There’s no question that 2014 has been a jam packed, eventful and incredible year for music. Having worked alongside so many people in so many different projects it has not been quiet! With so much excitement following some great film releases, albums and of course the World Cup over the summer, there has been so much to tune into. Now we’re just a stone’s throw away from 2015 and it feels as if 2014 has been the quickest year to date (I’ll be saying the same next year!). I have been so excited for the music that has been pouring out of the underground UK electronic, grime and hip hop scenes, whilst also seeing the US produce some complete gems. So with that in mind my top 5 is a small homage to that. These tunes have been ever present listening throughout my year of discovering new music, here’s my favourites out of the bunch:
1. Dream Mclean – ‘D.W.I.D.’
I love everything about this track – the beat, the verses, the chorus and the video. Dream Mclean is very quickly taking over the UK hip-hop and grime scene. Whilst apparently the decision to do a song with Professor Green and CASisDEAD was because of a group conversation the three of them had over Twitter, it was obviously the correct decision. Each verse has its own feel and flow yet not one of them holds back or sugar coats their lyrics. The lyrical content is almost a more modern, British and dark take on West Coast gangsta-rap. This is already a classic: let Dream Mclean take you to the dark side.
2. Wu-Tang Clan – ‘Felt’
From Wu-Tang’s latest release, A Better Tomorrow, ‘Felt’ is the stand-out track for me. Seemingly going against what is considered mainstream in hip-hop at the moment, the track is as unusual as it is brilliant. The beat is layered up with trap drums, acoustic guitars, a haunting piano and the vocals. The melodies are slightly off time with the drums, starting a beat later, which makes the whole thing sound disjointed and odd, however it is produced so perfectly that it sounds just as much a masterpiece. I don’t need to state the quality of the verses as everyone will understand that when it comes to vocal ability there is no group quite like Wu-Tang.
3. Mala – ‘Expected’
Mala is one of the great pioneers and guru’s of Dubstep. Whilst it is debatable of the direction Dubstep went under producers such as: Skrillex, Nero and Knife Party, Mala has always stayed true the dub inspired, 140bpm roots of the genre. ‘Expected’ is fairly heavy for Mala with it’s solid 4/4 drum pattern and heavy synth lead playing repetitive patterns throughout, but it still has that organic sounding Mala vibe to it. Choosing not to create too much of a wall of sound, there is always space in Mala’s tracks. ‘Expected’ is no exception.
4. Om Unit – ‘The War (featuring Jehst)’
Om Unit is an electronic music producer, who basically does whatever he wants – and pulls it off. Whilst Om Unit is a name a lot of people may not have heard, he is growing by the hour in the world of underground bass music. I say bass music because there’s not many electronic genres he hasn’t touched. Having been lucky enough to see him do a set at Less Effect in Liverpool, I witnessed first hand his infectious energy and unpredictable set. I was sold the minute he started. ‘The War’ is one of his strongest tracks to date, with vocals from UK hip-hop giant Jehst, the two create a true electronic masterpiece. Jungle drums, hip-hop flow, Lo-Fi synth sounds and an extended outro of a speech from famous philosopher, Alan Watts, ‘The War’ is a banger is every sense of the word.
5. Hopsin – ‘Ill Mind Of Hopsin 7’
Hopsin is the co-founder and mastermind behind the new independent giants, Funk Volume. Home to Dizzy Wright, SwizZz and Jarren Benton: Funk Volume is a small label, with a huge impact. Hopsin himself releases an ‘ill mind’ track every year, which is basically whatever he wants to get off his chest through a one off track. Number 5 was easily the strongest until Number 7 was released, this time shifting his attention to the belief of the existence of God. Having grown up a Christian child, he turns his focus onto viewing religion as a trap, something invisible that takes hold over people, stopping people from living freely. The beat, rather ironically, is made up of a church sounding choir, a very basic drum pattern and strings. If you like tracks with a deeper meaning that will make you think, then this for you.
Here’s to another vintage year in 2015!