The World According to Luke: Top 10s of 2014

In The World According to Luke, KSPC’s very own DJ Cool Hand Luke gives you a guide to living life like “a guy who wears two 36-inch gold chains” (from Luke himself). Expect music reviews, hip-hop history, and maybe even some love advice.

Ever since Nas’s 2006 album Hip Hop Is Dead, 30-year-old suburban males complain that rap has gone totally commercial and the spirit of the Bronx is gone while completely ignoring the wealth of excellent rap music being produced. The Internet era has caused a boom in independent rap where a listener is a few clicks away from hundreds of thousands of mixtapes strewn across the web. Unfortunately, this makes the job of finding what’s worth listening to pretty difficult. Lucky for you the experts at KSPC sort through the bad to find the gems. Here we present to you the shiniest sapphires of the year.

TOP 10 INDEPENDENT ALBUMS OF 2014

1. Tunji Ige – The Love Project

Tunji is an extremely talented college sophomore with a penchant for incredible hooks and gorgeous beats. The whole album is consistent and flowing. Ige’s sound is all his own.

2. Yung Lean – Unknown Memory

Lean’s production talent (Yung Gud, Yung Sherman, White Armor) includes some of the top beatsmiths in the game. Lean’s sing/rap style has developed into one all his own after cribbing heavily from Lil B early on in his career. This might be appropriation, but it bangs hard.

3. Fetty Wap – Up Next

Fetty would rank higher if this album were a bit longer. The highlights are some of the brightest of the year, however, and Fetty seems set to blow up big time in 2015. This album jams extremely hard.

4. Zuse – Bullet

This album is ATL trap meets Jamaica to create an out there blend of absolute fire music. It’s aggressive and banging with the weirdo touch you can expect from a friend of Young Thug.

5. Lil Herb – Welcome to Fazoland

Herb, like King L, lays some exceptional rapping over menacing drill beats. Chicago Drill has splintered into a thousand pieces, but Herb looks to try and carry the torch with his concrete hard tracks.

6. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

Killer Mike and El-P reconnect for the favorite rap album of people who “don’t like rap music.” For people who do like rap music this is still an awesome outing by two talented MCs who are out for blood on the mic.

7. Lil Bibby – Free Crack 2

Lil Herb’s partner in rhyme Lil Bibby complements well, but isn’t an exceptional enough rapper to hold his own. Luckily the sequel to his break out mixtape is chock full of features and the result is a tight tape full of bangers.

8. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata

Gangster Gibbs teams up with Madlib for a full album in the vein of Madvillainy and this one proves to be a similarly nice match. Gibbs has a voice built to sound good over any beat, but Madlib delivered some joints anyway.

9. Lil B – Ultimate Bitch

Lil B attacks with quantity, but retains a large amount of quality on this mixtape. He alternates between threats and introspection largely sticking to his core themes, but his takes remain fresh and interesting.

10. Shy Glizzy – Young Jefe

Gogo has never fully acquiesced to the will of hip-hop in Washington DC, but Shy Glizzy makes the case for DC rap with this mixtape. Glizzy gets weird on Young Jefe with strong influence from Atlanta rap, but remains his own. Why is Wale the face of DC rap again?

TOP 10 INDEPENDENT SONGS OF 2014

1. “Trap Queen” – Fetty Wap

Absolute fire. Sleeper hit of the year.

2. “Benny Lava” – Swetshop Boyz

Heems and MC Riz talks about what it means to be brown over a fire Ryan Hemsworth beat. 

3. “Ghosttown (feat. Travi$ Scott)” – Yung Lean

Lean and Scott noise off over sick production and Lean delivers an awesome sing-along chorus.

4. “Montana (feat. Juicy J)” – Lil Bibby

Juicy J delivers on the chorus in a way reminiscent of the Rubba Band Business series.

5. “Kingdom” – Tunji Ige

Tunji delievers a song that sounds more than radio worthy with a fun chorus and beautiful beat.

6. “RED” – Zuse

Zuse goes stupid hard over a stupid hard beat. This is a banger.

7. “No Black Person Is Ugly” – Lil B

Lil B delivers an incredibly moving track about how dark skin is viewed in society and how it effects self-esteem.

8. “U Guessed It” – OG Maco & Key!

Maco and Key! frantically shout and yell in a flow that reminds of James Brown scatting.

9. “On The Corner (feat. Lil Durk, & KD Young Cocky)” – Lil Herb

Herb connects with some other Chicago rappers for a tough track about what life on the corner is really like while still making a track that jams.

10. “My Guns” – Yung Gud

Yung Gud conjures imagery and emotion with this hip-hop instrumental. He is a Sad Boy indeed.

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