2014’s 50 Best LPs and EPs

The list begins here.

30. Cities Aviv- Come to Life

Favorite Track(s): Fool, Head, URL IRL, Ctl1, Perpetuate the Real, (Self 100): Know Who You Are, (View 180): Picture Me Gone, Worlds of Pressure

Least Favorite Track: Realms

Best Production: Head (prod. Cities Aviv)

X-Factor: We all thought lo-fi was dead Cities Aviv did not get the message and his expressive vocals pair amazingly with the instrumentals which are somehow simultaneously lo-fi hip-hop and 90’s dance music.

Rating: 72

Must Listen Rating: 4/10

29. Dilated Peoples- Directors of Photography

Favorite Track(s): Directors, Cut My Teeth, The Dark Room, Show Me the Way, Century of the Self, Opinions May Vary, Trouble, L.A. River Drive, The Bigger Problem

Least Favorite Track: The Reversal

Best Production: Trouble (prod. by

X-Factor: You all know Dilated Peoples, this is nothing new to you.  Their newest LP isn’t short on complex lyricism and intricate production.

Rating: 72

Must Listen Rating:  8/10

28. Rome Fortune- Beautiful Pimp 2

Favorite Track(s): I Was On One, I Can’t Lie; Indifferent; OneDay; Secretly; Patience; Tropical;  So

Least Favorite Track: Bad for Me

Best Production: I Was On One, I Can’t Lie (prod. by Cito on the Beat)

X-Factor: I still don’t know how to explain Rome Fortune to people–I should really figure it out because he’s about to be the next thing.  I find the fact that he completely baffles me to be my favorite thing about him.

Rating: 73

Must Listen Rating: 10/10 I would just get used to him being all in your speakers honestly.

27. Diamond District- March on Washington

Favorite Track(s): March On, These Bammas, The Back Up, Purveyors of Truth, A Part of it All, Say What You Mean, Erything, You Had to Be There,

Least Favorite Track: Working Weekends

Best Production: These Bammas (prod. by Oddisee)

X-Factor: DC is quickly becoming one of the countries best hip-hop cities; in no small part because of Oddisee, Uptown XO, and yU.

Rating: 74

Must Listen Rating: 8/10

26. Jamla Records- Jamla is the Squad

Favorite Track(s): God Willin’, Life of Pi, No Competition, Pretty Bird, Walk On By, Bomber & A Fly Chick, Shinin’ Star, Not Sure, Illuminaughty, Iron Mic, Warriors, Knock Knock, Soldier

Least Favorite Track: Drive Home

Best Production: Not Sure (prod. by Kash)

X-Factor: I’m not sure anyone since anyone since Jerry Buss in 2008 has been able to assemble the kind of talent in one place 9th Wonder has managed with his record label.

Rating: 74

Must Listen Rating:  10/10 For some inexplicable reason this record label still contains FAR too many unknown names.

25. Damani Nikosi- Thoughtful King

Favorite Track(s): A Man, Now That’s Love, On My Way To Inglewood, Rich, Through Me, So Nice, Good Night

Least Favorite Track: Ethiopia

Best Production: On My Way To Inglewood (prod. by Warryn Campbell & Ric Rude)

X-Factor: Thoughtful King is refreshing, an LP that knows exactly what it is for 48 minutes.  It’s jazzy light and thoughtfully crafted.

Rating: 75

Must Listen Rating: 3/10

24. The Underachievers- Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium

Favorite Track(s): Luminescence, Chrysalis, Radiance, Caprice, Incandescent, Nebulous, Felicity, Amorphous

Least Favorite Track: Quiescent

Best Production: Incandescent (prod. by Ryan Hemsworth)

X-Factor: One of the biggest problems I had with last year’s Indigoism was that it seemed repetitive, mostly a product of length.  Cellar Door is the perfect length, and the condensed LP does not lose and of the grit and grime of their debut release and it is certainly just as intelligent.

Rating: 77

Must Listen Rating: 7/10

23. The Doppelgangaz- Peace Kehd

Favorite Track(s): Holla X2, Shit Rock, KnowntchooTahLie, $ In da Air, What’s Your 20, Fall Thru

Least Favorite Track: Unglodly

Best Production: Holla X2 (prod. by The Dopplegangaz)

X-Factor: Best collective production output on an LP this year.

Rating: 78

Must Listen Rating: 7/10

22. Homeboy Sandman- Hallways

Favorite Track(s): 1,2,3; America, the Beautiful; Loads; Refugee; Heaven Too; Problems; Personal Ad; Stroll;

Least Favorite Track: Enough

Best Production: Personal Ad (prod. by Professor Brian Oblivion)

X-Factor: Unapologetically weird, ingeniously funny, and endearingly self-deprecating–Hallways is the story of Sandman’s self exploration.

Rating: 78

Must Listen Rating: 10/10 Challenge yourself, it’s good for you.

21. Ratking- So It Goes

Favorite Track(s): Canal, So Sick Stories, Remove Ya, Eat, So it Goes, Bug Fights

Least Favorite Track: Puerto Rican Judo

Best Production: So Sick Stories (prod. by Sporting Life)

X-Factor: The boys from NYC are just a more accessible version of Flatbush Zombies, Death Grips, and Super Chron Flight Brothers. They take all that experimental, trippy sound and mix it with classic NYC boom bap.

Rating: 80

Must Listen Rating: 8/10

20. Mac Miller- Faces

Favorite Track(s): Inside Outside, Here We Go, Angel Dust, Malibu, What Do You Do, Therapy, Wedding, Funeral, Diablo, San Francisco, Insomniak, Rain, New Faces v2

Least Favorite Track: It Just Doesn’t Matter

Best Production: Wedding (prod. by Larry Fisherman)

X-Factor: Admittedly I shouldn’t be surprised with this after last years Watching Movies With the Sound Off, but it’s weird seeing that high kid from Pittsburgh we all laughed at turning into one of the most impressive rappers making music.  One of the only faults with this mixtape (yes, fucking mixtape) was it was too long, an ambitious length but it just came back to bite Miller in the end.

Rating: 80

Must Listen Rating: 10/10

19. Flying Lotus- You’re Dead

Favorite Track(s): Tesla, Cold Dead, Fkn Dead, Never Catch Me, Dead Man’s Tetris, Siren Song, Ready Or Not, Eyes Above, The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep, Obligatory Cadence

Least Favorite Track: Descent Into Madness

Best Production:

X-Factor: Flying Lotus’s You’re Dead is easily my favorite from the MC.  It runs at a tight 38 minutes that feels like 20 minutes.  The LP is punchier and less atmospheric than any of Lotus’s previous works.

Rating: 81

Must Listen Rating: 3/10

18. Isiah Rashad- Cilvia Demo

Favorite Track(s): Hereditary, Webbie Flow (U Like), R.I.P. Kevin Miller, Ronnie Drake, West Savannah, Menthol, Heavenly Father, Shot You Down

Least Favorite Track: Brad Jordan

Best Production: Heavenly Father (prod. by D. Sanders)

X-Factor: Lyrically the most impressive release from the prolific Top Dawg Ent label this year, at times the sound can become to monotonous with the tracks blending together in an attempt to have a cohesive sound across the project.

Rating: 81

Must Listen Rating: 7/10 

17. Curren$y- The Drive In Theatre

Favorite Track(s): Introduction, Godfather Four, Stove Top, Vintage Vineyard, Migraine, Grew Up In This, 10 Gs, El Camino, The Usual Suspects

Least Favorite Track: ET

Best Production: Migraine (prod. by Cardo & Young Exclusive)

X-Factor: Like the Tim Duncan of rap Curren$y knows what he’s good it and he never strays from that.  But like Pop we never complain because that shit works so damn well.  Sure The Drive In Theatre is nothing new, especially not for Curren$y, but it is nothing if not extraordinarily well-made. And we basically invented an entire genre of music in the 60s to listen to while you were high why hold he same thing against Hot Spitta?

Rating: 81

Must Listen Rating: 10/10 Once again Curren$y releases an incredible project but because it’s not experimental or dense it gets passed over by… everyone.

16. Blueprint- Respect the Architect

Favorite Track(s): Oh Word?, True Vision, Overdosin’, Once Again, Respect the Architect, Silver Lining, The Climb

Least Favorite Track: Perspective

Best Production: True Vision (prod. by Blueprint)

X-Factor: One half of Soul Position doing what we miss so damn much from those guys.

Rating: 83

Must Listen Rating: 5/10

15. Has-Lo & Castle- Live Like You’re Dead

Favorite Track(s): Go To Work, Famished, Agassi & Ashe, D.L.S., My Uncle, Good Feelings (U Must Realax), The Uncomfortable Truth About Stardom, Look Out!

Least Favorite Track: Hennessy-Yak

Best Production: The Uncomfortable Truth About Stardom (prod. Castle)

X-Factor: The trade not only lyrically but in the production between Has-Lo and Castle on this LP lend way to some of the most impressive musical moments of the year.

Rating: 84

Must Listen Rating: 6/10

14. Goldlink- The God Complex

Favorite Track(s): Ay Ay, Planet Paradise, Hip Hop (Interlude), Fuck Being Polite, How It’s Done, When I Die

Least Favorite Track: CNTRL

Best Production: Bedtime Story (prod. by Louie Lastic)

X-Factor: Usually projects with such diverse sounds as “When I Die” and “Planet Paradise” end up coming out as a mess of tracks and less of a cohesive piece.  Goldlink’s energetic flow and expressive lyricism pulls the project together and makes it one of this years best.

Rating: 84

Must Listen Rating: 10/10 I thought I already told you about DC?

13. Vince Staples- Shyne Coldchain II

Favorite Track(s): Locked and Loaded, 45, Oh You Scared, Nate, Turn, Shots

Least Favorite Track: N/A

Best Production: 45 (prod. by No I.D.)

X-Factor: Vince Staples is just smarter than everyone else we should just accept that fact and get used to it.  His an aberration in the system.

Rating: 86

Must Listen Rating: 9/10

12. Pell- Floating While Dreaming

Favorite Track(s): Dollar Store, Now You Know, Kreation, The Never, Morning Light, Runaway, Wait On Me

Least Favorite Track: Gibberish

Best Production: Now You Know (prod. by Staccs)

X-Factor: Pell plays with the motif of dreams on this LP in a beautiful way.  Experimenting with self reflection, story telling, and the experience of time.

Rating: 87

Must Listen Rating:  6/10

11. Blu- Good To Be Home

Favorite Track(s): The Return, Boyz N the Hood, Whip Creme Pt. One, The 50Z, Summer Time, The Summer, Dre Day, Red  & Gold, Child Support, Well Fare, He Man, Bobby Brown

Least Favorite Track: The LA

Best Production: Summer Time (prod. by Bombay)

X-Factor: Blu’s most ambitious release of his long career both for its length and production Good to be Home may fall short in those two areas but the project contains some of Blu’s best lyricism since Below the Heavens.

Rating: 87

Must Listen Rating: 10/10 The best performance from Blu in a long time and we might never get a Below the Heavens again but we can hope.

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