- Bas – Too High To Riot
Jazz Rap / Conscious Hip-hop
Favorite Tracks: Housewives, Night Job (feat. J. Cole)
- Nyck Caution – Disguise The Limit
New York Hip-hop / Boom Bap
Favorite Tracks: Baptize, Crucifix (feat. Joey Bada$$ & Albey Balgochian), Wordsmith
- SBTRKT – Save Yourself
Favorite Tracks: TBD (feat. Sampha), Ready or Not
- Kano – Made in the Manor
UK Hip-hop / Grime
Favorite Tracks: New Banger, 3-Wheel-Ups (feat. Wiley & Giggs), Drinking In The West End
10. Young Thug – Slime Season 3
Trap Rap / Southern Hip-hop
Not lacking a catalogue of hits, Young Thug has failed to really hit on a full length project amidst a torrid pace of releases. However, Slime Season 3 is a noticeable step up in quality and consistency, rivaling Barter 6 as the best tape/album in his discography. While “With Them” and “Digits” are certified bangers, tracks like “Memo” and “Slime Shit” aid in limiting any dips throughout this 8-track project. Thugger gets more experimental on SS3, improves on his hooks, and offers a glimmer of hope for future releases.
With Them, Tattoos, Digits
9. Big Ups – Before A Million Universes
Post-punk / Punk Rock
The NYC band delivers a very diverse record on Before A Million Universes, incorporating clashing subtle and aggressive styles throughout. Anything but one-dimensional, Big Ups brings an appealing experimental, abstract style to the genre and fails to offer a skippable single.
Capitalized, Posture, Meet Where We Are, So Much You
8. Charli XCX – Vroom Vroom EP
Charli XCX teams up with PC Music’s SOPHIE on production to put a new, fresh spin on her pop style. The duo creates a face-paced, futuristic, fun collection of songs that has heavy electronic influences and is ultimately a pleasant surprise.
Vroom Vroom, Paradise, Secret (Shh)
7. Baauer – Aa
Trap / Electronic
The New York producer/DJ proves he’s more than just the guy who made the “Harlem Shake” on his full-length debut. Baauer produces a wide variety of beats here that touch on multiple electronic genres. The result, although enjoyable, fails to truly carve out a sound for Baauer in a project that is not all too cohesive. Where Aa is at its peak is when Baauer crafts a sound for his features, found in the grime-inspired “Day Ones” and the trap banger “Kung Fu.”
Church, GoGo!, Day Ones (feat. Novelist & Leikeli47), Kung Fu (feat. Pusha T & Future), Church Reprise (feat. Rustie)
6. ZelooperZ – Bothic
Hardcore Hip-hop / Alternative Hip-hop
The Bruiser Brigade, Detroit rapper maintains the intensity and insanity on the follow-up to Help, Bothic. Independent of any knowledge that ZelooperZ is signed to Danny Brown’s label, the comparisons to the fellow Motor City rapper can certainly be made. Where ZelooperZ does differentiate himself from Danny is through a more dialed up intensity and jaw-dropping lyrics. A project like this certainly does require a few listens through (and an open mind) but Bothic delivers as a project that shows off an improved consistency of quality from ZelooperZ and 33 minutes of utter mayhem.
Bothic Bout It, PayPal, Scale, Elevators, Heart (feat. Wiki), Isbd
5. Wild Nothing – Life of Pause
Dream Pop / Indie Pop
What makes Life of Pause an enjoyable listen is its laid-back aesthetic. Jack Tatum delivers alluring production to accompany his vocals that almost gives off a Tame Impala-type vibe. The dense layers of instrumentation make up for a lacking energy to produce a soothing sound that is consistent, while augmented throughout, from beginning to end.
To Know You, Adore, TV Queen, Whenever I
4. FLATBUSH ZOMBiES – 3001: A Laced Odyssey
New York Hip-hop / Boom Bap
Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick “The Architect” Elliott show off their distinct personalities in the trio’s commercial debut, a follow-up to Better Off Dead. At 12 tracks in length, the project is the group’s most focused record to date and, aside from a couple of unnecessary interludes, is smooth, sleek, and consistent in the mood it creates. The Architect lays down a series of mystical, spacey beats that allows the trio to show off the traits that make them eccentric, colorful, gritty, in-your-face, and unique. However, this project could have been improved by some more energetic projection layered into the moody instrumentals and a true standout single is lacking.
The Odyssey, Bounce, Ascension, Trade-Off, Your Favorite Rap Song
3. RJD2 – Dame Fortune
Dame Fortune is RJD2’s sixth albums and like his previous offerings, is extremely thematic and cohesive; it tells a story. He adapts to contemporary electronic sounds without straying from an aesthetic that makes him unique, playing off of genres like funk, rock, and gospel. The progression from track to track builds and the journey along the way creates a joyful mood that won’t fail in putting a smile on the listener’s face.
The Roaming Hoard, Peace of What (feat. Jordan Brown), The Sheboygan Left, A New Theory
2. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
Jazz Rap / Conscious Hip-hop
It’s difficult to go into this thing with any expectations considering the name of the project would seem to indicate that it consists of extras and b-sides from To Pimp a Butterfly. Suffice to say, many of these tracks certainly do seem as though they need re-working, all the while producing an organic, in-the-moment feel. In theory, this format paves the way for Kendrick to present us with a collection of songs that are unbound to an album’s theme, which have been so apparent (and important) in K. Dot’s past releases. The result is Kendrick flowing over production that we have rarely heard before, that is grimey and trap-influenced. The rawness and aggression in these organic performances produces a project filled with would-be hits – even among Kendrick’s impressive discography – with creative ideas and concepts shining through that we’ve come to expect. A detour between To Pimp a Butterfly and whatever album comes next, untitled masterd. confirms that Kendrick Lamar, if nothing else, is the world’s best rapper.
untitled 02 | 06.23.2014, untitled 05 | 09.21.2014, untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016, untitled 08 |09.06.2014
1. dvsn – Sept. 5th
It may seem like an obvious comparison since they share the same label, but it’s probably the most accurate summation of this album; Sept. 5th, simply put, is Majid Jordan improved. The production here is outstanding throughout, with Daniel Daley’s unique vocals pairing with Nineteen85’s production nicely. Sonically, Sept. 5th is stunningly beautiful, contrasting with the emotional, almost depressing lyrics. dvsn produces the perfect mix of traditional and contemporary R&B, all the while carving out a distinct sound that captures the Toronto new wave sound.
With Me, Try / Effortless, Sept. 5th, Hallucinations