I feel like an old man sipping tea in a rocking chair when I say this but it’s true: This year is moving way too fast.
We’re halfway through 2014 and, in the course of a few months, we’ve had some great music flood our speakers.
R&B has been especially strong. Some artists have embraced R&B’s roots while others continue to innovate. Hip-hop, well, hasn’t been nearly as compelling so far. Rappers, step your game up. Still, there have been a couple of bright spots.
Let’s look at the top 10 albums of 2014 so far. Oh, by the way, these albums are not listed in any particular order. We’ll save the rankings for December.
I bolded that sentence above so people who complain without reading will feel extra dumb when I point it out to them.
If you haven’t heard these 10 albums yet, give them a try. 2014 is off to a good start.
Yeah , I know Bey’s surprise album dropped at the end of 2013, but it’s still dominating playlists so it gets recognition. Plus it’s my list so get over it. Give the Beyhive credit when it’s due – endless hype aside, this album is a masterful blend of pop and R&B.
Noel Gourdin, City Heart, Southern Soul
I hate when snobby music fans throw around the term “pure R&B.” R&B was built on the foundation of many genres – “pure” can be very misleading. Instead, I prefer the term “traditional R&B,” which hearkens back to R&B’s ’60s roots. Noel Gourdin’s album is the best lesson in R&B history we’ve heard all year.
Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love, Marriage & Divorce
It only took them 20 years, but two of the biggest stars of the 90s finally united for a loooong-overdue duet album. And man, it was worth the wait. These two show unbelievable chemistry as they explore the best and worse of relationships.
ScHoolboy Q, Oxymoron
There was no way Q’s album was gonna live up to its sky-high expectations. While Oxymoron is far from an instant classic, it’s still a solid release, boasting some of the best rap singles of the year so far.
Jesse Boykins III, Love Apparatus
Boykins’ latest album was nearing Detox territory with its constant delays but it’s cool. All was forgiven when we actually heard the album – an enigmatic collection of atmospheric love songs. It might be a tough listen if your favorite singer is an auto-tuning rapper, but for the rest of us, it’s a divine experience.
Ledisi, The Truth
Is “grown and sexy” still an acceptable term or nah? Well just this once, I’m resurrecting it – it’s a perfect description of Ledisi’s latest. The Truth details the ups-and-downs of a real-life adult relationship, all fueled by her magnificent vocals. Young’ns, you might have to sit this one out. This is for the grown folks.
Kelly Price, Sing, Pray, Love Vol. 1: Sing
Y’all still mad at Kelly Price for wildin’ out on R&B Divas: LA? Get over it. Kelly puts the drama aside to get back to what she’s really known for – great R&B records. Her latest is another strong addition to her already stellar discography.
50 Cent, Animal Ambition
I’ve been pretty hard on 50 in the past decade or so, following his landmark debut. But by the looks of this album, 50 has finally rediscovered his hunger. There’s little attempt at radio play – just 50 spitting aggression over haunting beats. I never though I’d say that 50 Cent has the best rap album in 2014, but he’s leading the rap pack so far.
Pharrell, G I R L
Pharrell was the MVP of 2013 – the homie from Va had the platinum touch. That momentum has carried over into 2014. G I R L is the epitome of feel-good music. Let go of your inhibitions and lose yourself to dance.
But there’s one more album you need to check out…
Oh, did I say ‘check out?’ I meant to say ‘throw out.’ Don’t subject your speakers to this sewage.
Let’s go with this album instead…
Michael Jackson, Xscape
This album was destined to suck. I mean, just look at the track record of posthumous albums. They’re usually bad enough to make deceased artists moonwalk in the graves. Thankfully, this album does MJ’s legacy justice. An A-list roster of producers crafted tracks that sounded true to Michael’s sound. Adding his remarkable vocals over their handwork proved to be a perfect fit. This album is the greatest success story of 2014 so far.
What did I miss? Share your favorite albums of the year below.