This is the top 9 songs of 2014 that I have found so far have stood out the most. With a healthy combination of old and new artist the line up is as follows (in no particular order): Talib Kweli, Young Nigga, Kate Tempest, Slaughterhouse, Plaid, The Glitch Mob, Pharrel, Drake and a suprise for the last person. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed listening! 🙂
In no particular order.
Talib Kweil – State of Grace (Gravitas)
This powerful song by artist Talib Kweli is a checking mainstream rappers and uplifting the modern black (Afrocentric) woman. The song loosely interweaves a narrative between a rapper from a poor neighborhood who when reaching success decided sold out the community for personal riches; and him interacting with a girl who grew up raised by a mom part of the movement, be her being caught on the edge of the spectrum grew up hearing herself be degraded by her favorite rapper whom she eventually got into a verbal confrontation with when meeting him in the backstage of one of his concerts.
“If an artist is a part of a community, And got an opportunity to get that cake, Would never come back to the hood, no immunity, Usually a nigga like that so fake, No different from a snake, Nothing left to give cause you always wanna take, If you aint using all the talents God provided you with, For the betterment of man, understand you ain’t nothing but a waste” “She grew up loving hip hop, Now all her daughter got is “Love & Hip Hop”, Nowadays niggas turn up for the sex, Niggas turn up for the money, never turn up for the movement, Ratchet reality stars that be looking so stupid, Getting in the fights at reunions.”
2. Young Nigga – I Just Bought a Bugatti
Tyler the Creator once again demonstrates that he is ahead of the curve by making fun of about 75% of all mainstream rappers. Under a different name: Young Nigga, Tyler does a literal satire of the subject matters of much of what is talked about nowadays including guns (“all my niggas keep heaters we don’t need jackets”), money (“young nigga got bread like a homeless shelter”), altercations (“ I slumped a fuck nigga I’m happy), women (“ I’m always happppy, as long as I got money, and these bitches on meeee, man they really want meeeee …”) and threats (we taking your irrigation system and fuckin it up nigga”)
3. Kate Tempest – The Beigeness
Out of the unknown of the unknown: enter Kate. A girl I heard in passing while listening to BBC Radio 1, this song seemed very well put together with the exciting combination of a constant upbeat dance feel mixed with powerful lyrics. The Beigness seems to be addressing the human emotion fear and looking at the way that we address it or run away from it. Overall the underlying message of the song seems to be: don’t run away from your fears, everyone has it, try and overcome. Bravo Kate.
“Them things that haunt you – let it be, them things you weep for – leave it, All life is forward you will see, it’s yours when you’re ready to recieve it.”
4. Slaughterhouse – House Rules
Eminem’s Slaughterhouse is the Cream of the 2010’s. Lyrical giants from different rap circles all in their mid 40’s showing you what rap sounds like when you allow for lyricist to mature. House Rules the name of their new album, is very appropriate in title because of its transcendence. It transcends dope lyricists’ boring beats. It unapologetically transcends the youth-obsessed culture of music today and shows the level of class you can speak from when you actually have the experience to back it up. This song overall is fun in its production and the clever rhyme deliveries and loose metaphors that keeps you attentive.
“I’m bogartin’, it’s so called un-bogartable, turnin your artists to – post modern flow particles. As far as the streets go, we got our fingers on this with no cardio. Believe me. We sliding all over this chess board like we playin a lil ‘Ouija, with no Mario, this shit is easy. We blowin our budget. We’ll battle you fuck it. Our auttide’s “Fuck it”, that’s why this song aint bout nothin.”
5. Plaid – Hawkmouth
What would have happened if Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album never actually reached any pop success? I think it is generally understood that music would’ve been drastically different over the following decades. The same can be said about this album: “Hawkmouth” with both an interesting originality and familiar fusion of different styles the single Hawkmouth brings in the best of many worlds of music. There seems to be a caribeean-esque percussion in the background throughout the song, while the booming bass made famous by hip hop music contrasts in a very lively way. The song appears to be in ABA format, but has enough chord changes in one second to complete a whole pop album by any pop star. But the cherry on top is the feeling that the song gives throughout it all, almost a fantastical utopia of the past with joys, victories, accomplishment and a hint of nostalgia. It quickly reminds you that the greatness of a song can often miss the eyes of mainstream music, but just as Kind of Blue was a legendary piece of work in its own rite, this might one day be too.
6. The Glitch Mob – Can’t Kill Us (Love Death Immortality)
In most electronic music fans eyes, Skrillex probably tops the charts with modern music. But without a doubt Los Angeles based The Glitch Mob is fighting for that spot with fervor in a passive manner that also only electronic music fans could understand. After releasing their first album “Drink the Sea” a few years back they have finally released a new piece of work, and – man is it a piece of work. Their single Can’t Kill Us Keeping with them their incessant snare drum roles that gives the feeling of being in a college football stadium, they slyly combine different elements include traces of dubstep, heavy hip hop beats (see the snare and bass drum pattern) and a repetitive main melody almost reminiscent of some of Daft Punk’s later work. This easily is a song I could listen to over and over again and not get tired of, with a calm confidence to it saying: “Welcome to the Future.”
7. Pharrel – Freq (Featuring Jo Jo and Leah Labelle)
With the philosophy of the hippys of the late 60’s intertwined with the feel and melody of 70’s and 90’s R&B, Pharrel blows the charts with this one. Playing on the love making theme of the Isley Brothers and Barry White (The sexy sigh of Leah Labelle that he uses as a percussive instrument in the background of the song to keep the listener in the romantic mindset throughout), with the intense passion of 90’s R&B artists like Jodeci and R. Kelly some how Pharrell smoothly adapts these emotions to the “mindfulness revolution” silently taking place in our country which re-examines themes of peace, diversity and freedom (for those who don’t know).
Could he be the one to redefine in modern day how to sing about the primal love and lust within us in a modern day?
“You gotta go inward, (ahhh) to experience the outer space that was built for you, (ahhh) You got to go inward…”
8. Drake – 0-100
“Fuck being on some chill shit, we go 0-100 nigga real quick, they be on that rap to pay the bills shit, and I don’t feel that shit, not even a little bit. Oh lord, no yourself, no your worth nigga. My actions been louder than my words nigga.”
After coming off of his critically acclaimed chick-flick album, Drake proceeds to make a 180 switch in style not unlike a Leonardo Di Caprio going from Titanic to The Departed. After being bashed by virtually all of his males fans for the past 6-8 months he steps up on the mike on this track and lyrically slaps everyone of them.
He very directly reminds everyone of his credentials: that to this day no one ever gets on his lyrical rap quality (“who else sounding like this? they aint made me what I am I been sounding like this”), he naturally pulls more women than most rappers act like they can, that he’s worldwide famous and that he’s growing as a man day by day and still chillin with his niggas from the beginning, including 40 who made this beat and has been with him before the fame. And also that with his power in the music industry, he is a boss in his own right, which does in fact in this case trump much of street credit especially in modern day (“fuck all of that rap to pay the bills shit, I be on that rappers pay my bills shit”). (Fuck all o
Oh yea and by the way, what was the follow-up feedback to this song? All of the most famous rappers immediately covering it including: 50 cent, Waka Flaka, Cassidy, Joel Ortiz, Meek Mill and Vado. I can not think of many other rapper who can make a flip like this. Bravo Drake.
The part 2 of the song brilliantly he monologues:
“The other night Lavish Lee told me that I’m all these people listen to. She said they love me unconditional. Imagine how it feel to watch another nigga at the top, you now if you wasn’t you, you would be dissin’ you, dawg. Damn okay, from that perspective I see what you’re talkin bout, no way to soften that. Cause me, I was tryna find out where I lost ’em at. But maybe I aint lose ’em at all, Maybe I keep movin’ forward and they’re stagnant, they ain’t movin at all. But when they need a favor, who do they call? Maybe I’m searchin’ for the problems, askin’ what was said and who was involved. Too focused on people’s feedback and provin em wrong…”
9. Joseph Johnson- Waiting on What?
Big ups to my first live band composition. Inspired by true events. That is all.