Nenah Cherry – “Spit Three Times”
Even with a big chart hit, Ms. Buffalo Stance was way the hell ahead of her time in the late 80s. Our current crop of art-R&B kids could still use a few pointers, clearly.
Shabazz Palaces – “They Come in Gold”
Ishmeal Butler’s music rotates kaleidoscopically, morphing into trippy shapes. He’s certainly not unconcerned with structure, he just doesn’t care about using one you might easily recognize.
Rick Ross (f. Kanye West, Big Sean) – “Sanctified”
Ross himself is honestly pretty lame and clearly the worst thing in his own song, which doesn’t matter too much, given a swell post-Yeezus Kanye verse (typically funny and even ever-so-slightly self-deprecating), and a gospel hook that’s truly gorgeous.
Schoolboy Q (f. Kendrick Lamar) – “Collard Greens”
Conceding the cheat…yeah, this was released as a single last year. But it towers at such an altitude over the rest of the 2014 LP that surrounds it, and over almost everything that’s come out in the last six months besides, that double counting seemed appropriate.
Future (f. Pharell, Pusha T, & Casino) – “Move That Dope”
Though the drug-slinging subject matter is sort of rote, the details—like the broken, but super-contagious Mike Will Made It beat—are immaculate. Like a premium cable drama where specific plot points in an amoral anti-hero’s arc are secondary to vivid photography and top-end production value.