2014 Year-End Review: The Best Hip-Hop Mixtapes/EPs
By: David Lazo-Pineda
Welcome to my first ever Hip-Hop year in review! Today we’ll be looking at a variety of mixtapes/EPs that took the year by storm. Some artists included in this review are Mac Miller, J. Cole and Childish Gambino to name a few. Also, at the end of this post, I will share what I believe is the best Hip-Hop mixtape/EP of the year. So lets break it down shall we?
1) Cilvia Demo (EP)
Released: January 28th
By: Isaiah Rashad
T.D.E’s new boy Isaiah Rashad kicked off the year with this 14-track EP titled Cilvia Demo. Songs like Cilvia Demo where he raps “Now sometimes I be gettin’ higher than a bitch, smoking on my lows, put the fire to the spliff, what up?” introduces to listeners that young Rashad is indeed a stoner which is great. He follows this track with R.I.P. Kevin Miller where he states “Y’all live for bitches and blunts, we live for weed and money” but it was the song West Savannah ft. T.D.E’s first lady SZA that really grabbed my attention. This soulful, relaxing tune pays homage to OutKast not only because of the song title, but also because Isaiah sings “Now can we fall inlove with Southernplayalistic bangin’ through the night?”
Isaiah Rashad showed the world that he’s talented as hell and this EP proved that. Great things are on the rise for this artist.
2) Revenge Of The Dreamers
Released: January 29th
By: J. Cole
The mixtape begins with a song titled Lil’ Niggaz which reveals a snippet of J. Cole freestyling on Tupac’s Ambitionz Az A Ridah. Listeners then get to hear from J. Cole’s Dreamville label mates. Bas spits some wisdom on Golden Goals, Lit and Ceelo With The G’s. Omen raps on a track titled Motion Picture, where the beat is a simple slow-paced kick drum and also shows his flow on the song Henny Flow. New artist Treasure Davis got the honour of exchanging hooks and verses with J. Cole on May The Bitter Man Win. Cole also expresses some lyricism on the song Revenge of the Dreamers where he vents “Ayo I walk along this long harbour of life and sit on the pier, reflect on my pain and shit on my fears.” I can guarantee listeners will have fun listening to track 9 titled Bitchez ft.Bas & Omen not only because the beat is insanely dope and the hook is hilarious, but these three artists created a masterpiece that friends can enjoy rapping when they are together, perhaps at a party:
Cole ends the mixtape the same way he started it; by rapping on another Tupac beat (Str8 Ballin’.) This time, he reveals the original version of his hit song from Born Sinner titled Crooked Smile and it’s a nice way to end the mixtape. Look out for Revenge of the Dreamers 2 in 2015!
3) Black Hystori Project
Released: February 24th
By: CyHi The Prynce
G.O.O.D. Music artist CyHi The Prynce dropped this mixtape in February in honour of Black History Month. CyHi has previously released dope mixtapes but this is by far his best one to date, mainly because the mixtape was entirely produced by Kanye West so you know it’s bound 2 to be great (see what I did there?) Songs like Huey ft.King Louie, Mandela, and Napoleon are examples of beats that go hard, not to mention that CyHi managed to make a hook just by repeatedly saying “Nelson Mandela,” but it worked surprisingly. CyHi reminds fans that he is a true Emcee/lyricist with the song 3:16 where you guessed it, spits three 16 bar verses, because he’s just that good. What surprised me as well about this mixtape is that CyHi got Aftermath’s newest artist, (who was personally signed by Dr. Dre) Jon Connor, to lend a verse on the song February 29th so that was cooler than a Dragon Ball Z character. CyHi has a song titled Cydel Young, which is his real name and he expresses “Cydel Young they feel me in Belgium and when I die, I’m going back to the heavens I fell from.” I should also mention CyHi is from Atlanta and is a fan of OutKast, which is why he raps on the SpottieOttieDopaliscious beat and kills it on the song Good Night ft.Marian Mereba, who shares her beautiful vocals. Guitar Melody is a song that catches your attention like a thot catches feelings. The sample used in this song made me visualize that this is something slaves would sing and take it how you want it but the voice used in this song is a beautiful thing:
With production from Kanye West, in his corner, CyHi The Prynce created a classic mixtape that will forever be played every February which I now consider Black Hystori Month and for that, I thank you Mr. Cydel Young.
4) The Late Registration Of A College Dropout Who Had A Dark Twisted Fantasy Of 808s And Heartbreak
Released: March 18th
By: Jon Connor
You probably didn’t bother reading that long ass title, but Flint Michigan’s Jon Connor is the future and this mixtape hosted by DJ Drama, is a prime example as to why. Jon some how got the thumbs up to rap on a variety of Kanye West beats, I guess that’s the advantage he has when Dr. Dre is his mentor. Jon first raps on Kanye’s We Don’t Care beat from The College Dropout which is fitting since that was the first song on Kanye’s debut album and it’s the first song on this mixtape. Next, Jon murders the Power beat from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and even sings Dwele’s part. Power is followed by New Slaves where Jon raps “Rap done got so bad, everybody feel like they can do it too, Niggas droppin’ these songs and it’s droppin’ my I.Q.” New Slaves also features a sample of former WWE Superstar CM Punk because Jon’s whole motto is that he is “The Best In The World” much like CM Punk was when he was in his prime. Jon then spits on the Barry Bonds instrumental from Kanye’s Graduation album, then Workout Plan, then Flashing Lights then he absolutely slaughters the Black Skinhead beat better than Kanye in my opinion (I know that’s a bold statement.) If you weren’t already flabbergasted by Jon’s ability to kill beats, he raps on a Kanye West instrumental that I believe Kanye has never used which again, I would like to reiterate, having Dre as his mentor means Jon can get amazing connects. Doin’ My Job is a song that relates to anyone who has ever hated their job which is why it’s my favourite track on the mixtape and it might be yours as well. Jon continues to amaze by using ‘Ye’s Big Brother concept from the Graduation album where Kanye vented that Jay Z is his big brother:
Jon made this song to express his gratitude towards Dr. Dre with “My big brother is Em’s brother, Eazy-E, Yella and Ren’s brother. Who is Ice Cube brother, who is D.O.C’s friend and became my mentor now let the story begin.” Jon ends his #BestInTheWorld mixtape the same way Kanye ended his debut album; with Last Call. Let it be known if you weren’t a fan of Jon Connor’s before, listen to this mixtape and you will be I promise you this.
Released: May 11th
By: Mac Miller
After Watching Movies With The Sound Off came out in 2013, it seemed that Mac was living under a rock. He even went under a new alias with Delusional Thomas but then he dropped this 24-track mixtape and fans were convinced; Mac was back. Mac reflects on his success thus far on the song Here We Go and proudly announces “I did it all without a Drake feature!”
Speaking of features, Mac has ScHoolboy Q on the song Friends, Earl Sweatshirt on the fast-paced track Polo Jeans, Rick Ross on the banger Insominak where Mac throws shade at Drake again with “I’m on my worst behaviour, Bad side piece with the perfect flavour. Mothafuckas never loved us, Comin’ for your money mothafucka, don’t trust us!” Mike Jones was featured on the trippy track titled Uber and Vince Staples on the 9th Wonder produced track titled Rain. This mixtape sufficed fans and needless to say, Faces was Most Dope.
6) House Rules
Released: May 21st
With the success of Welcome to: Our House in 2012, Slaughterhouse returned to the mixtape game with House Rules. Joell Ortiz steps up to the mic first on House Rules (Intro) with “Ye niggas the gang is back again, Royce givin’ his beard a scratch again, Crooked lit a cuban, Joe actin’ like he tweetin’ but he do that once the track begin, I’m just nibbling on this plastic pen.”
SayDatThen is the second track where the theme is “You got somethin’ on your mind nigga? Say dat then.” Illmind Interlude is the third track and this time it’s Crooked I (now known as Kxng Crooked) and Joell Ortiz who take the stage. There are moments on this mixtape where the four members of Slaughterhouse instead of all being on a song have individual songs. For instance, Joe Budden teams with Emmany on Trade It All, Royce Da 5’9″ goes solo on the song Keep It 100, Crooked I expresses his demons on Struggle and Joell Ortiz describes his life on Life In The City. Nevertheless, whether they are all together on a song or not, House Rules undoubtedly reminded fans that Slaughterhouse rules; they are the juggernauts of this rap shit, like it or not.
7) The Beauty Of Independence (EP)
Released: August 25th
Watch Me is the first song we listen to from the revived rap group G-Unit which now consists of Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, new comer Kidd Kidd and leader 50 Cent. This 6-track EP was so necessary to Hip-Hop; it proved that not only are these five artists at the top of their game, but also that they can co-exist now more than ever despite all the issues they had in the past. I Don’t Fuck With You has such a nostalgic gangsta rap type of feel and they delivered with their lyrics as well. One thought that lingered on my mind while listening to this EP is can New Orleans’ Kidd Kidd hang with these Hip-Hop heavyweights? On the song Changes, he proved his writing ability with “Guess I gotta stop postin’ all this money on Instagram, they welcome you with open homes and open hands. I ain’t rich like 50, I just know the man, red emoji faces in your texts, I know you mad.” Kidd Kidd also drops some knowledge later in the song with “They say family’s first. But family’s the first to get you hurt. And these hoes even worse, all these riches is a gift and a curse” and that’s where Lloyd Banks picks up where Kidd left off perfectly with his unfuckwitable bars as usual:
It’s evident that I had doubts about the new G-Unit but they proved they remain cohesive enough to rule Hip-Hop once again. Look out for the sequel to this EP in 2015!
8) STN MTN/Kauai
Released: October 2nd & 3rd
By: Childish Gambino
STN MTN is Gambino’s seventh mixtape hosted by Gangsta Grillz while Kauai is his second EP. So first we’ll look at STN MTN (pronounced Stone Mountain) Fucks Given is exactly what you think it is; a song about not giving a fuck or as ‘Bino puts it “I came here to do my own shit; no fucks given.” Following Fucks Given is No Small Talk ft.Kari Faux who steals the show on this one because of her creative way of influencing women to shake the booty with “Make it bounce, make it bounce like Spalding.” Money Baby is cool because ‘Bino tells fans he likes to smoke weed whilst singing on the hook. Next, ‘Bino freestyles on Future’s hit Move That Dope instrumental. Even the skit Childish Gambino @ The Atrium is laugh out loud funny, we get a glimpse of Donald Glover’s comedy which fans appreciate because of his former role on the show Community:
The mixtape ends with a throwback; Gambino raps on the Go DJ beat and kills it obviously because low key, Childish Gambino has grown man bars. Conclusion? STN MTN is dope like a tweet from Jaden Smith
The Kauai (pronounced Ka-Why-E) EP has 7-tracks and begins with a song called Sober. Listening to ‘Bino sing “And now that it’s over, I’ll never be sober, I couldn’t believe, but now I’m so high,” followed by what feels like a nostalgic 80s dance beat but with modern production added to it, Sober is the kind of song that is not only relatable, but also catchy:
Jaden Smith makes his presence known on this EP near the end of the song Pop Thieves (Make it Feel Good) the only way Jaden Smith can: “They say you never say never, it’s real. Electric eels, in da water, we should probably not go deep.” Jaden makes another appearance on this EP on the song Late Night In Kauai where he storytells and rhymes here and there followed by ‘Bino spittin’ then takes a break and talks to the listener with “My nigga Jaden Smith droppin’ jewels and niggas don’t even believe him because he’s Jaden Smith.” The EP concludes with a Beach Picnic version of the song 3005 from ‘Bino’s album Because The Internet and it’s soothing. Basically, Childish Gambino gave us a mixtape and a EP both on one record and it was awesome.
9) Beauty And The Beast (EP)
Released: October 7th
If you’ve been sleeping on the Femcee Rapsody, you suck. Just kidding, but seriously how many female rappers are out here that actually have talent? Exactly. You couldn’t even think of one (Iggy and Nicki don’t count because they suck.) Rapsody teams with her mentor 9th Wonder who produced this EP and Feel It is first off this 10-track EP and it’s totally rad. She spits “I’m still fresher than all of y’all, linen out the dryer, we don’t close pens, still hangin’ on every line I spit before ten.” There’s a song titled The World where it samples Nas’ If I Ruled The World ft.Lauryn Hill and Rapsody raps “My stomach growls, my hunger for wisdom is from the owls, wrap my body in towels like Ghandi and tell you all to bow.” Track 7 titled Godzilla is the banger of the EP where the hook is “Godzilla crushin’ y’all villas, Godzilla only God’s illa, amen.” She also calls out Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea with “I’m burnin’ yo city, they fear me, Black and I’m witty, while y’all still argue about Nicki, Iggy, I’m killing these biggies, Biggie.”
Despite all these dope tracks, it’s the song The Man that takes this EP to new heights. Rapsody tells the story of a boy who struggles to be the man of a house since his dad left and also gets picked on at school. There’s also a hidden song within this one and it’s something everybody needs to hear I don’t wanna spoil it. Needless to say, Rapsody is untouchable when it comes to rapping and this EP proves that Iggy and Nicki can’t come close to her mic skills.
Released: October 14th
By: Berner & B-Real
Prohibition is a mixtape for the stoners. The mixtape starts with Prohibition (Intro) in which you hear several TV breaking news stories about how marijuana sales have secured millions of dollars for the state of Colorado and that “business hasn’t slowed down.” The song Shatter is where Berner raps “It don’t matter what you smoke we smoke better, our joints are much fatter, girl scout, lemon shatter.” Later, B-Real from Cypress Hill pleads “If you should ever call the doctor and you need that medication, make appointments with my nurses they will serve up any patients.” Furthermore, songs like Faded ft.Snoop Dogg, Xanax and Patron ft.Demrick which is personally my favourite because that beat is fucking chill and Strong ft.Wiz Khalifa are tracks you simply blaze to, get in a daze to and feel great too:
11) Burning Bridges (EP)
Released: December 15th
We have come to the last EP that made the list. Burning Bridges is an EP that Ludacris who’s real name is Chris Bridges, dropped just before the year ended and it features a handful of artists on this 6-song tracklist. New Beginning Intro transitions perfectly into Money ft.Rick Ross where Luda raps “I was told to go to school, graduate and get a job but I’m a Hip-Hop cash king, rapper from the south and everybody wants the easy way out.” Cee Lo Green is featured on Problems, G.O.O.D. Music’s John Legend is on In My Life where he shares his talented vocals as you can imagine and Jason Aldean on the self-titled song Burning Bridges which is my favourite off the EP. Luda vents about relationship issues and Jason’s vocals assist the song perfectly:
Miguel is also featured on this EP on the soft piano tune titled Good Lovin’ which is the last track on the EP where Luda vents about his past relationships with girls and how the energy with them is off. This EP is short but sweet and showed a more vulnerable Ludacris. At the same time, Luda reminded Hip-Hop heads that with his wide range of vocabulary words, he remains a veteran in this rap game and for that, I salute him.
Now that we covered all of that good stuff, it’s time for I, the EinsteinOfRap, to declare that Jon Connor’s The Late Registration Of A College Dropout Who Had A Dark Twisted Fantasy Of 808s And Heartbreak is the best Hip-Hop mixtape of 2014 no doubt about it:
There you have it folks, thanks for reading my review and if this blog post made you want to go download, buy and listen to any or all of these mixtapes/EPs, then my job here is done!