With the year winding down, opinions –lists – begin being assembled detailing the year’s best albums. Rap hasn’t had the same kind of years it has had previously, but there have been some noteworthy releases. Consider the top of this best rap albums list to be truly top-heavy. Here are the best rap albums of 2014 as of November 2014.
1) Logic, Under Pressure (Def Jam)
Under Pressure is arguably the ‘crown jewel’ of hip-hop albums in 2014. Logic’s flow is nothing short of exceptional on his debut. Not your standard album characterized with ‘bangers’, Logic truly makes you think as he speaks autobiographically.
2) Big K.R.I.T., Cadillactica (Def Jam)
On his sophomore album Cadillactica, Big K.R.I.T. constructs an album that goes above and beyond the expectations. Even in its shallowest moments, K.R.I.T. delivers those with care. Underrated, both Big K.R.I.T and Cadillactica are the real deal.
3) J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (Columbia)
2014 Forest Hills Drive proves to be yet another exceptional J. Cole album. Consistent from start to finish, J. Cole continues to cement his status as an MC to beat. Maybe he’s not the flashiest rapper – something that seems to explain his underrated nature to an extent – but he soundly accomplishes the job, no questions asked.
4) Common, Nobody’s Smiling (Def Jam)
It’s a shame that Common’s Nobody’s Smiling was a commercial bomb. Common has never been a big seller, but the 24,000 copies sold is a recent low. Regardless, Nobody’s Smiling is arguably the MC’s best album since 2005’s triumphant Be.
5) Jeezy, Seen It All: The Autobiography (Def Jam)
Sometimes we over- and underrate things. One album I underrated was Seen It All: The Autobiography, which essentially finds Jeezy picking up where TM103 left off a couple of years ago. Actually, Jeezy may be even grittier on this brutally honest affair.
6) Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint (Republic)
The Pinkprint is a scattered album, yet one that is accomplished in spite of its scattered nature. As always, Nicki Minaj isn’t content just to do one thing – sometimes she opts for gentle fare, while other times she spits the rawest rhymes you’ll ever hear. Complicated she may be, but all in all, Nicki gets it done.
7) T.I., Paperwork (Columbia)
The ‘king’ seemed like he’d been on hiatus arguably since 2008 smash Paper Trail, which was stacked with big-time hits. Even so, between the release of Paper Trail and Paperwork, T.I. released two albums: No Mercy and Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head. Paperwork feels like T.I. is completely back on the good foot; he sounds recharged and on his A-game.
8) The Roots, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (Def Jam)
Many people probably didn’t get this album, and it’s understandable. That said, ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is transcendent of rap – the total artwork. Basically pointing the finger at rappers who put a lot of stock in materialism, drugs, and sex, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin has depth many other rap albums lacked this year and years past.
9) Rick Ross, Mastermind (Def Jam)
Mastermind wasn’t Rick Ross’ best, but it still had plenty of superb moments. Among the best was “Devil Is A Lie” featuring Jay-Z.
10) Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron (Interscope)
There may have been more buzz around Oxymoron had it been released later in the year. Regardless, Schoolboy Q has plenty to offer as an MC, which he shows throughout the course of Oxymoron.
Many folks have different opinions on Iggy Azalea. Regardless, what’s undeniable is the fact that Azalea has had a gargantuan year, and it’s hard to deny the catchiness of her music. The album has less finesse than some of the others gracing the list, but there’s something there.
12) Hoodie Allen, People Keep Talking (Hoodie Allen, LLC)
Being independent has worked out well for Hoodie Allen, who scored another top 10 album with People Keep Talking. An enjoyable album through and through, Hoodie can flat out rap.
13) Lecrae, Anomaly (Reach)
Christian rap doesn’t get the respect of mainstream rap, but perhaps Lecrae can have his “cake and eat it too” on Anomaly, which straddles the line exceptionally.
Others worth checking out: G-Eazy, These Things Happen; YG, My Krazy Life; Kid Ink, My Own Lane; Rick Ross, Hood Billionaire