El-P & Killer Mike: Run The Jewels 2
Once again El-P and Killer Mike have collaborated to release a project full of the kind of powerful, thought provoking, multi-layered (both sonically and lyrically) music that is hard to come by in today’s Hip-Hop climate. The album has already been covered ad nauseum by the music press, but if you have been chillin’ under a rock the project is like if OutKast put out an album produced by The Bomb Squad on Def Jux Records in the sense that it truly embodies all of those aesthetics (Dirty South, East Coast, Underground, Socially Conscious, Lyrical, etc.) in one incredible 40 minute package.
Viewed in the context of the last three years (2012’s solo collaborative albums, 2013’s RTJ1 and 2014’s RTJ2) when Killer Mike rhymes “One half the best tag team ever…” it’s getting harder to argue with each project.
Pharoahe Monch: PTSD
Pharoahe Monch ended 2013 with a shout-out on Eminem’s “Rap God” and immediately proved why he was worthy of the recognition with 2014’s “PTSD.” From the claustrophobic and visceral “Time 2” to the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel vibe of “D.R.E.A.M.” the album expertly addresses mental illness and the various levels of a breakdown that can have long reaching effects.
With “PTSD” Monch simultaneously addresses an issue too often ignored in the Hip-Hop community and makes his best album since he told everybody what Simon Said…
Big KRIT: Cadillactica
After dropping four mixtapes that could go toe-to-toe with any album released over the last five years and one major label album that largely delivered on his promise as an artist, KRIT delivered arguably the best project of his career with “Cadillactica.” KRIT continues to expand the parameters of what’s generally accepted from a “Southern Rapper” with music that is soulful, thought provoking and undeniably relevant in 2014.
Lil’ Herb: Welcome to Fazoland
In an era with a lot of great music coming out of the mid-west, Lil’ Herb might just be the cream of the crop.
Your Old Droog: Your Old Droog EP
There’s a lot that could be said about this project, but the bottom line is that when the internet is debating if you are actually Nas, you are doing something right.
Nino Bless: Illuminati Reject
Nino Bless’ “Illuminati Reject” is packed with solid beats, iconoclastic lyrics and and an impassioned delivery to form a total package rarely seen in the music industry.
Best Album Title: The Roots: “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin”
The Roots took a break from being Jimmy Fallon’s house band to release this LP and while the album was incredibly short with very little that could be called traditional Hip-Hop, the KRS-ONE inspired title was a stroke of pure genius.
Best Title For A Bad Album: Common “Nobody’s Smiling”
When Common announced an album produced entirely by NO I.D. and featuring some of the most promising up-and-comers (Vince Staples, Lil’ Herb, etc.) most people were understandably excited to hear the project. Once it hit the streets most reactions were…meh.
Worst Title For A Good Album: Mariah Carey “Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse”
Between the silly title, the almost comically photoshopped cover, the lack of a lead single/video and the fact that anything she did musically was overshadowed by her divorce from Nick Cannon, this album was doomed before it was released. That being said, it’s actually pretty good. Armed with one of the best voices in history, hot production (Hit Boy, Mike Will, Q-Tip) and guest verses from top notch MC’s (Nas, Fabolous, Wale) Mariah proves she’s still one of the best R&B/Pop divas of all time.
Worst Record Label
It’s somewhat ironic that the most important record label in Hip-Hop history celebrated it’s 30th anniversary with a year they probably want to forget. Albums by The Roots, Jeezy, Mariah Carey, Rick Ross (two actually) and Common all failed to connect with critics and consumers. Plus there was the 30th Anniversary Concert that did NOT include Public Enemy, LL Cool J, EPMD, 3rd Bass, Jay-Z and several other of the label’s marquee stars. The iconic label closed out the year with well received albums by Big KRIT and Logic, which will hopefully serve as a springboard for a return to greatness in 2015.
NOTE: Yes, Iggy Azalea is on Def Jam. Yes, she was very successful. No, FifthRoundMovement will not acknowledge this.
*Listed in alphabetical order*
The Combat Jack Show
In 2014 Combat Jack tweaked the format of the already successful podcast by eliminating music breaks, reducing the number of hosts to just Reggie and Premium Pete and introducing episodes dedicated to breaking down a single album. While these changes were mostly well received (people still want Dallas Penn back), the show really elevated its’ game in terms of guests, which included legends (Bid Daddy Kane, LL Cool J), currently hot artists (Ty Dollar Sign, Kevin Gates) and behind-the-scenes unsung heroes (April Walker, Marley Marl) all while the show remained the gold standard for the Hip-Hop interview.
Desus vs. Mero
Desus vs. Mero is the FUNNIEST THING (podcast, television show, stand-up act, etc.) out there today. The hosts perfectly complement each other as they provide a weekly commentary on urban culture that is irreverently hilarious. Their take on current events is insane and every episode contains multiple laugh-til-you-cry moments. It can be argued that no truer words have been spoken in 2014 than “Life comes at you fast…”
In an era where a new comic book inspired movie hits theaters every month, hundreds of new comics are released weekly and video games go from “New Release” to the “Clearance” section at light speed, keeping up with “Geek Culture” can seem like a full time job. Luckily DJ Benhameen, Tatiana King-Jones and Chico Leo provide the “Voice of the Urban Geek” and keep listeners up to speed on where they should spend their time and money. The show continued to cover everything from TV shows to serious social issues in an entertaining and informative way.
Get Up On This
Jensen Karp and Matt Robinson (aka Matty Boom) continued their efforts to keep you ahead of the pop culture curve for all of 2014 while seeing several past picks really flourish this year (Logic, Lil’ Dicky, Jaden Smith…kind of). Towards the end of the year the show moved to a new network and debuted with improved production values and a streamlined format that looks to be exciting moving forward.
Graham Kay and Dylan Gott are Canadian stand-up comics with a near encyclopedic knowledge of sports foolishness. Every week they invite a guest to countdown such topics as: Best Mustache in Sports, Best Instance of Player/Fan Violence and Best Sports Mugshot. The resulting episodes are exactly as amazing as the topics would suggest.
*Listed in order of release date*
Asics Gel Lyte 3
This shoe hit the streets in too many dope colorways to pick just one, but Asic’s classic running shoe had a year for the ages in 2014.
Air Jordan III Sport Royal
Every so often a Jordan releases in a non-OG colorway that is so sick that even purists have to acknowledge its’ greatness. The black textured leather, iconic elephant print and Sport Royal Blue accents combined to make this one of the best non-OG J’s ever released.
Nike Air Command Force
aka The David Robinson’s
aka The Billy Hoyle’s
aka The White Men Can’t Jump’s
Unless you are as tall as The Admiral himself, this is a tough shoe to actually rock, but after well over two decades Nike re-released their answer to Reebok’s “The Pump” in all it’s early 90’s glory and the shoe did not disappoint.
The Hundreds X Reebok Pump AXT
Streetwear brand The Hundreds collaborated with Reebok to release one of the coolest collabs in recent memory. From the choice of the slept-on AXT model to the modified pump on the tongue (it’s a Hundreds bomb) this is one release you shouldn’t have missed.
Air Jordan VI Black/Infrared
This classic has been re-released multiple times since it’s debut in ’90, but this shoe in this colorway never gets old. Black nubuck, infrared accents and the chance to rock the same shoe MJ did when he won his first championship?…Yes, Please!