14: Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste
I’ll admit, I had been anticipating this album since the drop of track ‘212’ (over a year ago). I remember when I first heard it, my boyfriend at the time was showing me her video clip saying she reminded him of me. I was flattered but also confused as to what. Obviously we don’t share similar physical features, but following that track the attention that followed her deteriorated from her music to her “outspoken-ness”. Throwing shade left, right, front and centre via all media outlets, I realised the comparison. She’s a little abrupt, but in a funny way. And even though she’s been projected by the media as an aggressive young African American female (as to defer anyone taking her words seriously), others who identify with her, know better. This album has some fun party tracks (following in 212’s footsteps), my personal favourite being ‘Soda’. But the album also shows her obvious musical skill with tracks like Wallace where she overlays her own harmonic vocals. Her tight flow is highlighted in ‘Heavy Metal and Reflective’ and that is all I have to say about that.
13: Raekwon – We Wanna Thank You.
This album was built up using classic samples that all the greats have used. Ranging from The Isley Brothers – ‘Footsteps in the dark’ (which is infamously recognised as the beat to Ice Cubes ‘Today was a Good Day’), to Teena Marie’s ‘Ooh La La La’ (Which the Fugee’s reworked). He commemorates the unity of r’n’b, soul and hip-hop in this album, and I appreciate him all over again for it.
12: Pharaohe Monch – PTSD
I spent my 22nd birthday at his show last year (2013) in Wellington. After the show he shared his favourite American candies (peanut butter m&m’s), and I shared my thoughts on hip hop in 2013. Ridiculous questions I asked throughout the night include (but are not limited to): his star sign, what his thoughts were on Kanye West, and could I one day be apart of illuminati. Alongside them i also asked how far away his next works were. Despite the amount of liquor in my system, I distinctly remember him saying that when it was ready, we would all know about it. 3 years following his last album ‘W.A.R’ the wait was over, and I was so pleasantly surprised. He continues the story he started, exposing more of the world through his eyes. A real hip-hop hero.
11: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
I was instantly fascinated with the prospect of Freddie Gibbs and Madlib collaberating. Freddie Gibbs provides a somewhat raw and ‘real’ rap style. He never sounds apologetic or questionable with what he says but has a prominent, matter-of-fact tone. Madlib’s soothing beats seem almost contradictory to Gibbs. But this ying and yang duo possess a mutual harmony that makes the harsh thug-life seem brutally beautiful.
10: Little Simz – AGE 101: DROP 3|000
Released so late in the year (12 days ago via SoundCloud), it excited me as much to make my list. One of my favourite artists right now (Tiffany Gouché) reposted a song of hers and upon playing it, I knew immediately I was a fan. Check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me, (which I hope you don’t) so you too can enjoy her prowess as a female rapper in 2014.
9: @peace – Pieces & @peace and the Plutonium Noise Symphony
Although ‘Pieces’ was explicitly offcuts that didn’t make the album they actually released – ‘@peace & the Plutonium Noise Symphony’ – I played it more. I understand they aren’t comparable so I won’t bore you with attempting that. But I will say that they both have unique attributes that make them both wonderful. Pieces is humorous and light hearted with easy to listen to instrumentals. @peace and the Plutonium Noise Symphony is one of those albums you have to listen to a few times to appreciate it properly. They remind me of home with their comical, yet deep lyrical content. Sometimes when I really pay attention to what they’re saying I’m reminded of conversations I’ve had or likely to have with friends. That’s connecting through your music so props!
8: NehruvianDOOM – NehruvianDOOM
I’ll start with stating that the artwork for this album is just as on point as the musical contribution. Doom’s been on my radar for as long as I can remember. Creating classic beats with his uniquely ominous yet familiar sound, this album’s no exception. Bishop Nehru has taken a step in the right direction with this collaboration. Nehru’s definitely newer in the scene, but together they sound like your new old time favourites. It’s the album to play in the background while you do anything you don’t want to do, to make it seem worthwhile.
7: SZA – Z
She’s a queen. Her music is enthralling and feminine. ‘See.SZA.Run’ and ‘S’ had me wanting more and ‘Z’ proved worth the wait. Favourite tracks include: ‘Warm Hands (Ft. Isaiah Rashad)’ and ‘Babylon (Ft. Kendrick Lamar)’. If you’re a woman and don’t like (or worse – understand) what you hear, you may have been living your whole life as a lie, as you are probably a man.
6: Hawk House – A Handshake To The Brain
Hawk House were introduced to me by a friend who described them “like The Fugees of today”. My surprise generated the thought that ‘nothing compares to The Fugees, what an unfortunate introduction.. I’ll probably never like them now’. Their song ‘Tidal Tendencies’ proved he was not crazy (we could still be friends), and I was definitely wrong. Believe it or not, I’d even agree with that statement. At least in regard to the group members, which include a modest yet powerful female who raps poetically and sings effortlessly, and two males of equal talent, who combine powers – and create Hawk House.
5: Black Milk – If There’s A Hell Below
This talented artist claims himself a producer first and rapper second. And if you take note of that while you listen to this album, you’ll appreciate it for what it is – great music. He’s not trying to be anything other than what he is – an artist, exploring different directions and the outcome sounds honest and pure.
4: J. Cole – Forest Hills Drive
I played it on repeat. I’m sure we all did. I know Aleyna did and you can check her summary for a more detailed review, I’ll just say I loved it.
3: Ego Ella May – Breathing Underwater
I can guarantee that almost every person who has listened to this EP would sideways glance this statement and claim “it’s not hip-hop”. But do you know what I think? Fuck you. Hip hop has become such a broad genre and I’m sorry that Nicki Minaj didn’t make my cut. Soulstress Ego Ella May’s whole EP was produced by iamnobodi, and the end result is hauntingly good. I found her very early in the year when things weren’t going as they should and to this day she is my go to lady of light when i’m feeling down. In a song of her’s titled ‘Come On (Ft. Kojey Radical)’, she speaks of rapper Dom Kennedy and how a song of his inspired and encouraged her to keep going. It made me respect Dom Kennedy in a whole new light.
2: Saba – ComfortZone
If you recognise the name but haven’t got his music yet, it’s because you too enjoyed that ‘Everybody’s Something’ track he featured on for Chance The Rapper. Another Chi-town local, he’s released two mixtapes and at the very beginning of his journey. He’s intelligent and well spoken and ComfortZone is the audio evidence of that.
1: Isaiah Rashaad – Cilvia Demo mixtape
I know this mixtape was actually released in 2013, but contemplating the statistical side of things whilst doing this review – it hands down wins most plays in my iTunes library. His voice is deeply captivating and you want to really listen, despite being sidetracked by his seemingly effortless flow. His track ‘Cilvia Demo’ was my first preview before downloading the mixtape and is to this day (all those many months ago), my favourite track.
We’re from the same country so I feel like I get it.
She’s a female rapper from Chicago.. Like, that alone makes her alluring, but this song’s really good too.
I just think it’s always significant and more important to make music reflective of what’s going on in the world.
A fun summer jam. Che Fu’s such a dude!
This song is so much fun! It’s not selling out, coz it’s good. Plus Vic Mensa (so far) has been a pretty experimental artist with his sound. Watch the video clip and get into it.
Smoke a blunt to this alone and
Coz all her other tracks were released in 2013 but she still great though.
Classic banger. Play it LOUD. And try and focus more on it’s party-fun-time allure rather than who it’s dedicated to.. Coz we all know he’s just hurting Naya, he doesn’t mean it.
I played this song so much, I was starting to get the twitching eye from my ever patient housemate. No one rap’s but Kaytranada’s a famous beat maker and dj who everyone loves so argue with that logic.
Does this guy ever stop? I hope not. A combination I couldn’t have guessed but am very thankful for.
I can’t properly express with words how good this is so you just have to listen to it to understand.
I whole-heartedly love everything this woman produces, symbolises and embodies.