8. Tinashe – Aquarius
Tinashe showed through a handful of mixtape releases that she has a distinct sound, but in 2014 she was able to mesh that sound with mainstream ready production to become a budding star. Her debut major label single ‘2 On’ kick-started the campaign for her album Aquarius, as the DJ Mustard produced single peaked at #24 on the Billboard 100 charts and has been certified platinum. While the booming single sounds quite out of place on the album, the single doesn’t bring down the overall sound of the album.
Her truest sound is found most strongly on album-cuts ‘Bated Breath’, ‘Cold Sweat’, & ‘Bet’, as she reflects in a soft, charming way, the opposite of most of the other tracks on the album. Even her radio attempts – ‘Feels Like Vegas’, ‘All Hands On Deck’, ‘How Many Times’, & ‘Pretend’ feel very different than what you’re used to hearing from a female artist trying to break into the mainstream world. Aquarius was one of the best R&B albums of the year, and one of the best female debuts in recent memory. Tinashe has a long-career ahead of her, whether it is backed by luscious radio hits or niche alternative R&B music.
7. Hit-Boy & HS87 – We The Plug
The HS87 crew is extremely talented – which is something you should have figured out with their 2013 release All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of project, but in case you haven’t been in tune, their 2014 digital retail release We The Plug should plug you right in tune. The project was a true label compilation, as each artist of the imprint played a huge role of the project. With random but absolutely stellar features from Rich Boy, Young Dro, Kurupt, & Kid Cudi, it truly feels like Hit-Boy did whatever he wanted to do with this project. On the album’s standout track ‘Grindin My Whole Life’, Hit-Boy got to rap with his father on his own track. I mean, c’mon man. That’s some next level shit.
Not only did the album showcase that Audio Push is a budding duo waiting for hot single to take off (their new single ‘Quick Fast’ might be it) & that the HS87 production team is indisputably the most creative team making music right now, it showed that Hit-Boy is more than a super-producer – he is about to become a dual-threat superstar with his own talented empire under his control.