2014 was a great year for a lot of artists in both Minneapolis and Chicago. Now that our Top 14 Albums of 2014 list has concluded, it’s only right that we share some of our favorites that didn’t make the cut. Below you’ll find a list of such albums, ranging across the hip hop spectrum. Check out the list and dig in to some good music.
Finding Novyon – “Where’s Novyon”/”Keep Going”
Devon Reason – “Reasonable”
Manny Phesto – “Southside Looking In”
Muja Messiah – “God Kissed It, The Devil Missed It”
Our Top 14 Albums of 2014 list concludes today with our number #1 pick. Hailing from the city of Chicago’s southside, Mick Jenkins has quietly dropped the year’s best album. After securing a spot on this year’s Smoker’s Club Tour, Mick has taken his skills across the nation, enlightening those who didn’t know his name. Within The Water[s], you’ll hear thought provoking gems like “Shipwrecked”, “Jazz”, “Martyrs”, and “Dehydration; it’s great to hear an artist from Chicago highlighting the current issues at hand. Mick proves that he is more than capable, his music videos are among the most cinematic and visually stunning pieces in the game today. As we enter 2015, Mick Jenkins should be near the top of your list of artists to watch. At times, The Water[s] will make you laugh, at other times it’ll give you goosebumps, and at other’s it’ll make you cry. 4 months later the album stands tall as a classic Chicago record, a perfect embodiment of the southside’s soul. Check out The Water[s] below and keep an eye out for more from Mick Jenkins.
This was the track that started it all. Back in April, thestand4rd took to Soundcloud in a surprise move releasing their first track ever, “Doors”. Minneapolis’ hip hop scene was shaken to it’s foundations with a lot of people’s music forced to take a back seat, similarly to their album release, thestand4rd have proved time and time again that you should re-think matching their release dates. As a group, this one record served as a successful test; but solo, each of them continued to buzz harder than ever. Some cried 1 hit wonders, others bashed behind closed doors, but those in the know, knew that these guys were for real. Check out “Doors” below and be on the look out for more.
In the Twin Cities, you could argue that only Lizzo has had a better year within the hip hop community, than the group known as thestand4rd. Comprised of 4 artists, Allan Kingdom, Spooky Black, Bobby Raps, and Psymun; thestand4rd are as good solo as they are together. After each establishing themselves on the internet as artists to watch, thestand4rd was born with less than a handful of tracks to offer. Apparently, their tight-knit formula worked, by fall, the buzz for their album was spilling over into international waters. Shortly after the release of their first video, “Simple Needs”, they went on to announce a mini tour that spanned L.A., New York City, Chicago and more. Amazingly enough they would go on to sell out each show, garnering support from Kreayshawn, Mike Dean, FADER, MISHKA, and even DJ Khaled along the way. The album sounds like nothing that’s come before it, a completely unique breathe of fresh air. Check out thestan4rd EP below and be on the look out for more.
For #3 on our list of the “Top 14 Albums of 2014”, we’ve selected Toki Wright and Big Cats’ album Pangaea. Back in September, the buzz for the project was absolutely through the roof, with great performances from Toki and his band all throughout the summer. I remember receiving this project a week before it’s release date, the first time I pressed play I listened to it in it’s entirety, this RARELY happens. By the time I was half way through, I was already pondering the idea of Pangaea as 2014’s top album. Everything about this project is great, the production, the overall message, the vibe, the lyrics, the vocals, and especially it’s ability to translate so well in a live context. Toki Wright & Big Cats were already highly esteemed, but the release of this project further solidified both artists. After selling out Icehouse for Pangaea’s official release party, one couldn’t help but feel like they’d witnessed history. As we enter our top 3, keep in mind that this could have easily been #1; check out Pangaea below and be on the look out for more.
Minneapolis’ hip hop scene has always be known for it’s typical “Rhymesayers” sound, but 2014 has seen a lot of emerging artists break away from that mold. One of these artists is RP Hooks, who dropped a stellar sophomore project in 340AM. With help from his BLVCK SPVCE brethren Amati & 1990, Hooks was able to craft a masterful project from the ground up. 340AM feels like RP Hooks’ full transition, it’s clear that he is in complete control throughout the record. Bangers and anthems abound, 340AM might be a little coarse for some folks, however, when looking past the genre; one can see the depth within the album. RP Hooks has come a long way since the days of All Black Jesus, there aren’t too many artists who have grown more than this dude, with such a high ceiling in the future. Check out 340AM below and stay tuned for more from RP Hooks.
As 2014 moved along, Alex Wiley linked up with quite a few major publications to release his singles. With Closed Sessions enabling these power moves, Wiley premiered his track “Sexual Dolphin” via Entertainment Weekly and “Booty Club” via Vice (Noisey). The latter, “Booty Club”, came about after Wiley’s security guard returned to their hotel room a little late. When asked why he was late he simply responded, “The booty club was goin dumb again”. A funny statement turned awesome song, “Booty Club” shows just how spontaneous and organic Alex Wiley’s music can be; check out the record below and keep an eye out for more.
Alex Wiley has been turning heads in Chicago for quite some time now. Throughout 2012 & 2013, Wiley, along with Chance The Rapper, Kembe X, Vic Mensa, and a few others; began to create their own buzz apart from the burgeoning Drill scene. During the summer of 2013, Wiley dropped his highly anticipated project, Club Wiley, which received good reviews across the nation. As 2014 came around many were wondering what’s next? Almost exactly a year after Club Wiley, he dropped Village Party, a record that displayed Alex Wiley’s versatility and growth. Village Party leads us into our top 5 and justifiably so, this album marked Alex Wiley’s transition from up and comer to bonafide artist to watch.
About a week ago (cut the shmoney jokes), Hurt Everybody dropped their latest single in the form of “Judo Shop”. The record sees Supa Bwe flex his singing skills while Mulatto once again provides an instrumental worthy of their sound. “Judo” has always been apart of Supa’s repertoire similar to his use of the concept/word “magic”. A solid record, “Judo” holds a serious tone while feeling playful at the same time. Check it out below and be on the look out for more.
At the beginning of the year, Hurt Everybody set fire when they released their track “Hella Lightning/Hella Swords”. Supa’s genius use of the iPhone’s “Marimba” tone, combined with a hard hitting bass, is a recipe for a banger. The way Supa & Carl switch flows effortlessly over the transitions instantly set Hurt Everybody apart from some of their peers, you weren’t hearing songs like this ANYWHERE else. One could argue that this song propelled their buzz to a new level, check out “Hella Lightning/Hella Swords” above and keep an eye out for more.