1. J Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Mainstream rapper J Cole has been trying to break out from the Kanye shadow since his debut The Sideline Story, but he keeps releasing projects right when Yeezus is. Finally, J Cole catches a window and releases the very matter-of-fact and personal 2014 Forest Hills Drive. He delivers some very honest narratives about losing his virginity on “Wet Dreamz” to a plea for equality on “Be Free” from which he gave a great performance on Letterman.
Standout Track: “Be Free”
2. Nikki Minaj – The Pinkprint
“Pills N Potions” hinted that The Prinkprint was going to be another pop album. “Anaconda” promised that the new record would be just as zany as its predecessors. “Only” showed us that, maybe, it was going to be mediocre. The Pinkprint turns out to be a more quietly angry and subdued project where the three singles rest as outliers in a sea of solo tracks where Minaj raps with her heart on her sleeve.
Standout Track: “Pills n Potions”
Christmas Bonus: a 40 minute posse track featuring 36 rappers!
Favorite Music Video: