Favorite Albums of 2014 ; Mid - Year
2013 brought some incredible albums from the Psychedelic rock sounds of Arcade Fire to the disco/funk groves of Daft Punk. But how will that year be topped? Here is my list of my most anticipated albums and projects of 2014. Many of the albums on this list haven’t been necessarily confirmed as of yet but are projects that are expected to be released based off of reports and speculation. The list is in no particular order.
Chance The Rapper
In 2013, Chance the Rapper released his second mixtape Acid Rap which was critically acclaimed across the board and helped to bring Chance’s name to the fore front of rap music. Following his successful mixtape, the anticipation of a new project has risen tremendously. Chance has been throwing out the phrase, “Social Experiment” around recently, posting a video of a concert performance that seems to be promoting a new project, moving into a compound with James Blake, and uploading Instagram videos of him working with other artists. I don’t know what will drop from him in 2014, but I know it’ll be something to look forward to.
Recently, the CEO of Top Dawg Entertainment tweeted that there will be six new albums that will be released from the label in 2014. With that being said, there are currently six members of the group so if the CEO’s words mean anything, we will be seeing major releases from each member. The top dog (no pun intended) of my 2012 list of favorite albums, Kendrick Lamar, has been rumored to be working on a new album to be released in 2014 and we know for certain that Schoolboy Q will be releasing his album, Oxymoron, February 25th.
One of my favorite bands at the moment dropped their jaw dropping pop album, Gossamer, in 2012. Since then, Passion Pit has toured and performed at various festivals over the last year. In an interview over the fall of 2013, lead singer, Michael Angelakos stated that he was planning to work on the new album within the next few months and that he wanted there to be a smaller window of time from when he released his last few albums.
Odd Future member, Frank Ocean, dominated the R&B scene in 2012 when he released his debut album Channel Orange, which incorporated mellow production and genuine heartfelt lyrics that showcased his vocal and songwriting abilities. As of early last year, Ocean is at least ten songs deep into his next album so an album this year doesn’t seem to far-fetched. We also know that the album will sound more in line with the Beach Boys and other classic rock bands and that it’s expected to arrive this Summer. So lets pray that this actually comes true.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
The Seattle duo made an enormous splash in popular music from late 2012 into 2013 with four hit radio singles and nominations from pretty much every music award show there is. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis both announced a hiatus in late 2013 to presumably come up with new music, after all, Macklemore released an image of them on Instagram working on new music so lets hope that this next album of theirs is released sometime before the year 2014 comes to an end.
Following the success of one of 2013’s most ambitious and creative albums, the “God of Rap” has stated that a new project will arrive sometime in 2014. Although details are vague, listeners can probably expect to hear a sound either reminisant to the noise hop sounds of Yeezus or maybe the soul sounds of his previous work. Producers Q –Tip and Rick Rubin have both stated that they’re both executive producers of the album so it definitely should be an interesting project.
Releasing her debut EP in 2013, Jhene has already started to build into her album by performing on various features with a wide array of artists including Childish Gambino, Drake, and Logic. 2014 seems to be the year where Jhene will be releasing her debut album and will hopefully catapult the young artist into the superstardom she deserves.
Let me start off by saying Hoodie Allen’s music is very hit or miss for me. That doesn’t mean I think he’s bad, it’s just not something I’m crazy over. With that being said, he’s releasing a new album this year and I’m extremely curious to what the album will sound like. I never completely enjoyed his EP All American, but I enjoyed his mixtape Crew Cuts which came out in April of 2013. Hopefully this new project will combine the best elements of his EP and his most recent mixtape to make for an exceptional debut.
In what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, my favorite music group of all time and my first introduction to hip- hop ten years ago, the legendary hip- hop duo Outkast, has reunited to do a 40 festival run in 2014. With this announcement, it can only be hoped that Big Boi and Andre 300 also have an album planned for release sometime this year. And on another note, Outkast, PERFORM AT LOUFEST.
Beck hasn’t released an album since 2008, but the indie rock musician has remained active by releasing a book of sheet music, holding a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and by appearing in random features over the last few years. Not much is really known about his next album, Morning Phase, but we do know that it is planned to be released this February.
Maryland rapper Logic made huge waves last year when he was included on XXL Freshman list, but since then, he has released new mixtape, gone on tour with Kid Cudi, and signed a deal with Def Jam Records. His debut album will be executively produced by producing legend NO ID and is expected to come out sometime this year.
The Black Keys
After the Black Keys released their album El Camino in 2011, the group has remained relatively quiet besides performing concerts and music festivals across the world. However, in January of 2013, The Keys announced that they started recording their new project to be released probably sometime this year. Lets cross our fingers that this will happen.
Matt and Kim
The fun catchy duo/couple released their last project in 2012 and a remix album last year meaning that a project full of completely new material is probably right around the corner. We can probably expect at least an announcement from the duo within the next few months so be prepared. Oh, and if you haven’t seen this group live, make yourself watching them your new years resolution.
Pusha T and his brother Malice (now known as No Malice) are supposedly at it again as Pusha posted a picture of him working with producer super group, The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo). The album currently has no release date or really any confirmed information. The only thing known for sure is that the project is being worked on at the moment and will hopefully involve the duo on production similar to what was seen with their earlier projects.
2014 will hopefully deliver with many different projects. I’m still looking forward to projects that will possibly be released by Bon Iver, St. Vincent, Wu Tang Clan, Action Bronson, Beach House, Run The Jewels and many more. Of course other projects will be announced and released this year and who knows, maybe this is the year where we’ll get some suprises like Detox an album from Despot, or maybe that Jay Electronica album, probably not.
AHHH YEAH!!! It’s here! After weeks of pondering, listing my favorite songs, and my rookie of the year, it is time for my top list, THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2013 (Applause). I will go through each of my favorite albums with a few sentences of analysis for each album and then go into more depth as I reach my top 5. You ready, lets go.
Toro y Moi – Anything In Return
Chillwave artist, Chaz Bundick, AKA, Toro y Moi, released Anything In Return in January of 2013. Although the album was released in the winter, the album has a very summer like feel. The production is very light and the album brings back Bundick’s Chillwave atmosphere. Many of the tracks tend to deal with more mature themes and issues such as his problems with women and relationships. These themes are executed very well in a way that doesn’t seem too emotionally draining on a listener, something that many artists fail to do.
Stand Out Tracks : “Harm In Charge”, “So Many Details”, “Touch”, “High Living”, “How’s It Wrong”
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Sometimes, a hiatus from music is one of the best moves an artist can make. After his 2010 album Recovery, rapper Eminem took a three-year hiatus from the public eye and followed up his 2000 LP, Marshall Mathers with The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Overall, this project became a worthy follow-up continuing the story left behind in 2000. It features great features and production from Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, and Rick Rubin while also having a few catchy radio singles.
Stand Out Tracks : “Bad Guy”, “Rhyme or Reason”, “Legacy”, “Rap God”, “Love Game (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”, “Evil Twin”
Classixx - Hanging Gardens
When I wrote my list of my favorite 25 songs, it was a huge struggle to me mainly because this year had so many good tracks across genres. With that being said, the new album, Hanging Gardens by Classixx, made making that list so incredibly difficult because so many of their songs from this LP were so captivating. With bouncy production and appealing vocals, the album gives a great funky/retro vibe.
Stand Out Tracks : “All You’re Waiting For (feat. Nancy Whang)”, “Holding On”, “Long Lost (feat. Active Child)”, “A Stranger Lover (feat. Sarah Chernoff)”, “Borderline (feat. Jesse Kivel)”
Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
Janelle Monae in 2010 released her debut studio album, The ArchAndroid. The album was an experimental concept album combining pop music and R&B. The follow-up to that project, The Electric Lady continues the same themes of her previous LP by continuing the story and using crossover genre appeal. The album features incredible guest appearances like Prince, Erykah Badu, Miguel, and Solange who help to bring more to the album. Tracks like “Dance Apocalyptic” “Ghetto Woman” and more continue to show herself more as an artist without the help of features.
Stand Out Tracks : “Givin Em What They Love (feat. Prince”, “Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu), “PrimeTime (feat. Miguel)”, “Dance Apocalyptic”, “Ghetto Woman”, “Sally Ride”
A$AP Rocky – Long. Live. A$AP
Harlem rapper, A$AP Rocky, exploded in late 2011 when he released his mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP. After that, he released his debut album, Long.Live.A$AP in 2013. Unlike his mixtape, the latest LP features a more upgraded sound and even a more upgraded Rocky as his rhymes have become much better and he as a rapper has become much more versatile. Aside from his rapping, the production varies from the sounds of UGK and Bone Thugs and Harmony to styles kin to boom – bap and even electronic beats. The album is a worth while listen and definitely a great debut project.
Stand out Tracks: “Long.Live.A$AP” “Goldie” “LVL” “Wild for the Night( feat. Skrillex)” “1Train(feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Big Krit)” “Suddenly”
Flatbush Zombies – Better Off Dead
The Beast Coast music in New York City is seriously picking up steam as new comers like Pro Era, The Underacheievers, and more are continuing to show a diverse look at rap. One of those groups, Flatbush Zombies, came through with a haunting mixtape, Better Off Dead. The mixtape features heavy topics like politics, religion, race all over chilling production provided by Eliot Arc Eliot.
Stand Out Tracks : “Nephlim”, “Bliss”, “Club Soda (feat. Action Bronson)”, “Drug Parade (feat. Danny Brown)”
The Weeknd – Kiss Land
No artist in recent years has probably been able to sing about drugs, sex, and love with so much passion other than Canadian singer, The Weeknd. The Weeknd returned in 2013 with his most mature project yet, Kiss Land. Unlike his previous projects, Kiss Land features a tamer dialogue of The Weeknd who sings more about the pain in relationship singing about his addictions and party happenings only in moderation. However, songs like title track “Kiss Land” return to that side of him show.
Stand Out Tracks : “Professional”, “The Town”, “Belong To The World”, “Kiss Land”, “Wanderlust (Pharrell Remix)”
Haim – Days Are Gone
Days Are Gone, the debut LP from L.A. band, Haim, features some of the best pop/rock tracks of the year. Their sound seems influenced by many classic rock artists from the 70s and 80s, but add a more updated/refreshed vibe to those sounds. Tracks like “Falling”, “The Wire”, and “My Song 5” are extremely captivating catchy tracks that show Haim’s versatility on a number of diverse production.
Stand Out Tracks : “Falling”, “The Wire”, “Days Are Gone”, “My Song 5”
Pusha T- My Name Is My Name
Right after Kendrick Lamar released his debut album last year, rapper Pusha T stated that he went back to the drawing board to create a more cohesive album. Lets just say his decision paid off. Pusha T’s first full length album since his days of Clipse continues to show his dominance in rapping but this time over a plethora of different types of production. Tracks like “Sweet Serenade” put Pusha in a club like atmosphere while tracks like “King Push”, “Numbers On The Board”, and “Nostalgia” show his dominance in lyricism. The album’s diversity in production help to put Pusha in new territory that seems to benefit him greatly.
Stand Out Tracks : “King Push”, “Numbers On The Board”, “Sweet Serenade (feat. Chris Brown”, “Let Me Love You (feat. Kelly Rowland)”, “Nostelgia (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience
After 7 long years, one of the most accomplished and talked about entertainers of the 2000’s returned with an incredible two part album, The 20/20 Experience. The album sees Timberlake return to his roots by working with producer Timbaland over catchy ballads and infectious party/dance numbers. Tracks like “Pusher Lover Girl” and “Mirrors” bring a softer side while tracks like “Suit & Tie”, “Take Back The Night”, and “TKO” bring a more celebratory and more aggressive side.
Stand Out Tracks : “Pusher Lover Girl, “Tunnel Vision”, “Suit & Tie”, “Take Back The Night”, “TKO”
James Blake – Overgrown
British singer and producer, James Blake, released his second full-length album in 2013, Overgrown. Just like his previous LP, Overgrown explores Blake’s melancholy through electronic sounds and post-dubstep while remaining still remaining fresh.
Stand Out Tracks : “Overgrown” “Take A Fall For Me” “Retrograde” “Digital Lion” “Our Love Comes Back”
Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
Odd Future member, Earl Sweatshirt, released his debut studio album in 2013, after following his debut mixtape, Earl. This new project, Doris, shows a more matured Earl with an expanded palate of topics such as his upbringing, drug usage, and even more expansive production from people like RZA, Tyler The Creator, The Neptunes, and more.
Stand Out Tracks : “20 Wave Caps (featuring Domo Genesis)”, “Sunday (featuring Frank Ocean)”, “Hive (featuring Vince Staples & Casey Veggies)”, “Chum”, “Molasses (featuring RZA)”, “Knight” (featuring Domo Genesis)”
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
British singer, Dev Hynes, released his second album under that pseudonym, Blood Orange called Cupid Deluxe. This album is definitely an easy one to get into. The album is an incredible mixture of pop music, R&B, jazz and even Afro beat. Hyne’s vocals also are seen as extremely eclectic as he goes from singing with a falsetto to lower voices across the album. Definitely support this artist, especially since his apartment just burnt down in New York City and someone this talented deserves all the help he can get.
Stand Out Tracks : “Chamakay”, “Uncle Ace”, “No Right Thing”, “Chosen”, “Clipped On”, “On The Line”
Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe
This year saw the emergence of a lot of new talents, especially oversees. Scottish synth pop band, Chvrches, is no exception to this. Their debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, is a plethora of catchy synths and even more catchy hooks. Every track is captivating and mesmerizing especially from Chvrches’ lead singer Lauren Mayberry, who transforms what could’ve been a basic electronic album into a delightful and fun synth pop record that does nothing less than transport the listener into a place of joy. It’s pretty much like Disneyland in music form.
Stand Out Tracks : “The Mother We Share”, “We Sink”, “Gun”, “Recover”, “Lungs”
Drake – Nothing Was The Same
Every year seems to be Drake’s year. With an endless number of hit tracks and also hit guest verses, the Canadian rapper/singer can easily be seen as one of the most successful artist out. On his third studio album, Drake delivers with Nothing Was The Same, an album that continues to go deep into Drake’s personal life, lost love, and struggles with family. Tracks like “Tuscan Leather”, show Drake’s versatility, “Started From The Bottom” celebrates his success. “Worst Behavior” shows a bragadocious side, while slower tracks like. “From Time” and “Too Much” touch on his mortality and issues with family and relationships. Say what you want about Drake, he’s too soft, too vulnerable, whatever, this guy knows how to put out good records.
Stand Out Tracks : “Tuscan Leather”, “Worst Behavior”, “From Time (feat. Jhene Aiko)”, “Hold On, We’re Going Home (feat, Majid Jordan), “The Language”, “Too Much”, “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 (feat. Jay Z)”
Kanye West – Yeezus
Kanye West’s sixth solo album is definitely different from any of his previous efforts. Unlike his earlier work that saw influences from soul and baroque music, his latest album, Yeezus, features influences from noise – hop, acid house, and drill music. The album features some old faces like Daft Punk, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, and Charlie Wilson while also bringing new collaborators like Chief Keef, King Louie, Hudson Mohawke and even God (Check the track listing). Overall, the album has some of the best songs of the year while taking the sounds that groups like Death Grips and Clipping have made, and putting them into the mainstream.
Stand Out Tracks : “Black Skinhead”, “New Slaves”, “Blood On The Leaves”, “Guilt Trip”, “Bound 2”
Danny Brown – Old
If there is one thing that Danny Brown has gained since he exploded onto the scene a few years ago, it’s the idea that he’s a jokester here to have fun. But if anything, the album Old does the best it can to show himself in more depth. It’s a reflection of the life he once had, a drug dealer in Detroit, to the now celebrating of the new found riches and the party life he now participates in. Unlike his last album XXX, which showed comedic overtones mixed with depressing undertones, Old switches the two around. There seems to be more of a focus on his past with the first side of Old reflecting on his time selling drugs as a young child with tracks like “The Return”, “Wonderbread”, “Gremlins” , and more. The second side of the album goes into his new found wealth and his usage of the drug Molly. The album brings a Jekyll and Hyde approach that does well to give Danny Brown dimension and shows many different sides of him.
Stand Out Tracks : “The Return (feat. Freddy Gibbs)”, “25 Bucks(feat. Purity Ring)”, “Torture”, “Side B (Dope Song)”, “Dip”, “Smokin & Drinkin”, “Float On (feat. Charlie XCX)”
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Every once in a while, every band or artist has to reevaluate themselves as an artist and in many cases change their entire style. Many times, this can go terribly wrong but in the case of the Canadian band, Arcade Fire, their style change paid off tremendously. With the help of LCD Soundsystem front man, James Murphy, Arcade Fire was able to incorporate groovy psychedelic melodies in many of the albums tracks like the title track “Reflektor”, “We Exist”, and many more.
Stand Out Tracks : “Reflektor”, “We Exist”, “Here Comes The Night Time”, “Joan Of Arc”, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”, “Porno”
Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
Chicago Rapper, Chancelor Bennet AKA Chance The Rapper, released his second major mixtape in 2013, Acid Rap. The mixtape feature Chance rapping over jazzy and psychedelic instrumentals as he covers topics from his acid use, family, and Chicago’s growing violence. If anything, Chance proved on this mixtape that he is a force not to be reckoned with and a voice that’s here to stay.
Stand out tracks: “Good Ass Intro” “Pusha Man” Coco Butter Kisses” “Lost” “Acid Rain” “Chain Smoking”
Milo – Things That Happen At Day// Things That Happen At Night
If there were ever a James Joyce of rap, it would be Milo. One of the most philosophical rappers out put out an incredible two part EP pondering relationships, human interaction and nerdy references all over incredibly lush and atmospheric production. Some of the best production I’ve heard all year.
Stand Out Tracks : “Sweet Chin Music (The Fisher Kings Anthem)”, “Folk- Metaphysics”, “A Lazy Coons Obiter Dictum”, “The Otherground Pizza Party (feat. Open Mike Eagle)”
Disclosure – Settle
British electronic producers, Disclosure, made a huge band this year with one of the best debut projects released in recent years. Their debut album, Settle features extremely funky tracks that bring some of the most danceable tracks of the year. What really helps the songs stand out so much come from the vocals. Unlike a lot of electronic music, the production and the vocals blend very well together to the point where the drops and experimental sounds don’t tend to overpower the vocals, in fact, the vocals almost mesh together perfectly. What makes the album even better though is Disclosure’s understanding of using a combination of multiple genres in a way that doesn’t seemed forced. Certain tracks resemble music that can be compared to those of New Wave sounds but also tracks that show their influences in funk and even late 90’s R&B. Overall, this project isn’t just a great debut album, it’s one of the best electronic albums that I’ve heard in recent years. Great production, great vocals and great fusion.
Stand Out Tracks : “Latch (feat. Sam Smith)”, “F For You”, “White Noise”, “Stimulation”, “Help Me Lose My Mind (feat. London Grammar)”
Killer Mike and El- P – Run The Jewels
When it comes to hip hop duos in recent years, no one is quite as abrasive, experimental, and as skilled as rapper/producer duo Killer Mike and El- P. Although the two have collaborated before like last year’s R.A.P. Music, this album incorporates raps from El- P and not just his production. What makes this album so good is that each artist brings their absolute best for Run The Jewels. There isn’t one song where you can say with absolute confidence that either didn’t try their hardest to make the track explosive, lyrical, and aggressive. The lyrics on this album are some of the best lyrics of the year. The songs find both Killer Mike and El-P delivering lines and quotables that need a dictionary to be deciphered. At ten songs long, there isn’t one song that seems extra, not one song that seems like it was just there to gain an audience other than the one they initially intended. This album is an explosion of experimental noises, electronic and even boom- bap beats and the lyrics are on point with incredible word play. Recommendation: Open up Rap Genius when playing it.
Stand Out Tracks : “Banana Clipper (feat, Big Boi)”, “DDFH” “Job Well Done (feat. Until The Ribbon Breaks)”, “Get It”, “A Christmas Fucking Miracle”.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
It’s been three years since anyone’s heard anything form the indie rock band Vampire Weekend and in three years, a lot of things can change. First off, three years is almost an eternity in the music world. Rarely can acts even pull off such an elongated hiatus and still expect the relevancy they once contained. But with the release of Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend showed their fans and critics that not only can they remain relevant, but also that they can remain one of the most popular forces in indie music. If there is one thing on this album that deserves a tremendous amount of praise, it would have to be the growth of lyricism from front man and songwriter Ezra Koenig. Compared to their previous albums, Modern Vampires takes a more political approach with their lyrics. Tracks like “Unbelievers”, “Hannah Hunt”, and “Ya Hey” tackle the many problems with organized religion and the question of human salvation. On the lead single “Diane Young”, Ezra discuses topics like death, dying young, and mortality. “Step” discusses a previous relationship and the issues of commitment and responsibility. “Hannah Hunt” also discusses relationship issues but more in line with a breakup instead. Overall, this album features solid songs that show off great songwriting and instrumentation.
Stand Out Tracks: “Unbelievers” “Step” “Diane Young” “Hannah Hunt” “Everlasting Arms” “Ya Hey”
Childish Gambino – Because The Internet
Donald Glover has had a rather turbulent year. He disappeared from the media in early 2013 deleting his tweets and Facebook without making any major announcement. He then made headlines over the second half of the year when announcing his leave from the NBC sitcom Community, announced a new FX series he would be creating, and then of course released those infamous Instagram notes. If anything, his new album Because The Internet, is the amalgamation of all of the commotion that Glover felt earlier this year. Under his stage name, Childish Gambino, Glover put out a project that was not only captivating, but was also one of the deepest projects of the year and put out one of the most unique album experiences to be put out recently. The album features a 76 page script that he wrote to accompany the album and he’s been promoting it by hosting album listening sessions in parks across the world, releasing a short film titled Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, which acts as a prelude for the album, throwing mansion parties and for the last few months has seemingly been promoting his entire album in interviews as the character portrayed in his album and screenplay. His rapping drastically improved from his earlier projects, as well as his singing. The production also drastically improved with him and cohort Ludwig Göransson (composer for Community, New Girl, Haim producer) using much darker sounds and influences from noise hop, indie rock, and Baroque music. The album also features contributions from Chance The Rapper, Jhene Aiko, Azealia Banks, Miguel, Mystikal, Kilo Kish and Thundercat.
Stand Out Tracks : “Crawl”, “Worst Guys (feat. Chance The Rapper)”, “Telegraph Ave” (Oakland by Lloyd)”, “Sweatpants”, “No Exit”, “Zealtos of Stockholm(free information), “Urn”, “Life : The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer) [ Feat Donald Glover]”
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
The most instrumentally captivating album of the year and their first full length album since 2005. Who am I talking about? I’m talking about one of the most secretive and mysterious duos of recent time, the masked duo, Daft Punk. Although it’s been eight years since Daft Punk released their last album, the duo has remained in the news for their work on the soundtrack to the 2010 film Tron, and through their viral marketing which sparked the anticipation for their latest album Random Access Memories. As opposed to their last albums, Memories finds itself discovering the roots of electronic music rather than following the trend of it like their previous albums did. It’s been a long time since I could listen to an entire album without skipping any songs, and Daft Punk’s Memories is one of those albums. Every song on the album features exquisite instrumentation that traces the roots of electronic music and seamlessly incorporates disco, classical, and funk music together without having it seem too abstract or forced. Even the featured artists in the album fit perfectly within the album. Pharrell Williams adds a great disco/funk vibe to the tracks “Lose Yourself To Dance” and “Get Lucky.” Panda Bear from Animal Collective adds great vocals to the track “Doin’ It Right” and Paul Williams probably has the most emotional and most captivating vocals on the album in “Touch”, a ballad about the troubles of being a robot and not being able to experience the same senses that humans can. Every song, beat, and sound on the album seems absolutely natural and sound borderline opera like and therefore deserves to be number one on my list of favorite albums of the midyear.
Stand Out Tracks : All of them
Chance The Rapper
Imagine it’s the summer of 2012. You just exited The Pageant, one of the premier music halls where many artists come to perform in St. Louis, Missouri. While you’re exiting The Pageant, you run into the opening act of the performer you just saw, Childish Gambino. The man is standing there with his DJ passing out demo CDs from his most recent mixtape, 10 Day. Many people huddle around him in hopes of getting an autograph or maybe a picture but at the same time, many are just walking past him to get to their cars, not even attempting to glance at the rapper. The rapper’s name is Chancellor Bennett AKA Chance The Rapper, a Chicago native who spent the summer of 2012 touring alongside Childish Gambino by being the opening act for his shows. At that time, Chance was a relatively unknown artist. Sure the Chicago music scene had known about him for a minute now, but he was nowhere recognizable as an artist. He had a distinct sound that combined a nasally childlike voice when he performed with lush, psychedelic production that you could compare to a Kid Cudi that just hadn’t come out of his shell yet. But that was then, lets talk about now.
Fast forward a year and a half later and Chance The Rapper has become the poster child for hard work and success. He started off being featured on projects with Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, Hoodie Allen, James Blake, and Joey Bada$$, all of which are successful up and coming artists in their own rights, to now being featured on a track with Justin Bieber. He then followed his mixtape, 10 day, with Acid Rap. The project was critically acclaimed across the board by myself and professional music critics. The free mixtape which was released by Chance became so popular that it was even sold on the black market making it on to Billboard’s Top 200 list. Following the wild success of Acid Rap, Chance went on tour with Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller, Eminem, and Macklemore before embarking on his own tour complete with a live band, his own merchandise, and even an appearance by Madonna. These types of accomplishments are things that usually take up an entire career of hard work and dedication, something that Mr. Bennett was able to accomplish within one year. 2013 has seen many exiting new stars such as Haim, Lorde, Disclosure and more, but Chance The Rapper has exceeded all expectations and has become a thrill to watch grow. Here’s to a great 2014 Chance.
AHH YEAH!!!!! Wassup children and welcome to the first in a series of music related posts celebrating 2013. Over the next week or so, I will be posting my favorite albums, breakthrough artists and more of 2013. This first post is over my favorite songs of 2013. It’s going down today son so you better be prepared! This is my list so y’all better be ready!! LEGGO
A somewhat controversial track but extremely meaningful track that garnered mainstream appeal with incredible vocals from an incredibly talented 17 year old. Are you 17? Can You sing like that !? No!? Then don’t judge.
Kanye West - Bound 2
Featuring vocals From Charlie Wilson and a distorted pitch shifted chorus, this track brings back a more traditional Kanye West sound. Just don’t watch the video…..ever.
Justin Timberlake - Take Back The Night
Justin Timblerlake’s debut single of the second part of the 20/20 Experience, “Take Back The Night” resembles a Michael Jackson type of dance grove circa Off The Wall. It ‘s fun, catchy, and radio friendly. This is that sexy dance music son.
When I first heard this I was like, “Woah.” Now when I hear, I’m like, “woah woah!” The first track off of the debut studio album by Haim and yet the most captivating to me.
Toro Y Moi- So Many Details Remix (Feat Hodgy Beats)
Toro Y Moi’s chillwave sound mixed in with a verse from Odd Future member Hodgy Beats helps add contrast. Overall, a very relaxing track.
Ariana Grande -The Way (Feat Mac Miller)
Ariana Grande from Nickelodeon’s, Victorious brings a style and vocal tone reminiscent of Mariah Carey. “The Way” is a sultry romantic ballad/pop song that definitely brings Grande out of her shell.
A$AP Ferg- Shabba (feat A$AP Rocky)
New York rapper and member of the A$AP Mob, A$AP Ferg, brings the heat with a Jamaican dance hall beat paying tribute to dance hall legend Shabba Ranks. The track is definitely a banger with a reggae influence followed by a nice verse from fellow A$AP member, A$AP Rocky. It’s just a fun, ignorant track that the whole family will enjoy.
Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines
Probably the most controversial track of the entire year but at the same time one of the most infectious choruses of the year, plus, the music video has a goat.
Drake - Hold On, We’re Going Home (Feat Majid Jordan)
A romantic pop/R&B ballad by Canadian rapper/singer Drake. The chorus is extremely catchy and once again shows Drake’s melodic side. Listening to this track just makes me imagine that I’m floating on a cloud with my future wife watching DVR’d episodes of Touched By Angel or Pam and Jim’s wedding episode, on repeat, forever.
Earl Sweatshirt - Hive (Feat Vince Staples & Casey Veggies)
This single by Earl Sweatshirt features some INCREDIBLE word play and also great guest verses by Casey Veggies and Vince Staples. THIS TRACK GOES HARD!
The Weeknd - Kiss Land
A classic Weeknd track that plays into topics such as sex, drugs, and addiction. The beat switch near the middle of the track is what gives it that OOMPH!
Jessie Ware - Running
Australian musician Jessie Ware brings great vocals to this track. Think a more updated version of Sade. I think this is the future wife I was talking about earlier.
Kanye West - Blood On The Leaves
Although controversial, this track’s sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” helps to bring a great background and contrast to West’s auto tune vocals and horns from TNGHT. Praise Yeezus!!
Vampire Weekend - Diane Young/Step
The lead two sided single from Vampire Weekend’s new album combines a story of a love in New York on “Step”, to a more political track with “Diane Young.” When I listen to “Step”, just want to go to and confess all of my problems to someone and apologize for all my wrongs, then when I hear “Diane Young”, I’m just like, fuck it, never mind.
Danny Brown - Dope Song
A great reflective yet abrasive song signaling the end of Danny Brown’s songs about selling drugs. Get it, his last dope song but not his last dope song!?? Double entendre for the win.
Ciara - Body Party
The first single off of Ciara’s latest album. It’s a steamy record with a very catchy chorus and ad – libs from Future. He’s the one that sounds like a monkey going “Ooh Ooh ooh oh ooh oohh.”
Arcade Fire - Reflektor
At almost eight minutes long, the track features psychedelic vocals from lead singer Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. Additional vocals are also provided by David Bowie and help from LCD Soundsystem leader, James Murphy. This track is just trippy.
The Weeknd- Wanderlust (Pharrell Remix)
Pharrell’s remix of the track brings a more catchy vibe than the original and also adds in his own vocals making it an incredible dance grove.
Pusha T - Nostalgia (Feat Kendrick Lamar)
Probably one of Pusha T’s most creative songs, it features two incredible verses from him and Kendrick Lamar, especially when Lamar compares his music to dope.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Sacrilege
The lead single off of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s most recent album. The track samples a previous track by them, “Heads Will Roll,” while also using a gospel choir. Also, watch the music video for this video, really interesting…
James Blake - Retrograde
An array of background harmonies hummed and sung entirely by Blake himself. This track is a great combination of electronic sounds and soulful crooning. The world needs more James Blake.
Vampire Weekend- Hannah Hunt
Written by lead singer, Ezra Koenig, this track by Vampire Weekend about a lost love after his move to L.A. As far as lyrics go, possibly one of the best tracks Koenig has written.
Chvrches - The Mother We Share
The opening track to Chvrches’s debut LP. The track is an incredibly poppy dance record and resembles a crossover between Passion Pit and Purity Ring. Listening to this track is like being in a real life game of Candy Land but instead of me loosing every time I play it, I always win.
Big Sean - Control (Feat Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica)
There is a reason Big Sean never put this track on his album. Although he claims that the track couldn’t be cleared because of sample issues, which could be true, he never should have released this even if the samples were cleared. Kendrick just scares me on this track. Don’t believe me, just listen to the controversial verse by Kendrick Lamar and a solid verse by Jay Electronica.
Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Feat Pharrell)
In 2013, no other song has garnered such so much popular appeal. Daft Punk’s lead single from their most recent album, Random Access Memories, has a very old school vibe with an homage to disco music. If anything is gained from listening to this track its that the world needs more Pharrell.
There you have it! Those were my favorite tracks of 2013. Stay tuned for more lists during the week.