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Posts Tagged "Hip Hop"

THE TOP TEN INDIE HIP HOP ALBUMS OF 2014

As always, my emphasis is on indie and small labels, and I generally don’t write anything about stuff on Def Jam, Columbia, Sony, etc. Not that there’s not good music to be found there, it’s just that that’s not the spirit of my site.

This is the best indie hip hop I heard in 2014, with a few major label exceptions.

TOO LATE TO LISTEN TO ENOUGH TO LIST BUT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE MADE IT IF I’D HEARD IT EARLIER:
Ghostface Killah-36 Seasons.
The Kid’s still got it.

RUNNER UP:
MIGOS-Rich Nigga Timeline
This is the first time I ever heard a rapper sing as a cow (listen to “Move”). A playful, silly, smart mixtape–too many rappers sound hard, but Migos is clearly having fun. Even when he’s rapping about doing time in prison and selling drugs.

10. YOUR OLD DROOG-Your Old Droog
For some reason, Droog’s sound and style makes me thing of rap-rock but in truth this is pure hip hop. And there’s a section of “Nutty Bars” where he goes off on vanilla wafers that’s truly extraordinary. Great rap from a young, NYC newcomer.

Half the songs on the full length are available on a freEP from Soundcloud. They also happen to mostly be the better half of the album, although the whole thing is pretty great.

9. JETPACK JONES AND BROCK BERRIGAN-Shades of Mary
“Do you wanna roll or what? Let me hold that butt!” Because every top ten list needs a kick-back rap record.

8. NAS-“The Season”
All we get is a single, but it’s the great Nasir over a J Dilla beat, so needless to say it’s amazing.

7. BIG BOI-Mash Up Mondays
The Outkast member and producer throws Kid Cudi in the pool with Stevie Wonder, Bobby Hunter against Pharrell, and, best of all, remixes Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” with monstrously heavy bars from Big K.R.I.T. It may not be an album, it may not even be legal, but damn it’s awesome. If you’ve never liked mash-ups before, you’ll like these.
6. HOMEBOY SANDMAN-Hallways
Queens-born Homeboy Sandman broke in 2008, receiving accolades from several respected New York critics, and landing an emcee gig at NY’s longest running poetry slam. In 2011, he signed with Stones Throw, and this year he released his most interesting album yet. Most of his material continues to straddle the line between gangsta reveries and political polemics, but it does so well and so often (even within the same song), that it can be hard to get the message he’s sending. This is an album you have to stop and listen to, and even then you won’t catch it all. He’s got lyricism, flow, wit, and power. True power.

5. SNOH AALEGRA feat. COMMON-Bad Things
Wow.

4. ACE COSGROVE-Us vs. Robots
Ace Cosgrove’s mixtape, with stellar production from I.V., Black Diamond, and others, is a true showcase. He can do the righteous, black power thing (“Burning Slums”), the bouncy sex joint (“Damn She’s Right”), stoner rap (“High 4”), and fast-talking bullet train money songs (“Getting Loot”). And it all sounds natural and effortless. Awesome.

3. DEJ LOAF-Sell Sole
Crazy, powerful hip hop from a female emcee. There’s definitely not enough of this around these days.

2. AMERIGO GAZEAWAY-Yasiin Gaye (The Departure)
When it’s done right, “Mash Up” is a misnomer. There’s nothing crammed, shoved, or forced-to-fit in producer Amerigo Gazaway’s masterpiece mixtape that blends Marvin Gaye’s vocals and music with the likes of Mos Def (real name: Yasiin Bey, hence the mixtape name) and other talented artists like Teddy Pendergrass, Tammi Terrell, and Talib Kweli (as well as some original in-studio music).
The result is an album that sounds like an original, instead of two great songs crammed into one decent one that rides on the coattails of the originals by giving you just enough familiar hooks to keep you amused.

1. FREDDIE GIBBS AND MADLIB
Grimey rap. If we never ever get the promised collaboration between MF DOOM and Ghostface Killah, we can at least say we got this.

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DOMO GENESIS-Under the Influence 2

This mixtape is good–gets my endorsement. But if you really want to hear Domo spit fire, check out Madlib and Freddie Gibbs’ new record, one of the best of 2014. Domo appears on “Pinata” and kills it.

But this one’s pretty dope, too.

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DEJ LOAF-Sell Sole


Dej Loaf is a 20something rapper from Chicago who is proud to be a woman. Finally! A rapper who can speak from an honest perspective. She’s not a bimbo, she’s not a wannabe gangsta, she’s not trying to be an idealized female or “one of the guys.” Her songs are about love, family, and pain: Missing her Grandmother, hustling on the streets, making millions and spending it on her mother, promoting peace over violence, loving rap, not trying to sound like Tupac, teaching the children well…They’re about real life. That’s how come she can get away with lyrics like: “Can we stay home tonight/Try something new tonight/This drink got me feeling right…Let’s make a some babies and make it official/I feel you inside…”

Her lyrics are smart, and her beats and words seem…Sad. But powerful. This is a thoughtful mixtape, and thought is usually reserved for backpackers in this genre. Great stuff.

You may remember Dej from her 2012 hit “Try Me,” which got her a major label deal and is remixed on this mixtape with verses from Remy Ma and Ty Dolla $ign and some new bars from Dej herself.

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