Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of 2014 So Far...

It's been a while since my last post, but I've been on a short "hiatus" due to finishing my senior year of high school and making sure everything goes perfectly. But I got some ideas on what I can make posts about so look out for blog posts this summer! Anyway, it's that time of the year where June is over and we are officially in the second half of the year. Like last year, I will do a mid-year review of some of my favorite Hip-Hop albums that came out so far this year. There were many fantastic Gangsta rap albums, melodic albums, concept albums, and experimental albums this year. I do admit that I missed some albums this year, and there are many notable projects that I will mention later, but this list is still in order. So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite albums of 2014! 

5- Oxymoron - ScHoolboy Q:
This latest third album from West Coast MC ScHoolboy Q has grown a lot on me since it's release in February. I do have to say however that when I look at this album, I'm only looking at the standard 12-track edition (up to Man of the Year) because the bonus tracks have really lost their luster (and His & Her Friend still didn't get better). Regardless, I felt like ScHoolboy Q managed to create a cohesive album filled with many great club bangere such as Man of the Year and Collard Greens but also many conceptual and deep tracks such as Blind Threats, Hoover Street, and Break the Bank. All of the features on this album (excluding 2 Chainz) contribute great material and solid verses to this album and the production as a whole fits the theme and concept ScHoolboy was trying to convey. You can really feel the emotion and passion ScHoolboy has behind these tracks and how he had to subject himself to a life of crime, drugs and violence to feed his daughter. It's a great listen and I highly recommend it. 

4- Strange Journey Volume Three - CunninLynguists:
This is CunninLynguists' first album in 3 years since their stellar and top 5 worthy 2011 release Oneirology, which was filled with beautifully layered production and excellent lyricism. However, I gotta admit that I have not heard the first two albums in the Strange Journey series, I'm most familiar with Oneirology and A Piece of Strange. But after listening to this album, I can honestly say that this is a very enjoyable album filled with production by Kno that puts most producers to shame. Deacan and Nati come through with many concept tracks, and the concept of the album is also very enjoyable. This is a very feature-filled album, but many guest rappers deliver stellar verses such as Aesop Rock, Sadistic, Blu, and especially Del the Funky Homosapien and Tonedeff. I do have complains about the Miley 3000 skits and the track Drunk Dial is very underwhelming for me, but the rest of the album is a great listen and I highly recommend it. 

3- PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Pharoahe Monch:
This latest album from seasoned Hip-Hop veteran Pharoahe Monch is easily one of the best concept albums of the year so far. This album is one of the most focused I heard all year and from Monch himself. From the title of the album, you can guess what the concept is. It shows how PTSD affects people from different places caused by different events such as war, stressful jobs, poverty and many more. Pharoahe Monch paints pictures of various characters and their experiences and how they deal with the stress. Damage, Bad MF, Rapid Eye Movement, and The Jungle are some of my favorite Hip-Hop songs of the year. The production on this album is stellar and the guest verses from Black Thought and Talib Kweli are amazing. Its a very solid listen and I highly recommend you check it out because the topics are relatable and happen to everyone at some point in life. 

2- Cilvia Demo - Isaiah Rashad: 
Cilvia Demo was an absolute surprise for me as I didn't really expect to be blown away by it as much as I was. Isaiah Rashad managed to release the best project from the 6-TDE albums this year so far in my opinion, which is something I would've never guessed. He has a distinct style and a great ear for beats and his world play and lyricism is on point. What also pulls me in is his immaculate flow and catchy hooks. All of these characteristics can be seen in tracks like R.I.P. Kevin Miller, Soliloquy, Heavenly Father and Webbie Flow. He proved that he can hold his own next to Jay Rock and ScHoolboy Q on the Shot You Down remix and managed to create a very original and creative album in the process. I think its amazing that this album dropped as early as January and still receives heavy rotation in my books. So if you haven't checked this album out, be sure to cop it and support great independent artists. You won't be disappointed.

1- Pinata - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: 
The reception for this album so far seems pretty unanimous. I'm sure every Hip-Hop head already has this on their list, as do I, because this is easily my favorite and the most perfectly executed album of the year so far for me. Freddie Gibbs has never been a personal favorite of mine, but here, he finds himself fitting perfectly with Madlib's spacious, jazzy, and eccentric beats. His flow, lyricism, and stories are all fantastic over tracks like Deeper, Shitsville, Thuggin', Broken, Shame and many others. The title track on this album is probably the best posse cut of the year so far with stellar verses, and all the guest features do their thing. Madlib's beats are very layered and well put together fitting in perfectly with Freddie Gibbs' style. This album is very cohesive, smart, and well executed. I still listen to this album and will continue to do so in the future. If you haven't heard it, be sure to check it out as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed!

Favorite Tracks of the Year:
- Break the Bank - ScHoolboy Q
- R.I.P. Kevin Miller - Isaiah Rashad
- Tree of Life - Ab-Soul
- Sanctified (Feat. Kanye West & Big Sean) - Rick Ross
- Better in Tune with the Infinite - Jay Electronica 
- The Jungle - Pharoahe Monch
- Shitsville - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib 
- Understand (Feat. Dice Raw & Greg Porn) - The Roots 
- Napoleon - CyHi the Prynce 
- Nutty Bars - Your Old Droog 
- Mt. Olympus - Big K.R.I.T.
- Lac Lac (Feat. A$AP Ferg) - Big K.R.I.T.
- See the Rich Man Play (Feat. Roc Marciano)  
- Body and Blood - clipping
- Made in Black America (Feat. Ab-Soul) - Common 
- Offshore - Slaughterhouse
- Qualifiers - Open Mike Eagle 

Honorable Mentions:
- Black Hystori Project - CyHi the Prynce 
- House Rules - Slaughterhouse 
- Your Old Droog EP - Your Old Droog (AKA Nas in my opinion)
- Lord Steppington - Step Brothers (Evidence & The Alchemist) 

Albums That Received Acclaim That I Haven't Heard Yet (But Will ASAP):
- Dark Comedy - Open Mike Eagle 
- CLPPNG - clipping
- Copper Gone - Sage Francis 
- Connecticut Casual - Apathy 
- So It Goes - Ratking 

Disappointing Albums:
- ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin - The Roots 
- Good to be Home - Blu
- Dead - Young Fathers