14. Sebastian Mikael – Speechless
Swedish-Ethiopian artist Sebastian Mikael released his debut album Speechless in 2014 via Slip-N-Slide Records, & the album was one of the best contemporary R&B albums in recent memory. Sebastian started the album out with the release of his Wale-featured single ‘Last Night’, which interpolates and samples Al B. Sure!‘s ‘Night and Day’. The single performed very well on the radio, and although much of the album features samples or interpolations (‘4 U’ = Jade‘s ‘Don’t Walk Away’, ‘Thinkin About You Girl’ = Donell Jones‘ ‘U Know What’s Up’), the talented vocalist was able to steal the show. The duet with Teyana Taylor was one of the best highlights of R&B in 2014, and the tremendous ballad ‘Forever’ is something you should hear at your friend’s weddings and on grocery store playlists for years and years to come.
13. Phil Beaudreau – ETHER
3x Grammy-winning producer Dawaun Parker started 2014 off on a great note by introducing the world to Phil Beaudreau. His debut album, ETHER, is one for the ages. The 13 song masterpiece only has one feature (by Dawaun Parker of course), & the album features the type of high-quality production that you would come to expect from a prodigy of Dr. Dre‘s Aftermath production team. Completely written, recorded, and arranged by Beaudreau, you truly get a full artistic vision that is rare these days. Beaudreau’s influences, which include Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, and Thom Yorke, are obvious throughout the project, but don’t sound like blatant rip-offs. ETHER is the type of album you get on vinyl & play for your kids one day. Timeless music is never going to disappear, and Phil helped reassure that fact with ETHER.