With 2014 coming to a close, it’s only fair that I give my top 8 hip hop albums of the year. As a music junkie, I thoroughly enjoyed music from every genre…but the hip hop impressed me. The hip hop lives! For me, this year has proven that the hip hop genre exist in various sub categories. There is no way one can look at the music and dissect it, vibe to it, and criticize it all under the same microscope. With that in mind, I paid attention to the production, the cohesiveness of each project, the story told by each artist, lyrical content and delivery. Each of the projects selected broke barriers in one way or another and ignited the left half of my brain. These are my personal picks and my most listened to hip hop albums of this year. I’m DropaJewel, and I’m running for mayor.
- Greenspan- Stairway To Heaven
You should’ve seen this coming. Greenspan dropped Stairway to Heaven in January and didn’t hesitate to make a big impact as usual. The album has a classy, mellow, laid back feel. Features include Kissi B, Dunson, Kane Mayfield, Lee Scholar and Al Great to name a few.
Key Tracks: Heaven, Soul Right, Do Your Thing
- Common- Nobody’s Smiling
This album dropped in July of this year, and it was perfect timing for the state of the African American community all over. The album was a bit heavy but overall a good listen. No ID never disappoints, damnit.
Key Tracks: Kingdom, Speak My Piece, Hustle Harder
- Logic- Under Pressure
It does my heart good to have so many Maryland artists in this top 8 lineup. Logic shocked some of America when he ripped the BET cipher and then followed up with this solid album. I admit, he has some Kendrick-esque tendencies in reference to flow, but he’s still spitting nevertheless. The album is super laid back, but you barely skip a track.
Key Tracks: Buried Alive, Under Pressure, Metropolis
- Aj Suede- Gold and Fire
Without so many dope albums out this year, Gold and Fire could’ve EASILY been in my top 3. Aj Suede is an up and coming artist with a solid ear for music. He produced a lot of the music on this project and I was super impressed. The album dropped with a proper release in September, but his visuals leading up to it kept you hungry. I LOVE the fact that he sampled Tame Impala and spits what he feels, even if the opinion is not popular. Salute that brother!
Key Tracks: Slit Your Wrist Vertically, Don’t Over think, After Earth
- Royce Da 5’9” & Dj Premiere- Phryme
Ok so, here’s where it gets sticky! Dope album from Royce and da gawd Premiere! In my humble opinion, you have a solid hip hop album when two things are present: dope beats, dope lyrics. Done! Right? No! The album has a tendency of being overly rappy at times so that made Phryme slide a little higher on my list. Don’t hate me, still a dope album.
Key Tracks: Dat Sound Good, To Me to You, Underground Kings
- Al Great & Street Scott- GreatScott
I anticipated this album’s release like Morganites awaiting college graduation. It does not disappoint. They NEVER disappoint. This is hands down thee best release out of the city of Baltimore in 2014. Street’s beats are reminiscent of Pharrell-ish melodies and his vocals like Ryan Leslie…then he punches you in face with some drums! Bow! Al Great has the gift of gab, and an approachable flow…a relatable flow. It’s the story rap doesn’t often tell, the honest hard working brother just trying to make it in America. I’m rambling…Good effing album.
Key Tracks: Cars Ride By, Slip Away, Black Denali
- J-Live- Around the Sun
Around the Sun is by far the most slept on album of this year. J Live dropped this one back in April, and I didn’t catch wind of its greatness until damn near September. The album has a good traditional New York hip hop sound, in my humble opinion. Producers include himself, Oddisee and Korede to name a few. You can always feel the light and life through his lyrics, a necessity in this hip hop game! I will definitely cop this on vinyl, and I suggest you do the same.
Key Tracks: Eight Minutes, Not Listening, Money Matters
- Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 2
Coming in at number one, RTJ2! This joint is stupid hot and El-P and Killer Mike give you hell, literally. The beats are quite sinister, dark, heavy and busy. They will break your car speakers. In comparison to other hip hop albums of the year, I can say this is the most creative of all. RTJ2 is all spit, no filler. I think P and Mike filled this years gap in hip hop for all raw and southern swing. The icing on the cake for this album, for me, was that it broke the damn internet. Not only were ALL the credible hip hop blogs promoting and raving about it, but the project lived up to the hype. How do you chart billboard as a free download? Stellar work.
Key Tracks: All of them!
Some honorable mentions for this list included: Rickie Jacobs- Remember To Smile & Rapsody- Beauty and The Beast.
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