What’s even sadder than the pithy amount of stellar studio, hip-hop releases last year is the fact that some of us missed out on so many great projects. As the year wound down and our end of the year lists were being put together, a few projects passed by me that I felt inclined to check out. Being so late in the year, not enough time was invested in listening to these projects to really give them a fair shot as a contender for a year-end list.
Then, come January, after reading so many other lists, many more projects started making their way onto my phone. I wanted to sample so many mixtapes and albums that I had either not entertained yet (for some, inexcusable reason), or projects I simply had not even heard of. So I thought, how many projects did I really miss out on it? A ton.
So I put these projects in a pile and decided to confess to you the albums that I slept on. Yes, the editor-in-chief of a hip-hop website dedicated to waking up the interwebs about hip-hop they missed, has missed out on music of his own. But alas, I have learned and am here to bring shine to some great projects you’ll slap your forehead thinking, “Stone…how could you sleep on this!?” and then there’ll be projects where you’ll thank me for putting you on to. In no particular order, here are the Top Ten Hip-Hop Albums We (or I) Missed in 2014.
This one completely missed my radar. It wasn’t until staff writer B.C. put this as a contender for his album of the year list that I got familiar with the project.
The L.A. hip-hop trio does weird in all the right ways. Trendsetters in hip-hop are heavy in the game right now, so it’s great when artists try something new – I mean really new.
Clipping.‘s album CLPPNG is the epitome of being different in a genre awash with familiar sounds. Rapper Daveed Diggs displays a very technical skill over producers Jonathan Snipes and William Huston’s noisy, industrial beats. If you’re searching for that new sound, something totally left-field, give CLPPNG a try.
Stream | iTunes | Amazon.
Kevin Abstract: MTV1987
Texas hip-hop is off the charts, right? Let’s just consider Kevin Abstract and his retro project MTV1987. The 17 year-old rapper dropped this project after working with Connecticut producer Romil.
While MTV1987 has it’s very own distinctive flavor, I can’t help but feel a relatable notion that I heard many years ago. I can’t be the only one that draws the similarity between Kevin Abstract and Romil, and Kid Cudi and Dot da Genius/Emile.
Kevin Abstract features the sounds of a teenager with many emotions expressing them through lyrics of edgy, synth-filled production. This project is a retro refreshment and one you won’t want to miss (like I did).
Stream | Download.
Topaz Jones: The Honeymoon Suite
I got put on to Topaz Jones after hearing his stand-out verse on Thelonious Martin’s Wünderkid record that also dropped last year. Jones’ sharp flow drew me after one listen of the verse, and so I quickly grabbed his solo effort, The Honeymoon Suite.
The project is laced with something of 80s sounds expertly coupled with traditional hip-hop drum patterns and funk rhythms. It’s vibrant and fun and Jones has a flow that shows versatility as much as it shows technical skill. He never sticks to one style, whether he’s singing or rapping, and he’s never overbearing with too much experimentation. Definitely check out Topaz Jones’ incredible sounds on The Honeymoon Suite.
Stream | Download.
Pell: Floating While Dreaming
New Orleans rapper Pell doesn’t sound like your traditional southern rapper, but geographic location doesn’t seem to be like a good indicator of an artist’s style these days, anyway. Pell focuses on a nearly endless flow and feel good rhymes. Over deep, dynamic production, Pell impresses in many ways: his cadence is impeccable; he plays around with melodic stanzas and even full out singing; and he stands out as more than a rapper, but a songwriter.
Floating While Dreaming was a terrible project to sleep on because it stands out as one of the best projects of the year, period. While some of the album may blend together too much, there are too many standouts for this project to be forgotten.
Stream | iTunes | Amazon.
Black El: L_ST
The Bostonian emcee travels to excellent heights by offering smoky, poignant thoughts parallel to repetitive and compressed hooks. L_ST offers enough in its duration to cast a spell over listeners through the warped soundscapes and fuzzy autotuned singing.