We can all agree that 2014 wasn’t the best year for hip-hop, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some gems hidden in the dirty sea. This year was dominated by mixtapes; not just in quantity, but also in quality. This could be due to the fact that so many artists, both big and small, are having issues with label constraints and selling copies in such a digital age. So, without any further ado, here is a list of our 20 favorite mixtapes of 2014. Enjoy!
Let’s kick off the list with one of the most underrated mixtapes of the year, Drumma Boy & Drum Squad’s Welcome To My City 3. The project contains 20 tracks full of catchy hooks and features from the likes of Future, Gucci Mane, Young Dolph, Zed Zilla, Snootie Wild, Young Buck and many more. The best aspect of this project is that the music has a relatively strong replay value, as I found myself listening to, and enjoying, this project 6 months after it was released. All 20 tracks are produced by Drumma Boy, who also raps on some of the songs. Make sure to check this one out!
Favorite Songs: Private Party, Action, My Hood, In My City
GoldLink’s The God Complex is an indescribably different mixtape that stands out from the crowd. GoldLink is an up-and-coming DMV-bred emcee that released this debut 9-track project at the beginning of 2014 and it has maintained great replay value. It may not be your type of music, but I definitely suggest you give it a listen!
Favorite Songs: Planet Paradise, Fuck Being Polite, Ay Ay
Zach Farlow is an Atlanta-based rapper who we luckily caught on to before any major site or publication did. The debut offering, The Great Escape, finds Zach telling the story of his come-up with production from some of hip-hop’s finest producers, such as Metro Boomin, Young Chop, 808 Mafia, Sonny Digital, Lex Luger, DJ Spinz and more. Not to be discriminate, but Zach is probably the best white trap rapper you’ve ever heard.
Favorite Songs: Solo, D.R.U.G.Z, Toast, Keep, Get Rich And Get High, Maybe It’s Just Me
Lil Durk followed up his classic Signed To The Streets mixtape this year with the sequel, Signed To The Streets 2. While the sequel wasn’t as great as the original, Durk still found a way to use the auto-tune-heavy hooks for a fresh, distinctive sound that sets him apart from the pack.
Favorite Songs: What You Do To Me, I Made It, War Wit Us, Rumors
Speaking of consistency, Big K.R.I.T. has stayed true to his unique approach for the past decade and nothing is different with See Me On Top 4. While the length of the songs may throw you off at first, you get accustomed to it and enjoy the project for what it is.
Favorite Songs: Mt. Olympus, Drinkers Club, Riding Dirty, New Agenda
Curren$y is one of the most consistent artists in the game and it was an easy decision to include his Saturday Night Car Tunes (and More Saturday Night Car Tunes) project in this list. The typical laid-back instrumentals and effortless flow is a stoner’s delight, while also pertaining to the average consumer.
Favorite Songs: Money Shot, Night Like This, Countin Money, Drug Prescription
It seems as though compilation projects are a thing of the past, as many have stopped checking for (and supporting) them, which, in term, leads to lower-quality projects for future releases. However, Hustle Gang’s G.D.O.D. sequel is a compilation project that was 100% quality and was far too slept on this year. Make sure to check out the project, which features songs from T.I., Young Dro, B.o.B, Trae Tha Truth, Spodee and Shad Da God, along with features from some big-name rappers.
Favorite Songs: Brand New Choppa, I Need War, I Do The Most, Make Me Something
If you aren’t familiar with OG Maco by now, you’ve probably only heard U Guessed It and made up your mind. I suggest you open your mind a little bit and give this project a listen. The self-titled freEP finds Maco using that distinct, “yelling” approach, mixed with clever wordplay and grade-A production for an all-around solid release.
Favorite Songs: U Guessed It, 12 Bricks, FuckEmx3, Want More
Lil Bibby’s Free Crack 2 was perhaps one of the most anticipated projects of 2014 for the semi-underground scene and it definitely did not disappoint. As you can tell from the cover, the project’s theme revolves around the drug scene and that’s been proven to be a high selling point for rappers these days. The project gives you everything you come to expect from Bibby, and then some.
Favorite Songs: Montana, We Are Strong, I Be On It, Boy, Game Over
Ty Dolla $ign is an undeniable talent but it’s a shame that $ign Language wasn’t nearly as good as the first two Beach House projects. Regardless, the project is solid and features some of your favorite rappers and producers. The intros and interludes are what really add to this project’s overall sound. If you’re a Dolla $ign fan, you’ll likely enjoy this project but for those trying to get into his music for the first time, I suggest listening to the Beach House mixtapes first.
Favorite Songs: Dead Presidents, Issue, Lord Knows, Like I Do
Kevin Gates is a rapper known for his realism, unique voice and interesting interviews. His first mixtape (aka street album) of 2014, By Any Means, was an impressive offering from the New Orleans emcee that really got his name out there. It was really the first time I saw “mainstream” consumers listening to his music and it was a testament to how far he’s come and, frankly, how good this project really is. Listen closely to the lyrics throughout the project and you’ll find out a lot about Kevin Gates himself and also relating a lot of it to your life.