The year is coming to a close and 2015 is right around the corner. We thought it would only be appropriate to look back on what 2014 was in music. Therefore, Jesse and I decided to compile lists separately and talk about our favorites throughout the year. Here are my top 10 projects of 2014–in no particular order.
Vince Staples‘ Hell Can Wait EP– October 7, 2014- Def Jam RecordingsI’m going to start off with what was the shortest release on my list, and for good reason. Vince Staple’s Hell Can Wait EP was some of the best material of the year, and it was only the “Debut EP” with Def Jam. “Fire” & “Blue Suede” are some of the standouts, and Staples continues to write tales of growing up in L.A. This is only the begining for Vince, and we expect big things to come from the artist in 2015.
Logic took a bold stance with going the major label route and releasing a retail album with Def Jam. However, we were shocked with how the risk payed off. Under Pressure is some of the best music, not only of the year, but of the decade, complete with some of the best production to date. Logic will continue to support the album throughout next year on his world tour. Don’t even hesitate to download this or take a listen to standouts like “Never Enough” or “Bounce.”
Chuck Inglish’s Convertibles- April 8, 2014- Sounds Like Fun Records, Federal Prism RecordsChuck Inglish had a huge year for himself. In addition to producing for tons of artists like Asher Roth and Chromeo, he even dropped a short EP before the album titled Droptops. Convertibles is just an extension of that EP and it is just so dope. It is everything a fan of Chuck wants and it sets up the next release for The Cool Kid’s Shark Week. Check out standouts like “Easily” or “Legs” featuring Chromeo.
Sir Michael Rocks’ Banco– July 29, 2014- 6 Cell PhonesFrom one Cool Kid to another, Banco has some of the best tunes I’ve heard all year with Mikey Rock’s new style. He changed it up quite a bit, but it is definitely welcome. He was even able to get the CEO of Seaworld to resign because of his track “Fuck Seaworld”. Like I stated before, Shark Week is going to be something special.
IAMSU!’s Sincerely Yours– May 13, 2014- HBK Gang Records, Alternative Distribution AllianceIAMSU! and the HBK Gang seemingly came out of nowhere in 2014. Su’s debut album Sincerely Yours did not disappoint at all and put the bay area on the map. He got some huge features from 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa & E-40. This was by far one of the best releases of the year even though it came out early. All production was in-house too, which makes it that much more authentic. “Hipster Girls” always gets the ladies dancing and closes the album out extremely well.
Mac Miller’s Faces- May 11th, 2014- REMember MusicThis project was all over the place, and I loved it. From the samples to the jazz-like instrumentation, it was by far much more compelling than any of Miller’s previous releases. He had tons of top notch features that fit exactly how they were supposed to. With the signing to Warner Brothers Records, 2015 is looking to be a big year from Mac Miller, so expect even more from the rapper in the future.
Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron- Top Dawg, InterscopeThis album was so hyped up that I almost lost faith in it, but boy, did School Boy Q deliver. After seeing him perform twice in 2013 personally, I wanted a much more refined sound from the TDE artist. Luckily, all of his fans got exactly what they wanted. “Hell Of A Night,” “Studio,” and “Man Of The Year” are some of the standouts, but the album is better when listened to from start to finish. TDE definitely blew up even more this year, and not because of Kendrick.
YG’s My Krazy Life- March 18th, 2014- Def Jam Recordings
Yeah, we all know YG got snubbed from a Grammy nomination this year, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the artist released one of the best albums of the year. My Krazy Life was entirely produced by DJ-Mustard and put that West Coast sound back on the map. The laid-back beats and heavy bass lines wrapped around tales of being a blood growing up from YG completely captures similar feels from when Dr. Dre dropped The Chronic. “Bicken Back Being Bool”, “Do It To Ya” and “Left, Right” are some of my favorites.
Ab-Soul’s These Days…– June 24th, 2014- Top Dawg
Ab-Soul has always been overlooked. He speaks his mind and raps over beats that are experimental, and sometimes, downright weird. I get that, but he has some of the most interesting things to say. He speaks on some real topics, even if some of it is about getting money. That completely makes sense considering where his is in his life right now. TDE is one of the hottest labels right now and they show no signs of slowing down. “Hunnid Stax” is one of my favorites, but what really took it from me was one of the bonus songs, “W.W.S.D.”
Asher Roth’s Retrohash– April 22nd, 2014- Federal Prism, Pale Fire
Asher switched it up and went Beck like with Retrohash. Less raps and more life stories with some real smooth and relaxing music. It is indeed very moody but that shouldn’t turn any fan of Asher away. It is a great album start to finish, even if it is only 10 songs long. “Tangerine Girl” also became the go-to song for your local Skate Land!
Skizzy Mars’ Pace– March 9th, 2014. Penthouse Music
I wasn’t all that impressed the first time I listened to this project from Skizzy. However, with every listen after, it just continued to grow on me. Skizzy articulates stories of growing up, drugs and women, as well as being an artist. He is the definition of an artist coming up, especially as future releases will keep defining his sound. Expect big things to come from Skizzy. It just all “Makes Sense”.
Wiz Kahlifa’s Blacc Hollywood– August 18th, 2014- Atlantic, Rostrum Records
Ok, I know, it was basically more of the same from Wiz, but this album hit the speakers hard. From the intro to “We Dem Boyz,” Wiz turned his production value all the way up. That is what a major label will do and it sounds good. We also got a glimpse of Wiz’s personal life, as well as him transcending into a rap superstar with sold out arena shows. 28 Gramswas an experiment, while Blacc Hollywood was just more refined and sounded like it should be preformed in a huge area. Ironic that he did a tiny tour for it. Either way, it was still a great album from start to finish for a more Pop influenced Wiz.
Travis Scott’s Days Before Rodeo– August 18, 2014- Grand Hustle
Travis Scott put out some incredibly good music with great features, it just left me wanting more, so much more. The moody structure and the drug infused themes are captivating and I want to to know what happens next for the G.O.O.D. music rapper and producer.
There you have it! These are my favorites and the ones that should at least be mentioned. Let me know what you think and be ready for more from Smooth Waves in 2015!
Written by E.L.