We're starting with songs, remember when we did that like three months ago? Well, the times have changed and so has the list. As usual, click the titles of songs to hear them where avaible. Follow my 2K14 masterlist on Spotify for all new heaters as they get added, or follow me on SoundCloud I guess. I also tend to only put one song per artist, though that definition has been stretched this time. Now, on with it!
10. "Fine, Great" - Modern Baseball (-7)
Philadelphia's own quasi-emo (terrible label for the type of music they make, but I'm a jackass) band bring such energetic and longing to both the lyrics and delivery of them on the two and half minutes that make up this song. It's fairly simplistic and straightforward, but as such that makes the emotional impact all the stronger. There's a specificity to everything, though that's meant to underscore a bigger question, which I'm a sucker for, I guess.
9. "Eww" - Young Thug (NE)
Speaking of simplicity, there's kind of this beautiful minimalism to the beat on this song that really allows Young Thug to flex his vocal strengths. I'm still not sure what my favorite song from last year's 1017 Thug is, but the pace with which Young Thug is releasing high quality music in 2K14, I doubt I'll ever be able to figure it out, because just when I thought I was getting close, "Eww" dropped and dominated my earphones for weeks on end. Sure the lyrics become a bit jumbled and silly, but damn that voice and how it absolutely manhandles the track.
8. "3Jane" - EMA (NE)
One of the biggest differences between EMA's most recent album and her previous one is the grandness in scope, which is fully present on standout track "3Jane". Here, Anderson grapples with the digital age, pondering both her position as artist and contributor, a figure who is both digested and personalized. It's all delicately handled, a deft touch that shows the care she puts in to her song writing. And, as usual, her vocals are wonderful.
7. "Black Quaterback" - Death Grips (NE)
Known for creating an aural assault, Death Grips do not disappoint here. Last year their "Birds" was my favorite song, and though the provocateur/twelve year old in me really wants to anoint the equally wonderful "Have A Sad Cum" what makes this song so alluring is the focus once again on lyrics. In the time since Death Grips's brilliant "The Money Store" the group has gone in a direction more focused on expanding their sound, with the lyrical content being more and more of another instrument in their work, but combining so many aspects of The Money Store standouts like "Hacker" and "Hustle Bones" has me the most excited for Death Grips I have been in a while, which is saying a lot considering the quality of what they've been releasing.
6. "URL Badman" - Lily Allen (NE)
Generally, skits in songs don't do it for me, but the opening of this song is less a skit and more a dressing for the individuals that Allen goes on to tear apart. Likely the closest she gets to "The Fear" on Sheezus, this song has her lashing out against internet thugs and disenchanted bloggers who just contribute to noise rather than any type of conversation. So myself, I guess, but very fortunately I'm a masochist, so keep it up, Lily!
5. "Black" - The-Dream (NE)
I can't claim to be an expert on The-Dream, but from what I have heard of his particular brand of R&B, this song stands in surprising contrast to his other music. As the video openly states during its conclusion, The-Dream places an emphasis on classism being the new racism. Though, as the title implies, the racially charged qualities within the song are not absent, creating for a thoughtful take on a complex topic. There's an expansion to his thought process on display both in the lyrics, all delivered in his well polished vocals, a refreshingly conscious song and hopefully indicative of whatever his next project becomes.
4. "Problems" - Gucci Mane & Migos feat. Young Thug (NE)
I am technically labeling this as a collaborative song since it's on a Gucci Mane and Migos mixtape, but Gucci Mane isn't even on this song; however, this list would not be complete without this brilliant collaboration between two of Atlanta's greatest forces from the past year and a half or more. What Thugger does on the hook is a work of magic, straining his voice in ways that don't seem humanly possible at times, but that's only the beginning. His verse showcases him switching his flow, with this incredibly live moment about a minute in to the song. And then there are the verses from the members of Migos, both of which work perfectly with the rest of the song. There are just endlessly quotable lines, the song pulsates energy, and this very well could be the song of the summer, if only I didn't know better.
3. "New Atlanta" - Migos feat. Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and Jermaine Dupri (NE)
Though it doesn't quite pick up where "Versace" left off last year, completely shutting down the summer, this collaborative track is a mission statement. Undeniably, 2014 has been the year where Atlanta returned to a position of prominence, and as an anthem this functions flawlessly. There's interplay between the rappers, there's a myriad of styles and deliveries, there's a simplistic but nuanced beat, and Hell there's even an appearance by Jermaine Dupri because why not? Sure it's not the same type of insane pairing that is Justin Bieber's song with Migos "Looking For You" but it's still pretty surprising.
2. "Tree Of Life" - Ab-Soul (NE)
Despite the admiration for Kendrick Lamar around the hip-hop community at large, if you ask me there's no one from TDE that I want new music from more than Ab-Soul. The wordplay on display in the lead single from his incredible These Days... is a marvel, linking words and ideas that on the surface are nothing ground breaking, but become elevated when put in conversation with the multiple ideas Ab-Soul tackles simultaneously. There'a delicate balancing act on display, though as this song shows it's one that he's more than capable of handling.
1. "Words I Don't Remember" - How To Dress Well (No Change)
Halfway through the year, it seems like there will need to be some kind of titan to knock off this beautifully melancholic soundscape from the top slot come January. The lyrics within this song are actually pretty sparse, but when they enter they just hit so hard. Tom Krell's voice is so crisp and clear, but eventually becomes mechanically distorted at times, which creates this dreamlike feel to the entire song that I find to be completely captivating.
On The Bubble
"Cut Her Off (Freestyle)" - Kevin Gates
"Crib In My Closet" - 2 Chainz feat. A$AP Rocky & Rick Ross
"Sanctified" - Rick Ross feat. Kanye West & Big Sean
"Birth In Reverse" - St. Vincent
"Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone" - Lykke Li
It's been a Hell of a year for singles, and soon enough we'll get to albums! Do I need to catch up on something else? Let me know below in the comments!
Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.
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© 2014 Richard James Thorne