Not only has 2014 featured a bevy of great albums, but the song output was abundant again this year. Whether it was Drake dropping a barrage of loosies to keep us OVO’d out or it was Jay Electronica run off, uber catchy trap or the odd ended misnomer, we found ourselves continuously entertained by these ten numbers. Some may have charted, others stayed in our iTunes, Sportify, or car playlist on repeat, but their impact was felt and noticeable. Then there were others — ones so ubiquitous it changed how we forever viewed certain days of the week or the term “week ago.” Of course, this list was voted on by a collection of 31 Hip Hop journalists, and while narrowing it down to ten was no easy feat, we conceded these were our favorite songs of the year.
Editors Note: This list is not ranked and in no particular order
Released: July 15, 2015
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Republic Records
Highest Charting Position: #35
Producer(s): Boi-1da/Noah “40” Shebib/Nineteen 85
When we eventually bury “0 to 100/The Catch Up” in the Hip Hop cemetery (which doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon by the way), it’s tombstone should read one sentence, and one sentence only: Here lies “0 to 100/The Catch Up,” a song so damn good, it was stolen from Diddy (allegedly) and resulted in a hospitalized Drake. In all seriousness, this track was something special. Boi-1da’s masterful work behind the boards provided one of the most infectious beats in recent memory. So infectious in fact, it nearly caused half of Hip Hop to catch remix sickness (Meek Mill, Joel Ortiz, Cassidy, Ace Hood, and Wiz Khalifa to name a few). It was Drake that turned the beat from infectious to terminal however, putting on a lyrical two-step through Boi-1da’s production that should be Exhibit A on how to flawlessly ride a beat. And whether he was getting NBA attention with lines like “I been Steph Curry with the shot / been cookin’ with the sauce, chef curry with the pot, boy,” or having the phrase “0 to 100” infiltrate daily dialogue all around the world, with “0 to 100/The Catch Up” Drizzy wove himself deep into the fabric of Hip Hop and pop culture once again. And to think, this is his “off” year… damn.
Released: July 25, 2014
Label: Epic Records, GS9
Highest Chart Position: #6
Producer(s): Jahlil Beats
Who would of thought that the biggest collaboration of the year would be between an artist and the dance he created? To say the now infamous Shmoney dance was popular in 2014 would be like saying Nicki Minaj has a cute petite derriere: a huge understatement. That wasn’t always the case however. The track features Jahlil Beats production, which originally was used by Lloyd Banks on his song “Jackpot” back in 2012. Now subtract Banks, add an improved Bobby Shmurda cadence, and sprinkle in the most popular dance of the decade? You turn a track that was barely a blip on the Hip Hop radar to quite possibly the biggest song of 2014. Social media definitely added tons of fuel to the fire as well, because as hard as “Hot Nigga” knocked in the club or in the whip, having the track broadcasted to millions daily through Instagram, Vine, and memes made the whole country feel like they were part of the Shmoney dance party. Unfortunately for Shmurda, his career has fallen a lot quicker than his Knicks cap did. Just four months removed from signing a $2 million deal with Epic Records, Bobby Shmurda and 15 members of his GS9 crew have been indicted on 69 counts of criminal activity, ranging from conspiracy to commit murder to drug dealing. He’s since pleaded not guilty, but potentially faces a maximum sentence of 8-25 years. No one knows what the future has in store for Bobby, but he provided a song and moment in Hip Hop that will go down in the books, as well as forbidding us from saying the phrase “about a week ago” normally in our minds ever again.
Released: September 1, 2014
Label: OVO Sound, Warner Bros
Highest Charting Position: #12
Producer(s): Sonny Digital, Metro Boomin
If alcohol, social media, and the second day of the workweek were sharing a moment in 2014, best believe hashtag #OnATuesday wasn’t too far behind. It might of made early morning Wednesday risers a bit hasty, but if you were with your squad goin up the night before? ILOVEMAKONNEN’s “Tuesday” and its cloudy intoxicated production were the perfect soundtrack for your festivities. The Atlanta native was already making waves within the industry before this track dropped, getting love from the likes of Mike Will Made It and Miley Cyrus. But his career got launched to a whole other stratosphere once “Tuesday” was touched by the hands of the 6 God. Drake claims he’s Steph Curry with the shot, but Chris Paul with the dime seems just as fitting lately. From his scathing verse on The Migos’ “Versace” to hopping on Tinashe’s “2 On,” a Drizzy remix all but guarantees getting put on the map, and his work on “Tuesday” definitely garnered the same results. Now officially signed to Drake’s OVO Sound and touring all around the world, ILOVEMAKONNEN has come quite a long way from being the kid in shock after hearing his song remixed by the biggest Hip Hop artist on the planet Squad definitely goin’, up.
Released: May 6, 2014
Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Republic
Highest Charting Position: #26
Unfortunately what’s getting lost in the unraveling of Cash Money Records, besides Birdman’s credibility as a CEO of course, is the fact that Lil Wayne was gaining the most momentum and excitement his music had seen in years. It’s no secret his lyrics had been lost in the bermuda triangle of sex, drugs, and mediocrity for some time, but with bars like “One finger, slidin’ ‘cross my neck / Niggas know what that mean like they deaf / Nigga I’ll fire this nina like it’s her first day on the job and the bitch overslept,” the Vinylz produced “Believe Me” provided Hip Hop fans a much needed mixtape Weezy flashback. The track featured Wayne trading bars with Drizzy Drake, and created the perfect backdrop for their geniusly marketed and executed Drake vs. Lil Wayne Tour, which featured each emcee trading hit songs. It felt like the perfect storm was brewing for Tha Carter V (which was set to release earlier this month on December 9th), but just five days before the album was set to drop, Lil’ Tunechi fired shots at his current label via a series of tweets including “To all my fans, I want you to know that my album won’t and hasn’t been released bekuz Baby & Cash Money Rec. refuse to release it.”Although some have speculated this all to be a marketing ploy, Tyga’s similar sentiments make it pretty apparent things aren’t all good over at Cash Money. When the dust does finally settle down, let’s hope an amazing body of work in Tha Carter V is what rises from the ashes.
Released: February 6, 2014
Label: A1, Freebandz, Epic
Highest Charting Position: #46
Producer(s): Mike WiLL Made It
Guest(s): Pusha T, Pharrell Williams, Casino
Almost a staple at any club or party in 2014, “Move That Dope” continued the successful resume for the two turn up team captains Future and Mike WiLL Made It. The track gave Future his highest charting Billboard Hot 100 single to date, as well as earned him the 2014 BET Award for “Best Club Banger.” But when it comes to “Move That Dope,” it’s all about the guests of honor. No emcee comes to mind quicker when it comes to slick lyrics and talks of the co-co than King Push, so featuring him on a track with dope in the title was a no brainer. As usual, he comes correct with the bars, “When they sayin’ it’s 42 for that white powder, I knows better/ Get it nigga? I nose better, put a smile on the devil’s face / Who don’t wanna sell dope forever and flood their Rollie ‘til the bezel break?” The biggest surprise though was Pharrell, who reminded everybody he could still talk that talk with the best of them, “Me, I try to save the best for later / But Pusha tried to put me on the respirator / The old Skateboard P, that’s your favorite / Me and twenty girls doin’ yoga naked.” The smoothness of Pharrell, wordplay of Push, aggressive bars from Future, and one guiltily catchy hook all seamlessly came together for a track sure to still set off parties into the new year.
Released: May 19, 2014
Label: EarDrumma, Interscope
Highest Chart Position: #36
Producer(s): Mike Will Made It
Not every song inspires a successful hashtag, but Rae Sremmurd created 2014’s answer to YOLO with their hit single and social media phenomenon “No Flex Zone.” The slow, bass-heavy track racked up millions of views on YouTube, continuing a major trend in Hip Hop as “No Flex Zone” – a single released months before the group’s upcoming debut album SremmLife – launched the career of the two young Missouri natives seemingly overnight. Women and partying are the major themes of the track, and have become the duo’s calling card as follow-up tracks like “No Type” have helped Rae Sremmurd carry plenty of momentum into the new year.
Released: June 5, 2014
Label: Cash Money, Republic
Highest Chart Position: #16
Producter(s): London on da Track
Even with an unusually turbulent year for Bird Man and the rest of Cash Money, one of Hip Hop’s most reliable labels managed to release its fair share of hits, including the Rich Gang collective’s track “Lifestyle” featuring Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan. An anthemic bottom-to-the-top hook by Thug accompanied by steady 808s made “Lifestyle” one of the summer’s hottest tracks, peaking at 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and prompting remixes by Lil Boosie and Waka Flaka Flame. From the jet-filled music video to the celebratory lyrics, “Lifestyle” proves that Baby and Cash Money are here to stay, even if they’re surrounded by drama.
Released: October 27, 2014
Highest Chart Position: #27
Producer(s): Juice 808
O.T. Genasis’ catchy track “CoCo” transcended a mere homage to cocaine, becoming a victory celebration for the Golden State Warriors and the cause Busta Rhymes’ unfortunate head injury weeks ago. Pyrex Vision may be a thing of the past, but the California-by-way-of-Atlanta rapper’s love for the coco and baking soda racked up millions of plays this year, competing for the title of one of rap’s most popular songs. With a music video that would make Tony Montana proud yet lyrical content that is far from complex, “Coco” represents Hip Hop’s less refined side but has the ability to energize a room the second it’s released from speakers.
Released: February 20, 2014
Label: Pushaz Ink, CTE World, Def Jam
Highest Chart Position: #54
Producer(s): DJ Mustard
The pairing of two of 2014’s hottest emcees for YG’s “Who Do You Love?” featuring Drake makes the cut a must-listen, as the Compton, California rapper responsible for My Krazy Life enlisted the angrier, less emotional side of the Toronto artist for a mix of street-heavy rhymes and Drake’s usual braggadocio. While DJ Mustard and YG have openly discussed their differences of late, the two compliment each other well, and “Who Do You Love?” was no exception, making for yet another combo of Mustard’s dark, bass-driven beats and YG’s swagger.
Released: October 31, 2014
Label: Def Jam, Cinematic Music Group
Highest Chart Position: N/A
Producer(s): Big K.R.I.T.
Big K.R.I.T.’s highly anticipated Cadillactica helped the South reassert itself as a Hip Hop powerhouse, with the slow-speaking emcee delivering a mix of smooth, cruise control tracks and combative lyrical outbursts that warrant K.R.I.T.’s proclamation as “King Of The South.” K.R.I.T. backs up his claim on the single with a fresh set of bars that are full of challenges to any and all competitors and have little of the easy-going country rapper’s relaxed tendencies found on older songs like “Me And My Old School.” With an ominous beat that involves the usual driving bass along with a set of swirling electronic notes, K.R.I.T. makes it known that he is prepared to fight to earn the title he and many others believe he deserves.