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Matt Oliver brings his long-running Hip-Hop column Rapture & Verse to the Monolith Cocktail. His inaugural post looks back on the highs and lows of the past twelve months with some of the UK’s most “enlightened” producers and MCs.

To review the last twelve months in hip-hop is to be a mere mortal observing a spectacle of egos, faux pas and of course, ‘realness’. What with Diddy reverting back to being Puff Daddy, Dr Dre earning crazy pocket money, G-Unit reuniting, Jay-Z’s sister-in-law tiff, Drake’s (mixed) double of tennis-related beef and Tupac becoming a Broadway flop – the big deals and hard-hitting issues, amongst a steady diet of shoot-outs and show-offs – hip-hop’s gossip column and rumour mill was rarely under-stocked.

For the year’s nitty-gritty though, there’s only one solution. Go straight to the horse’s mouth, invite a bunch of enlightened producers and MCs to have their say on 2014’s do’s and don’ts, the best verbs and visuals, and let them give you some ideas on what to spend your Christmas record vouchers on in case you missed out first time around. Let us begin…

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Secondson    (@second5on)   econdsonuk.bandcamp.com

Hip-hop in 2014, in my opinion…

“…again blurred into this massive maelstrom of R&B and rap. These days youngsters growing up can’t discern between any of those genres because they’ve been manipulated and moulded into the same entity. It’s a shame and I don’t want to sound like a preacher, but I’m old enough to remember when MCs could write a killer chorus without having to rely on big label budgets and going the obligatory route of getting some fashionable female in with a zany haircut to sing it for them.”

 

Hip-hop’s best release in 2014 was…

“Lil’ Dap’s “Code of Silence.” My hero Lewis Parker hammered out the beats like he’s stuck in a time warp, and to hear Dap on ‘em brought back all those late 1990s NY albums that my generation hold onto like the old old old school UK punks hold onto The Damned’s first 45.”

 

Hip-hop’s best video in 2014 was…

“I’ve yet to see a decent hip-hop video standard. Let alone one in 2014. I don’t watch music, I listen to it. They all look the same to me. Fish eye lens, hand gestures….”

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Dr Syntax    (@realdrsyntax)   drsyntax.bandcamp.com

Hip-hop in 2014, in my opinion, was…

“…a lot of fun, mainly. From my perspective, there were bigger audiences at festivals and venues. There are some good new artists coming out who definitely pay homage to previous generations, which I think was missing for a while. Veterans are coming out of the woodwork and finding new fans who connect with what they do rather than consider it antiquated. I couldn’t really tell you about the more commercial side of it, as I don’t really follow that, but I heard some great music and saw some great shows this year.” 

 

Hip-hop’s best release in 2014 was…

“Your Old Droog’s EP. It felt nice that people were excited about something so back to basics. No video, no picture even, just raw production and rapping. I don’t care if he sounds like Nas – I think he has enough of his own style going on, and he’s dope.” 

 

Hip-hop’s best video in 2014 was..

“Hands down, Action Bronson’s “Easy Rider”. Utterly ridiculous. He’s like the John Belushi of rap.”  

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Chemo aka Telemachus    (@chemouk)   kilamanjaro.co.uk

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Hip-hop in 2014, in my opinion, was…

“…tasty as hell. Quite a few albums have GOT me feeling excited for the future, as there are so many talented young guns out there on laptops creating and evolving the sound. I think we may be seeing ‘Peak Trap’ coming in early 2015 where young producers will start to explore other styles of percussion apart from the trill 808s that have dominated hip-hop production in the last few years.”

 

Hip-hop’s best release in 2014 was…

“…for me, a toss-up between Mick Jenkins’ “The Waters” and Isaiah Rashad’s “Cilvia Demo”. Both these albums did not have an instant impact but took time to grow on me, and consequently I am still listening to them now. I have to say I am really struggling to get into the Run The Jewels albums that have been so acclaimed, but I fear this may be because I am dumb. 

 

Hip-hop best’s video in 2014 was…

“…shit…I am not so good with videos.” 

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Sleaze   (@greasyvinyl)    greasyvinyl.com

sleaze gv

Hip-hop in 2014, in my opinion, was…

“…as a whole, a comeback for the boom-bap sound internationally. The UK sound became very copycat, with newer and more established rappers mimicking each others’ sound to fit in and sell. Some UK acts strayed away from this sound though, but fans didn’t seem to listen. There was a comeback from rappers like Common and Raekwon with his ‘FILA’ release. Hip-hop is definitely strong right now.”

 

2014’s best hip-hop release was…

“Common – “Nobody’s Smiling”.”

 

2014’s best hip-hop video was…

““Lights Out” by Sleaze.” 

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ThisIsDA   (@itsthisisDA)    itsthisisDA.com

In 2014, hip-hop, in my opinion, was…

“…on a tangent. Hip-hop as a genre isn’t really a thing anymore. It’s become an umbrella term for a non-existent lifestyle. People outside the culture are definitely finding a home within it. Nothing wrong with that though.”

 

2014’s best hip-hop release was…

“That’s a hard one. Quite a few solid releases here and there. Probably go with Mick Jenkins’ “The Waters”. That tracklist still has me rappin’ along passionately.”

 

2014’s best hip-hop video was…

“ Joey Bada$$’ “Christ Conscious”. Toughest visuals I’ve seen for a minute.”

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Rediculus    (@rediculus)   rediculus.bandcamp.com

In 2014, hip-hop, in my opinion, was…

“…a great year for music. There was a lot of great music released this year from Run the Jewels to L’Orange’s release to the Dopplegangaz and SevenThirty/Gensu Dean. Hip-hop continued to grow and expand and we’re starting to discover new ways to make money in the streaming age. Working with dedicated fans who have a passion for supporting their favourite artists in new ways for my clients has been super rewarding and very educational.”

 

2014’s hip-hop release of the year was…

“…hmmm, that’s a tough one, there’s been a LOT of great music this year. RTJ2, Dilated Peoples, 7evenThirty/Gensu Dean, but the best one for me came right at the end. “Blasphemy” by Ras Kass and Apollo Brown was definitely the album of the year for me. Well produced, sequenced right and expertly assembled, it sonically represented both growth and a nod to the classics.”

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Rewd Adams   (@rewdadams)    rewdadams.bandcamp.com

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In 2014, hip-hop, in my opinion, was…

“…a good year; some great releases, especially towards the tail-end of the year. UK and US both came up with the goods. Still waiting on Kendrick’s album though…”

 

2014’s hip-hop release of the year was…

“…a toss-up between Schoolboy Q’s “Oxymoron”, Big K.R.I.T.’s “Cadillactica” or Mick Jenkins’ ‘The Waters.’ Or you can always check my new mixtape, “Hunger Pains 2” with DJ MK, before Christmas.”

 

2014’s hip-hop video of the year was…

“Dizzee Rascal – either “Pagans” or “Couple of Stacks”.”

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