We’re more than halfway through 2014 and I’ve gotta admit, this year’s musical offerings have been mostly underwhelming.
Of course, there’s been plenty of solid albums here and there but mediocrity seems to be running rampant.
We need to do better. And I’m here to help.
Let’s look at five great albums this year that haven’t gotten the same buzz as many mainstream releases. I’ve admittedly shortchanged these albums here on Soul In Stereo too – I never got around to writing proper reviews of them. But that doesn’t mean they’re off my radar.
Make sure you put these bangers in your rotation.
Skyzoo and Torae, Barrel Brothers
I’ve been a fan of these two for years now, stretching way back to their collabo on Sky and Illmind’s album. Here, the duo deliver exactly what you’d expect – that hard core boom-bap sound that has become an endangered species in hip-hop. If you’re a fan of ’90s East Coast rap, get ALL of this.
Leela James, Fall For You
Most of y’all only know Leela as “the one with all the hair” on TVOne’s “R&B Divas LA.” But Leela’s more than “bullswanky” catchphrases. Her voice is so thunderously powerful you’d think she was 10 feet tall. Despite it’s strength, it also displays a subtle sweetness. If you miss Southern soul, check it out.
Lecrae is one of those artists that you really want to win – and this album put the homie in first place. I mean that literally: Anomaly topped the Billboard pop charts in its first week. It’s rare that an album with this much insight and character get so much shine but it’s well-deserved. Lecrae’s messages of hope and faith delivered with expert lyricism. Don’t call him a gospel rapper though – he’s just a rapper led by faith. He’s got a story to tell.
Eric Roberson, The Box
Whenever Erro drops an album, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Feeling more like a live experience than a canned studio session, The Box runs the gamut of R&B genres and, as always, has a blast doing so. If you like diversity in your R&B, you won’t go wrong here.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Pinata
Arguably, this is the best rap album of the year so far. Producer Madlib plucks some of the most random soul samples imaginable to serve as soundscapes for Gangsta Gibbs’ hood narratives. The result is a 21st century Blaxploitation film on wax – hilarious, threatening and compelling.
What did I miss? Share your favorites in the comments.