Oh...2014 was a slow year for music you say?
Seriously though, if anyone tries to tell you that, please smack them in the face. Actually, better yet, just direct them to this special edition of "Might Have Missed."
What's so special about it you ask? Oh nothing...it's just filled with 5 fresh PROJECTS you might have missed!!!
Yeah, you read that right. Five projects, totaling over 30 songs, released in one week that are all simply amazing. That's insane! If there are five dope projects in a month I'm a happy camper, but five all in one week?! It's a music lover's dream...or nightmare if you end up missing out on these astounding works.
This project is so damn cool! I realize "cool" doesn't really mean anything in particular, but it really is the best way to describe it. There is just a great vibe to this project, it's an absolute joy to listen to. It's cooler than Miles Davis drinking lemonade from a glass with an umbrella in it. Fresher than Andre 3000's 3-piece suit made entirely of kale. Part of the reason it's so fresh is because of the production. Names like Donnie Trumpet, Double-O, Nate Fox and Peter Cottontale are some of the best producers in Chicago right now - they all deserve credit for making the Chi the epicenter of hip-hop right now - and here they are all on the same project. Plus, some guy named Jake One. Yes the same Jake One who has produced for the likes of Drake, Brother Ali, Ghostface Killah and pretty much any other rapper worth mentioning from the last decade. The production is great, but to me it's Nicki's laid-back style that really adds the zest. She is so easygoing on the mic and the ease in her style makes this quick hitter effort a joy to listen to. More so than her power, range, or pitch (although she's on point there too), there's just an essence--what the French call a certain je ne sais quoi--to her approach and it really brings this project to the next level.
Can't Miss Cuts: "Rivers" and "Champagne Water"
BJ The Chicago Kid is one of the best hook-makers in the game, but he is by no means just a hook guy. In fact, I'd go so far to write that he's one of the best R&B artists in the game. Nobody with this much soul should be able to crush some hard, trap-esque beats, but BJ can bless a hard, aggressive beat just as well as a slow piano-driven number. He'll croon the pants off your lady and then a second later, kill it alongside Freddie Gibbs; on The M.A.F.E. Project every one of his tricks is on display. The result is a stellar, diverse listen that will blow you away. Nobody is even doing this kind of thing, let alone doing it as well as BJ. Normally if you do anything Aaliyah-related, you run the risk of everyone (probably) hating you (just ask Lifetime), but BJ's cover of "One In A Million" is a standout. He has so much soul, but a vibrancy that gives his sound a new age feel. Call it hip-hop, call it soul, call it R&B, call it whatever you want as long as you bump this free project on repeat.
Can't Miss Cuts: "One In A Million" and "Soul of a Woman"
I could listen to the soulful crooning of BJ and the easygoing vocal stylings of Nikki all day, but sometimes I need something grungy, dirty and downright raw; some no-nonsense, sock 'em in the mouth music. Still, when it comes to rock, I can't do all the screaming and yelling; I need my hip-hop. Asking for a rap song with the attitude of a Pearl Jam record is like asking for Nicki Minaj to put on pants - impossible - but that was before Jez Dior's The Funeral EP. Incorporating some edgy, grimy guitar riffs into his already epic instrumentals is one way to get that vibe, but really the dark, haunting vibes come from Jez's raspy vocals and his great songwriting. He manages to match the sound of the project with his lyrics and the result is an engaging, face-melting EP that will satiate those who want to keep one foot in the hip-hop world while still venturing into different genres.
Can't Miss Cuts: "Clean Me Up" and "Kings/100"
While we're on the subject of hip-hop albums that will rock your brain into oblivion, meet RyattFienix. I feel like Jez and Ryatt would get along great because both are so sound at incorporating a wide variety of styles, while still appealing to their core hip-hop/R&B market. Jez stays more in the rock/hip-hop arena, but Ryatt hops all over the map. "Rebound" is a vibrant, almost pop-esque cut, and then a few songs later, she will go Metallica on your ass with "Tattoo Love" (that riff is off the chains!). Still, regardless of insturemental, Ryatt dazzles with her lively vocals; without her energy, these beats would go to waste. She has a voice made for the radio, but instead of some crappy, cookie-cutter song, she uses her powers for good, making unqiue, authentic music. It's the rare breed of music that you can hear on the radio and not feel guilty about blasting with the windows down. Diverse, energetic, colorful, and fun, Ryse of the Fienix is a must for your music collection.
Can't Miss Cuts: "Tattoo Love" & "Down"
Now, anybody who is familiar any of these guys knows I don't need to explain why this collaborate release is mentioned here, but in the off-chance you aren't familiar with CunninLynguists and The Grouch & Eligh, stop what you are doing and listen up. A life without these guys is not a life you want to live. Between the last four albums I picked we've been doing some serious genre-bending, so let's get back to some pure, no bullshit hip-hop. The thing I love about this album is that it gives me that feeling of listening to fundmentally and technically flaweless rap, but it also has a expeirmental vibe. Sure, the beats knock like a classic boom-bap production, but there is an hazy, creamy aura about them which adds anothe level of depth and brings out the best in each emcee. It's amazing how well The Grouch and Eligh fit with the CunninLynguists sound; if I didn't know any better I would have asusmed they are part of the same group. Excpet I do know better, so it make shearing them all on the same cut even more enjoyable. Also, just throwing this out there, but Deacon The Villian has one of the most uinderrated flows in hip-hop.
Can't Miss Cuts: "Fire In Her Eyes" & "Gas Station Attendant"
Next time you want to complain you don't have any new music, remember that last week about a hundred projects dropped last week (these were just five of the best). There is so much much great music out there and it's weeks like this that remind me how lucky I am to get paid to listen to it all. As a music fan, it's times like this that really get your blood pumping.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]