof. I wouldn’t classify the project as bad, “Semi on em” is the first song on the tape and very good as far as trap goes; in retrospect that probably set up my disappointment further.There ended up being a lot of repeat songs that have been released on previous mixtapes. “Top in the Trash”, “Darker”, and “Start Pimpin” were all songs that have already been released and on a 12 track tape, this was unfortunate to see.
Favorite: FOUR - One Direction
If you know me, you know that I basically listen to everything in the realm of music. Screamo to country to pop to hip-hop, I have no boundaries. So, when I was asked what my favorite project of 2014 was, it was hard for me to narrow it down. I finally decided on it, and my favorite album of the year is FOUR by One Direction. If you’re like most people under the age of 16, you’re looking at me like I have three arms growing out of my head. However, you’re probably just being closed-minded. One Direction as grown since their “What Makes You Beautiful” debut single and it shows through this album. Their fourth album in four years, the growth and maturity in their vocals and subject matter is apparent and it’s just awesome. The songs are catchy, pop rock, filled with non-cliché lyrics about love and relationships. They wrote almost every song and played most of the instruments, which is not really common in pop music and it attests to the talent that this group of guys have. This album is like modern Beatles but better (sorry, not sorry). Pop music may not be your cup of tea, but this album is amazing. I encourage you to take a step out of your comfort zone and listen to this album. One Direction put out one of the best projects of this year and I played it for two weeks straight. To ease you into this album, I suggest listening to “Fireproof”, “Stockholm Syndrome”, and “Clouds”.
Disappointment: Oxymoron - Schoolboy Q
This album was so anticipated. After being pushed out multiple times, everyone was so ready for another project from this artist. Oxymoron by SchoolBoy Q. All. Hype. I was expecting so much from this album and was thoroughly disappointed. Of course there are some good songs on here like “Collard Greens” and “Studio” but overall, this album was pure confusion. There was no continuity within the album, the songs just seemed so random together. It’s one thing to make a mixtape of songs that are great on their own, but this is an album. It should sound like an album! An album is supposed to be cohesive and this was not. To top it off, some songs were just God-awful. Los Awesome? What the hell was that? To be in the beginning of the album just set the worst tone for the album. I don’t really have much to say other than it should not have been hyped as much as it was. Even going to the Oxymoron tour, which was completely sold out, the crowd only got hype for his old songs and the singles. It had no replay value and some songs I just can’t listen to completely whenever I revisit the album, which is not often. My goodness, this album was just bad. Not the worst, but for the hype it received leading up to it, it was just a huge disappointment.
Favorite: Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart - K. Michelle
My favorite project of the year is K. Michelle's sophomore album Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart. I've been watching her new reality show and decided to give her album a listen when it dropped. When the first song, Judge Me, played I almost turned into a goosebump. Each song has a different sound but the whole album is a story of love. From beginning to end I felt every emotion and all of the energy she put into each song. Normally I'm not one to listen to R&B but this album has been on repeat for the last few weeks.
Disappointment: The Pinkprint - Nicki Minaj
I wasn't too impressed with anything that released in 2014. I can't really think about my least favorite project but I will say that I've been saying that Nicki Minaj will have the best album of the year and take us all back to the Beam Me Up Scotty days and when The Pinkprint dropped I was highly disappointed. Not that The Pinkprint was bad or anything but it didn't take me back to Beam Me Up Scotty and most definitely wasn't album of the year. A lot of projects didn't live up to my expectations this year and must say that the music industry is way over saturated with a bunch of nonsense.