Time keeps passing us by. It feels like yesterday when we were arguing about orderings, placements and picks for our “Best Albums of 2013” list last December, and now 2014 is more than half-over. As a given year transpires, some trends arise on the fly while others only become evident in retrospect. The single most important trend of 2014 thus far is somewhere in the middle: it has not been a good year for hip-hop.
With that said, a handful of diamonds in the rough prevented compiling this list from being too tough. Many young talents are rising together, a new New School of rap-oriented acts destined for big things in the coming years. Quite a few are dropping their most anticipated projects to date in the coming weeks; if they live up to their potential, you can expect to see some unfamiliar faces in our year-end list.
With hip-hop in a genre-spanning slump, many artists whom we love from other genres are scattered throughout our rankings. Simply put, we have been generally blessed with a lot of great music when you let the categorical boundaries fall and take remarkable records for what they are. Whether filled with promise, defined by laudable experimentation or overflowing with dope songs that knock, a host of varying albums make up our favorite 30 projects released since the first day of January.
Click below to check out the best albums of 2014.