Top 40 Songs of 2014

I generally dislike the radio and many of the songs that get played on it. When I first made this list last year, I did a top 40 because I had way too many candidates and could not narrow it down to 25, like I wanted. But now I realize that this list is more than that for me. This list is my answer to the standard top 40 list made famous on Billboard and the radio–a list that is more of a popularity contest, full of songs that sound eerily similar because they incorporate many of the same elements. My Top 40 list represents the songs I enjoyed the most from this past year and I take pride in its eclecticism. Enjoy.

1. “Babylon (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”- SZA, Z

2. “Drugs You Should Try It”- Travi$ Scott, Days Before Rodeo

3. “Weight of Love”- The Black Keys, Turn Blue

4. “Wonderful Everyday: Arthur”- Chance the Rapper & The Social Experiment

5. "Love Yourz"- J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive

6. "Really Love"- D'Angelo & The Vanguard, Black Messiah

7. “Keep On Lying”- Jessie Ware, Tough Love

8. "G.O.M.D."- J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive

9. “Sunday Candy”- Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Surf

10. "0-100 / The Catch Up"- Drake

11. "A Tale of 2 Citiez"- J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive

12. “Autumn Leaves”- Chris Brown, X

13. “Heavenly Father”- Isaiah Rashad, Cilvia Demo

14. “Too Bad I Have To Destroy You Now”- Kid Cudi, SATELLITE FLIGHT: The Journey to Mother Moon

15.“Days In The East”- Drake 

16. "Do You Love Me (feat. Mara Hruby)"- Big K.R.I.T., Cadillactica

17. “Ronnie Drake (feat. SZA)”- Isaiah Rashad, Cilvia Demo

18. “Skyfall (feat. Young Thug)"- Travi$ Scott, Days Before Rodeo

19. “2 On/Thotful (feat. Drake)”- OB OBrien

20. “Gush”- Pharrell, G  I  R  L

21. “I’ve Told You Now”- Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour

22. "i"- Kendrick Lamar 

23. “Don’t Play (feat. Big Sean & The 1975)"- Travi$ Scott, Days Before Rodeo

24. “West District”- PARTYNEXTDOOR

25. “W.A.Y.S.”- Jhené Aiko, Souled Out

26. “Studio (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid)”- ScHoolboy Q, Oxymoron

27. "Pay Attention (feat. Rico Love)"- Big K.R.I.T., Cadillactica

28. “Stereotype”- Chris Brown, X

29. "Apparently"- J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive

30. "Ring Off"- Beyoncé, BEYONCÉ (Platinum Edition)

31. "Another Life"- D'Angelo & The Vanguard, Black Messiah 

32. “Say You Love Me”- Jessie Ware, Tough Love

33. “Drunk Texting (feat. Jhené Aiko)”- Chris Brown, X

34. “About the Money (feat. Young Thug)”- T.I., Paperwork

35. "Soul Food (feat. Raphael Saadiq)"- Big K.R.I.T., Cadillactica

36. “Man Of The Year"- ScHoolboy Q, Oxymoron

37. "Not Loving You"- Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions

38. "Lights On"- FKA twigs, LP1

39. "Y.A.S."- Trey Songz, Trigga

40. “Trophies”- Drake

Also, a small shout out goes to J. Cole's "Note To Self." It's the last track on his latest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, and if 12 of the 14 minutes delegated to this song weren't credits, it would have easily been my top song. The two minutes of music he gives us before starting the credits is just beautiful. Happy New Year!

-AO

Top 15 Albums/Mixtapes of 2014

It's that time again. 2014 is nearing its end and so I must deliver my list of the top albums and mixtapes from this past year. Last year, I listed ten projects but I could have done a top ten list of R&B albums alone, so this year I decided to increase the list to 15. I must mention that this list does not signify what 15 projects were the absolute best projects of 2014. This list signifies the top 15 projects, in order, that I enjoyed the most in 2014. These are my favorite albums of 2014.

It's hard to be objective when it comes to music because music means something different to everyone that hears it. I can feel something in an album that someone else may not have gotten and that is why I treat this list the way I do. For example, I chose Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap as my favorite project from 2013. 2013 gave us albums from Drake, J. Cole, Kanye, and so much more. But, I'm a Chicago kid and Chance delivered that album from a perspective with which I could completely relate. It was musically brilliant and conceptually amazing. It was not hard to unequivocally choose Acid Rap as my favorite project last year. This year delivered even more solid albums and so now I give you my list.

1. 2014 Forest Hills Drive- J. Cole

2. Cadillactica- Big K.R.I.T.

3. Turn Blue- The Black Keys

4. Days Before Rodeo- Travi$ Scott

5. Oxymoron- ScHoolboy Q

6. Black Messiah- D'Angelo

7. Tough Love- Jessie Ware

8. Cilvia Demo- Isaiah Rashad

9. G  I  R  L- Pharrell Williams

10. Souled Out- Jhené Aiko

11. X- Chris Brown

12. In the Lonely Hour- Sam Smith

13. LP1- FKA twigs

14. The London Sessions- Mary J. Blige

15. Nobody's Smiling- Common

Honorable Mentions: Trigga- Trey Songz, Run The Jewels 2- Run the Jewels, Faces- Mac Miller, Z- SZA

Oh! Shout out to Childish Gambino's Because The Internet. It dropped shortly before I made last year's list and didn't make the cut because I hadn't had the time to truly appreciate it. But it deserved to make the list.

-AO

 

Drake- "6 God" x "Heat Of The Moment" x "How Bout Now"

After a new song from Drake leaked earlier in the week, Drake has responded by releasing three new tracks saying:

The first track, "6 God," features Drake returning to the aggressive rapping he did on "Worst Behavior." He's incorporated different flows and seems to be directing it at someone in particular. This song will be playing in clubs and parties for the next few months guaranteed. "Heat Of The Moment" is a complete R&B track and Drake killed it. It's a great song, musically and lyrically. Vocally, he sounds pretty good and sounds like he's way more comfortable with his voice as he attempts some notes I've never heard him go for. "How Bout Now" is the track that leaked earlier in the week so it's the exact same song. It makes me wonder if the hackers got more than just this song and if this will be a problem in the future. We'll see. All in all, i think Views From the 6 is going to be a great album. Honestly, Drake hasn't missed in a long time so hopefully he keeps this momentum. Download and stream the songs above and enjoy.

-AO

Robin Thicke- Paula (Album Review)

Robin Thicke released his seventh studio album, Paula, on July 1st. The album is named after his estranged wife, Paula Patton and is meant to be an album dedicated to “winning her back.” Many gossip columns speculate on the reason for their breakup; however, no one but them really knows for sure. Regardless, Thicke had this to say to Ryan Seacrest about the album: 

“I came right off a tour and I had all these songs and all these ideas and feelings in my heart. And I went right into the studio. I wrote all the songs in about three weeks and we recorded the album in about a month. Obviously all the songs were about her or about how I feel about her. A lot of songwriters have done this kind of thing before. They won’t tell you in the title or they’ll be suggestive … I was just like, ‘There’s no reason to hide who this is about.’ It’s all about her.”

“She’s not just my wife, she’s been my very best friend for 20 years. I lost two people. That’s a lot to talk about.”

Paula consists of 14 songs on the regular edition, all produced and written by Thicke. Vocally, it’s not Thicke’s best performance. I’ve heard him sing much better on albums like The Evolution of Robin Thicke and Something Else. However, the album does not lack passion. Songs like “Forever Love” and “Black Tar Cloud” really got the message across that homeboy is hurting haha. Musically, the album isn’t bad. He didn’t really create outside the box, production-wise, but many of the songs had that smooth, sensual Thicke sound. On many of the songs, Thicke had a chorus of women backing him up vocally. I really enjoyed them on “Lock the Door” as I think they did a great job of complementing his voice. However, my girlfriend commented that “some of the songs sound like they were made to be shoved into an episode of Glee” and I can’t help but think that the chorus contributed to that.

Stylistically, the album wasn’t very cohesive, but when it was good, it was GOOD. On songs like “Love Can Grow Back” and “Black Tar Cloud,” Thicke incorporated a sound that was pleasantly similar to Ray Charles. I think it fit perfectly with the theme and overall sound of the album. However, there were some corny songs. “Something Bad” and “Tippy Toes” were a little hard to listen to. The style was just so different from what I expected from the album and what I had been given up until that point.

Conceptually, the album actually sounded more like a “Year In Review” of their relationship, and not just Thicke pleading his case/trying to get her back. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some “I’m at the edge of a cliff; don’t let me go” moments but it seemed there should be more and some of the album just seems to feature more reflection by Thicke than a solid direction.

All in all, I think the album is decent. It’s not his best, but it’s not horrible either. It’s a nice gesture and if it was only the first step in some big “Get Paula Back” plan, I think it’s a great one, but I wouldn’t rest all my hopes on this one album. But who knows; I know nothing of their past relationship. Maybe a grand gesture like this is all Paula needs. I guess we will see in time.

Album Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Best Songs: "Forever Love," "Love Can Grow Back," "Get Her Back," "Lock the Door"

Get Paulahere. Spotify.

-AO

Paula (Cover Art, Release Date, & Tracklist)

So Robin Thicke is determined to reconcile with his estranged wife, Paula Patton, through his music. After performing a new song called “Get Her Back” at the Billboard Music Awards, he has revealed that his upcoming album will be called Paula so it seems the entire album will be dedicated to her. After checking out the tracklist below, it seems even more clear. One thing is for sure, I’m not rooting against him. If anything, this album will be a better album then Blurred Lines as it is sure to be more heartfelt, in my opinion. I hope he brings it. It’s set to come out on July 1st. Enjoy.

1. “You’re My Fantasy”
2. “Get Her Back”
3. “Still Madly Crazy”
4. “Lock the Door”
5. “Whatever I Want”
6. “Living in New York City”
7. “Love Can Grow Back”
8. “Black Tar Cloud”
9. “Too Little Too Late”
10. “Tippy Toes”
11. “Something Bad”
12. “The Opposite of Me”
13. “Time of Your Life”
14. “Forever Love”

-AO

Double Artist Series: Frank Ocean and The Weeknd

I’m currently sitting in Dwyane Wade’s high school watching high schoolers play basketball in this summer league. Before I commence helping my cousin commentate these games, I figured I’d post the double artist series I’ve been meaning to post for a while regarding Frank Ocean and The Weeknd.

Frank Ocean is a member of Odd Future. When I first heard his name, I assumed he was just like Tyler, the Creator or Hodgy Beats, a rapper who rapped with dark lyrics about dark topics…but he’s NOTHING like that. He’s an R&B singer with a wonderful voice who raps about substantial matter. His debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra was released in February of this year and has gained much success. Def Jam has decided to release the mixtape as an EP with a few new songs on July 26th. Ocean was also featured on Tyler, the Creator’s debut album Goblin in the song “She”. An example of the subject matter he delves into is the second to last track from Nostalgia, Ultra entitled, “American Wedding”, a cover of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” where he discusses how the values of marriage are becoming lost. He’s the real deal so you should go get his mixtape and the EP when it comes out.

As with Frank Ocean, I misunderstood what he was about when I first heard of The Weeknd. I assumed he was some indie or rock band and never gave him a second thought. But The Weeknd has been gaining success also. He’s an R&B crooner whose real name is Abel Tesfaye. He’s been compared to Drake because of his singing voice. His sound is a lot like many of the songs off Drake’s So Far Gone mixtape because of his “croony” voice. He has released a mixtape called, “House of Balloons” that has been tearing up the airwaves. The production on his songs is absolutely incredible. His song topics are full of passion and sex and drugs, and his songs give off a vibe that people eat up. He already has a serious following as many fans have made unofficial music videos to many songs off his mixtape. Word is that there are more mixtapes to come from him very soon. You can guarantee that I’ll be bringing you music and videos from both these artists whenever possible. Enjoy.

-HB