Some may argue that 2014 has not been a quality year in music, however the rap and indie worlds have definitely seen a number of great tracks this year. Check out our list of 2014’s 30 Best Tracks, with appearances from Run The Jewels, Lana Del Rey, Vic Mensa and many more!
30. Vic Mensa – “Feel That”
EP: Street Lights
You can’t help but rock out to Vic Mensa’s Smoko Ono produced track “Feel That”. Off his upcoming Street Lights EP (expected for a 2015 release), “Feel That” was the first taste of Vic’s next project since his acclaimed INNANETAPE. “Feel That” isn’t only a hot track but another reminder that Vic is one of Chicago’s best and immensely versatile and diverse in his sound. Mensa can slow things down and sing with his raps (similar to many tracks from his Kids These Days band), he can make electronic influenced hits (with “Down On My Luck”), and he can keep things 100% rap (as here with “Feel That”).
29. Lana Del Rey – “West Coast”
The lead single from the followup album to her Born To Die series, “West Coast” is one of Ultraviolence’s best tracks. “West Coast” is produced by The Black Key’s frontman Dan Auerbach and although Lana is a “Brooklyn Baby”, she shows love for the other coast as well. The soft-rock instrumental complimented by Lana’s vocals, the track is as stunning as Lana herself and makes for one of the year’s top tracks.
28. Common ft. Vince Staples – “Kingdom”
Album: Nobody’s Smiling
Even before the track was complimented by a rare new verse from rapper Jay Electronica, Common recruited one of the best young MCs, California’s Vince Staples, to hop on his track “Kingdom”. Off his Nobody’s Smiling album, “Kingdom” tells a story from the streets with a constant focus on survival. “Help me get, get the keys to the Kingdom”, Common hopes for a better Chicago, where those growing up can escape the constant fear and danger.
27. J. Cole – “Fire Squad”
Album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive
2014 Forest Hills Drive was definitely one of the best rap albums that 2014 saw, and “Fire Squad” is a great example why. It’s been a while since we saw him just snap and go off on a track, as on Born Sinner it really sounded like he was holding back and giving only as much as he felt the track needed. Forest Hills, though, represents him likening back to a time where a looped sample and some knocking drums was all he needed to vent and spill his explicit emotions and thoughts about whatever’s on his mind, and “Fire Squad” might be just that. This was the song that featured the jabs at the white grips on the black-genre of hip-hop, (“While silly n*ggas argue over who gon’ snatch the crown/Look around, my n*gga, white people have snatched the sound) while also claiming his own spot amongst the new generations of greats (“Ain’t no way around it no more, I am the greatest”).
26. Pusha T – “Lunch Money”
Album: Lunch Money (Single)
After the acclaimed late-2013 debut from Pusha T, we thought we wouldn’t hear from him for a while, but he decided to bless us with a Kanye West produced, single that did not disappoint. Production wise, it seems to take inspiration from the low-fi details of a group like Clipping or maybe even some Death Grips songs, all while boasting a familiar Pusha T with crisp, prolific bars about the coke game, and even socio-political topics, touching on recent black-related violence with lines like “America’s still abusing us/And that 9/11’s still the Ku Klux/So why wouldn’t I fire back/When everyday them niggas shooting us?” It usually sounds like Pusha had to keep proving himself as a solo artist ever since the dissolution the Clipse, but this time around, it sounds less like he has something to prove and more like he is already king.