Everyday this week we put out a top 10 list from one of our contributors, and now we’re ending this festive week off with yours truly, Wontu. It was tough picking this list, but I tried to pick the albums that best resonated with me throughout the year. Let me know if you agree/disagree with my list in the comment section below.
Thank you for supporting and keeping up with the website since we started back in March because there’s a lot more in store for us in 2014.
10. Vic Mensa – INNANETAPE
Vic Mensa made a small name for himself with hip-hop/jazz/rock band Kids These Days, but decided to find his own sound with his debut solo project, INNANETAPE. While enlisting some solid features (Ab Soul, Chance The Rapper, BJ The Chicago Kid, etc), he holds his own and creates a distinct lane that will definitely make a name for himself in the future. From chill, jazzy tracks like “Orange Soda” and “Lovely Day” to fun tracks like “YNSP” and “RUN!,” the project is enjoyable from start to finish and I can’t wait to hear what else the young Chi-town emcee has for us in 2014.
9. YC the Cynic - GNK
YC the Cynic teams up with producer Frank Drake to really show some style on the album GNK. This project almost flew under my radar, but I was able to grasp onto it and tracks that were released prior to the album drop like, “God Complex” and “Molotovs at Posedion,” forced me to check out GNK in its entirety. YC has more to offer than a simple hip-hop track. He melodically grooves through the album with different flows and messages over Frank Drake’s sometimes eerie, sometimes jazzy, or sometimes epic production.
8. Hellfyre Club – Dorner vs. Tookie
Hellfyre Club is on the come-up, and if you didn’t know that Dorner vs. Tookie is the how-to guide on discovering the talent that dwells within the new label. With a mix of old collaborative tracks, loose singles, and brand new tracks, this is definitely a great play through and mix of genres that can only be labeled as colorful ambient trap (maybe?). The only disappointment on this project (I mean Jeremiah Jae even makes a feature, it was tough to find one) is that the newly-signed member, Anderson .Paak, is not included on the project, but that’s probably due to timing. Check out Dorner vs. Tookie and join the world of milo, Nocando, Busdriver, Open Mike Eagles, KAIL, and more.
7. Danny Brown – Old
After Danny Brown went on a feature-frenzy after the recognition he received after XXX, he gave us Old. I reviewed this album back when it came out, but it was pretty difficult due to how much thought Brown put into structuring this project. It’s literally a journey of his life from drug dealer to rockstar and the introspective aspect of going through this change. Danny Brown is able to mold a project with boom-bap and EDM-inspired production and able to make it sound right on Old.
6. Kanye West – Yeezus
It’s been a while since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and many of Kanye West‘s fans wanted part two when Yeezus dropped. While Ye kept some elements from the project, he, once again, entered a new realm with dark, explosive production and raunchy, honest lyrics. While MBDTF felt like a ballad, Yeezus feels like a rock concert that punches you in the face. All that said in the best way possible, of course. Kanye West’s ego lets him do whatever he wants to do, and it always ends up in a masterpiece in its own sense.
5. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
Chance The Rapper was seen side-by-side Vic Mensa when he was cruising along in Kids These Days. Now, he’s releasing free mixtapes that have his name buzzing around the internet left and right. He’s making a living off doing shows and Acid Rap is the reason why. Chance has such a unique sound in his flow that he’s going to stand out past other rappers. You can’t help but sing along to his adlibs like “na na na na na,” and the infectious production will have this album on repeat for a while.
4. milo – Cavalcade
milo had a break out year, releasing four projects and doing some features here and there. With Cavalcade, he rejoins Riley Lake to make a short project dedicated to his grandfather. milo continues his run of left-of-center music, while sampling folk band America, his grandfather’s favorite band, throughout the project. On top of that, Riley Lake is able to craft some original instrumentation and throw in more samples that give it a huge sound like the Kanye West sample in “red oleanders.”
3. ScienZe – Ella
ScienZe brings us an honest love story with his album Ella. If I had a most-slept on albums of the year, this would definitely go on it. People complain that there’s no real hip-hop left, but ScienZe is at the heart of it. He gives us a love story that everybody can relate to from start to finish on the album. The romantic trials and tribulations that he lays out in the album is as impacting as the jazzy, soulful production provided by the likes of Lord Quest, Blu, Vinyl Frontiers, and more. You can tell ScienZe dedicated all of his efforts in this project and he deserves a lot more shine. (I mean, come on, he even released a prologue and a deleted scenes project.)
2. James Blake – Overgrown
James Blake follows his debut self-titled project without a disappointment on his sophomore effort Overgrown. With next-level production, harmonizing, strong vocals, and intricate songwriting, every aspect of Blake is promising. No one is making music like Blake, and if they are, they’re trying to be like him. Blake is creating the next generation of soul music that has been sampled throughout hip-hop for so many years and he’s doing it better than anybody right now. With all of that being said, I’m sure you know you should definitely be on the lookout for James Blake has in store for 2014.
1. milo – things that happen at day/night
I decided to package the two EP’s into one project for the purpose of saving a spot on the list, but also because it just sounds right playing them back to back. milo released things that happen at day and things that happen at night at the top of the year and they’re not left forgotten. I wish I could tell you some of the messages that milo is delivering to his listeners, but I would need a major in philosophy (and some) to tell you. With milo’s obscure semi-spoken word flow, he’s able to feel at home over Riley Lake and Analog(ue) Tape Dispenser‘s ambient, trap-like, something-you’ve-never-heard production on their respective production on each tape. This deserves number one because milo is able to take you to places you’ve never been to before and you can’t help but want to keep going.
A top ten list is tough, especially when albums keep popping into my head that I enjoyed and got plenty of rotations, but I just have no room for them. While some of these albums may surpass the above albums in the future, these are definitely albums worth checking out that dropped this year:
King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
Co$$ – Grayer Skies
Toro Y Moi – Anything in Return
Jonwayne – Rap Album Part One
Psymun & K. Raydio - LucidDreamingSkylines
Check out fa†e’s list here.
Check out Jordan Pories’ list here.
Check out Zach Haught’s list here.
Check out Mad Pat’s list here.