Listen to Over 170 of the Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2014 in One Playlist (Audio)
2014 was an incredibly diverse year for Hip-Hop, musically and thematically. Many of the sounds that have dominated airwaves and web streams remained, but something returned that had been missing from the culture for quite some time: the voice of the people. In a year that saw more unrest in the United States than in recent memory, several artists stood up and shouted for the legions of folks who did not have as large a platform. New leaders like Killer Mike and J. Cole rose, and familiar voices like Lauryn Hill and Yasiin Bey re-surfaced, as well. And, they had plenty of help from the likes of Mick Jenkins, Dizzy Wright and far too many more to name.
It was not all serious, however. Rap started as a party music and there was plenty of that to go around. Artists like Kendrick Lamar also used their voices to make a difference in the lives of individuals with mantras like “I love myself.” Others took aim right at the system, like Ras Kass, and left no stone unturned when it came to questioning the power structure. There were the expected lyrical explosions from the likes of Black Thought and Logic, and some surprise serious spitting from less likely lyricists like Waka Flocka Flame. No matter what your desire, however, there was something–often many things–for you.
Here’s a playlist that reflects that diversity and features many of the songs that we thought were the best of 2014. You’ll hear music from Nas, Jay Z & Jay Electronica, Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Action Bronson, The Lox, Wu-Tang Clan, Black Thought, Run the Jewels, Schoolboy Q, Eminem, Slaughterhouse, PRhyme, Yasiin Bey, Ras Kass & Apollo Brown, M.O.P., Pusha T, Logic, Blu, Yelawolf, Rah Digga, Lupe Fiasco, Your Old Droog, Raekwon and so many other artists that made 2014 the year it was in Hip-Hop. For the most part, the songs are grouped month by month, as they were released. Press play, sit back and reminisce on the year that was.