Ghostface (36 Seasons)
Ras Kass and Apollo brown (Blasphemy)
Skyzoo and Torae (Barrel Brothers)
Number 10 (Dilated Peoples -Directors of Photography)
After a almost decade hiatus the dilated crew come back to rep a changed coast both in music and climate. With a all star cast of both producers (Premier,Diamond D,Alchemist,9th Wonder,Jake One) and also utilizing their own beats they really took the veterans role of the scene. Breaking the formula and also sharing the mic with friends and guests. They really showed why they were missed in the first place .
Number 9 (Ratking-So it goes)
New York is a tough place . It can make or break you or make you a cult following only to dwindle in artistic frustration and unpredictable expectations. Ratking evolved from Wiki 93 with a strong buzz and a bright outlook. This lead to So it Goes their first full length and a statement . Being mixed by Young Guru really helped their Def Jux meets Dipset appeal and strengthen the project. I expect a bright outlook from them in the future.
Number 8 (Black Milk -If there’s a hell below)
Coming from the D is difficult but even more is being a producer in the shadow of the MPC magician J Dilla . Black Milk has surpassed this shadow with a string of releases in the last few years showing both his maturity and a writer and his own musical taste’s of sampling. With legendary help from Bun B and Pete Rock and consistent mainstays Blu and Random Axe to break things up . Milk gave us a great LP and a amazing addition to a ever growing catalogue of a evolving artist.
Number 7 (Diamond D – Diam piece)
What can you say about the man that has not been said before . With classic productions,features and remixes the Diamond D has done it all . In a genre bloated with radio songs , fake gangsta’s and one hit wonders its nice to just have some classic sampling and boom bap. Its like Godzilla destroying he is not wrong for staying with the formula its in his nature but you respect it . With a all star guest list and a return to form it was great to have Diamond back on the radar.
Number 6 (PRhyme- Royce da 5’9 and DJ Premier)
The collaboration we all have waited for as fans for years . While it was great in someways it lacked in others . Having DJ premier just use Adrian Younge’s work as a lone sample source was a great change of pace for Premier. Hearing a variety of emcees over the double threat of music was a bonus. However some tracks sounded hollow and the length killed the project.
Number 5 (Souls of Mischief – Their is only now )
A sleeper to many fans and critics . I hope this ranking gives it more circulation and appeal . Its a wonderful LP narrated by Ali from a A tribe called quest and produced by the previous mentioned Adrian Younge . This is a work that would not only go down as a work to grow with but many years from now may be considered a classic .
Number 4 (Vince Staples – Hell can wait )
Here’s the thing I ranked this high and many people may differ but at just under 25 minutes . This is a blistering tension of a Ep in some ways like a modern impact of Kill at Will Ep by Ice Cube. It has a level of raw honesty and reality only surpassed by Freddie Gibbs this year. This is west coast rhyming at its finest while the beat selection to some may be unfavorable its modern brash and makes its points as it should for a younger generation.
Number 3 (Pharaoh Monch -PTSD)
Is a very personal work of art. In a media driven world that we live in very rarely do emcees go from inside to out with their emotions . It deals with both physical and mental pain and the stress of the industry as a whole . Its a independent venture that pays off . I reviewed this earlier and didn’t care for the skits and some off the beats were lackluster. However the mark of a true wordsmith is his lyrics. What compels a writer to write is different to each individual . This is the most personal we have ever got from Monch and shows through the duration of the tracklist. Hate it or Love it . It was one the best releases this year.
Number 2 (MadGibbs- Piñata )
In the world of gansta rap it hard to change from a formula based genre. This LP succeeded expectations greatly by showing that Madlib was a brainchild of a higher caliber and Freddie Gibbs was everything he was and could be as a emcee . With amazing guest appearance from Scarface, Raekwon and Danny Brown to share in the madness of the beat conductor. We got to explore different textures along with Gibbs reality based pimpology. He is from that same reality based corner America likes to forget . Embellished with a swagger that only a man who has lived through experiences can offer . Commanding a place in a high position on this list and Madlib’s best offering since Madvillany.
Number 1 (Run the Jewels 2)
This was and is the best release of 2014. There are 3 reasons for it being on the top of the list .
1) It was given away for free . By doing so it defied the pattern of the mp3 world and rampant downloading from pirates . There by allowing people who missed the first wave of listeners to become new fans and the already supportive a reaffirmation that the first project was for the people .
2) From sequencing to production . Left field appearances by southern queen Gangsta Boo’s verse and political standout Zack De La Rocha getting busy with the mic it is a stellar and much needed addition to the project as a whole. Making it feel fuller and much more rich than the first one had to offer.
3) The most important is the variety of subject matters ranging Police Violence, Sexuality, Drugs, Politics, Shittalking , and Daily Life. Lets just say its a beautiful thing to see a interracial group like Killer Mike and El-p BE IN A GROUP. With the temperament of a country at odds end with racial strife . Its both a testament to the human race and shows that adversity’s like north and south culture can come together to make a work of art that reflects the general populous .