When I look back on 2014, so far, the only projects that really stand out to me are mixtapes. Sure, there have been a few good albums, but mostly, I’ve listened to unofficial projects. Thus far, 2014 is the year of the mixtape, I could give you a list of the 50 best tapes of the year but I’ll stick to giving you my 12 favorite projects.
This list is chocked full of variety, from sing-song club hits to drug infused trap rap to indie rock, there’s a little bit of something for almost everyone. So, without further ado, here are the Best Projects of 2014, thus far. Compiled by writer JW.
12.) Hyype- Divine Minded
Chicago rapper Hyype has had an impressive 2014. His mixtape Divine Minded is making my list for two reasons. One, he’s a pretty small time rapper at the moment, but his music is deserving of much more attention. Coming out of Chicago, surrounded by so much emerging talent makes it hard to stand out, but through Divine Minded he distances himself from the competition. And, two, the project is actually very good. From start to finish it maintains a professional sound. The features, production, theme and lyrics are all top notch. Some stand out tracks are “Siege,” “Black Attire” ft. Lucki Eck$ and “Benz.” Download Divine Minded HERE, you won’t be disappointed.
11.) PARTYNEXTDOOR- PND 2
If you’re a fan of PND then you’ll love PND 2, otherwise it’s just more noise. However, being a very big PARTYNEXTDOOR fan I loved PND 2. As the debut studio project for PND this is pretty great. It’s a classic case of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Sticking to his guns throughout the project he gives listeners a slurred, viby, late night at the club, R&B influenced tape. Don’t download this one in hopes of finding exceptional lyricism or anything groundbreaking. Full of hypnotic beats and catchy hooks PND 2 is great to listen to while hanging out by yourself. Some of the standout tracks are “Her Way” and “Recognize.” Download the project HERE.
10.) Allan Kingdom- Future Memoirs
I’m not going to lie, on first listen, I didn’t really care for Future Memoirs. Then the single “Already” ft. Kevin Abstract dropped and I couldn’t handle the way Allan danced all over that absolutely insane beat, and the way he held his composure throughout the whole song so well. Anyways, I went back and checked out Future Memoirs, it’s as good as everyone says it is, if not better. On the song “Wavy” he kills the track with a mixture of rapping and ‘pre-pubescent’ crooning that puts whatever the hell Yung Thug is doing to shame. Spooky Black is also featured on the song and the Minnesotan duo sound incredible together (if you ever read this Allan or Spooky, do a joint album, shit would be fire). Other standout tracks are “Evergreens” and “Souls.” Stream and download the tape right HERE.
It’s not everyday that someone comes along, pretty much out of nowhere, and is able to speak for an entire generation of kids. However, Kevin Abstract has proven that he can do just that. His debut project MTV 1987, as he puts it, is an album for “all of the self-conscious kids who would rather be in their bedroom pretending to be someone else online than going to a high school party and attempting to socialize. The Internet is dark but I feel safe here” (via Billboard). The project was premiered through Billboard and only features 3 other artists. Kevin is only 17, which blows my mind, and already has his own aesthetic, sound and following, there is only one place for the Corpus Christi rapper to go, and that’s up. Some standout tracks are “27,” “SAVE” and “DRUGS.” Stream the project HERE.
8.) Curren$y- Saturday Night Car Tunes
Curren$y, much like Drake, has made a career out of creating a lot of songs that sound the exact same. The Jet Life rapper has been in the game for awhile and he hasn’t shown much versatility on the mic. But, that’s okay. And you know why? Because he’s so damn good at doing what he does. I’ve never grown tired of his high-out-of-his-mind delivery and raps about nice cars. Saturday Night Car Tunes is the perfect tape to listen to while you’re (blunt) cruising through town late at night. Download the project right HERE.
7.) Joey Fatts- Chipper Jones 3
Joey Fatts’ career started as a homeless 21 year old who got his big break when A$AP Rocky recruited him for production on his debut album Long.Live.A$AP. The 21 year old had only been making beats for a year, but he worked with A$AP, and the rest is history. Joey’s mixtape Chipper Jones Vol. 3, which released a few weeks back, is HOT. We’re talking, on fire. The tape consists of 10 tracks and Joey’s production and lyrics are dynamite throughout. Chipper Jones Vol. 3 features the likes of A$AP Rocky, Waka Flocka and his cousin Vince Staples, among others. Stream the project right HERE.
6.) Big K.R.I.T.- See Me On Top 4
Big K.R.I.T.’s fourth installment of his See Me On Top mixtape series is flames. The Southern rapper sticks to his roots throughout the project, but at times shows hints of being the rapper that’s radio friendly and versatile. The tape, which only released last week, consists of 20 tracks, most of which K.R.I.T. produced himself. There are a few songs that standout, most notably his freestyle of Drake and Wayne’s “Believe Me.” He spits with such confidence that it’ll leave you speechless, wondering if Drake and Wayne even did the original version justice. Then, there’s “Smoke in Mirrors,” an incredibly smooth joint that he hums through with ease. His album Cadillactica should be here sooner rather than later so be sure to keep an eye out. See Me On Top Vol.4 can be downloaded HERE.
5.) Raury- Indigo Child
Raury has burst on the scene in the past few months. From meeting with Kanye West, to signing a major deal the young artist can’t stay off of blogs. Indigo Child is a bold first tape. The lead single, “God’s Whisper,” is a blatant stand against the conformity of everyday life and quite literally ‘sticks it to the man.’ This whole project is incredibly refreshing. It’s not everyday that a tape can remind you of late 70s rock and roll, Kid Cudi and Frank Ocean at the same time and somehow maintain a cohesive rhythm and identity. Hats off to Raury on this first project, we want more from him. Stream the project HERE.
4.) Mick Jenkins- The Water[s]
Mick is able to branch out to a mainstream audience without losing any of the quality that we’ve come to expect from him in the past via past tapes like Trees and Truths. With socially aware lyrics and a progressive flow, layered over jazz infused beats, The Water[s] is a treat to listeners ears from start to finish. Songs like “THC” make it all too easy to zone out and enjoy the music. His deep voice mixed with the hectic beat create a perfect unity of sorts. Similarly, on “514,” later in the tape, his deep delivery pairs with the laid back production in the exact same way. Mick has a sound that’s pretty rare these days and a deeper message that’s delivered in every song, something music’s been missing. Download the project HERE.
3.) Mac Miller- Faces
I said this earlier this year in my review, and I’l say it again; If this had been a two part mixtape it would be SO MUCH MORE POPULAR. At 24 songs long this is just too long to properly enjoy. Think of how much better it would have been if he dropped off Faces Vol. 1 and then a month later given us Faces Vol. 2. This tape has too much quality that isn’t being talked about. Ever since Mac left the frat rap scene and branched out to this trippy, producer, wild style of rap he’s been so much better. From the trippy, laid back “Angel Dust” to a hard hitting “Insomniak” track with a feature from MMG’s Rick Ross this is a complete project. Watching Movies With The Sound Off was Mac Miller coming into his own sound and Faces is his total transition into what we can expect to hear from him in the future. Download the whole tape HERE.
2.) Curtis Williams- Danco James
Danco James… where do I even start with this project? It came out as a complete surprise to me. I had heard Curtis Williams a few times and I knew he was dope, but not to this extent. This tape is an absolute banger. I can’t emphasize how good this is from start to finish. It flows perfectly, Curtis’ lyrics are on point the whole time, the production is beautiful, the features match up perfectly with Curtis’ vibe and the theme of the project. Sit down for 45 minutes and listen to this from start to finish. Listen to this before you go to sleep, or at a party, it doesn’t matter where you are, this is going to be relevant. Download it right now HERE.
1.) Travi$ Scott- Days Before Rodeo
Let’s get one thing straight, this isn’t a ‘free mixtape’ this is 12 tracks of album quality material. You don’t feature Big Sean, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, The 1975, Migos, TI and Peewee Longway on a mixtape. This is so good that it has me worried for the release of Rodeo, Scott’s debut studio album. Topping this will be a feat in itself. However, Travi$ definitely has the resources to do so. Some standout tracks are “Skyfall” ft. Young Thug. From a production standpoint this song is beautiful and somehow Young Thug is incredibly tolerable throughout the whole 5 minutes. Another dope song is “Quintana Pt. 2″ which features a secret verse from TI and will have you saying “I’m finessing” all day long in your head. Get the tape HERE.
Written by Jesse Wiles