Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
2014 was truly an unorthodox year for rap music. Some argue that it was the worst year for the genre since its inception, citing a lack of classic material and platinum-selling album releases. But others rejoiced in its evolution, saying that rap is in better shape than ever thanks to the wealth of underground drops that made noise beneath the surface. Regardless of what side you’re on, I think we all can agree that after all the crazy shit that’s been happening these past few months, we’re ready for this year to end. But before we close the door on 2014, it’s a must that we take a moment to wrap things up and give it a proper send-off. And who better to join us in the festivities than our like-minded brethren at UpNorthTrips. Let’s break down 2014’s hip-hop highlights from 0 to 14, real quick.
We Can’t Breathe: Zero Cops Indicted After Mike Brown and Eric Garner Deaths
Praise Yeezus: One Vintage Kanye West Verse
His appearances on the mic were few and far between in 2014, but ‘Ye managed to sneak in a classic verse alongside a fellow rapping fashionista that we hope you didn’t miss.
You Must Learn: Two Podcast Episodes You Must Listen To
An excellent new podcast emerged in 2014 for die-hard hip-hop fans, executive produced by Ev Boogie of UpNorthTrips in association with Peter Oasis and Dharmic X.
- You Must Learn: Jeru The Damaja – The Sun Rises in the East
- You Must Learn: Smif-n-Wessun – Da Shinin’
Memory Lane: Three Essential Illmatic Docs
Illmatic turned 20 this year, and to celebrate, its history was well-documented.
- Time is Illmatic
- Illmatic at 20 (Fuse)
- Memory Lane – Nas Remembers Illmatic Moments with Faith Newman (Complex)
Real Recognize Real: Four NahRight x UpNorthTrips Collaborations
Check the features Nah and UNT released together this year.
- The Big Picture: 15 Classic Big L Freestyles
- The Making of Gangstarr’s Hard to Earn with DJ Premier
- #Illmatic20 (Tribute Mixtape)
- Picture Perfect with Ricky Powell
Time To Get Live: Five Historic Performances
These on-stage moments will be remembered for years to come.
- G-Unit Reunites at Hot 97 Summer Jam During Nas’ Set
- Killer Mike Addresses the Crowd After the Ferguson Verdict
- J. Cole Performs “Be Free” on Late Night with David Letterman
- Jay Electronica Brings Jay Z Out at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival
- Kendrick Lamar Performs on the Last Episode of The Colbert Report
6GOD: Six Album-Worthy Drake Songs
Drizzy’s throwaways made more noise this year than most rapper’s albums.
INTERNETSSS!: Seven Memorable Combat Jack Episodes
Combat Jack went on a helluva run in 2014.
Mr. Wonderful: Eight Things Action Bronson Did This Year While Waiting For His Album to Come Out
Bam Bam’s long-awaited major label LP still isn’t out, but he kept us entertained all year in other ways so we’re not mad.
- “Easy Rider” Video
- Adventure Time
- Fuck, That’s Delicious
- The Champs Podcast
- Murked a Freestyle at Best Buy Theater Over Mobb Deep’s “The Realest” Instrumental
- Unplugged SONOS Performance with Party Supplies and Roc Marciano
- Alchemist-Produced Song with Danny Brown Featured on Grand Theft Auto V
- Bodied Anyone Who Tried to Jump on Stage with Him
You Know We Had To Do A Remix, Right: Nine Remixes We Kept in Heavy Rotation
A healthy handful of dope remixes hit the streets this year.
- Bobby Shmurda ft. French Montana – Hot Nigga (Remix)
- Common ft. Vince Staples and Jay Electronica – Kingdom (Remix)
- Cormega ft. Inspectah Deck, Sadat X, and Roc Marciano – Industry (Remix)
- The LOX – Try Me (Remix)
- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib ft. Action Bronson, Ransom, and Joey Bada$$ – Knicks (Remix)
- Jeezy ft. Kendrick Lamar – Holy Ghost (Remix)
- Mobb Deep ft. Ghostface Killah – Dirt (Remix)
- ScHoolboy Q ft. BJ The Kid and Nas – Studio (Remix)
- Wiz Khalifa ft. Rick Ross, ScHoolboy Q and Nas – We Dem Boyz (Remix)
Loosey In The Store With Pennies: Ten Non-Album Cuts We Loved
A collection of one-off joints we cherished in 2014.
- Jay Rock – Parental Advisory
- Mac Miller – Just Some Raps, Move Along, Nothing to See Here
- Mobb Deep – Biology
- Nas – The Season
- OB O’Brien – Steve Nash
- Pusha T – Lunch Money
- Rick Ross – Oyster Perpetual
- Roc Marciano – Shotguns in Hell
- The Alchemist ft. Riff Raff and Action Bronson – Rookies of the Future
- Your Old Droog – Porno For Pyros
Crisp Like Film: Eleven Music Videos We Watched More Than Once
These videos didn’t suck.
- 50 Cent – Hold On
- Action Bronson – Easy Rider
- Bobby Shmurda – Hot Nigga
- Cam’ron ft. Juelz Santana – Dipshits
- Girl Talk & Freeway ft. Waka Flocka – Tolerated
- Lil Dicky – Lemme Freak
- ScHoolboy Q – Man of the Year
- Retch – Amedei Porcelana
- Troy Ave ft. Young Lito and Manolo Rose – All About the Money
- Wiz Khalifa – We Dem Boyz
- YG – Do It To Ya
Movin’ On Your Weak Production: Twelve One-Producer Albums
For those who appreciate albums with a cohesive sound.
- A-Villa – Carry On Tradition
- Bishop Nehru & MF DOOM – NehruvianDOOM
- Cormega – Mega Philosophy (Prod. by Large Professor)
- Diamond D – The Diam Piece
- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata
- Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild – Silk Pyramids
- Royce da 5’9’’ & DJ Premier – PRhyme
- Run The Jewels 2 (Prod. by El-P)
- Thelonious Martin – Wunderkid
- Sean C & LV – Loud Dreams Vol. 1
- Step Brothers – Lord Steppington (Prod. by The Alchemist)
- Your Old Droog LP (Prod. by El RTNC)
Mic Check One, Two: Thirteen Dope Duets
- Asher Roth ft. Vic Mensa – Fast Life
- Cormega ft. Black Rob – Home
- Curren$y ft. Action Bronson – Godfather 4
- Danny Brown & Action Bronson – Bad News
- French Montana ft. Jadakiss – 88 Coupes
- Future ft. Andre 3000 – Benz Friendz
- Jeezy ft. Jay Z – Seen it All
- Jay Electronica ft. Jay Z – We Made It
- Lil Wayne ft. Drake – Believe Me
- Pusha T & A$AP Ferg – Hand In My Pocket
- Rick Ross ft. Lil Wayne – Thug Cry
- Willie the Kid ft. Roc Marciano – Avalon
- Your Old Droog ft. Prodigy – Hoodie Weather
Up Next: Fourteen Artists We Can’t Wait to Hear More From in 2015
These are the up-and-comers we’re checking for in the new year.
- Dave East
- Dej Loaf
- Denzel Curry
- Joey Purp
- Lil Herb
- Mick Jenkins
- OT Genasis
- YC the Cynic
- Your Old Droog
Special thanks to Ev Boogie. Follow UpNorthTrips on Twitter and Instagram. Have a Happy New Year, and please join us in 2015 as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of NahRight. Thank you all for your continued support!