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Editorial: 10 Songs You May Have Slept On in 2014 (So Far)

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Dozens of new hip-hop songs drop every day. It’s hard to keep up, I know. Where does one even find the time to listen to everything that’s released? It’s virtually impossible nowadays. You have to actively seek out music by the artists you like, and stay on top of your favorite outlets to make sure you don’t miss anything new in the genre. Well, that’s if you care. I have some friends that don’t really give a shit about new music. They care about sports, or market trends, or sneakers. Me, I care about music. I don’t want there to be a dope song out anywhere, old or new, that I am missing in my iTunes. I need all the heat. It’s a personal mission, and I’ll be on it forever.

That said, I want to take this mid-year opportunity to share a few personal favorites from 2014—so far—that you may have slept on. If you’re on NahRight religiously like I am, then you’ve probably heard most or even all of these. But maybe you missed a couple, or possibly you clicked on one of them and didn’t absorb it properly. Here’s your chance to make up for those oversights. Oh, and this ain’t no “best of” list. If you read our daily content and features, you know there are lots of other artists, songs, and projects we’ve been rocking with this year that are worthy of praise. The proof is in our posts. This is just me, speaking for the nooks and crannies I’ve found to be highlight-worthy since the ball dropped that you may have missed, forgotten about, or not given their proper listen. I want to make sure you’re not caught out there sleeping. Ride with me.

1. Apollo Brown ft. Roc Marciano “Shotguns in Hell”

Roc Marci is a masterful lyricist. His spit game is so fucking next level, it’s really a shame that he’s not consistently mentioned amongst the G.O.A.T.s. Last year, he gave us two incredible projects, The Pimpire Strikes Back and Marci Beaucoup, and in 2014, he’s made a few dope guest appearances with regular collaborators like the Step Brothers, Willie the Kid, and Ka, and he’s also hopped on a couple Apollo Brown tracks. “Shotguns in Hell” dropped last week, and I can’t get enough of it. Apollo’s beat is reminiscent of something GZA would’ve picked to rhyme over in the ‘90s, and Roc slays it with crazy wordplay, letting his comp know, “You’re not quite qualified for Top 5.”

2. Drake “Days in the East”

As I said in my intro to our In The Lab interview with “0 to 100” and “Believe Me” producer Boi-1da last week, both of those tracks are absolutely fire and worthy of being included in the best rap beat (and song) of the year discussion. “Draft Day” too. But my personal favorite of everything that Drake’s dropped in ‘14 is “Days in the East.” For those that actually enjoy when Drake sings like I do, this track is tough. You won’t hear it on the radio all day like the others, but let’s make sure not to forget about its existence. The flow is fresh, the melodies and lyric patterns are unique, and the beat’s got crazy whip appeal. And stop sleeping—the singing ain’t soft, duke. It’s actually very ill. Kudos, Drake. This is a great record.

3. Shirt “Take Off”

This was my first of two “holy shit!” moments this year. Let me explain. I heard Shirt freestyle on my boy Rosenberg’s radio show a while back, and while I definitely thought he was nice, the cut didn’t completely blow me away. Then, I was fortunate enough to get an early listen to his latest release Rap, and after his whole fake NY Times article stunt, I was intrigued to check it out right away. When “Take Off” dropped, I went nuts. Internally, because my wife and kids were asleep, but nonetheless, I lost my shit to it. The beat, the flow, the lyrics, the voice—everything about this song is what New York rap is missing today. Thank you, Shirt. You, along with the artist in my next blurb, have successfully restored the feeling. Also, for the record, I really like “Niggas on Coke,” which is also on Rap. And as for the cat in the video above, well, I’ll let you do the knowledge to that one.

4. Your Old Droog “Nutty Bars”

This was my “holy shit!” moment #2. I know Droog is buzzing crazy now because people think that he’s Nas (this is still up for debate though some trusted sources have confirmed he isn’t), but it’s imperative that I include him on this list in case there are folks out there who still aren’t aware of him. “Nutty Bars” got sent over to the NahRight team on some “heads up, this kid is dope” shit for the site. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I clicked play on the link off my iPhone, holding it up to my ear while my kids were having a snack. “Yooooo!!!!!!!!” Ran it back like twenty times, in my ear, off the jack. Then I found an excuse to go out to the store so I could listen to it in the whip, and ended up posting it Monday morning (first! lol). I can see why people think he might be Nas, Droog is nice enough to warrant that type of reaction. He brings that pure, raw, uncut skill and lyricism. And Droog’s producer El RTNC deserves a finger-point, too. Start with “Nutty Bars,” then peep the whole EP.

5. Curren$y “Stove Top”

Curren$y pumps out new music so regularly that you may miss some of his gems if you don’t pay close enough attention. “Stove Top,” off The Drive In Theatre, is one of those gems. Produced by Cookin’ Soul, “Stove Top” has that laidback, blunted feel we’ve come to expect from Spitta. But the thing that really stands out is the horn sample on the hook. Wow. This shit hypnotized me through the winter, and now that it’s summer, it makes even more sense. Twist something fat to this one.

6. Rick Ross “Oyster Perpetual”

Rozay gave us his Mastermind LP earlier this year, but to keep it a zillion, this promo leak “Oyster Perpetual” is my favorite song of his from ‘14. And that’s not a knock on his album. There’s joints on there. I like the shit with him and Wayne over the “93 ‘til Infinity” sample especially. But “Oyster Perpetual” is my speed. I’m purposely placing it on this list after the Curren$y joint for the buddha heads, they’ll play nicely back-to-back if you’re still lit.

7. 50 Cent ft. Prodigy, Kidd Kidd, and Styles P “Chase the Paper”

“You chase the hoooooes, I chase the paper.” The bassline on this cut is really what does it for me, but also just the fact that 50 got Prodigy and Styles P to hop on the same song with him. As a guy who fondly remembers the early 2000s mixtape era, I truly appreciate collaborations like this in 2014. And I’m not mad at Kidd Kidd. Everyone’s verses are on point, I love the beat’s concrete groove, and the hook is money. It’s nice to have you back, 50—this song is gangster.

8. The Alchemist & Budgie ft. Action Bronson, Domo Genesis, and Blu “The G Code”

Action Bronson is completely out here in ’14, with the Blue Chips 2 Tour, and Adventure Time, and Fuck, That’s Delicious, and all that good stuff. But in terms of actual new music, other than a handful of guest spots, the releases have been sparse. We know he’s been hard at work on his new album Mr. Wonderful, and being a Bronson Stan (literally), I’m getting very anxious to hear what he’s been cooking up. As for the loosies, I love Curren$y and Action’s collabo “Godfather 4” which we premiered earlier this year thanks to the big homie Whoo Kid, and Statik Selektah’s “The Imperial” with Bam Bam, Royce da 5’9” and Black Thought dropped yesterday and is getting great feedback, but in terms of sleepers, I want to make sure you guys didn’t miss “The G Code.” Not only do you get a leadoff Action Bronson verse, but it also comes equipped with a piano-laced Alchemist production perfect for West-coasting, a stellar Domo Genesis appearance, and some superlative spit by Blu.

9. Vince Staples ft. Jhene Aiko “Oh You Scared”

The buzz is growing around Vince Staples even more now that he’s featured on Common’s new single, but the song of his I’ve been cranking consistently for the past few months that I’m not sure if everyone is up on like that is “Oh You Scared.” I asked him about this track specifically during our recent In The Lab interview with him, which you can check out HERE. Props to Childish Major, this beat is beautiful. And with Vince spitting that realism, and Jhene stepping in on the hook, “Oh You Scared” deserves a moment in the spotlight.

10. Troy Ave “Me and You”

Ah yes, Troy Ave. This guy’s been getting a hard time lately, but not on this end. And when I found out that “Me and You,” off BSB Vol. 4, was produced by my fellow White Plains, New York representative Sunny Dukes, I had to rep for the man even more. It’s no secret that Troy Ave has a 50 Cent influence, but that’s not a bad thing. He makes catchy hooks, delivers tight verses, and knows how to pick good tracks. If only more rappers could do those three things, right? That said, though “Your Style” is the one currently catching mad airplay, this is my personal favorite Troy Ave track of 2014. Don’t sleep.

Catch up on all NahRight Features HERE.


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