Saturday, 20 December 2014

Top 15 Favorite Albums of 2014

It's finally that time of the year again. 2014 is almost over and we're at a point where we can discuss some of the albums that stood out to us the most, whether they were great or terrible. However, I personally don't care much to talk about the albums that disappointed me, because those won't get anyone anywhere and it would bother the fans of those albums. Instead, I will talk about the top 15 albums I loved the most this year. I was going to make this a top 10, but there were too many great albums that came out this year to leave them off a list, so I decided to extend the list for this year. I mean 2014 isn't as amazing as 2011, but it was a definite improvement from last year. I discovered a lot of new artists that moved me, and many older artists remained consistent with excellent albums. Like last year, this list will feature albums, mixtapes and/or EPs because they're all the same to me (especially since mixtapes are pretty much free albums these days). So without further adieu, I present my top 15 favorite albums of 2014!

15- These Days... - Ab-Soul:
I know, the hardcore fans probably won't agree because this album isn't as good as Control System. Hell some might claim it's not as good as Longterm Mentality either. But for me personally, I was still able to enjoy this album a lot mainly because Ab-Soul started showing some diversity and versatility, which a lot of people might disagree with. He did commercially appealing tracks like Twact and Nevermind That, but to me he did those track well. They were made so that Ab-Soul can appeal to a larger audience. I know some fans might say I'm making excuses, but this is my list so whatever! At the end of the day, you can't deny the dopeness of creative tracks like Tree of Life and Just Have Fun, the explosive Kendrick Lamar's Interlude, the heartbreaking Closure, the tough and hard Stigmata and Drive Slow, and the laid back Feeling Us. The beats all across this album (with the exception of maybe Dub Sac and World Runners) are all colorful, well layered, and have a lot of bass that will bump on large speakers. Features range from the entire TDE roster (with the exception of Isaiah Rashad unfortunately), Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Assad, Lupe Fiasco and Rick Ross who all do their thing. The album ends with an epic battle between Ab-Soul and Daylyt and even though Daylyt won in my opinion, Ab-Soul definitely held his own. I was told that the concept of the album is to be some sort of satire of modern Hip-Hop, hence the title These Days..., which makes a lot of sense. I guess the enjoyability of the album narrows down to if the listener is willing to hear Ab-Soul experiment with some more modern and current trends. I know I did! So be sure to check this album out if you haven't and approach it with open ears. 

Favorite Tracks: Tree of Life, Just Have Fun, Kendrick Lamar's Interlude, Ride Slow, Stigmata, W.R.O.H.

14- 36 Seasons - Ghostface Killah:
Wu-Tang had a big year releasing their long awaited come-back album A Better Tomorrow. While that album was okay, more people, including myself, seemed to be more gravitated towards Ghostface Killah's new solo effort 36 Seasons. Like Twelve Reasons to Die, 36 Seasons is a concept album that involves a drug lord, betrayal, death and resurrection. Some people were disappointed by the concept because it seemed to resembled that of his previous album too much. While I can see and agree with that to a certain degree, this album has enough changes and differences to still be enjoyable. Here, Ghostface recruited legendary MCs Kool G Rap, AZ and Pharoahe Monch to play major characters that contribute to the story. The album also has more tracks with strictly singing that actually fit well without sounding corny. As always, Ghostface's rhymes are packed with cartoonish violence that paint the vivid pictures of the story he is trying to tell. This album has fast paced action, drama and even heartbreaking moments just like a movie. The production handled mostly by The Revelations is very well done. They feature wonderful soul samples that bring life to the album. So if you're into concept albums with a good story, great rapping and awesome production, be sure to check this album out,

Favorite Tracks: The Battlefield, Love Don't Live Here No More, Emergency Procedure, Double Cross

13- Your Old Droog EP - Your Old Droog:
For a short period of time in the beginning of the year, Your Old Droog had the world convinced that he was Nas under another alter ego. Even I didn't totally dismiss this theory, but earlier in the year this album lost some steam because of that idea. However, once it was revealed that Your Old Droog was in fact NOT Nas, I decided to go back to this album to check it out and I loved it a lot. Clearly any artist who is compared to Nas should say something. While his voice may sound like that of Nas, his flow and rhyming patterns are distinctly different. He has a gruff New York East-Coast flow and can flow on a beat immaculately. The beats he raps over are obviously 90s era influenced, maybe even more so than the beats Pro Era usually go over. They sound very choppy and old school without trying too hard. Drop this EP in 93' and it would blend in just fine. His self titled full length album didn't come out until later in the year, but I felt like the additional tracks didn't make the album more special. All in all, this is a great mini project that's definitely worth your time so be sure to check it out. I wish this EP had more hooks like Droog's Anthem because he can do those very well, but other than that this was a great debut for Your Old Droog. I'm sure he is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Favorite Tracks: Bad to the Bone, Nutty Bars, Loosey in the Store with Pennies, Droog's Anthem, Gunsmoke Colgne 

12- Cadillactica - Big K.R.I.T.:
I say this all the time: Big K.R.I.T. is easily one of the most consistent artists in recent years. From his early mixtapes to even his major label debut (which I thought was fine, many fans were disappointed), Big K.R.I.T. has always given me quality music, whether its ignorant, introspective, or socially conscious rap. He produces all his music and as a result he blends perfectly with the beats. On this album, Big K.R.I.T. does something new and creates a complete new world within the album called Cadillactica. A planet he created himself, the album follows the planet's inception, creation and culture. The songs within the album discuss various topics that appeal to Big K.R.I.T. such as his love for cars and women, but it also touches on this generation of kids, love, and his place in Hip-Hop. The intro and Life give the album a great start, the title track feels like a futuristic ride through space, and his southern roots and love for cars can be heard on My Sub Pt. 3. While it is slightly inconsistent, the album has enough variety to keep me interested and I end up enjoying it more and more with each listen. Tracks like Mind Control are very catchy and fun, while tracks like Lost Generations are very socially conscious. The features do their thing for the most part, with the exception of maybe E-40. Bun B, Big Sant and Raphael Saadiq have impressive contributions to the album and most of the hooks are very fun and catchy. Be sure to give this album a listen. It's the type of album that can appeal to a wide range of Hip-Hop listeners. 

Favorite Tracks: Cadillactica, Life, Soul Food, My Sub Pt. 3, Standby (Interlude), Lost Generation, Kreation (intro), Lac Lac (Bonus Track)

11- PTSD - Pharoahe Monch:
This is the first album from my mid-year list to survive to my year-end list just outside the top 10, but this album is still as good as ever. With the surplus of newer albums, PTSD unfortunately got bumped down, but I still love and enjoy it a lot. Pharoahe Monch showcases his ability to create a well put together album with a consistent theme. He talks about PTSD from the perspective of multiple characters including war veterans, stressed lower class workers, and troubled teens and how this disorder affects their lives. He can create a heartfelt track, with grand, braggadocios and hardcore songs that still fit the theme of the album, and even up lifting and comedic moments near the end of the album. For the first time in a while (since Desire), Pharoahe Monch is provided with beats that suit him perfectly. He can display his multi-syllable flows, coded and clever metaphors, and his authoritative voice that demands attention with ease. He brings in seasoned veterans like Talib Kweli and the legendary Black Thought to drop some fantastic features, and being a veteran himself, Monch can keep up just fine. Be sure to check this album out if you haven't. It's a great experience and a very well thought out album.

Favorite Tracks: The Jungle, Damage, Bad M.F., Rapid Eye Movement, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, D.R.E.A.M.

Now we enter the top 10!

10- PRhyme - Self-Titled (Royce Da 5'9'' & DJ Premiere):
When you consider the people involved with this album, you know you're gonna get something excellent. Royce Da 5'9'' is a legendary MC from Detroit, fully capable of going toe-to-toe with the best and is 1/4 of the infamous group Slaughterhouse with a bunch of other stellar MCs. DJ Premier is responsible for having his hands in some of the best and most influential rap albums of all time including Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt, The Sun Rises in the East and all the iconic Gang Starr albums. With this record, Premo worked with samples supplied by Adrian Younge which gives the album a live sound. This may be a good or bad thing, but for me it worked. The beats are great and Royce sounds hungrier than ever. Although the album is only 9 tracks long and spans about 35 minutes, it hits you hard with great wordplay, nice flows, and very impressive features from Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Electronica, Killer Mike, Common and others. Killer Mike probably had the best feature to me on Underground Kings. The album flows well so the momentum is always there, and Royce keeps a hold of your attention bar for bar. So if you haven't checked this out yet, be sure to do so. It's a short and sweet listen with nice bars and beats. What more can you ask for?

Favorite Tracks: Underground Kings, Courtesy, U Looz, Dat Sound Good, Wishin', To Me To You

9- Cilvia Demo - Isaiah Rashad:
The second album to survive from my mid-year list, Isaiah Rashad (surprisingly) has the best TDE release of the year. He came out the gate with something extremely original and creative with this album. For one, the album is filled with incredible airy and spacy production from top to bottom. They're very layered and atmospheric, which provides room for Isaiah to fit perfectly within the beats. Isaiah himself is very lyrical. He isn't very cryptic or coded, but his rhyme patterns are very nicely sequenced and delivered with a lot of passion and conviction. Throughout the album, Isaiah discusses the impact his father's departure from his youth had on him. He talks about how it led to him becoming a better father to his son. The album also contains braggadocios moments where you can relate to the things he says like on R.I.P. Kevin Miller, and he also has those moments where he's just going off lyrically like on Soliloquy. Isaiah has an awesome personality, great lyrics, and an ability to write some infectious hooks. It came out very early in the year, and I still bump this album on occasion. Check it out!

Favorite Tracks: R.I.P Kevin Miller, Soliloquy, Cilvia Demo, Webbie Flow, Heavenly Father, Banana

8- 2014 Forest Hills Drive - J.  Cole:
After last year's Born Sinner, J. Cole proved that he is a force in Hip-Hop, outselling Kanye West's Yeezus, but it still left me wanting more in terms of hunger and passion. Born Sinner felt like an album with a lot of filler and not enough variety to make me revisit it again and again. It was a mood album, and not a mood I was always in. I expected all these mistakes to be corrected for future projects if I were to be impressed by another J. Cole album. So 3 weeks before it dropped, J. Cole announced that he would be dropping this album with no promotion or singles, which I thought was great because it meant he was sticking to something specific in terms of a concept and not giving in to commercial appeal. Thankfully, my wishes were granted and I received an album that is exactly what I wanted from J. Cole. Like previous efforts, J. Cole is still personal, but the production has been elevated big time, with contributions from different producers and the inclusion of a lot of live instrumentation, which I loved. J. Cole also seems hungrier and motivated to release a classic, and while I think this album isn't perfect, it still met my expectations. J. Cole is no longer overly humble, but is still relatable through his stories. He takes shots at the mainstream with tracks like Fire Squad, has introspective tracks like Wet Dreamz, and experiments with more singing which I actually enjoyed on tracks like Hello. Overall, I got what I wanted which is a cohesive, mature, introspective album that is still aggressive at points. Oh, and that outro was hilarious. It's very long, but Lupe did it on Food & Liquor and it worked fine. The initial singing on it was awesome and the Jonah Hill joke in the middle killed me! It was good enough from me to get through the whole thing with every listen. Pick it up!

Favorite Tracks: Fire Squad, Wet Dreamz, G.O.M.D., Love Yours, No Role Modelz, 03' Adolescence

7- You're Dead! - Flying Lotus:
Flying Lotus is easily one of my favorite producers right now. His beats and albums contain some of the most creative fusions of Jazz, Hip-Hop, Funk and Electronic music you'll hear in the music industry. And while this blog mostly focuses on Hip-Hop releases, this is not a straight up Hip-Hop album. The reasons I'm including it though are because it has a lot of elements that exist in Hip-Hop, rap features that include Snoop Doggs, FlyLo's alter ego Captain Murphy, and my favorite feature from Kendrick Lamar. The elements of Jazz that are present in this album are beautifully well put together and resemble beats that could be present on a Hip-Hop album. Unlike his previous albums, You're Dead! is a lot more upbeat, especially when compared to Los Angeles or Until The Quiet Comes, which is the main reason why this is my favorite album of his so far. The music can be fun, chilling, exciting, and even sad when the album reaches the end. FlyLo takes many risks which include adding vocal features from rappers and even singing on the album himself and they all pay off. I highly recommend this album to any music fan, regardless of genre. 

Favorite Tracks: Turkey Dog Coma, Never Catch Me, Fkn Dead, Turtles, Ready Err Not, Descent Into Madness

6- Under Pressure - Logic:
I've been a Logic fan ever since he dropped his first Young Sinatra mixtape. I always thought he was an excellent lyricist, had great flows, and an ability to appeal to both hardcore and commercial Hip-Hop fans. After 4 good to great mixtapes, I was anxiously waiting for Logic to drop a fully realized major label debut that I can support. After signing to Def Jam, a debut became inevitable and I couldn't wait. However, I was still worried that Logic may go way too mainstream and my expectations were set very high. October finally came eventually and Under Pressure dropped and from first listen I knew this album was going to be one of my favorites. I do have to admit that at the time there was another album I was listening to that prevented me from fully indulging into Under Pressure (this album will be discussed when I reach the number 2 spot), but this album eventually picked up steam and was getting daily plays. On this album, Logic displays every aspect of what made me love his music without sacrificing his artistic input. He is very lyrical, aggressive, and even playful. What blew away the most was the amazing storytelling he displayed on tracks like Gang Related, Growing Pains III, and the back end of the title track. He talks about the violence he saw as a child, but from his perspective as the observer and not the enforcer. He also includes a clever concept that includes a "character" named Nikki, but I refuse to spoil the true meaning behind that. Logic can still be braggadocios on tracks like Never Enough, the beginning of Under Pressure, and my personal favorite Bounce. He also shows his softer side on tracks like Buried Alive and the gorgeous Metropolis. He has his socially conscious moments as well like on Soul Food. The closing track Till The End was a prefect ending to the album, sounding like something Kanye and Common would've put together back in the day. He absolutely seals the album and finishes off with a very triumphant track. The production on this album handled by 6ix, Logic himself, and others is damn near perfect. Every song sounds amazing, and the live instrumentation sounds very grand and expensive. This is probably because Logic put half a million of his own money on top to make his debut sound as perfect as possible and I think he did it. You have to respect someone that loves the craft as much as Logic and puts his all to make sure his place in Hip-Hop is set in stone. This is the best debut I've heard in a long time and if you haven't checked it out yet be sure to do so. Welcome to Hip-Hop Logic, I know you'll be here for a long time!

Favorite Tracks: Bounce, Under Pressure, Metropolis, Soul Food, Till The End, Gang Related

And now, I give you my top 5!

5- The Water[s] - Mick Jenkins:
Mick Jenkins' The Water[s] was probably one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. I walked into it expecting something good, but walked away absolutely floored. I never heard of Mick Jenkins before this project, but he has definitely earned himself a new fan with this excellent piece of work that should have been an album I can pick up and buy from any CD store. As the title suggests, Mick Jenkins creates a very watery atmosphere with the production and makes you feel totally submerged in water when listening to this album. He uses water as a metaphor for many things that include music, spiritually, one's self, and even the literal significance of water to create a theme of positivity and importance. His voice is very deep, but he has so many flows that showcase his versatility as a rapper. His bars can be straightforward and blunt at times, but can even be very clever and dense at other times. He is very creative with his wordplay and rhyming patterns and can totally pull you in. At 15 tracks, this album is never mediocre, it's always impressing me, and like Isaiah Rashad he has an incredible ability of writing infectious hooks. From the chilling Shipwrecked to the perfectly structures Jazz to the emotional Black Sheep and the aggressive Jerome with Joey Bada$$, this album is damn near flawless from front to back. If you're a fan of Hip-Hop, you'd be missing out if you don't give this album a listen.  

Favorite Tracks: Jazz, Shipwrecked, Black Sheep, Comfortable, Vibe, Martyrs, The Waters

4- Pinata - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib:
I know this was my favorite when I placed it at number 1 for my midyear list, but so much good music came out that it unfortunately dropped down a few spots. But this album is so good that I still can't find it in me to place it any lower than the top 5. Everything about this album is damn near perfect. The production handled entirely my the legendary Madlib is very jazz influenced and low-fi at some points, but not in a bad way. The beats sound very well aged and layered, but then again what do you expect from Madib, the mastermind behind classics like Madvillainy and The Unseen? At 17 tracks, this album doesn't have a single wack moment. Freddie Gibbs compliments Madlib's beats flawlessly without missing a single step. I've said this before, I was never a huge fan of his, but this album truly changed that. It gave Freddie Gibbs the beats he needed to reach his full potential. Freddie can be aggressive, laid back, spit some double-time flows, and even emotional, which is a characteristic I'm not usually familiar with in Freddie Gibbs. The first half of the album doesn't feature that many guest appearances, but they do start to pile up during the second half. But the features are so dope that it's not even an issue. There are appearances from Raekwon, Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis, Scarface, Ab-Soul, Danny Brown, and a lot more on the posse cut that finishes this album off. All the features do their thing. BJ the Chicago Kid also brings awesome soulful singing to the song Shame. Back to Freddie Gibbs. His rhymes are full of great stories, hilariously cartoonish bars, and even emotional bars on tracks like DeeperShitsville has Freddie Gibbs ranting on the double standards and fakeness people portray, yet they still point fingers at him for being immoral. Thuggin' is a perfect track to describe the persona Freddie Gibbs portrays, and Harold's is a laid back and fun track. And let's not forget Real, Freddie Gibbs' vicious and ruthless diss track aimed at Young Jeezy. Overall, I love this album from front to back, it's easily one of the best things I heard all year and I highly recommend it. Pick it up!

Favorite Tracks: Shitsville, Harold's, Shame, Deeper, Lakers, Real, Thuggin', Bomb, Pinata 

3- Dark Comedy - Open Mike Eagle:
This album was another big surprise for me, as I would've never thought I would love an album like this as much as I do. Open Mike Eagle is a member of the Hellfire Club, which also includes Nocando, Busdriver and Milo. Even though I respect all these artists (and I even enjoyed Busdriver's Perfect Hair), none of their material sticks to me as much as Open Mike Eagle's. His witty and sarcastic personality appeals to me and his wordplay and pop-culture references are hilarious and clever. He doesn't present himself as a hard and aggressive rapper, but instead he shows you how nerdy and geeky he is through his rhymes. The album is filled with some of the best production I heard all year that match Open Mike Eagle perfectly. Most of the beats are layered, atmospheric, but there are some that can be very experimental and exciting like the beat on A History of Modern Dance. As the title implies, the album has a very sarcastic tone to it, with many tracks being very serious but still playful. Tracks like Qualifiers, Thirsty Ego Raps, Jon Lovitz and especially Doug Stamper have some of the funniest moments in Hip-Hop you'll hear all year. The Hannibal Burress verse on Doug Stamper is so over the top and ridiculous that I can't help but laugh every time I hear it. However, some tracks can be very personal and genuine like Idaho, Very Much Money, and Big Pretty Bridges. Idaho is one of my favorites and it talks about that feeling when you're driving all alone at night with no one to talk to and you're just sitting there stuck with your thoughts. Very Much Money talks about all these people Open Mike Eagle looks up to and considers very talented but don't make nearly as much money as they deserve. Informations with Kool A.D. is the closest this albums comes to an accessible banger. This album is very consistent and has no skippable tracks. When listening to it you'll find yourself submerged in the atmosphere and themes Open Mike Eagle brings to the table with his awesome personality and schizophrenic flows. Be sure to pick this album up if you haven't! 

Favorite Tracks: A History of Modern Dance, Dark Comedy Morning Show, Doug Stamper, Idaho, Qualifiers, Jon Lovitz 

2- Searching Sylvan - QuESt:
I'm going to be very honest here. Before this mixtape, I never heard of QuESt or any of his music. After listening to this project, I learned that his was featured on Logic's 24 Freestyle, which I completely forgot about at that point. The only input I had about QuESt before listening to this album was when Dead End Hip Hop reviewed this project and all 4 members praised it. I figured how can an album this good be out there and I never heard of it? So I decided to go ahead and download this mixtape with absolutely no expectations. However, from first listen, I was absolutely blown away. Searching Sylvan has probably some of the most personal, depressing, uplifting, and relatable moments in a Hip-Hop album in the past few years. Me placing it at number 2 was a very tough decision because the reason why it isn't at number 1 is due to some small technical aspects of the album. This album can be exchanged with my number 1 album depending on the mood I'm in, but the reason I'm putting it at number 2 and not 1 on this official list is because my number 1 spot is perfect on every level. This album is perfect in terms of gripping me emotionally, but production wise and hooks it isn't as perfect as the number 1. Regardless, you can technically consider this album tied with my number 1 (which I will reveal next) for the top spot. This album is pretty much a concept album that involves real life situations that happened with QuESt that include him almost becoming famous, losing his deal somehow, and having to pretty much start over from the beginning. The album has a very dark start with Maybe I Should, in which QuESt contemplates suicide and continuing his rap career. Make It Out Alive continues these issues and how he now faces other responsibilities living with his mother but still wanting to pursue his rap career. Automatic is proof of how lyrical QuESt can be as he talks about his frustrations with the Hip-Hop industry. Biscayne Blvd is one of my favorite songs on this album. It is a very touching love song where QuESt discusses his relationship with his girlfriend and how much she means to him. C.O.T. Dreams Dreams Dreams is another favorite, but I don't wanna spoil the story in that song that much, just know it very creatively shows QuESt's braggadocios side without sounding too cocky and selfish. Erase Me brings QuESt back to the real world, discussing his rocky relationship with his father. QuESt then delves into some social commentary with Lost Ni**as and No Love In The City in terms of black communities. Struggle Rapper features QuESt venting about the experience of almost making it, falling back to square one, and feeling no motivation to continue. Dying Words is a heartbreaking song with a chorus that will leave you in tears. The closing track May 10th 2012 finishes off the album perfectly and loops the album back to the start for a full rounded experience. QuESt is so emotive as a rapper, and his bars can even sound very poetic. He is highly relatable, very personal, and very charismatic and skilled on the mic. The production is stellar all across the board, so there are no complaints there. I really hope QuESt has success coming his way after this project because he truly deserves it all. If he keeps putting out music this good, I'm sure he'll make it and he will be a problem. QuESt has a lot of potential and if he remains consistent he may become one of my favorite rappers right now. Be sure  to check this mixtape out and support the dude. This album made me connect to the artist in such an amazing way that this may become one of my all time favorites. A project hasn't made me feel this way since Childish Gambino's Camp. GET IT ASAP!

Favorite Tracks: Dying Words, Biscayne Blvd, C.O.T. Dreams Dreams Dreams, Hunger, Erase Me, Struggle Rapper


1- RTJ 2 - Run the Jewels (Killer Mike & El-P):
One word accurately describes this album and that word is "Perfect". I thought their self-titled debut was damn near flawless and I had no idea how they were going to top it. Well, somehow  they did and in doing so they put out one of the best Hip-Hop albums in recent years. This album will go hard when it has to, it will bang when it has to, and it will throw some politically driven bars when it has to. Killer Mike and El-P have elevated their chemistry to a point where it's undeniable. Killer Mike is aggressive, blunt, and straight to the point. El-P is the same, but has a more subdued flow filled with more coded bars. Track after track, Killer Mike and El-P throw some tough bars we many quotables that will stick in your brain for a long time. The album kicks off perfectly with Jeopardy, and Killer Mike starts off yelling at the top of his lungs letting you know that shit is about to go down. He raps authoritatively "You know your favorite rapper ain't shit and me I might be/the closest representation of God you might see" with a lot of conviction that you can't deny the power he has. El-P follows with "I aint never been much of shit/by most measurements don't exist/on the radar a little blimp in the shadow of motherships" showing you his poetic side but then picks up the pace and ends off his verse saying "Run the Jewels is the answer, your question is 'what's popping?'" solidifying the group and the album's importance. What follows are three of the hardest tracks you'll hear all year with Oh My Darling Don't Cry, Blockbuster Night Pt. 1, and Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck), the latter featuring Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine who gives one of his best performances in a while. The beats have a lot of bass, energy and are undeniably menacing, each rolling perfectly into the next with ease without losing any momentum. Lie Cheat Steal takes a look at the political and social inequality that exists, Early has a great verse from Killer Mike talking about police brutality. Early also features a beautiful hook from Boots. All Due Respect is another banger that features awesome drumming from Travis Barker and Love Again is pretty much a very explicit track about Killer Mike and El-P's sexual encounters but done very playfully. Gangsta Boo also hops on the track and gives a very dirty verse that compliments the theme of the song. The album ends of with two of the most serious tracks of the year; Crown and Angel Duster. Crown is probably my favorite song on the album. It features a heartbreaking verse from Killer Mike who reflects on regretfully selling a pregnant women cocaine but later bumping into her in life and she eventually forgives him. El-P on the other hand delivers a verse from the perspective of a soldier fighting for his country and sacrificing your mental health and individuality for the government's gain. Its a very powerful song with great hook delivered by Killer Mike and an even more jaw-dropping beautifully layered beat. It perfectly transitions into Angel Duster which is a lyrical attack at authority, society, and especially religion. It is succeeded by some gorgeous instrumentation that finish the album off perfectly. Every beat on this album is different, bringing a lot of diversity to the album and showcasing El-P's genius behind the boards. It just goes to show how El-P has produced for over a decade and has never repeated himself, and that has to be commended. In conclusion, this album is a lot better than I'm saying it is because words cannot describe the experience this album brings. It's that type of album that you find playing over and over again because it is literally that good. It's short, sweet and straight to the point. It is all I have been listening to ever since it came out which sucked because I couldn't focus on the other music that came out after. Be sure to pick it up, support them by going to their concerts, and if you don't feel like doing that then THE ALBUM IS UP FOR FREE LEGAL DOWNLOAD SO YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE!

Favorite Tracks: Crown, Early, Blockbuster Night Pt. 1, Jeopardy, Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck), Lie Cheat Steal

Honorable Mentions:
- Black Hystori Project - CyHi the Prynce
- House Rules - Slaughterhouse
- Oxymoron - ScHoolboy Q
- Welcome to Fazoland - Lil Herb
- There Is Only Now - Souls of Mischief
- Lord Steppington - Step Brothers (Evidence & The Alchemist)
- Strange Journey Vol. 3 - CunninLynguists
- Cozz & Effect - Cozz

What were some of your favorite albums released this year? What did you think of my list? Anything I missed? Please let me know by leaving a comment and also be sure to share your top 5 or top 10 list! I'll be back soon with a list of some of my favorite songs of the year. Happy Holidays!

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