Best of 2014: The Hottest Jams of 2014

50. DJ Khaled (f/ Future, August Alsina, Chris Brown, Jeremih): “Hold You Down” (single)
Or, how DJ Khaled invited three of my favorite singers (and Chris Brown) to his Miami Mansion and made sweet, sweet magic. Besides being the best R&B posse cut in years, the single has spun not one, but two of the most enjoyable videos of the year. Dj Khaled, you truly are the literal best.

49. August Alsina: “Kissin On My Tattoos” from Testimony
August Alsina touches on a ton of different sounds over the course of the 13 songs that make up his exquisite debut LP. From street bangers to gospel confessionals, the 22 year old’s flexibility is the key reason why Testimony is so engaging. Its finest moment comes in its most classic, as August channels the spirit of New Edition and Ready for the World with the kind of soaring, timeless ballad that’s been getting people going for decades. The “Can You Stand the Rain?” of 2014.

48. Ariana Grande: “Be My Baby” (f/ Cashmere Cat) from My Everything
The 21 year-old megastar is blessed with an a-bomb of a voice and is capable of obliterating any arrangement with a wink and a swish of her pony-tail. Her lithe collaboration with two rising young guns (Cashmere Cat & Lido) and two grizzled vets (Rock City) is no exception, slithering through Cashmere and Lido’s trademark maximalist production. The result is a tasty amalgam of pop radio and 2am on a Friday (or Tuesday) Night.

47. YG: Who Do You Love?” (f/ Drake) from My Krazy Life
The Compton MC’s outstanding debut is the kind of album that is so consistent that it almost gives the singles less weight. It doesn’t seem right to be talking about him this early on the list, but there are far fewer great albums than great songs, and YG has a great album. I’m sure he’ll be fine with that.

46. Taylor Swift: “Style” from 1989
It only took hearing the 90 second iTunes snippet once for me to hop in my car, drive to the Culver City Best Buy (no pay phone there either), and do something I hadn’t do for over a year: buy a CD. I just had to hear “Style” with the windows down in my car. Loud. Really loud. It’s “Everything is Embarrassing.” It’s “Teenage Dream.” It’s that kind of perfectly-crafted pop song with the propulsive bass line and the unforgettable hook that is made for trips down the PCH on Saturdays that seem to go on forever.

45. Spice: “Conjugal Visit” (f/ Vybz Kartel) from So Mi Like It
Though this duet was penned and recorded two years before dancehall megastar Vybz Kartel was convicted to life in prison, there’s a palpable desperation to Vybz’s usually laid-back, jovial vocals that hints at the darkness that must have been encircling his and IRL girlfriend Spice’s lives during the trial. It’s like the 38 year-old knew the fate that awaited him, and it’s curious that while Spice only pines for Kartel’s sexuality, Kartel begs for more, trying to convince her of his love from behind bars. The role reversal of the classic boy/girl R&B duet gives “Conjugal Visit” an unexpected gravity.

44. Lewis: “I Thought The World of You” from L’Amour
Judging by L’Amour (which is a reissue, I get it), Lewis’ 1983 must have consisted of his wife leaving him for his only friend, who had just accidentally burnt Lewis’ house down. The poor guy is so distraught, he can barley bring his voice above a whisper, let alone bring himself to put his suffering into decipherable words. “I Thought the World of You” is the musical equivalent of spinning a cocktail straw in an empty glass, and it hurts sooooo good.

43. Le1f: “Sup” from Hey
Le1f is one of those rare artists whose voice becomes more subversive as it moves closer to the mainstream. His early work was fascinating and esoteric, but to my ears, he really shines on anthemic, streamlined tracks like this. The New Yorker has always had bars, but they often were buried behind noisy, overly arty arrangements, which often seemed designed to separate him from the rap mainstream. Now that the scene is home to an army of diverse voices, I can’t wait to hear the 25 year old embrace it and continue to drive massive tunes like this.

42. Toyboy & Robin: “Better Places” (f/ Alex Adams) from Better Places
It was a banner year for emotional house. Artists like Duke Dumont and Gorgon City captivated big rooms across the globe, while an exciting crop of youngsters rose as a human alternative to mainstream EDM’s mechanized dirge. However, none shone as bright as the London duo does here, crafting the kind of ecstatic, life affirming groove that exists in the genre’s most unforgettable moments.

41. Big Quis: “Mayweather” (f/ Payroll Giovanni) from My Turn
Detroit’s Doughboyz Cashout were undoubtedly 2014’s best crew, and two of its heavy hitters combine to hit like a Money Mayweather right cross. Quis has that classic, high-pitched little brother flow, while Giovanni’s timeless, laid-back funk adds a nostalgia to proceedings. It feels like everything I loved about the late-90’s hip-hop I grew up on. More than that, it just feels like winning. I guess 47-0 will make you feel like that.

Posted on by TP1.COM in Best of '14, Featured

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