2014 was a rather down year for rap albums. Hip-hop album sales were down overall and Iggy Azalea was somehow considered the year’s breakout act by those in the mainstream. Her nomination for Rap Album of the Year proved, once again, how much the Grammy Awards are out of touch when it comes to hip-hop.
However, there were several solid rap projects that showed promise and moved the culture forward. In an age where albums are easily accessible through illegal downloads, some music is actually worth your hard earned money.
Here is a list of the top 10 rap albums of 2014 .
10. Lecrae Anomaly
Lecrae makes great rap that happens to have a religious message. His latest album, Anomaly, speaks to the importance of spirituality without being too preachy. He raps about his brush with street life on “Nuthin,” “Welcome to America,” is an honest piece that proves that the greatest nation in the world continues to have conflict with how to treat its own citizens at times, and he reveals how he deals with the ups and downs on “Good, Bad, Ugly.”
9. Mick Jenkins The Water[s]
Chicago artist Mick Jenkins reminded listeners on why water is the most essential natural resource on Earth. He uses the theme to describe personal and societal issues. Standout cuts include “Comfortable,” “Jazz,” and “Healer.”
8. CyHi The Prynce Black Hystori Project
The Black Hystori Project allowed CyHi to prove his worth as a G.O.O.D. Music artist. He displayed a knack for superior lyricism on songs such as “Mandela,” “Huey,” and “Be Great.” CyHi continues to work hard to establish himself in hip-hop, but his latest project was a testament to what he has to offer.
7. Common Nobody Smiling
Common provided a personal account of the overwhelming violence that is faced by Chicago youth. The veteran emcee continued to display a knack for lyricism and storytelling on “Kingdom,” “Nobody’s Smiling” and “Rewind That.”
6. Schoolboy Q Oxymoron
Schoolboy Q had the strenuous task of being the first TDE artist to follow Kendrick Lamar’s classic, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. But while Schoolboy’s Oxymoron never reached the standard of GKMC, it was still a solid project that shed light on his youth in South Central L.A.
5. Isaiah Rashad Cilvia Demo
Isaiah Rashad was another major signing for TDE. The Tennessee native’s first project, Cilvia Demo, was an ode to thought provoking lyricism and story telling. He shined on songs such as “Webbie Flow,” “West Savannah,” and “Soliloquy.”
4. J. Cole 2014 Forest Hill Drive
J. Cole took listeners on a journey through his childhood and rise in hip-hop with 2014 Forest Hill Drive. He tells his story with great detail on “03′ Adolescence,” “A Tale of 2 Citiez,” and “Hello.”
3. Big K.R.I.T. Cadlillactica
Big K.R.I.T. released a dose of southern culture on his sophomore album, Cadillactica. He battles through personal issues on “Saturdays=Celebration”; he battles the industry on “King of the South”; and he battles society on “Lost Generation.”
2. Y.G. My Krazy Life
Y.G. released a Grammy-worthy album with My Krazy Life. His gift for storytelling and DJ Mustard’s production made it an engaging album from beginning to end. The concept album is a darker version of Kendrick Lamar’s GKMC. The album exceeded expectations and solidified the return of West Coast hip-hop.
1. Run the Jewels RTJ2
Killer Mike and El-P came closest to releasing a hip-hop classic in 2014. RTJ 2 was a sonic masterpiece that continued to grow with momentum with each song. Killer Mike’s aggression and El-P’s superb production was a reminder of how captivating hip-hop can be when done right.