6. Mike G
Odd Future stalwart Mike G has had a quiet few years since his biggest project to date, Ali, was released. His Award Tour EP, while solid, did more to promote Vince Staples than Mike G, and last year’s Verses didn’t generate much acclaim. It’s unlikely laidback, pot-puffing Mike G will ever match the hype of Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator, but a new song, “BMB,” and the possibility of a new project in the future are plenty enticing. Stream it below and keep your eyes peeled for more info.
5. Freddie Gibbs – Lifestyles of the Insane/Eastside Slim
I talked a good amount about Freddie Gibbs in my earlier list about him, but he deserves to be mentioned here as well. 2014 has been a huge year for him, and it’s hard not to anxiously await his next move. Right now, attention is focused on two upcoming projects, Eastside Slim and Lifestyles of the Insane, both of which may only exist theoretically for the time being. Gibbs has a penchant for misleading remarks about his future projects, as was pointed out during his Pitchfork Selector interview, and his Anybody Killa mixtape is an example of one such item which never materialized and probably never will. Still, new material from him is coming out at a steady clip, like his guest spot of BJ the Chicago Kid’s mixtape The M.A.F.E. Project and the new GTA V soundtrack tune “Sellin’ Dope.” Stream that new song below and keep a moderate perspective on the possibility of a 2015 project dropping.
You probably don’t remember back in 2009 when D12 was allegedly going to be making a comeback album with Eminem rejoining the ranks of the group. That album never happened. You probably also weren’t paying attention earlier this year when Bizarre came back to the group, sober and enthusiastic that a new D12 album was on the horizon. Once again, this news was touted with the claim that Eminem had returned to the dozen, an auspicious statement given his absence from the Return of the Dozen mixtapes, but when it was announced that Shady XV would feature new D12 material, the premise became more realistic. That new material amounts to a single song, “Bane,” confirmed to be on the tracklist and, surprisingly, featuring production from Mr. Porter, the former D12 member once known as Kon Artis and now known for his Robert Glasper remix album (I say this with much irony as Porter Chops Glasper did little, if anything, for Mr. Porter’s career). “Bane” is the only new D12 track on Shady XV, raising the question of where the other new D12 tracks are, if in fact they ever did exist. In an industry where Detox, the “Chinese Democracy of hip-hop,” has been pigeonholed and discarded, it’s not far-fetched to imagine that the D12 comeback album is either a fabrication, a pipe-dream or already canceled. Early reviews of Shady XV suggest that it won’t be a game-changer, and I doubt it will inspire people to became D12 fans, as the group is best known for a decade-old song that isn’t even that great. If D12 releases a new album in 2015, it will provide closure if nothing else, and that’s all I want from it if it ever comes to be.
3. Joey Badass – B4.Da.$$
B4.Da.$$ is a clever title. Read one way, it means “before the money,” harkening back to life prior to wealthiness, when the music was about passion and not contracts. Alternatively, it can be seen as a stylized version of “Badass,” the second half of the pseudonym under which Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott releases music (fun fact: he is not the first rapper to swap an “s” for a “$” in his name! Look into Ca$his, A$AP Rocky, P$C, Ma$e and Ca$h Out for more information). Pro Era have gotten big in the past few years, and while their history is bleakened from the suicide of Capital STEEZ, the group have released several strong mixtapes and Badass has led them keenly and skillfully. Although last year’s Summer Knights mixtape did not meet the quality of 1999, early tracks from B4.Da.$$ show a lot of promise. Listen to “Christ Conscious” and get fired up for one of the most anticipated debuts in a long time.
2. A$AP Rocky
Did you have a chance to click the link for A$AP Rocky in the previous section yet? It directs to his Wikipedia page, full of helpful information about the Harlem upstart, although I suppose it’s possible you’ve heard of him already. After all, he did release a chart-topping album last year that featured heavyweight artists like Drake, Action Bronson, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Big KRIT, Santigold, Yelawolf, and for upsetting and perplexing reasons, Skrillex. Rocky’s grown up from the spry, youthful reprobate whose LiveLoveA$AP mixtape charmed the hearts of millions (it’s garnered over 1,500,000 downloads on Datpiff alone) and made Clams Casino and SpaceGhostPurrp household names (if you lived in, like, a really weird-ass household). He announced earlier this year a new album, due out towards the end of 2014, and although that deadline is drawing close, there is hope that 2015 will see his sophomore major label release. While it’s true that his other tentative album, the instrumental Beauty N the Beast: Slowed Down Sessions Chapter 1, has not come out yet, I’m more keen to hear him rap than produce. He has amassed a strong following at this point, even as whiny alternative hip-hop fans complain about his name, and the demand for new music from him is strong. Listen to his recent single “Multiply” below.
1. Denzel Curry – Planet Shrooms/Three-Two-Zel
Raider Klan is not what it used to be. Lil Ugly Mane has gone into retirement, Ethelwulf has left Raider Klan to become Xavier Wulf and now makes music with Bones, Dough Dough Da Don is struggling to be relevant and even SpaceGhostPurrp can’t seem to catch a break. Perhaps it was for the best that Carol City’s pride and joy, Denzel Curry, split with the group as well. His debut album Nostalgic 64 caught a lot of acclaim, spreading his trap-influenced Southern style far and wide. 2014 has been all about stoking the fires he’s lit and increasing his fanbase, and to do so he has released a choice stream of songs, guest appearances and music videos, while also playing shows across the country. “2015 is the year of #32ZEL #PlanetShrooms & #C9” he tweeted today, pinning down a general time period for the release of his upcoming double EP, Planet Shrooms/Three-Two-Zel. Stream some of Curry’s 2014 work below.