Hip Hop saw a trickle of new releases in 2014 after the deluge of music that was released in 2013. The year opened still feeling the impact of Yeezus and Beyonce´’s eponymous surprise album. But 2014 quickly set out to prove it’s own point, with Lord Steppington’s January release setting the stage for a year of brilliant reunions, young up-and-comers and quirky mixtape releases that stretched the genre in ingenious directions
As the line blurs between proper retail albums, free EPs and projects which begin as unsanctioned DatPiff.com downloads but end up as official iTunes releases, it’s equally hard to classify Hip Hop’s “Rookies.” The distinction was formerly marked by a lack of a physical album. But with compact discs and other physical media slowly inching closer toward pagers in the graveyard of dead technology, categorizing newcomers is an equally difficult proposition. Semantics aside, listeners know a less-heralded but potentially transcendent talent like Young Thug when they hear and see one. It can’t be guaranteed any of the following emcees will one day be able to sell a million copies of an album to a corporation before release, but listeners looking for quality music should keep their eyes on HipHopDX’s rising stars of 2014.
The Dag Savage rapper started the year off with a bang, releasing a mixtape in January, The Warning, and a Studio LP in February, E&J. E&J received a 4/5 rating from HipHopDX, while it’s average user rating was a 4.28/5, which is no surprise when you listen to songs like “Old Times Sake.” Johaz takes you on a deep personal journey, in which the MC speaks about his Childhood and the road he went through in order to flourish. Johaz flexed his lyrical aptitude with tracks like “Day Dreaming” where he rapped alongside Fashawn, Coss and was accented by tiombe lockhart’s vocals. On any given track you can hear the ambition in Johaz’ voice. He longs to be one of the greats and it shows in his craft.
The Self-Proclaimed Leader of Cult Rap, Deniro Farrar, released the Rebirth EP this May. Rebirth is his first EP with Vice/Warner Bros. since he signed in October of 2013 and although Farrar made the move to a major label he was able to keep his sound and musical team intact. This is good news to Eric McLellan, Director of A&R, Sire Records/Warner Bros. Records who said one of Farrar’s best qualities came from “his ability to display an unconventional amount of passion through music” in an interview with DX. Through his EP we came to learn that he has a perception of the world around him that leaves Farrar on edge, only to deal with it through a pen, a pad and a microphone.
After leaving Raider Klan in 2013, Curry released his solo debut, Nostalgic 64. In that album he flexed Tongue-tying flows over eerie sounding beats that resonated the downsouth 90s sound earning him a niche following. Although 2014 was a fairly quiet year for the MC, he’s continued to grow his buzz. Curry spent most of the year touring with Deniro Farrar on the “Bow Down Tour” (the first headlining tour of both their careers) and contributing to a few features while also performing at SxSW last March. Early last year he announced his upcoming EPs Planet Shrooms & 32 Zel. The EPs were later pushed back to release in 2015, enough to create a buzz and musical identity to get his fans frenzied for the storm that’s coming.
Young Thug is divisive. People don’t really know what to make of him. He seems quasi-genre and moribund, as though he’s partying himself to the verge of death, and yet, there’s something surreal about his gargling stammer. With the ability to hit notes that convey… something, well somewhat ethereal, the knock on the young weirdo has been that he’s not particularly good at any one thing. This may ultimately be his greatest strength however, since his ability to captivate extends beyond any particular skill he has. And, he showed on both Black Portland, and the insanely fun Rich Gang: Tha.Tour Pt 1 that he’s here to stay. His bars are deceptively interesting, and his voice is a language onto itself. Either way, we’re more than interested in what he has in store for 2015.
When asked to describe his music, Goldlink points you to the mostly symbolic term “Future Bounce.” The futuristically inclined rapper bases a lot of his sound on electro-funk inspired beats with floating lyrics that creep into your minds eye while you dance along to his records. It’s something he knows and prides himself on: “It’s just different from a lot of things that’s out right now. It’s very dancy, very nostalgic. It’s very futuristic, bouncy and fun to listen to.” His album, The God Complex was self-released as a mixtape earlier last year then re-released as an album on itunes in July.