I was going to just list some stuff like I have done before but wow nobody cares. Here is some music I’ve thought about a lot in 2014.
ILoveMakonnen - “Down 4 So Long” (YouTube)
“Tuesday” is great, a perfect party hook, but it’s not exactly deep. But take a look at his work in the years prior and his strength as a songwriter, producer and performer is obvious. Above is the best example: a simple instrumental with somewhat plain lyrics is shot into the stratosphere on a completely unreserved, emotive performance.
Rich Gang - “Lifestyle” (Cash Money)
Young Thug. Young. Thug. A year of vocal performances that completely overshadow anyone in the vicinity: “Stoner”, “Danny Glover”, “About The Money”, “Dresser” and this; a celebration of all things good. Thugger is in his finest form, taking about 90% of vocal duties, filling in all the gaps with a grand palette of ad libs like he’s the Michael Winslow of rap.
Warpaint - Warpaint (Rough Trade)
A quiet, beautiful record I keep returning to when being quiet.
Chief Keef - “No” (Glo Gang/Glory Boyz)
The best outcome of Chief Keef getting dropped from Interscope is that a lot of the music held up by the label is being “released” (does Youtube count?) and can finally be heard. Since Finally Rich Keef has doubled down on experimentation: autotune, deleting drums, layered vocals, atmosphere. There’s no sound better than an artist working exactly how they want to, no more, no less. I could’ve picked any of his uploads for a standout track.
Dean Blunt - Black Metal (Rough Trade)
I can’t think of a better reflection of the paranoia this year hath brought than Black Metal. Injustice so stark and bright in our faces, agony of powerlessness despite all moral compasses pointing in your direction. There isn’t a year end list without reference to grand juries and I guess this one does too.
Blunt has a million influences in his recipe but the result has all influence distilled away. A “cover” of “Ain’t Worried About Nothin” so delicate and hesitant perhaps the opposite is true.
The literature around Dean Blunt paints him as paranoid, rejecting the connectivity that defines our lives, performing antagonistically to the audience; backlit with bodyguard. Hands up. Don’t shoot.