Hip Hop is a true art form and, like other works, the influence sends waves through the audience. By being Emotionally engaging, pioneering/champion movements, or even simply showing you what a different style can do for an artist’s exposure, there were great moments in 2014 Hip Hop. Here are our favorites.
The reception of “i” by Kendrick Lamar
The backlash of Kendrick Lamar‘s “i” while it hit Top 40 charts and became NBA on TNT‘s music for this season, exposing him to a new audience.
J. Cole’s live performance of “Be Free” on Letterman
When “Be Free” dropped in the thick of the Ferguson protests after Mike Brown’s death, it left an impression on me for sure. It was a painful, heartfelt declaration with J. Cole singing his heart out despite what you think of his singing skill. A good few weeks later, I wake up to Cole himself tweeting out the link to his performance on Letterman.
I had concerns about how it’d sound live (as did he per the Angie Martinez interview) but I listened and frowned up when he started rhyming. I paused it, checked the old track to make sure I hadn’t completely spaced on a verse, then hit play again once I realized I hadn’t. Then, my jaw dropped as Cole dropped one of the dopest verses I’d heard from any artist the whole year. This didn’t hit my Verse of the Year selection simply because I felt like it was much bigger than that. This was a popular artist speaking his mind regardless of who he may lose as a fan and I have immense respect for him after that.
Time is Illmatic
While there were a lot of great moments in Hip Hop this year, the one that resonated the most with me was the long awaited release of the Nas: Time is Illmatic documentary. This simply wasn’t just a film about one of the best hip hop albums of all time, but it was and is a dynamic work of art that every hip hop fan should watch. The historical context of the album is highlighted in full and succeeds in telling a dynamic story of how this music impacted lives and started a movement. If you still haven’t had a chance to check this movie out then you should do so as soon as possible.
Killer Mike’s CNN Interview
Hip Hop is stereotyped to be a genre full of uneducated individuals who don’t care about anything more than material possessions alongside their fiscal allotments. Killer Mike shatters all misconceptions during these interviews and conveys not only his intellectual prowess but also expresses his emotions in a way that is often looked down upon in our society due to masculine stereotypes and expectations. A defining moment for hip-hop that hopefully will inspire more artists to step up and use their voices in and out of the studio.
What moments left the greatest impression on you? What did you think of our choices? Hit the comments below!