2014 has been a hell of a year for hip hop. It hasn’t been a great year for a lot of other reasons, but the joy, passion, and creativity of the independent hip hop world has never been better. 2014 saw a lot of great events, including our second year putting on a showcase during SXSW in conjunction with Hip Hop Hooray, your best source for hip hop on the radio, every Sunday on 91.7 KOOP Austin.
RED WALL is the collaboration between recent L.A. transplants milo and Safari Al, longtime friends who both got started back when they were going to high school together in Wisconsin. Both artists showed a lot of potential from their first mixtapes, and watching their careers unfold and grow has been one of my favorite things in hip hop these past few years. This latest project is just another step in this journey.
Diamond District, the D.C. trio of Oddisee, yU, and XO, released their sophomore album earlier this fall, March On Washington. It’s an incredibly strong album from three talented artists, featuring timely raps and excellent production. Now, before the end of the year, we get to revisit this album in remix form.
2014 has been a hell of a year for Austin hip hop band Magna Carda. January saw the release of their third album, Van Geaux, which had them really coming into their own and making a big step forward in artistic growth. They played SXSW, the first Weird City Hip Hop Festival, and a plethora of other shows. They also released an EP of reworked material from Van Geaux. This would have been plenty for one group to put on their resume, but these hungry young musicians weren’t done.
Two years ago, Toronto emcee/producer More or Les dropped his solo album, Mastication. It was a great album built around the theme of food that transcended the novelty of the subject matter. He certainly had fun with it, but also managed to use the theme to have critical discussions of subjects like capitalism and our consumption habits. This year, in time for the holidays, More or Les decided to return to this album to release a collection of remixes and unreleased songs, with proceeds going to the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank.
There are a few things people look forward to this time of year, whether it be sweater weather or the opportunity to drink grog, but for a lot of hip hop fans it’s the next installment in Vancouver emcee/producer Moka Only’s Martian XMAS series. Moka’s been doing this since 2004, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down now.
Bop Alloy is the group consisting of emcee Substantial from Maryland and producer Marcus D from Seattle. Their last release was an EP entitled A Day in the Life... released just this last April. Now they are back with a holiday EP, appropriately titled Winter Breaks.
Once upon a time, The ThoughtCriminals emerged as a nerdcore hip hop band based in Charlotte, North Carolina. By the time we reached their last release, though, in 2012, the group had become just the duo of emcee Sulfur and emcee/producer Mikal kHill. Since that time, both artists have released plenty of solo material and made a plethora of guest appearances, but it was starting to get to the point where people were starting to wonder if The ThoughtCriminals was just something in the past.
Columbus producer Jon Rogers released an album earlier this year with vocalist Renee Dion, Moonlight, a beautiful collaboration of hip hop and R&B. Now, before year’s end, he releases this collection of beats for your enjoyment.
Bearhead is a producer from Mansfield, Georgia, who’s making his debut on Collective Resonance. The release of this album also marks his 21st birthday, and to celebrate, let us all spend a little time with this promising young musician’s new release.