Top 10 Hip Hop and RnB Songs of 2014 [Brian Clifton's Picks]

10 “Ego Death” by Busdriver ft. Aesop Rock & Danny Brown. “Ego Death” is an acid trip of a song. Angular and disjointed flows plod over sludgy beats. The jagged switches between lyrical barrages and slow spitting gives the song a fresh sound with each listen.

9 “Show Me The Way” by Dilated Peoples ft. Aloe Blacc. “Show Me The Way” mixes hard-living narratives with smooth blues tinged melodies. The group collaboration makes each verse a new style–making the song a nice collage.

8 “Talkin Bout” by Tink ft. Lil Herb. This song sounds like early aughts pop rap. There’s a nostalgia to the duet-esque dynamic between singing and rapping and Tink and Lil Herb. The combination gives the song a softer edge with a hard center.

7 “Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst” by Black Milk. “Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst” is a great example about how a phenomenal rapper can seamlessly stitch together drum glitches and tempo changes. Black Milk is intricate without being cloying, smart without being pretentious, and smooth without losing grit.

6 “Never Catch Me” by Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar. This pairing has to be one of my favorite of recent years. Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar are at the top of their games and “Never Catch Me” is testament to that. The energetic instrumentals highlight Lamar’s constantly building flows. This song is hard to listen to without moving.

5 “NaNa” by Trey Songz. “NaNa” is smooth, sexy, and catchy. The snaps and vocal melodies hover over the bass line in a way that seems so easy. Trey Songz makes singing complex melodies and harmonies seem as though their second nature–as if anyone could do this.

4 “Deeper” by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib. “Deeper” highlights Freddie Gibbs lyrical gymnastics while incorporating his penchant for asides. The song’s instrumental track has on old school vibe with its sample and over-effected strings. The combination of the track and Gibbs’ vocals is an honest song that packs a punch.

3 “Black Quarterback” by Death Grips. “Black Quarterback” exhibits Death Grips at their best. Politically conscience, aggressive, visceral and primal, the song touches a nerve that sits in the center of the spine. No matter where one is in life, “Black Quarterback” is sure to affect anyone with its dissonant sounds and distorted vocals.

2 “Battle Cry” by Angel Haze ft. Sia. I love Angel Haze. I love Sia. Pairing them together seems like a better combination than peanut butter and jelly. Sia’s powerful pipes and Angel Haze’s intricate yet hard-hitting flows complement each other well. Both artist create songs that are filled with intense moments, and that quality is amplified when they are paired.

1 His Song on The Cobert Report by Kendrick Lamar. I don’t know this song’s name, but its mix of funk and jazz with Lamar’s slowly tightening flows and politically charged lyrical content has stuck with me. The song is smart, passionate, and unapologetic. If this is a hint of what Lamar has in store for us, then 2015 will be a great year.

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