Thursday, 8 January 2015

Top 40 Favorite Tracks of 2014

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2015 is filled with happiness, love and prosperity to all of you. For the past few days I've been trying to narrow down what my favorite songs of the year are. This was tougher than I thought because of my "no artist gets more than one song on the list" rule. If it wasn't for this rule, this list would consist of mostly Run the Jewels, QuESt, Open Mike Eagle and Freddie Gibbs tracks. Their albums were filled with amazing songs. However, I had to narrow down my favorite songs from all the albums I listened to plus extra singles from random compilations and non-albums singles. I was able to gather 40 songs that I loved the most and I gotta say this list is pretty solid in my opinion and I recommend all of them. This list might include a couple of non-Hip-Hop songs as well. So without further adieu, I give you my top 40 favorite songs of 2014!

40- South California (Feat. Tunji) - CunninLynguists:
Coming from their very solid 2014 album Strange Journey Vol. 3, South California is a great song about Natti and guest rapper Tunji's experiences in Cali meeting beautiful women and falling for them. Their descriptions of the time they had matched with excellent flows and great lyrics make the song very heartfelt and blissful. The beat produced by none other than Kno is beautiful. It sounds very exotic, euphoric and colorful giving Natti and Tunji a great platform to lay down their romantic encounters. It provides the perfect sound to the atmosphere and setting the song implies making you feel in South California. It's a great song that I highly recommend. 

39- Kanye West - Atmosphere:
This song comes off of Atmosphere's latest album Southsiders, which was actually a solid album. While Slug's style has changed a bit, I do still think he raps well and puts together great songs. Kanye West is a prime example of that. The beat sounds great, it's very synthy and bassy, the female vocals were nice, and the piano sample was cool. It is produced by none other than Ant. The lyrics revolve around the idea of love and, in his own words, Slug uses Kanye because "It’s about when you love something so much that people misinterpret that as something bad because you just don’t give a (expletive). The truth is that you don’t give a (expletive) because you love it so much and some people just don’t understand. To me, Kanye, himself, exemplifies this concept. Kanye is slang to me for loving something too much." It's a beautiful song that I highly recommend.

38- Step Masters - Step Brothers (The Alchemist & Evidence):
Lord Steppington is one of those albums that came out so early in 2014 that I feel many people forgot about it. It is the long awaited collaborative effort from West Coast MCs and producers Evidence and Alchemist. As expected, the album was stellar, featuring great beats and hard core bars. Step Masters is one of the lead singles from this album and it is a perfect representation of what you could expect from this album. The beat is atmospheric, hard hitting yet still loud. Evidence and Alchemist come thought with great braggadocios bars, but still manage to bring energy to a pretty spacious beat. If you haven't listened to Lord Steppington, listen to this track because it will let you know what you're in for.

37- House Rules (Intro) - Slaughterhouse (Crooked I, Joel Ortiz, Royce da 5'9" & Joe Budden):
As the title implies, this song is the title track and the intro to their 2014 mixtape House Rules. The mixtape came out earlier in the year but I remember bumping it hard when it came out. This track is a great start to the mixtape. All 4 members bring energy to a grand beat, and this intro serves as a bar fest. I like how Joel starts the track and the rap-singing Royce does in the middle of his verse. Crooked is vicious as always and Budden had a solid verse. Its a great start to a solid mixtape. Check it out!

36- Cody Macc - Cozz:
Cody Macc is the real name of Dreamville MC Cozz, a rapper I've been sleeping on. I only just recently listened to his album Cozz & Effect and I regret not listening to it earlier because it may have had a shot at my top 15 if I gave it more spins. Until then, this track is why I like Cozz. His flow is excellent, the beat is amazing, and what sold me was his energy and aggression. He just goes off! Here he talks about the frustrations with his life, career, women and other materialistic things. Its a great track and it makes me go back to the album all the time. Give it a listen and if you like what you hear listen to the album. I highly recommend it!

35- Hands Up - Vince Staples:
This track is my standout track from Vince Staples great EP titled Hell Can Wait. Ever since his verse on Hive, I've been waiting for Vince Staples to drop a solid project and Hell Can Wait delivered. The reason why I loved this song the most is because it deals with an issue that made headlines this year with Mike Brown, Eric Garner and other cases: Police brutality, specifically towards African-Americans. He talks about people who were a product of police brutality and the hook on this song is done in a very clever way. Vince tells the listener to put their hands up, but in a meaning that fits the song. Its a riveting track that I highly recommend.

34- 24 Freestyle - VMG (QuESt, Castro, Jon Bellion & Logic):
This was a track that was released on Logic's 24th birthday. It features VMG artists Jon Bellion, and Castro as well as Logic (along with QuESt who is no longer a VMG artist I believe, but he was at the time). They rhyme over a great beat with an Asian flavor that is produced by Logic himself. QuESt kicks the freestyle off and to me is the best on the whole song. He kills it with great bars and immaculate flows, especially the double-triple time he does near the end when the beat stops. Castro has a brief but dope verse. Jon Bellion actually steps out of his comfort zone and raps, when he's usually known for singing. He is braggadocios, funny and totally holds his own. Logic ends the track off perfectly with great bars and information about his upcoming album at the time. Its a great track for the Hip-Hop heads so check it out!

33- Lilies (Feat. Sirah) - Lupe Fiasco:
2014 featured Lupe dropping some mediocre to whack tracks that include Next To It, Pussy, and even Mission (which had great content but a weak beat and hook, sorry). Later in the year, Lupe announced that he will release a mixtape called Lost in the Atlantic, which he claims is a project he's doing because Atlantic Records refuse to release his album. I took it as bullshit because he's done this before and tricked us, but whatever. This song however is actually one of his best songs in a while, possibly since Around My Way. The beat is great and Lupe is actually flowing pretty well on this beat, something they he hasn't done well in while in my opinion. The content is typical Lupe, but done well. The hook is the weakest part, but it gets better after multiple listens. So be sure to check this track out, and I hope his upcoming album Tetsuo & Youth will be dope like this (but I still have my doubts though).

32- Love Don't Live Here No More (Feat. Kandace Springs) - Ghostface Killah:
This track right here is the second track on Ghostface Killah's newest album 36 Seasons which actually made my top 15 albums of 2014. This song is one of the coldest songs I heard all year. Ghostface raps about finally being released from prison after 9 years (hence 36 seasons) and happily going over to his girl's place to finally see her. However, when he gets there, he finds out that she moved on and is with another man. As a result, Ghostface is heartbroken and feels betrayed. It's a story that I'm sure many guys can relate to (with the exception of the 9-year jail sentence part). The hook is beautifully sung by Kandace Springs and it makes the song feel very tragic. It's a great song and I highly recommend it.

31- Kiss the Ring (Feat. Elzhi & Fashawn) - Markis Precise:
I'm gonna be honest when I say I've never heard of Markis Precise. From what I've read he's a producer from the West Coast, but I've never heard any of his other material. The way I got to this track was when I heard Elzhi had a new song. This got me pumped up because Elzhi has been one of my favorite rappers for a while and he barely puts out music. Fashawn is also on this track, and he does great, but Elzhi steals the show for me easily. The beat is great. Its very soulful which is the perfect type of beat for these two rappers to go over. This is a track made for the Hip-Hop heads so be sure to check it out.

30- First Step - Diamond District (Uptown XO, yU & Oddisee):
Another track for the Hip-Hop heads, First Track is the first official song after the intro on Diamond District's latest album March on Washington, which was a very solid album. The beat is produced by Oddisee himself and all three rappers lay solid bars. They are all boom-bap type rappers but going over this beat still made listening to the song interesting because it doesn't sound boom-bap-ish. Personally, I thought Oddisee stole the show, but they all did their thing. So be sure to check this song out.

29- Fight Or Flight - Lil Herb:
Lil Herb was a total surprise for me because I did not expect to like him at all. I assumed his style was similar to Cheef Keef, Lil Durk, and Lil Bibby (which is not a shot to those artists, its just not my thing). However, even though Lil Herb raps about similar topics, he's the first rapper from that crew to grab me on a lyrical level. He's very aggressive, passionate, and he has great flow and all of these characteristics can be found on this track. This song can be found on his awesome 2014 mixtape Welcome to Fazoland, which didn't get as much credit as it deserved. This track has Lil Herb rapping about what motivates him to keep going, his street cred, and it moves into the next track on the mixtape very well. The beat is great. It contains a nice soul sample and a weird 8-bit sounding sample during the hook. Its a great introductory track for Lil Herb and I highly recommend it.

28- The Shady XV Cypher - Eminem, Yelawolf & Slaughterhouse:
The Shady XV compilation was a pretty disappointing collection of mediocre songs. However, the cypher that came out in promotion for the compilation was excellent. It features most of the Shady Records roster laying down great verses. Crooked I kicks it off with a great verse and probably my favorite right behind Eminem, however give him an extra couple of minutes and he may have over took Em. Joe Budden follows with a pretty underwhelming verse, but the momentum picks back up when Yelwolf comes in. His verse is performed so creatively and his backdrop was probably my favorite. Joel Ortiz was dope, but I felt his verse was a bit too short. Royce and Em finish the cypher off perfectly, with the latter going on for well over 6-7 minutes. If I were to rank them, I would order them as follows: Eminem > Crooked I > Yelawolf  > Royce da 5'9" > Joel Ortiz  > Joe Budden. Be sure to check it out.

27- Droog's Anthem - Your Old Droog:
There's no other way of explaining what this song is other than a dope rapper spitting. Recently, Your Old Droog has been doing many interviews and concerts to get his name in more people's minds because of the whole Nas controversy that was going on in the beginning of the year. Now with his debut album, he is almost at a point where he has removed himself from that image. Droog's Anthem was my favorite from the album/EP because it was more upbeat and fun to listen to again and again. It's one of the few songs that has an actual hook that is actually pretty catchy. Droog is spitting crazy over a very East Coast beat, giving this song a very 90's feel. So be sure to check this song out. It's dope!

26- Easy Rider - Action Bronson:
Action Bronson is one of the coolest and funniest dudes in rap right now. Aside from his eccentric personal life, his rhymes are packed with funny, absurd, and very explicit references. Easy Rider is his lead single for his upcoming album Mr. Wonderful and it is produced by Party Supplies whom Action Bronson has already collaborated with on his Blue Chips mixtapes. The beat sounds awesome, something that can be taken out of a 70s action movie or something. It's very catchy and it's impressive to see a rapper like Action Bronson rap so effortlessly over a beat like this. Action tells a story of being on acid in the mountains, having a crazy night, waking up naked at the Hilton with a girl that looks like Seal's cousin, and even playing some Coltrane music! The song ends with a very good guitar solo. The video is crazy, but still super dope so be sure to check it out if you haven't!

25- The Neighborhood (Feat. Cocaine 80's & Lil Herb) - Common:
Even though Common's Nobody's Smiling was pretty disappointing to me, it was still a good album with many songs being some of the best of the year. My favorite however is the opening track to the album titled The Neighborhood. It starts with James Fauntleroy of Cocaine 80's singing about troubled youths and the bad decisions they make by joining gangs. Common then spits a dope verse over a Curtis Mayfield sample about him coming up in Chicago describing his life and Lil Herb follows up with the same content but the timeline has moved to the current scene in Chicago. This is great because it helps show how the city has changed in many ways, but still suffers from the same problems. Lil Herb sounds aggressive and steals the show surprisingly but Common sounds great as usual. Its a stellar start to the album and definitely worth checking out!

24- Break The Bank - ScHoolboy Q:
I still think ScHoolboy Q's Oxymoron was a great album and even though I don't play it as much anymore, some tracks, especially this one, still get played on my phone. As the title implies, Break the Bank features ScHoolboy rapping viciously about blowing up and being the best at what he does. He references his drug dealing days, his gangster affiliations, and even takes a shot at Kendrick telling him that he's taking the throne. His delivery is incredible, and with each bar ScHoolboy gets more aggressive. The beat is produced by the legendary Alchemist and it sounds awesome. It's probably the most hardhitting track on the album and one of The Alchemist's best in a while in my opinion. Be sure to check this song out if you haven't, especially if you're into hard core Gangsta Rap.

23- Ego Death (Feat. Aesop Rock & Danny Brown) - Busdriver:
I've always admired Busdriver, but from distance if I can say that because he always sounded creative and eccentric but I still couldn't get into most of his music. I can say that about his latest album Perfect Hair as well, but in that album were many gems including Ego Death. Before I get into the verses, I have to mention the stellar beat produced by Jeremiah Jae, a producer I'm not familiar with. It sounds very dense, heavy, and cacophonous. It sounds perfect and is probably one of my favorite beats of the year hands down. Busdriver kicks the track off with the best verse in my opinion. His verse is very dense and his flow is excellent. Aesop Rock follows with a solid verse and Danny Brown finishes the track off with a typical dope aggressive Danny Brown verse. Don't ask me what they're rapping about, I'm still trying to decypher it. The hook is surprisingly catchy for a song this coded. All in all, it's a great track that I high recommend!

22- Sanctified (Feat. Kanye West & Big Sean) - Rick Ross:
Love him or hate him (I personally don't like him that much), you can't deny that this track sounds absolutely amazing. Coming from his 6th studio album Mastermind, which was actually okay, Sanctified is a stellar display of braggadocios raps. The beat is produced by Kanye West and DJ Mustard and it sounds gorgeous. The soul singing adds to the classiness of the track and I wish Kanye did more beats like this instead of the ones on Yeezus. Thankfully, Big Sean only does the hook and has no verse, but I did hear he initially did have a verse but it was scratched off (thank God!). Kanye kicks it off with a hilarious verse going at the people that criticized him for Yeezus, saying he'll make another one for the fans, and ends the verse off in a hilariously blasphemous and over the top way of saying God sent him a message saying that he's being too aggressive. Rick Ross drops an okay verse, it does the job and keeps the momentum of the track without ruining it. Overall, the song sounds great and I still play it regularly. Check it out if you haven't!

21- Understand (Feat. Dice Raw & Greg Porn) - The Roots:
Understand comes from the 11th album ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin from legendary Hip-Hop band The Roots. Even though I still thought the album was good, it was probably my biggest disappointment of year at the time because it did not live up to Undun and will probably rank last or second-to-last in terms of Roots albums for me. Still, this band is so good that their worst album is still solid so I'm not trying to knock on their craft. Back to the track, Understand is an amazing song. It has a great beat filled with awesome organ samples, hand claps and drums. Dice Raw does the hook, and it's absolutely amazing. He talks about how people search for God, but soon give up and shake their hands when God comes with help, alluding to the fear people have for change. Black Though, like usual, has a stellar verse delivered from the perspective of a drug dealer who wants to leave his hustle but is on the verge of death. Greg Porn also delivers a verse that has some clever wordplay, especially with the "pay for my sins" line. It's a short track with a lot to digest so be sure to check it out, you won't be disappointed!

20- Parental Advisory - Jay Rock:
Jay Rock has been releasing flawless verses ever since he dropped Follow Me Home back in 2011. From the Numbers on the Boards remix, his feature on ScHoolboy's Los Awesome, the Black Hippy track Black Lip Bastard, and Kendrick's Money Trees, I've been looking forward to Jay Rock's next album for a minute. Unfortunately it did not drop in 2014. However, we got a stellar song to hold us on till it does drop titled Parental Advisory. The content, delivery, and production can all be described as follows: classic West Coast Gangsta Rap. Jay Rock is as aggressive as ever, and drops some vicious rhymes. The beat is nuts and I'm pretty sure I heard Ab-Soul's vocals during the hook. It's a great track that we can bump till the album drops, and I'm sure the day it does will be a great day for Hip-Hop. Be sure to check this track out if you're a die-hard West Coast Hip-Hop fan. 

19- Mt. Olympus - Big K.R.I.T.:
When I talk about Mt. Olympus, I'm referring to the original version and NOT the Reprise version on the deluxe edition of the album. I personally did not like the simplification of the beat that was done on the album version. The original version has a great beat that sounds very luxurious and grandiose and is perfect because it makes Big K.R.I.T.'s delivery sound even more powerful. Big K.R.I.T. delivers a relentless speedy flow that he's not usually known for. He raps about his place in Hip-Hop, the Kendrick-Control controversy, and the respect he deserves in the industry. Although he won't admit it, I'm pretty sure the hook contain shots at Miley Cyrus but more importantly Drake, and I'm surprised not a lot of people have pointed this out. It's an awesome track the proves Big K.R.I.T. is not a rapper you want to mess with on a lyrical level. Be sure to check it out if you haven't!

18- Lunch Money - Pusha T:
Pusha T has been on a roll lately. He dropped his official solo debut My Name Is My Name last year to great reviews and a spot on my top 10 albums of 2013! Not only that but his track Nosetalgia with Kendrick Lamar was my favorite song of 2013 as well! It seems like Pusha T wants to keep the momentum going. After MNIMN, Pusha T announced that he will soon release a new solo album titled King Push and Lunch Money is the first taste that we have received so far. So how does it sound? F**king amazing! The beat is produced by Kanye West and it sounds so weird and unorthodox. It is something I would have never imagined Pusha T rapping over. However, Pusha T delivers great verses and manages to ride the beat well with his charisma and energy. The hook is great, Pusha T drops some braggadocios bars, and claims that he's the only dope boy quotable. The beat-change near the end is awesome and the track as a whole is one of the best bangers of the year. If you haven't checked it out yet be sure to do so. You'll be missing out if you skip this one!

17- Better In Tune With The Infinite (Feat. LaTonya Givens) - Jay Electronica:
When it comes to Jay Electronica, there are two main questions that people ask: "Where the f**k is Jay Electronica?" and "When the f**k is Act II coming out?". For me personally, I believe that the album will come out eventually, but we still have a long wait. So I decided to stop caring until an actual date is announced. However, earlier in the year, Jay Elect dropped this gem which actually made me think Act II was coming because the title "Better In Tune With The Infinite" was on the leaked tracklist from a couple of years back. Act II obviously did not come out, but this song is still beautiful. It starts off with a monologue by Elijah Mohammad and then an excerpt from The Wizard of Oz. Then Jay Elect spits for about 50 seconds on some deep shit. "It's frustrating when you just can't express yourself" he raps and continues about his feelings towards himself and his music, and then concludes that both entities can never die. The vocals at the end are beautifully sung and the overall aesthetic of the song is powerful and uplifting. It's a great track for self-promotion and it serves as a great feel-good song. Be sure to check it out if you haven't yet!

16- The Imperial (Feat. Action Bronson, Royce da 5'9" & Black Thought) - Statik Selektah:
This song comes off of underground East-Coast producer Statik Selektah's 6th studio album What Goes Around, which is an album filled with great collabs over nice soulful, old-school sounding beats. The best song is easily The Imperial. Why? Well you get Action Bronson dropping a hilarious verse and Royce da 5'9" following up with a pretty solid verse with nice wordplay and great flow. But that's not what makes this song stellar. At 4 mins, Action Bronson and Royce take up like 2 mins, leaving the rest for Black Though to knock this out of the f**king park. What happens when you give Black Though, the GOAT, 2 mins to rap? You get one of the best verses of the year. You get stellar wordplay, immaculate flows, amazing delivery, and quotables for days. My favorite is easily "Now who's your top 5? Jay, Biggie, Pac, Nas? I ain't tryin' to hear another name if it's not mine!". His verse is so aggressive and authoritative that you believe this claim. He finishes the verse off perfectly making this song easily one of my favorites! Check it out! 

15- Body & Blood - clipping:
I'm gonna be honest when it comes to clipping. I listened to Midcity and CLPPNG and even though I enjoy the rapping and some of the production, they weren't albums I was absolutely in love with. I respect those albums, but they're not for me. I thought CLPPNG was great in parts, but there was a chunk of 4-5 songs in the middle that I wasn't feeling. However, the second song on this album titled Body & Blood was a song that I thought was stellar. The production is loud and chilling and it makes your skin crawl, which is appropriate for the content. In the song, MC Daveed Diggs raps about a sexy woman that lures men in only to kill and eat them. It's a f**ked up concept that resembles something from a horror movie but I have to give credit where credit is due. Diggs sounds great on a beat, his flow is vicious, and his rhymes are actually impressive. It's done very well and even the hook is ironically appropriate. It's not something that I feel many people can get into, but it's definitely worth checking out if you want to step out of your comfort zone.

14- Napoleon - CyHi The Prynce:
It was very hard for me to leave out CyHi The Prynce's stellar come-back mixtape Black Hystori Project from my top 15 favorite albums of the year. It was easily one of the most solid and consistent mixtapes of the year. Hell, give me time and I might end up removing Ab-Soul's album and placing it at the #15 spot. Until then, if you still have you doubts about CyHi, check Napoleon out and you will feel embarrassed for sleeping on this talented MC. In the song, CyHi compares his aggression and passion to that of historical figure Napoleon, then continues with bars over bars with no hook. The amount of words he rhymed with Napoleon is outstanding. What makes this song so much more impressive is CyHi's great metaphors, and on this song his displays possibly the best wordplay in a track all year. Lines like "Remember selling nicks at night, no Nickelodeon/Now I'm pulling chicks at night feelin' like Scorpion", "But, I went into some classes overseas/Now all I do is study abroad... Get it? Study a broad?" and "Huh, and rap is like college/I'm working on my doctorate cause I already mastered it" stand out easily. The beat produced by M16 is excellent as well and provides a perfect platform for CyHi to go off. If you haven't checked this track out, get off your ass and do so. You will not be disappointed!

13- Turkey Dog Coma - Flying Lotus:
Flying Lotus put together one of the most creative albums of the year with You're Dead! Now unfortunately, I'm not the best at describing the technical aspect of beats because that's not my expertise. As a result, I won't be able to tell exactly what makes this song amazing in technical terms. However, I can say that this song contains probably the best musical moment of 2014. FlyLo put everything into this song and it sounds very soulful. I'm not saying it sounds like something J Dilla would make but it gives me the same feeling. I noticed that the song actually has 3 phases, the first being very energetic and exciting, the second being more simple but more emotional and even romantic in ways, and the last phase is very smooth and atmospheric and blends into the next song perfectly. It truly is a great song and it saves the album from the underwhelming Dead Man's Tetris. If you haven't checked it out, be sure to do so. You won't be disappointed!

12- Courtesy - PRhyme (Royce da 5'9" & DJ Premiere):
I loved the new self-titled collaborative effort from Royce and Premo and PRhyme landed in my top 15 list! It was awesome seeing DJ Premiere step out of his comfort zone and but together beats by sampling only from Adrian Younge. It showed his skill and versatility as a producer and just goes to show why he's one of the best. However, my favorite song from the album is one that sounds like a typical Premo beat and it is titled Courtesy. This track sounds incredible. It is lead by an organ sample and has scratching in between the verses instead of a hook. This formula is typical classic Premo. Then, Royce lays down a couple of verses filled with bars-over-bars of classic boom-bap Detroit style lyricism with that classic unorthodox Royce flow that he's famous for. He's flow is pretty much the definition of what a lyrical MC should sound like. He has punchlines for days, great metaphors, and excellent delivery. Be sure to check this track out if you haven't, especially if you're a Hip-Hop head!

11- R.I.P. Kevin Miller - Isaiah Rashad:
I've said this before, Cilvia Demo was surprisingly the best TDE album to come out this year and it was great enough to land on my top 15 list. While I do think Soliloquy is better lyrically, R.I.P. Kevin Miller is so catchy and so well put together that I played it more than anything from Cilvia Demo. The beat is absolutely fantastic; the piano is chilling and the beat itself is very atmospheric and nocturnal. I just love this beat so much. Then, Isaiah comes in with some dope bars about his home town, drugs, his aspirations, and his overall skill as an MC and hook writer. It's very braggadocios but it sounds so good! I love the way he rapped this song in at least 2 or 3 inflections but layered them all on top of each other making it sound so gutter and raw. When he says "I'm just tryin' to make the top fall off", chills run down my spine every time. It's a great track from a rapper that has potential of being one of the best in the game. I can't wait till Isaiah Rashad drops a new project. Be sure to listen to and support this dude's music!

10- Dark Comedy Morning Show (Feat. Toy Light) - Open Mike Eagle:
Open Mike Eagle's stellar 2014 album Dark Comedy, which landed at the #3 spot on my top 15 favorite albums list, was an album I felt was made for me. His awkward sense of humor and witty punchlines appealed to me and made his album easily one of my favorites. From Qualifiers to Doug Stamper to Idaho to A History of Modern Dance, this album was filled with excellent songs that I was considering for this list. However, I decided to choose the song that serves as a perfect start to the album; Dark Comedy Morning Show. First of all, the beat is amazing. It sounds very layered and well produced, it has a weird guitar base that is really hard to describe so listen to it for yourself. The vocals that land near the end of the track are hauntingly beautiful and the hook is very nice and done by Open Mike Eagle himself. When it comes to the rapping, Open Mike Eagle displays witty punchlines, awkward bars, and hilarious references that grabbed me immediately. The opening bars alone stood out as soon as I heard them: "Dark comedy, cold as the ocean/Add a 'lol' cause nobody seems to know when I'm joking/For those who haven't heard of me/I'm bad at sarcasm so I work in absurdity". Excellent song so be sure to check it out! It's a great start to a damn near flawless album.

9- Untitled (Feat. Anna Wise, Bilal, Terrace Martin & Thundercat) - Kendrick Lamar:
There is speculation that this track will be featured on Kendrick's upcoming album. It was performed on one of the last episodes of The Colbert Report and we still do not have the CD quality of the song. And I'm gonna be honest, if I did have the CDQ, this song would be ranked way higher. The  unmastered version held it back from being in my top 3 because lyrically this song is absolutely incredible. In this song, Kendrick is attempting to spit game at a female, but ends up telling her about the career advice he got from Asian, Indian, Black, and White men. As a result, he displays the stereotypes associated with these different cultures, but how ultimately all want to give Kendrick something, with the exception of the White man that wants to capitalize on Kendrick's talent by taking it away for profit. The Asian man tells Kendrick to search within himself, the Indian man tells him to invest in property, and the Black man tells him to focus on women and sex. The saxophone interlude by Terrace Martin is breathtaking. Kendrick finishes off the track with words of wisdom, telling people to stay true to their art as well as words to empower black people after the Ferguson and Eric Garner incidents. It's an amazing song and I can't wait for the mastered official version!

8- Shitsville - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib:
This track from Freddie Gibbs & Madlib's acclaimed album Pinata is a modern take at the hypocrisy in our society. Freddie rants about how people will criticize him for doing things that may seem immoral, wrong, or illegal but are fake because they aren't perfect either. At the end of the day, no one is God so we shouldn't be criticizing others for not being perfect. The hook for this song is great and finishes off saying "You motherf**kers just like me, but you acting like your shit don't stink". Freddie Gibbs raps with a lot of energy and conviction and displays excellent double-time. His flow sounds perfect and you believe what Freddie Gibbs has to say. The beat produced by the legendary Madlib is, as expected, excellent. It's very well produced, layered, and it has a great flow to match that of Freddie's rapping. It's a perfect coupling of beats and lyrics that will satisfy any Hip-Hop head. If you haven't listened to this track, be sure to do so!

7- Tree of Life - Ab-Soul:
Ab-Soul's latest album These Days... was a great album, landing the last spot on my top 15 (however this may change as I've been considering bumping it down for CyHi). Tree of Life was the first track to leak from the album and it serves as the lead single. It is produced by Curtiss King and the beat sounds incredible. It sounds like something not many rappers would touch, but a creative MC like Ab-Soul takes this track and rides it perfectly. On this song, Ab-Soul displays clever wordplay and punchlines, especially on the third verse that follows the Joey Bada$$ sample. He raps about weed, nature, money and his career by comparing them to trees. The song also has a catchy hook with a Jay-Z reference when he goes "Breathe easy". The album version also includes a short freestyle over a very creative and glitchy beat produced by DJ Dahi. It features even more lyrical overload and wordplay in which Ab-Soul raps using his name in the majority of his bars. It's this type of creative wordplay from Ab-Soul that proves that he still has it in terms of being dope and thought-provoking with his rhymes.

6- Under Pressure - Logic:
Of course you guys should know that when I say Under Pressure, I'm referring to the extended album version and not the short single version. When the single leaked, it got me excited. Not because of the great energy and flow Logic was using, but with how the song ended with a sample of the story telling that may be present on the album. When I got the album, I noticed that the album version is a monster, standing at a little bit over 9 minutes. The first part of the song is a banger with a great hook, were Logic has clever wordplay saying "Every diamond in my chain is a milestone". His energy, flow, and delivery is excellent. However, when the song mellows out to a jazzy beat and Logic starts rapping from the perspective of his sister, father, and himself is when the song goes from being good to incredible. The beat produced by Logic himself is great and fits perfectly with the sincere and heartfelt mood. Logic raps from the perspective of his sister, who hasn't heard from Logic in a while and has resorted to popping pills. She also talks about her getting raped when she was younger and how her boyfriend who beats her left. He then talks from the perspective of his father who is very proud of his accomplishments but asks him to stop talking about his drug habits. He also calls him for favors and other materialistic things for his new girlfriend after which Logic hangs up the phone. We get a short interlude of his brother calling which is very emotional. Logic wraps up the song by rapping from his own perspective, apologizing to his family for not being there when he was focusing on his craft. He talks about how people he doesn't know have been asking him favors and how his relationship with his mother ended. It showed me that Logic is capable of being a great story teller and painting pictures with his rhymes. Please check out this track, especially the extended version. You will not be disappointed.

5- Jazz - Mick Jenkins:
On his critically acclaimed mixtape The Water[s], which should've been an album in my opinion, Mick Jenkins relates water to positive things including health, prosperity, truth, and power. On this song, he is relating it to truth, while the lies are expressed when people keep "talking all that jazz", hence the title. The concept of the track alone is incredible. Mick Jenkins makes references to many jazz musicians including James Moody, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck and many more in his attempt to tie the concept of the track together. Even if the concept goes over your head, like it did at the beginning for me, the overall sound of the track is excellent. I still believe that this track is one of, if not, the most well put together tracks of 2014. The bars are very dense and are filled with jabs at many stereotypes and things he finds unpleasant, such as rappers that bite each others styles for money as well as groupies. The beat produced by OnGaud is great. It starts off very smooth an mellow but as the verse continues and the hook comes in it becomes more dynamic and explosive. The hook itself is one of the catchiest hooks of the year displaying Mick's ability to write infectious hooks while still giving you dense bars. It's a damn near perfect track that I play all the time so be sure to check it out!

4- Fire Squad - J. Cole:
I call J. Cole's latest album 2014 Forest Hills Drive a come-back album because it truly showed Cole returning to his roots of being personal, cocky, and lyrical without sacrificing his art for radio play or derivative cliches. It got rid of the cheesy hooks that were on Born Sinner and it features J. Cole back to form. My favorite track from this album, and also his most controversial, was easily Fire Squad. The beat sounded very old-school and J. Cole rapping over this type of beat sounded very refreshing. In terms of the content, J. Cole gets straight to the point: He's the best and you can't say shit about that. While I don't agree with that, I can appreciate his cockiness. He backs it up with solid braggadocios bars and makes solid comparisons at the back end of the second verse. The third verse is when things get serious. J. Cole claims that white people have snatched the sound created by blacks and used it to blow up even more so than those who created it. I personally agree with him. He's clearly not dissing any of these artists, but he is simply pointed out how labels see the white artists more easily marketable than black ones which causes them to get richer and bigger more quickly while using black music. It's crazy to see an artist as big as him say something like this without fearing the consequences. It's a daring track filled with great bars, a great beat, a catchy hook, and a lot of conviction. I'm sure you all have heard it but if you haven't, get on it!

3- The Jungle - Pharoahe Monch:
Pharoahe Monch, a seasoned Hip-Hop veteran, was capable of coming back from W.A.R. by dropping a stellar album titled PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that actually made it into my top 15 albums of 2014. It delved into this disorder that affects millions of people ranging from war veterans, teenagers, and everyday workers. But my favorite track off this whole album is also one of my favorite songs of the year and it is titled The Jungle. So many things to say about this track. First, instrumentally this songs is great. It has a nice guitar lead that sounds very chilling that paints a grim atmosphere of New York. Then comes Pharoahe Monch with his signature flow that is absolutely immaculate on this track. He raps about how drugs have influenced the youth in New York, and how many teens take them to take on a certain image. He talks about the violent drug dealers and how they aren't people you want to mess with. When Monch comes in to tell these kids to step away from drugs, they are easily distracted by lust and their need for sex. Monch still tries to educate these kids about their heritage and some of the situations going on in the world that relate to their culture and background such as Botswana, Sudan and Ghana. He then talks about why they take the drugs and the effects they have on them. All of this is done using the metaphor of a jungle, with each character being portrayed as a certain animal and the city itself is the jungle. For example, he spits "Just then I lost the little monkey's attention/As he stared into the distance focusing and squinting at a/Beautiful gazelle that was grazing in the grass with/Muscular legs and a rhinoceros ass" referring to the kid being the "little monkey" and the attractive female being the " beautiful gazelle". It's this type of creative wordplay and metaphors that put Pharoahe Monch on another level when it comes to lyricists. It's a great song that I found myself playing over and over again all year. Check it out!

2- Early (Feat. Boots) - Run The Jewels:
I gave RTJ2 the number 1 spot on my top 15 albums list and QuESt the number 2 spot so I decided to flip things around for my favorite songs list (sorry for this spoiler). Again, I don't wanna go over what made RTJ2 possibly one of the best albums in a while for a second time because I'm sure everyone else has praised his album. Even though I mentioned Crown was probably the best song on the album, Early was the song I played the most. For one, the beat is amazing. El-P really shows his versatility as a producer by giving us a beautifully layered beat that continues to grow as the verses grow and has an explosive end. This beat doesn't sound like anything he's done before and serves as a great platform for what the content is. Killer Mike starts the track off by rapping about an incident he had with the cops when they arrested him in front of his family for possessing a small amount of weed while his little boy watched. Killer Mike comes off extremely humble in this song, states that he respects a badge and a gun, but gets arrested anyway. He talks about how guns were pointed at his family members, specifically his wife, and this just goes to show how police brutality against African-Americans still exists and is a big problem. El-P on the other hand talks about the same issue but has the real meat and potatoes behind the situation. He has a very politically charged verse; he talks about the American Civil War and how racism exists and is implemented by the government. It's great to hear both perspectives from super lyrical MCs, especially that one of them is black and the other is white. The whole song is an anthem preaching towards equality and against racism. The hook performed by Boots is the second best hook I heard all year (the first coming up soon). His glitchy vocals in the chorus and the end of the track are breathtaking and amazing to listen to. Overall, it's a damn near perfect track with great verses, a stellar beat, and an amazing vocalist on the hook. What more can you ask for?


1- Dying Words (Feat. Lizi Jai & Mickey Factz) - QuESt:
Where to start with this track? First off, I'm going to reiterate what I said before; Search Sylvan is my favorite project of 2014 along with RTJ2. This very conceptual mixtape released by QuESt follows his struggles, frustrations, and the hardships he endured to become a successful rapper. On Dying Words, QuESt reflects on his achievements and considers if he's done enough already to make an impact on the world. He talks about how he has become impatient with his career when rappers like Chance the Rapper seem to be getting bigger and bigger while he continues to remain unheard. He also talks about wishing he was closer with his family when he was younger instead of being careless and rebellious. He ends his verse making a promise to his mother that he will give her everything in the world before his dying words. It's the realest song of 2014 and it hits a core with me. Not in a long time has an artist connected with me the way QuESt does, especially on this song. Even though the overall sentiment of the song is towards a positive outcome, the way the hook is sung sounds so tragic and it completely juxtaposes that of the verses making the hook a real tear jerker. This is the best hook I've heard in a long time. I can't remember the last time a hook made me feel this way, especially in what is being said which I will share here:

"In our dying words
Will we make the right decision
In our dying words
Will we say just how we feel
In our final hour
Will we be able to speak
To the ones we miss the most
For it's only god we seek
In our dying words"
The song ends with an excellent spoken word piece by Mickey Factz who according to the Searching Sylvan Website is a mentor and close friend to QuESt. It's packed with moving poetic rhymes about whether our art will last or vanish but leaves the listener with an optimistic tone. It's a damn near perfect end to a damn near perfect song. I have no issues with this track. It's my favorite of the year and I don't see myself taking this statement back. So please, check out this song, but I would recommend you listen to this track within the context of the mixtape for a greater punch. Also, be sure to support QuESt and buy his music in the future. Enjoy!

So what were your favorite songs of the year? What are you looking forward to in 2015? What do you think of my list? Did I miss anything? Please let me know by leaving a comment. Have a great year everyone!

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