While 2014 did not deliver a transcendent rap album on the scale of Kanye West or Kendrick Lamar, the year did demonstrate the many facets of what hip-hop means in the 21st century. Hip-hop was coming out of Hollywood and Harlem, from Australia to the U.K. Schoolboy Q made our top 20 best albums of the year by returning to the golden days of Dr. Dre, when Compton ruled the charts. Rae Sremmurd and YG hit our 20 best songs of the year countdown. But we wanted to dig a little deeper and give you our 10 favorite hip-hop albums of the year. Beyoncé might not strike you as hip-hop, but try telling that to her.
Stream some of our favorite tracks below. Tell us what hip-hop albums you loved in the comments below.
10) Riff Raff Neon Icon
The sight-to-see rapper indeed lives up to the album title with his colorful beats and flow. Riff Raff loves to talk about materialistic things—Versace, the candy gloss paint on his car—with awkward, abstract style. His high-pitched voice and interesting lyrics make his braggadocio rap always entertaining.
9) Common Nobody's Smiling
Common gives people what he's known best for on this album—an insight into the Chicago streets. He cited the recent media focus on Chicago's violence as inspiration for him to return home. The underrated 13 track album is Common's tenth studio album and shows he can still paint vivid pictures with words.
8) T.I. Paperwork
The Rubberband Man did it again by creating another cohesive album executive produced by Pharrell. "About the Money" and "No Mediocre" were hot singles from this 15 track display of Tip's work.
7) Chris Brown X
Chris Brown is talented. After a couple years of run-ins with the law and a brief stint in jail, he returned with a sonically eccentric album. Club hits like "Loyal" and "New Flame" are accompanied by more lovable songs.
6) Logic Under Pressure
The Maryland MC made his debut under the Def Jam imprint. This album was lyrical and story driven affair with insight into his upbringing. This may be the beginning to something good.
5) Beyoncé Beyoncé
It seems everything she does is golden. As one would assume, the album did phenomenal numbers because she is Beyoncé.
4) Azealia Banks Broke with Expensive Taste
The controversial artist from Harlem released her debut album, originally scheduled to come out in 2012. She makes up for the long wait with in-your-face lyrics and move-your-hips beats.
3) Pharrell G I R L
Pharrell is a man of many styles and uses his live instrumentation to sing/rap a feel-good project. He expresses his love for the ladies on this album and offers self love with his smash "Happy."
2) YG My Krazy Life
YG first hit the national scene with "Toot it and Boot it" in 2010. Four years later, he shifted the rap game with a certified West Coast classic that brought listeners into the Compton MC's world. "Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)" made our 20 best songs of the year.
1) Wiz Khalifa Blacc Hollywood
The irresistible Billboard blockbuster "We Dem Boyz" set things off for Khalifa as he continued to tour arenas and represent Taylor Gang. On his fifth studio album, the Pittsburgh rapper continued to chronicle his high life.