Hip-hop’s relationship with 2014 can be whittled down to a single word: viral. A majority of the hottest songs of the year easily became the biggest not only due to radio play, but through a one-two punch of top shelf production and slick word play, these songs possessed a mass appeal that kept them on constant rotation through retweets, hashtags, Vines/Instagram video, reblogs, memes, parodies, and were emoji-translatable. Ratchet anthems and hashtag-friendly swagu topped our list for the most part and that’s not to say that hip-hop in 2014 went without the conscious tip, but rather on sheer viral impact alone, these songs were a staple in 2014 and crucial for the turn up. Hit the jump to check out our list.
10. BigSean – “I Don’t Fuck With You” feat. E-40
After Big Sean dropped this banger that is *not a diss to Naya Rivera*, #IDFWU became the poster hashtag for experts in passive aggressiveness and all thangs salty. Big Sean officially gave broken hearts and side pieces an adequate platform to catalog out their frustrations and dirty laundry, but all the while still putting out a catchy record, with collective “I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck!”‘s ringing out in clubs all over Amurrica.
9. O.T. Genasis – “CoCo”
“CoCo” by all accounts is just another bombastic rap anthem of heavy bass and hi-hats; a formulaic modern paean in hip-hop’s usual ode to the trap lifestyle, as told through O.T.’s affinity for rhyming words that end in o’s with words that end in longer o’s. But what made “CoCo” for me — and this might be a bias — was the Instagram videos of the Golden State Warriors celebrating a win on the plane to this song. And it wasn’t just one video, they wound up recording three separate videos of their celebration to the song after consecutive wins in their 16-game hot streak. There was just something about seeing a group of well-known guys having a good time to “CoCo,” — from Draymond Green to Klay Thompson to David Lee to Leandro Barbosa — that seemed to normalize the Warriors versus the superstar athletes they are.
Of course, eventually the organization said that the squad couldn’t celebrate to “CoCo” anymore after they found out what the song was about, but the players seemed to find a loophole to it:
For a minute, Young Thug was the dude that sounded like he had his tongue glued to the top of his mouth. The Rich Gang joint, “Lifestyle” — where Young Thug did the hook — was a club banger and heard all over radio waves, catching folks off guard sounding like, “dheh et dit det deh liiifestyyle!” There was no way that song was going to make this list, but it was his “Danny Glover” joint that gave Young Thug real success at a turn-up anthem, as was exemplified by Theophilus London and Kanye West. (Maybe not so much by Kim Kardashian though.) “Danny Glover” has to be one of my surefire favorites of the year, catch me yelling out, “Twoooo bitches!” whenever this one is blasting.
7. Future – “Move That Dope” feat. Pharrell, Pusha T, Casino
“Move That Dope” is probably one of the few on this list that hasn’t gone viral in any capacity, however that doesn’t take away from the fact that this record was a cherry on top of Pharrell’s monster 2013 year. For a song that’s about slanging dope, Pharrell spoke not one reference to it but still laced a verse that made it sound like he was, just proof that for all his production prowess, Pharrell is still a very underrated emcee. Future, Pusha T, and Casino played their part and came correct on the track, but none were slanging dope as much as Skateboard P was.
6. Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda” feat. Drake
Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj both broke the Internet this year. With their butts. “Anaconda” didn’t reach it’s full glutteal potential until the video dropped, but the parodies and memes following equally broke the internet, particularly one that laced fart noises throughout the video. Nicki and Universal demanded YouTube take it down after it racked up six millions views and they (unfortunately) complied. Nicki’s ass was getting photoshopped everywhere and #myanacondadont was a thing on Twitter for awhile; for Nicki to make “Anaconda” the first single off of “The Pinkprint” forced all eyes on her but also was the reintroduction of Nicki back into hip-hop.
5. ILOVEMAKONNEN – “Tuesday” feat. Drake
Thanks to Makonnen, week night turn-ups are not privy to the weekend warriors anymore.”Going Up” on a Tuesday has become a real thing and taken precedence over $2 Tuesdays for late night spots and so bore #goinguponatuesday. Makonnen, another little brother to Drake and the OVO crew, laid down a record that somehow is club appropriate in context only. But his nasally, off-kilter way of singing/rapping somehow works over what sounds like a B-grade 40 track. Drake has a feature on the song and levels it out with his own club crooning, making it the leading cause for Tuesday night turn-ups.
4. Kendrick Lamar – “i”
Kendrick Lamar dropped “i” at 5am Compton time. As eager as people were on hearing new material from K. Dot, that same eagerness took a quick turn around once “i” was heard across the country and people were left disappointed. Tweets of ‘Kendrick going soft’ circulated around, ‘positive rap is corny,’ and cries for his “good kid, m.A.A.d city” material were displayed across the Twitter-verse. Using an Isley Brothers sample and happy-go-lucky, even low-key goofy approach to it, shows Kendrick expressing his growing musicality but still remaining conscious in his message and story-telling. But “i” is just the beginning.
Throughout the year, Kendrick has been seen rubbing shoulders and affiliating himself with artists like Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Khalil Joseph (who directed the Sundance short film on his debut album,) and others that possess a unique, eclectic approach to their craft. Kendrick’s “i” and a new song he debuted in a performance on Colbert Report are just glimpses of what his new record for 2015 may be. If it’s anything like we’ve seen so far, King Kendrick might stake his claim over hip-hop (and maybe even music in general) once more in 2015.
3. Rae Sremmurd – “No Flex Zone”
“No Flex Zone” came onto the zone out of nowhere and swept up people’s ear drums just as quick. Behind DJ Mustard, Mike Will Made It is easily responsible for a handful of 2014’s bangers, and “No Flex Zone” just might be his track of the year. “No Flex Zone” is all aggression and hype, daring fools to bicep curl or run the risk of catchin’ bodies. Rae Sreummurd redefined and repurposed the art of calling out residents of front street, and while they’re just starting to assert their pro flex zone, they know better.
2. Bobby Shmurda – “Hot Nigga”
Well first, you have this:
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and when there is a new dance floating around, there’s Vine to record everyone’s own version or remix of it. It might be easy to say that “Hot Nigga” gained notoriety simply for the millions of Vine videos that stemmed from it and the associated Shmoney Dance, but the record was a full-blooded hood anthem through and through. From the bass rattles to the bars, from the “get out up out my trap hooooouse,” to the “about a week ago!” its phrasing completely integrated itself into our daily language by viral force.
Also, its social media influence wouldn’t be what it is without any mention of the Shmoney Dance, which went viral on it’s own accord through these remade videos of Bobby Shmruda Shmoney’ing to other songs:
Call it versatility, call it viral, but “Hot Nigga” Shmoney’ed on everyone’s cell phone screen at one point or another this year. We might not hear anything new from Bobby Shmurda for awhile, but for what’s worth, 2014 was was the year of the Shmurda.
1. Drake – “0-100”
Of all the loose tracks that Drake sprinkled throughout 2014 — from “Trophies,” to “We Made It,” to “How Bout Now,” and other features he’s done — “0-100” was the standout track built out of his new-found taste for automated stuntin’. I tend to lend Drake a lot more credit than most others are willing to give him, but you got to hand it to the guy, he’s been releasing hit after hit after hit ever since his first studio release, “Thank Me Later.” The relationship he has going with his producer, Noah “40” Shebib has been something special to witness in the last five years or so, because it seems that while Drake himself is evolving in his artistry and approach to his music, 40 is the one that keeps him grounded in his sound. Tracks like “Trophies” and “0-100” let Drizzy explore his affinity for a Migos flow, but maintains a polished grit that separates it from the more loose, free-flowing music he was making in his pre-Young Money days. I’m constantly impressed by Drake’s ability to truly inject himself into his music and no matter what side he chooses to expose, it’s remained relative, captivating and, most importantly, fucking catchy: “I should prolly sign to Hit Boy, cause I got all the hits…boiiii.”
Oh, and then there was this:
2014 was a great year for hip-hop, for both it’s albums, single hits and one-hit wonders. Only time will tell what will be on trend, who will be the newest Mr. Steal-Yo-Girl or who’s going to drop the best record (cough, Kendrick) in 2015, but here’s to another great year for hip-hop, with many more to come.