The Start Of It All! My Top 10 Tracks Of The Year So Far

Top 10 Songs of 2014 So Far…

So this will be the first of a series of posts introducing all the writers here to all of you guys! It will also give you a chance to understand all of our different tastes and preferred sounds! Just to quickly introduce myself I’m Will and as is the same most of us here, I am a student at Nottingham Trent. While being there my music taste has has been changed forever and influenced by everybody I have met. However, my main love is Hip-Hop from the Chief Keefs of this world to the MF DOOMs so with that being said lets start this off!

2013 was a big year in the world of music, and in particular it was a massive year for Hip-Hop. With hugely anticipated releases finally arriving from artists such as Kanye West, Jay-Z and Pusha T just to name a few, it’s safe to say 2013 would be a very hard year to top in the world of music. However 2014 has thus far given its best shot, with some unexpected releases, brilliant new artists and brewing rivalries beginning to boil through. With that in mind I thought now, the middle of the year, would be a great time to share my top 10 highlights of the year so far in the world of Hip-Hop.

ScHoolboy Q- Gangsta

So let’s jump right into the list with possibly my favourite song of 2014 so far, coming from the west coast TDE Black Hippy member ScHoolboy Q, Gangsta. Coming off the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed album Oxymoron, Gangsta is the opening track and immediately sets the tone for the whole album. A dark, hard-hitting track with some heavy head nodding bass, describing ScHoolboy’s surroundings and life while growing up. Ranging from his evolution from simply carrying a gun while broke, up to his full on gangster life of robberies and drug dealing, it’s an interesting listen that give us a small insight into the world of a Hoover Crip. From the opening lines “Fuck rap, my daddy a gangsta” spoken by his daughter right to the last YAWK! Gangsta is a thrilling song that captures the real gangsta rap we haven’t truly seen since the days of Ice Cube, well worth a listen for Hip-Hop fans everywhere!

Isaiah Rashad- RIP Kevin Miller

Moving on to another one of my top songs of the year so far we have RIP Kevin Miller by Isaiah Rashad. For those who haven’t heard of Isaiah Rashad before he is newest member of the TDE family, which as previously mentioned, houses the likes of ScHoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and SZA. A young rapper from Tennessee, Rashad has really begun to show his potential within the TDE label. The first of six releases promised by the TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, Isaiah’s release the Cilvia Demo was somewhat of an unknown quantity as the focus for the album continued to change as time went by, but in January of this year the whole album was released and was a great success critically which will in due course hopefully lead to greater exposure for an artist perhaps stuck a little bit in the shadow of fellow TDE members. But I digress the song I’ve chosen from the album is RIP Kevin Miller, with an almost hazy and nostalgic feel to the beat it compliments Isaiah Rashad’s harder hitting flow, it fits perfectly together to create a quite brilliant song describing typical life in Tennessee, while at the same time outlining his plans for the future to be one the best. Not only is the beat impressive but the way in which Isaiah Rashad has altered his flow to be a little faster really fits the song very well, and finally my favourite part of the song, my favourite hook for the year “Y’all live for bitches and blunts. We live for weed and money” is guaranteed to catch your ear and have you singing it wherever you may be!

Bishop Nehru- Warm Up Sessions SBTV

This is a bit of cheat choice as this song is actually a freestyle done for YouTube channel SBTV by the Bishop Nehru. Bishop Nehru is a very MC hailing from New York and at only 17 years old he’s making some serious waves in Hip-Hop, with three mixtapes already under his belt and a collaborative effort with the ever elusive MFDOOM coming shortly, the future looks very bright indeed. So this brings me to the freestyle, one of the Warm Up Sessions on SBTV has Nehru going in over the classic J Dilla “Life” beat which suits him down to a tee. He flows effortlessly over the beat displaying a maturity well beyond his years. He is a part of an up and coming group of MCs all coming out of New York it really is an exciting time for east coast rap. Give Bishop Nehru a listen and I’m sure you’ll become an instant fan!

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib- Thuggin’

Upon hearing of the collaboration between Freddie Gibbs and Madlib I wasn’t sure what to expect, Gibbs a gangsta rapper formerly associated with Jeezy and his CTE label, more accustomed to trap beats than the slower more sample heavy beats masterfully crafted by Madlib. However it comes off brilliantly, Freddie Gibbs never misses a step he is constantly on point, while at the same time the beat crafted by Madlib is a thing of beauty, the Rubba sample is excellent and helps to emphasise Freddie Gibbs’ flow over the whole song. For me it has to be one of the best collaborations of the year and Thuggin’ perfectly summarises what makes them so good together.

Rejjie Snow- Black Pancakes

We keep on moving with the list with the Irish MC Rejjie Snow and his tune Black Pancakes. As people may be able to tell from my list so far and by the end of this list, I am a big fan of J Dilla and MF DOOM, and in this song both of their influences are clear. The beat has an eerie almost haunting sample combined with some booming drums coming in hard it’s great to listen to. That brings me to the next part Rejjie’s rhyming and lyrical wordplay are up there with the best around, in this song his voice almost sounds like he is narrating the beat for you in a dream like state. It is favourite of mine for this year and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more from this talented MC in the future.

Flatbush Zombies- My Team Supreme 2.0

Flatbush Zombies are a trio out of Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, who are killing the game right now. Even though they have only released two mixtapes thus far, both have been unbelievable. After their first release D.R.U.G.S brought forward huge singles such as “Thug Waffle” and “Face-Off” there second outing a mixtape called BetterOffDEAD was released and along with it “My Team Supreme 2.0” a certified banger featuring Bodega Bamz, it is a piano driven sound that fits perfectly with the current Beast Coast movement going on at the moment in the New York area. With all three members plus Bamz all contributing a verse each there is plenty to enjoy here. Beginning with my favourite part of the song the first verse from Eric Ark Elliott aka the Architect, who also produces the song, does himself justice with his bars delivering a memorable opening salvo and does no harm to his burgeoning production reputation with the whole song’s production. Meech comes in in classic fashion with his booming and distinct voice which is always a highlight, his lyrical ability is on point as per usual as well. One small downside in my opinion is Bamz’ verse, for me it simply detracts from the others who are far better in my opinion and far more memorable. Juice finishes the song with switched up flow so far different from his usual style it shows his willingness to experiment something becoming less and less frequent in the modern hip-hop world. Anyway give it a listen and let us know what you think!

Drake- Trophies

What can be said about Drake that hasn’t already been said, quite simply the hottest MC in the game at the moment and he shows no signs of slowing down every track he touches with his Midas touch turns tracks into instant hits, prime example is bringing Soulja Boy back into the public eye by jumping in on the track “We Made It”. But back to the track “Trophies” once again kills it, it begins with some triumphant celebratory trumpets accompanied by Drake describing his accomplishments and generally boasting about his life, which may sound too arrogant and perhaps too easy for such a talented rapper, but somehow he makes it work with complete ease and instils a feeling of confidence into you just from listening to it. He almost gives the feeling as if you are sharing his accomplishments with him during the track. The narrative does shift however all of sudden the trumpets fade out and a synth comes in, leading to Drake declaring that he’s not necessarily doing everything for the trophies, but actually to provide for himself, family and friends something that doesn’t come with an award. As we all know Drake is fire right now so give it a listen and see what you think.

NehruvianDOOM- Darkness (HBU)

Another entry here from Bishop Nehru but this time it’s a part of the collaboration with MF DOOM known as NehruvianDOOM. This is the first release from the duo’s upcoming effort, and if Darkness is anything to go by then WOW! It’s going to be amazing. The beat composed by DOOM and has Nehru spitting hard on it, a classic DOOM-style beat that to me feels like the end of a heist movie with the robbers escaping a true extravaganza that bodes well for their future. Their chemistry is clearly on point and hope to hear soon some DOOM and Nehru trading bars on a trademark villainous beat!

Drake- 0 to 100

Another Drizzy track makes my list for top 10 hip-hop of 2014 so far… and this time it’s the banger 0 to 100 produced by Boi-1da. Boi-1da, who has worked with artists such as Eminem, works his magic here again with a classic beat that just about everyone has remixed or covered. With some serious drums and a short guitar sample the beat suits Drake impeccably. He kills it and the streak continues and he is now arguably the hottest artist in all of music let alone just hip-hop.

ScHoolboy Q- Man of the Year

So here we are the final entry and as they start as you mean to finish, so as such I have to complete my list with a track from my artist and album of the year so far ScHoolboy Q and his album Oxymoron. The track “Man of the Year” was one of the flagship singles for the album and it doesn’t disappoint. A definite party tune, it has Q simply enjoying life on a crazy good beat that after watching the video makes me think of summer and good times, very good times (just watch the video!). Perhaps a bit of a step away from the gangsta side of things, it’s a funkier side to ScHoolboy Q not really seen before and it comes off very well. At the end of the day I could have put 10 songs from Oxymoron on the list I liked the album that much and would implore anyone who has read this to listen to the whole album in my opinion it’s a masterpiece. But give “Man of the Year” a listen and I’m sure it will convince you!

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