Audible Treats’ Best Singles Contenders of 2014: Hip-Hop / Indie Rock / Electronic
A Review Of The Premier Singles From Audible Treats’ 2014 Client Roster
It’s Tuesday and we’ve got just the thing to help you recover from your tryptophan-induced coma and CyberMonday PTSD- a concise list of the most successful and influential albums and singles we’ve proudly worked in 2014. We hope you consider some of these works for your best-of / year-end / top 1000 DJ Mustard beats / 99 Best songs to groom your eyebrows to so they are on fleek / what-have-you lists of 2014. First, we present our top hip-hop singles, followed by our top indie rock and electronic singles:
Best Singles – Hip-Hop / Urban:
Souls of Mischief – “There Is Only Now” feat. Snoop Dogg
The mighty Souls of Mischief crew had an unstoppable year. Not only did they grace the cover of their hometown alternative weekly the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the fall arts preview issue, but they drew over 22,000 attendees to their annual Hiero Day block party and released one of the most well-respected and unusual albums of this year. With multi-instrumentalist and producer Adrian Younge, Souls of Mischief released the concept album, There Is Only Now, in four formats: digital, CD, vinyl (including picture disc) and cassette tape. For the title track, Snoop Dogg lent his talents to bring the album’s blaxploitation-esque storyline and aesthetic to life.
Black Milk – “What It’s Worth”
Black Milk’s “What It’s Worth” feels like a new phase in the career trajectory for one of Detroit’s finest. It’s an introspective look into the past, present and future, of Black Milk the rapper and Curtis Cross, the man. With the release of his fifth album, If There’s A Hell Below, Black Milk mastered his ability as rapper, producer and overall storyteller; fusing each ability into one cohesive unit. “What It’s Worth” is at the crux of Black Milk’s transformation in 2014 and proved that even the most consistent of artists can still surprise.
Hopsin – “Ill Mind of Hopsin 7”
“‘Ill Mind of Hopsin 7’ is a strong reminder of how thought-provoking an emcee he actually is,” states HotNewHipHop in their review of the seventh chapter in Hopsin’s innovative series of releases that drop every year on the rapper’s birthday. “Ill Mind of Hopsin 7,” questions the morals behind religious institutions and the masses who follow their rules blindly. Hopsin raps “You gave me the bible and expect me not to analyze it?/ I’m frustrated and you provoked it, I’m not reading that motherfucking book because a human wrote it,” as he speaks to God looking for the answers to his questions. The visuals depict Hopsin on his knees, alone in the desert searching for a sign from above.
Iamsu! ft. 2 Chainz and Sage the Gemini – “Only That Real”
When you consider the originators of the new Bay movement, Iamsu! has to be at the top of the list. Between his tremendous feature game, producing credits, and well-received debut album, Sincerely Yours, Iamsu! made his mark in 2014 and a lot of that has to do with the absolute banger “Only That Real” featuring 2Chainz and Sage the Gemini. On his first single, Iamsu! melodically spits, “I’ma throw this money, I’ma make it back,” and if his successes this year were any indication, Iamsu! made good on that promise and more.
Dizzy Wright – “Reunite for the Night”
Dizzy Wright’s “Reunite for the Night” is the perfect turn up anthem for a homecoming party with your crew. “Wright paints a lyrical picture of the perfect house party,” states DJ Booth in their review of the 2013 XXL Freshmen’s track. The video features the rapper rompin’ with his crew at a house party full of women, red cups, and DJ Hoppa. The track was produced by Roc N Mayne and released on the his latest EP, State Of Mind, which dropped via Funk Volume earlier this year. The track reignited the initial success of the EP, which XXL described as “a quality offering from an MC that has tasted success and wants more.”
Jarren Benton – “Gimmie the Loot” Prod. By M16
XXL’s 2014 Freshmen Class Member Jarren Benton continues to establish a prominent name for himself in rap with joints like “Gimmie the Loot.” Featuring a sample from the Biggie classic of the same title, the rapper establishes his aggressive, in-your-face style in conjunction with the rattling bass from producer M16. “‘Abrasive’ is also a fitting adjective to describe Benton’s rapid-fire bars, which brim with aggressive trash-talk and out-the-box braggadocio,” claims DJ Booth, adding that “Jakob Owens skillfully captures the joint’s hyperkinetic vibe in his official visuals.” The video features Benton and his crew on the hunt for cash and attaining it through any means possible, while adding in gleeful visuals of the gang reppin’ their dough as they cruise through the streets.
Sir Michael Rocks ft. Iamsu! and Casey Veggies – “Bussin”
The Cool Kids rapper Sir Michael Rocks dropped his debut solo album, Banco, regarded as one of the best records of the summer as evidenced by reaching #1 on the iTunes hip-hop charts. “Bussin'” is a club banger incorporating the singularly cool aesthetics of Rocks’ lyricism with stellar rhymes from Cali rappers Iamsu! and Casey Veggies. The track premiered via Noisey who described it as “perfect soundtrack for adding a little human sacrifice to your summer BBQs.” The video’s eerie balloons and sinister decor take place in a haunted house intended to replicate The Shining, as Rocks stated in an interview with XXL; “I wanted it to be like Jack Nicholson’s old scary movie with the twins in the hotel hallways.”
Tommy Brown, Producer of T.I.’s – “New National Anthem”
2014 saw Tommy Brown establish himself firmly in the category of super-producerand songwriter. Recently he produced on major projects including Chris Brown’s smash hit “Drunk Texting,” 2 Chainz’ “36,” four tracks from the latest Ariana Grande album, My Everything, and three tracks on the new T.I. record, Paperwork, including the massively successful “New National Anthem,” which features platinum recording artist Skylar Grey. The track was released in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and lyrically addresses police brutality, racism, and guns in the United States. Described as “powerful” by Time Magazine and “revolutionary” by MTV, the track has established itself as an anthem for political injustices.
Bobby Brackins ft. G-Eazy and Mila J – “Hot Box”
Between Tinashe’s “2 On” and Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” Bobby Brackins has been having one of the hottest years of any songwriter. With “Hot Box” Bobby Brackins finally turned the spotlight on himself and the result is an overwhelming success. With over 2 million listens on Soundcloud and a remix courtesy of DJ Mustard, “Hot Box” was one of the most infectious R&B jams of 2014 and proved Brackins’ moment in the spotlight has only just begun.
Wara from the NBHD – “Slangin”
Wara from the NBHD has had a stellar 2014, positioning himself as one of the biggest rising voices coming out of ATL. With the release of his critically acclaimed project, Kidnapped, and it’s standout track “Slangin,” Wara proves why his raw yet contemplative view into the trappings of street life is so adored by critics from the New York Times and The Fader to your average hip-hop head.
Well$ – “Django”
In hindsight, Well$’s MTSYD: The Revenge of the African Booty Scratcher almost seems prophetic in the wake of the social unrest roiling Ferguson, MO. With “Django,” Well$ presents a radical, humor-filled, and nuanced portrayal of race and class in the current 2014 climate. When Well$ spits, “I am the reason that they live in fear,” it’s simultaneously a brag, an indictment, and a portrayal of what it is to be considered lesser based on the color of your skin. There’s a reason Well$ has been receiving praise from the likes of The Huffington Post and Pitchfork, and the rising North Carolina MC showcases it here.
Caleb James – “Honesty and Loyalty”
Chi-Town rapper Caleb James has been making noise this year with the release of his latest mixtape, The Jones 2.0, which dropped earlier this year. A founding member of the SaveMoney hip-hop collective along with Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper, James has established himself as an upcoming force in the game. “Honesty and Loyalty” debuted via MissInfo, who state that the track, “showcases his natural ability to bridge rap and R&B into an accessible product.” James establishes the importance of the title’s virtues through his lyrics, declaring that people in his crew must abide by the two principles or inevitably suffer the consequences.
The Outfit, TX – “Purple Diamond Tea”
Dallas rap trio The Outfit, TX are putting independent Texas-based rap on the map, with Complex ranking its latest double-album, Cognac / Four Corner Room, as one of the Top Ten Texas Rap Mixtapes of 2013. Defined by their self-proclaimed “Cooly Fooly Space Age Funk” sound, the group’s “Purple Diamond Tea” employs a funked-out, mellow Southern sound as Mel raps about the pride for his hometown. The video premiered on VICE/Noisey and was directed by David King, who portrays Mel as cool, calm and collected, while also fiercely enthused to rap about his city. The track and video present the perfect soundtrack for wide-open street cruising: “This is how it feel when you ridin’ in the South.”
Best Singles – Indie Rock / Electronic:
Lightouts – “Disappear”
Coming off the success of their debut album, Want, Gowanus indie rockers, Lightouts dropped their latest punk-inspired loosie “Disappear,” The track premiered on Death and Taxes and features a slightly different sound to their earlier releases. Straying from the usual dreamy, fuzzy sound, the music follows a post-punk influenced direction, inspired by early releases from Wire and Japandroids. Lightouts most successful offering to date, the track was put in rotation by influential Seattle station KEXP, used by Marc Jacobs as the soundtrack for their Men’s Fall/Winter lookbook, and led to a live performance on KEXP in June.
Stick Figure ft. Collie Buddz – “Smokin’ Love”
“Reggae is always there for us. Like a giant, warm, tie-dye hemp blanket waiting to smother us in positive energy and lift our spirits. Stick Figure’s latest track, titled “Smokin’ Love,” does exactly that,” states Indie Shuffle, who debuted the latest feel-good loosie from Stick Figure and special guest reggae veteran Collie Buddz. The Southern California-based roots reggae/dub band presents the group’s signature dub sound paralleled with the upbeat upbeat narrative of wanting to smoke with your one true love, as vocalist Scott Woodruff sings “I wanna get high, I wanna get low, come on I wanna smoke little spliff with you/ Lord knows I’m not a fool, I’m Just crazy for you.”
A Million Billion Dying Suns – “True Reality Lies Beyond The Cosmic Horizon”
Transcendental space-rockers A Million Billion Dying Suns exploded onto the scene with their debut release Strawberry EP in 2013. Determined to ride the wave of momentum, the group released the scorching loosie, “True Reality Lies Beyond the Cosmic Horizon,” which features their trademark psychedelic sound with hard-hitting guitar riffs reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine. The track achieved massive success, premiering on New Noise Magazine who described it as “a pulsating, high-tempo affair that comes up for air every once in awhile only to plunge back into overdriven guitar bliss.” The track is also featured in a recent GoPro TV commercial starring Olympic gold-medalist snowboarder Shaun White soaring through the air along to the astral refrains of the track.