The Best Songs of 2014

The Best Songs of 2014

40. Pusha T – “Lunch Money”

Pusha T always manages to sound great on dark and unorthodox production as evidenced by his work as one half of Clipse, and his MNIMN solo album in 2013. “Lunch Money” is a strong continuation of that street aesthetic, which includes some amazing quotables that illustrate Pusha’s place in rap’s game of thrones: “This is crime by design/If the crown ain’t mine, tell me who am I behind?” The icing on the cake is the Jean-Jacques Perrey “E.V.A.” sample, which is also prominently used on Gang Starr’s “Just To Get A Rep.” Thank you Mr. West for that. Gedi Dabakaeri

39. Chaz French – “Came Down”

Some of us gentler folks like to ponder Camus’ works or jam to Bon Iver when our blood boils. We all know ’em: the rotten apples who order vanilla ice cream, no sprinkles please, and apologize after they let a “Damnit!” slip upon scoring less than 100 on their Chem final. Chaz French’s “Came Down” will shatter that abstinence from all that is unholy. It might even send a fist flying through the wall plaster. The DMV rapper’s “million dollar mindset” and “broke attitude” feed into a singular channel of fury. We can all scream along to French’s desperate brags in our darkest hours. He admits he wasn’t popping like he thought he was, which is a nice thought, but “Down” ensured he’d begin to do just that in 2014. Stay tuned. Alex Siber

38. Jessie Ware – “Kind Of… Sometimes… Maybe”

The highlight of Jessie Ware’s sophomore effort Tough Love is her sexy collaboration with Miguel, “Kind Of… Sometimes… Maybe.” Ware’s sultry vocals paired with Miguel whispering ad-libs over a smooth BenZel production definitely capture a mood without necessarily being explicit. While a real duet with Miguel would’ve been nice, his subtle presence works perfect here. The only song that screamed “sexy time” more in 2014 was FKA twigs’ “Two Weeks.” —Gedi Dabakaeri

37. ScHoolboy Q – “Break The Bank”

While ScHoolboy Q deserves props for maintaining our attention on a six-minute track, much of the praise here goes to Alchemist. The consistently on-fire producer delivered an instrumental so wonderfully grimy that it makes you wish you were joining Q on this track’s ‘rap heist.’ Now, if only Rockstar had put “Break The Bank” in Grand Theft Auto V instead of “Collard Greens,” the world would be a better place. —Andrew Martin

36. A$AP Rocky – “Multiply”

Before “Multiply,” it seemed as if A$AP Rocky was coasting through 2014 on the backs of a few average-to-solid guest verses. But then this track arrived and it seemed like the Harlem rapper was ‘back.’ The booming, bravado-laden “Multiply” didn’t take off like it should have, and that’s everyone’s fault. Play it again and tell me it doesn’t deserve more love. —Andrew Martin

35. Tunji Ige – “For Us”

“Day2Day” gave Tunji a low-key internet hit blessed by Michael Christmas and Makonnen, but the effectively simple single shrivels beside “For Us.” The intro to Ige’s The Love Project, “Us” is both substantive and infectious. Instrumentation churns and wallows in angst. The frustrations echo the hook’s stance on loveless struggle, befitting a crew in search of stardom or social unrest on a national scale. That room for interpretation lends the song its power, and the smooth transition into a soulful groove that concludes the track matches its message with impeccable sonics. Tunji’s honesty, whether joyful or glum, rarely wavers. Neither does our affection for his work. —Alex Siber

34. T.I. – “About The Money” F. Young Thug

Young Thug, hip-hop’s most divisive yet supernaturally talented individual since 2008 Lil Wayne, had one hell of year, and “About The Money” is the crown jewel he’ll drink another cup of lean to when all’s said and done. He mumbles and squeals the opening verse. He rides in the gator and shines like a reverend on the hook. T.I. shows up a few times too, but we all know this wasn’t his song. Thugger didn’t even have to steal it; it was his from the jump. —Thomas Johnson

33. Daye Jack – “Summer Day”

“Summer Day” is dodging sea gulls clamoring for a cheap meal; it’s sand rising against your feet, filling the cracks between your toes; it’s biking down the boardwalk by day and barbequing at night. Let the sublime grooves and Jack’s sun-soaked chorus teleport you to a wavy place — and don’t forget to send Daye your thanks. —Alex Siber

32. Apollo Brown – “The Answer”

Apollo Brown’s soulful textures and sonorous piano chords make “The Answer” something of a revelation. Its gradual climax, the onset’s stacked vocal sample, mirrors the awe of reaching a mountain’s peak; we’re hearing God’s calling through musical notes. What’s leftover is the breathtaking view. Each second of the song offers an opportunity to reflect, and, true to its name, look for the answers to life’s infinite questions. Brown makes it easier to carry on with our search. —Alex Siber

31. Lapalux – “Movement I, II & III”

Lapalux’s 2014 was relatively low-key compared to previous years, but that didn’t stop the U.K. producer from dropping one of the best tracks of the past 12 months. The aptly titled “Movement I, II & III” is a stunning three-part journey through noise/dream-pop, ambient music, and glitchy madness. —Andrew Martin

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