In a recent interview with XXL, A$AP Mob mastermind, A$AP Yams, declared 2014 as the “worst year in rap music ever.”
A$AP Yams: It wasn’t any trends; musically it was a lot of dry-ass shit. Everybody [who] was supposed to drop, dropped the ball. This is probably the worst year of rap music ever. Let’s be honest. This is the worst year of rap music ever. It’s just been allegiances and people hyping shit up. Man, that shit trash.
So just how bad was hip-hop music this year? With the end of 2014 a couple months away, let’s take a look at the releases to date and see how true Yams’ statement is.
Commercially speaking, absolutely. Especially if you compare it to the blockbuster 2013 where we had platinum releases from Eminem, Drake, Jay-Z and Kanye West. So far in 2014, we haven’t had one platinum album. Not one. And to be honest, I don’t see any releases dropping between now and the end of the year hitting the million mark – Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj hold some hope.
Even with albums from A-listers like T.I., Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and Pharrell Williams, none of these releases had the commercial prowess of the top projects of 2013. Currently Ross’ Mastermind holds the top spot for highest first-week album sales with 179,000 copies moved.
To put that in perspective, J. Cole’s Born Sinner moved closed to 298,000 units in its first week and Cole only held the fifth spot. The top spot of 2013 goes to Eminem who’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 moved a whopping 793,000 copies in its first week of sales.
Let’s take a look at previous years to understand this number even better. 2012’s top spot went to Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded which moved 253,000 copies, 2011 went to Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV which moved close to a million and 2010 went to Eminem’s Recovery which moved over 700,000 copies.
So I guess commercially speaking, 2014 pales in comparison to 2013 and pretty much any other year in this decade so far.
But let’s look past the sales numbers and at the music itself.
Again, there weren’t any blockbuster releases from the likes of Drake or Eminem, no landmark releases like Yeezus or My Name Is My Name, no amazingly hyped up projects like Magna Carta Holy Grail.
The best releases of 2014 were more low key. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib dropped the incredible Piñata early in the year to set it off, YG doubled down for another great West Coast release with My Krazy Life and Future dropped another banger with Honest.
Jeezy released one of his best albums to date and Ross dropped the very solid Mastermind. Cam’ron continued his resurgence, following up 2013’s Ghetto Heaven with his 1st Of The Month series while Childish Gambino kept his momentum going with a strong mixtape.
Meanwhile veterans like Common, Cormega, Black Milk, The Roots, The Alchemist, Souls of Mischief all showed up with solid releases. Gucci Mane and Curren$y continued to run the mixtape circuit while Migos, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan and Travi$ Scott prove they’re the most exciting artists in hip-hop music today.
G-Unit regrouped on the Summer Jam stage and released an EP – the first of many in a series. If things go well, it’ll start to feel like 2002 all over again. TDE showed up some of the best music this year – Isaiah Rashad kicked it off early, Schoolboy Q delivered a number one album, Ab-Soul dropped another solid album and we’re still waiting for more releases from Jay Rock and hopefully Kendrick.
We got a couple random gems from Jay Electronica (I’m not even going to mention Act II: Patents Of Nobility) and Drake continued to dominate hip-hop without dropping an official release.
In my opinion, 2014 was still another great year for hip-hop music, it just had the unfair advantage of coming after the incredible year that 2013 was. We didn’t get any major, hyped up albums that put numbers on the boards but we did get a whole bunch of quality releases that were more under the radar. Personally, I’m excited for the rest of 2014 and looking forward to 2015.