The 25 Best Hip-Hop Albums Of 2014 (So Far)
¡Mayday! & Murs, ¡MursDay!
In a strategy that highlights Strange Music’s group mentality, latest signee Murs’ first release on the label came in the form of a collaboration with ¡Mayday! Aptly titled ¡MursDay!, the album sees Murs trade rhymes with ¡Mayday! MCs Wrekonize and Bernz, in an old school freewheeling manner that’s indicative of their shared charisma. Murs retains his comedic stylings, Bernz shows his strength in delivery, and Wrekonize comes across as extremely relatable. They’re all likeable personalities on the mic, and each knows how to inject wordplay in frequent intervals.
The ¡Mayday! band emerged as the real star of the project, creating a sonic landscape that plays almost like a live show. There are impressive horns and atypical drums, flamenco hand claps and insanely catchy hooks. The Latin flavor is coupled with some hints of rock and West Coast swag. It’s all a welcome departure from the norm, while utilizing scratch techniques and reliable rhymes to retain a level of accessibility for hip-hop purists. A “summer album” that’s inhabited by quality MC skills and old school thematics is hard to come by. ¡MursDay! delivers exactly that.—RC
Mobb Deep, The Infamous Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep refused to fade away from hip-hop even after a public and rather embarrassing fallout on Twitter in 2012. Despite their mini-feud, Prodigy and Havoc resolved their problems for the fans, reuniting for The Infamous Mobb Deep. The double-disc LP pays homage to their formidable years by giving a wealth of songs that deserve to be in your collection. With production by Havoc and New York staples like !llmind, they crafted a quality project that makes us believe this won’t be the last time we’ll be hearing from the Queensbridge veterans.—ED
Classic New York hip-hop has been on the come up again with recent reunions of groups like Dipset, The LOX and G-Unit, but it was Queens crew Onyx who delivered a full LP first. The group’s sixth studio project, #WakeDaFucUp, is a hard-hitting album that takes the listener on a wild adventure through the harsh realities of living in Southside, Queens. Produced entirely by the Snowgoons, the album’s 14 tracks include features from New York staples Sean Price, Papoose, A$AP Ferg and more. Songs like “Hammers On Deck,” “We Don’t F**kin’ Care” and “The Tunnel” prove that no matter how much time has gone by, Onyx still has something to bring to the table. —JW
Pharrell, G I R L
With the wild success that Pharrell experienced in 2013, fans were caught up in the anticipation of Skateboard P’s first studio album in eight years. G I R L not only got Pharrell nominated for an Oscar, he’s cleaned up at a series of award shows since. There’s a reason Pharrell waited a while to release an LP. The massive success of the single “Happy” has certainly played a huge part when it comes to the accolades of the LP, proving not only a hit in the US but across the globe. The refreshing sound also attributes to the excellence of the project, as Pharrell meshed 1970’s disco sounds with the hard-hitting beats of today, setting the album apart from much of the pop-hop that’s come through in the past decade.—MJ