Dean's List: Top 30 Artists Of 2014

Now we come to our most famous picks of the year, the top 30 artists of 2014. Here we hand picked the artists we believe to have had a breakout year as well as made an impact both in Hip Hop and their career.

Vic Spencer: Chicago emcee Vic Spencer first hit the scene back in 2010 with fellow native Sulaiman whom together dropped some singles as well as their acclaimed "We're Just Disappointed" and "We're Still Disappointed". Vic's name started buzzing in 2012 when releasing a couple joints with Chance The Rapper, who at the time was getting heavy promotion, and his work with MC Tree. That same year he dropped a few mixtapes but his most known piece of work was 2013's "The Rapping Bastard". 2014 saw his Red Button Series which he dropped numerous singles that could be enough material for 2 projects. His grind is relentless and his music is timeless. He stands Hip Hop and his sound will be around for a long time.

Devine Carama: Devine Carama is a socially conscious, God fearing MC from Lexington, KY. Having been around the music scene since 2004, Devine starting getting promotional success in 2011 working with acts such as CunningLynguists, Thee Tom Hardy and Canibus. A True MC, he pays tribute to the culture and legacy as well as artists like Nas. 2013 saw his acclaimed "No Child Left Behind", which was followed by 2014's "The Dream Walker" which was lyrically incredible, and his latest "Believing In Forever". While this talented lyricist is on his high point of his career, it seems 2015 will be a break for him as he wants to focus on his nonprofit organization. But don't count him out, he's def one to watch for.

Phora: The tatted up Anaheim emcee Phora's buzz and following is so big you'd think he was a major label artist, and what's even more incredible is that he barely gets promoted on the major sites. Releasing projects since back in 2012, Phora first started getting attention in 2013 with his "One Life To Live" mixtape and "Still A Kid". Along with producers Eskupe and Anthro, the West Coast spitter told tales of LA nights and street struggles, and having to overcome almost dying and getting his troubled life back on track. 2014 saw his best work yet, critically acclaimed "Sincerely Yours" and "Nights Like These". With a G Funk sound and sharp lyrics, Phora def looks to have a bright future.

Araless: Getting his start around 2012, emcee/producer Araless formed the collective and record label Black Magic Noize with three other Seattle Washington natives, MadShroom Mc, DJ Corndogg, and Nocturnal. Next to his work with Filthy Fingers, Araless dropped some dope projects leading up to 2014. Right off the bat he delivered the 5 star project "Ink And Essence" and followed it up with the incredible "Symbiosis". Baring a dope conscious underground style and flow, Araless packs witty and mind thinking lyrics which make him a very underrated artist. Along with his BMN family, I'm sure that his catalog will only get better.

Mad-One: The legendary Texas lyricist, MAD ONE, is a product of the golden era of hip hop, and has been blessing mics since 1988. Having been releasing music since 1995, Mad-One has had major success on platforms such as Sway And Tech's Wake Up Show, MAD TV and much more. 2014 has been the MC's best year, releasing 4 projects, each with a different producer. His "Mathematics For Savages" with producer Furthermore was hand picked as one of the Top Mixtapes of 2014 by us. With each release, Mad seems to reinvent himself, and with the first month of January not even past us, we already have gotten a new project from homie. Expect big things from him.

Your Old Droog: Having gone by the names GrandmaOnDrums and Droog, this white emcee decided to change his game in the beginning of 2014 and started one of the biggest hypes in the history of Hip Hop. Going by Your Old Droog and hiding his appearance, his first release of the year was "Nutty Bars" and somehow it turned into a possible Nas alter ego. Blogs, sites and fans alone hyped up the possibility of the Queens legend being this unknown artist well past the release of his self titled EP up until his debut performance in NY. In the end it wasn't Nas, but there was one thing we all agreed on, Droog's music was dope and thats all that matters. I can only see him getting bigger from here.

Hus Kingpin: This dope newcomer first came on everyone's radar with his 2013 "The Cognac Tape" with Roc Marciano. His ties with the Marcberg spitter had everyone wondering who he was. From there he dropped countless singles and projects along with his team TheWinners. His incredible grind and ability to release joint after joint saw the New York bred emcee working with Pro Era's Chuck Strangers and even getting the cosign from Nah Right releasing a mixtape hosted by the major site. Hus and his crew dropped enough music in 2014 to comprise around 20 albums. What helps is that homie is very talented and his squad members are too. With the will to work non stop, Hus's future looks extremely promising.

SonReal: Believe it or not, One Long Day has already been out for a year. That project in itself skyrocketed SonReal's small success into what it is today. The uniquely voiced rapper then proceeded to make even more noise with his creative videos as word started to spread even more. The most successful year to date for SonReal also included a multitude of features and tour dates. With a plethora of projects under his belt, the Canadian is surely on everyone's radar to not only have a ridiculously successful 2015, but to make noise for Vancouver and Canada in general for hip hop. If you've never heard of this guy, by the end of the this year, you will, guaranteed.

Michael Christmas: Boston is the home to this dope newcomer who is awkward with his humorous and laid back lyrics. Pretty much right off the bat this younger got on a lot of website's radar with singles like "Michael Cera" and "Kunishi". His obscure style got him to work with producers such as Thelonious Martin and Teddy Roxpin. Early in 2014 he dropped his awaited and sought after mixtape "Is This Art?" which was an instant hit with fans and critics alike. With his buzz vastly growing, Mike earned a spot to open up for Your Old Droog's debut performance show and even hosted his own national tour. Look for this skillful artist to work with bigger acts as he climbs the ladder to success.

Shad: Shad is a Juno Award winning rapper and 3-time Polaris Music Prize shortlist nominee from London, Ontario. 4 of his full-length albums have been recognized for their sharp lyrics and soulful arrangements. He first dropped in 2007 with his "The Old Prince" which was followed by 2 more in 2011. 2013 saw Shad linking with DJ and producer Skratch Bastid for their acclaimed "The Spring Up" which showed his growth in his witty style and incredible lyrics. By 2014, Shad had been a household name in the underground and blogs with his works with J Period, Saukrates and his critically acclaimed "Boarding Pass" EP. I don't see him slowing or losing any momentum and buzz in the next coming years.

Fel Sweetenberg: Out of Camden, New Jersey, Fel Sweetenberg brings some rawness missing in a lot of artists nowadays. Both and emcee and producer Fel came on the scene in the late 2000's. Having been noticed and picked up by DJ Brans Effiscienz, Fel dropped his incredible "The Invisible Garden" early in 2014 which impressed the hell out of us. With the album having fans wanting more, it was quickly followed by a live album, a remix project over Apollo Brown beats and the reissue of his 2010 sophomore album "The Sophomore Jinx". Fel is one of those artists that does not need features to boost his music and with DJ Brans on his side it looks to be a great future for this dope MC.

Hawk House: This dope London based electronic Hip Hop trio first jumped on the scene in 2013 with their "A Little More Elbow Room" mixtape. Their smooth jazzy, soul styled music instantly made them a fan favorite newcoming group. With a mixture of conscience lyrics and soft toned vocals, HH's music really stood out from the rest of what most artists in their genre were doing. 2014 came their anticipated debut album "A Handshake To The Brain" which boosted the groups credibility. Whats so impressive is that these three have so much going for them with very little releases. You can just imagine what their careers will be years from now.

Tairey: The producer/rapper out of Pittsburgh had a ridiculous year in 2014. His single "Zodiac" blew up with the help of Wale's cosign and has been on a roll since. With numerous successful singles that helped put his name on the map, Tairey finally released his first collection of songs towards the end of the year with Celestial. The EP gained decent recognition from blogs and new listeners alike putting him on the map. With unique vocals and production, anything is possible for Tairey. We can't wait to see what this OK-Tho favorite brings to the table for what should be a phenomenal 2015.

June Marx: Baring a patented gas mask, this deployed Iraq combat veteran has become somewhat of a vigilante in the underground scene. Forming Twin Perils with Lone Ninja, the duo dropped 3 projects before his debut album "Body of God" in 2010 which was a cult favorite. He has worked with heavy weight acts such as Chief Kamachi, Reef The Lost Cauze and Godilla who were all featured on his 2012's acclaimed "Seven Trumpets Sound". While holding a soft spoken rugged flow comparable to Roc Marciano and KO, June's buzz has become a incredible phenomenon with hardly any promotion nor social connection. 2014 has been his biggest year releasing both "Eve Of Victory" and "Veterans Day" which makes him a well candidate for this section.

Awon: Immersed in an underground Hip Hop scene marked by smooth, jazzy production such as that of A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, and The Roots, in comes Brooklyn's Awon. Making his debut on Canibus’s "Hip Hop For Sale" album, this dope emcee has made an incredible impression on us with releases like 2013's "Return To The Golden Era" with producer Phoniks. While the industry lacks that raw, essence of the culture we loved so much in the 90's, Awon presents us with just that. 2014 couldn't have been any better as he dropped the acclaimed projects "Dephacation" with Dephlow and "Matte Black Soul". Expect nothing less then pure dopeness and greatness from this MC.

Sonny Shotz: 1/2 of The Kings Dead member, Sonny Shotz really started to branch out last year. Not only did he team up with Mendoza for a successful Utopia, but he also went in solo mode and released two projects of his own. The never-scared-to-talk-about-religion rapper really showcased his rapping abilities with his solo debut Daniel Exodus. With a project that might not have been everyone's cup of tea, Sonny still showcased his rapping prowess and why we believe he is one of the best underrated rappers around. American Summer released later last year and may have been a little closer to what fans were expecting. With hit singles "Neon Hooligans", "Lisa", and "Who Are You", Sonny once again gave people a reason why they should pay attention; and paying attention is exactly what you should do with Utopia 2 on the way from The Kings Dead.

Epidemic: This South Florida based Hip-hop duo consisting of MC's Hex One and Tek-nition are a very underrated over looked duo. Having hardships in their beginnings the two stuck through it and eventually linked with producer 5th Element to release their debut "Illin Spree" in 2011. The following year they released their sophomore "Monochrome Skies" with producer Jesse James. With their self label Mic Theory Records, the duo started getting a cult following as they were platformed by sites like UGHH. With 2013's "Somethin' For Tha Listeners" and 2014's "The Solution", it seems these two are unstoppable. If you wanna hear lyricism and multi syllable rhyming at its finest then just listen to them.

Busdriver: Busdriver is fixed as one of LA music’s most dynamic indie artist. From his years as a cyher phenom at Project Blowed to his years as a recording artist on Epitaph to his current role as co-head of Hellfyre Club, Busdriver has always challenged rap in the most particular and thoughful of ways. With 99's ‘Memoirs of the Elephantman’ and 2002's ‘Temporary Forever’, he stayed under the radar. In 2004, linked with Big Dada and released the Daddy Kev-produced mini-LP, ‘Cosmic Cleavage’. 2014 saw his most commercial success with "Perfect Hair" which had him with the likes of Aesop Rock, Jeremiah Jae and Danny Brown. His buzz seems to get bigger with each release.

 Sam Lachow: Sam "Huckleberry" Lachow had an under the radar monster 2014. With the release of hella singles, the Seattle product released his album, Huckleberry and his 5 track 80 Bars EP. With his unique, almost course voice and production choices, you can't help but not show some love to Lachow. In addition to the above projects, a new addition to the Young Seattle collabs took place with "Young Seattle Pt. 3". Who knows what this ultra talented and creative guy can do in the new year? What we do know is that Lachow is a ticking time bomb and could blow at any time turning into a household name overnight as he leads the 206 charge with his music.

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Aaron Cohen:  Making the move from Seattle to New York, Aaron Cohen jumped in the Hip Hop scene in 2011 with his "Up and Down" single and since then has made a big name for himself with the releases "Crack" and "Murk". With an original style and dope wordplay, Aaron sees himself at the top of his game in 2013 with his mixtape "Potential Fans" and 2014's "You Wouldn't Know" EP. I can only see this talented lyricist getting bigger as well as working with heavy weight acts and bigger name producers.

deM atlaS: This Ohio to Minneapolis artist first started out in a band during High School before making the choice to go solo. Melting his musical experiences from Rock to Folk and Hip Hop, deM created himself enough buzz to get recognized by Rhymesayers Records which earned him two classic projects. 2013's "Charlie Brwn" and 2014's "Dwnr". His style defies the normal rapper or even emcee and he seems to stay in his own lane in which he creates an alternative sound. He also formed the group SIFU HOTMAN with Guante and Rube and dropped the incredible "Embrace the Sun". With Rhymesayers behind him and his ability to win over crowds during tours, there's no questioning that he'll be here for a while.

Venomous2000: Born and raised in Passaic, New Jersey, Venomous2000 has been a force for positivity in the Hip-hop culture for over 15 years. Just like his inspiration KRS, Venomous2000 is cultural teacher, who penned his name to fight against negative music. His delivery, flow and lyrics hold so much value that in turn makes him a very underrated emcee. Having released a number of solo projects got him to work with legends like Inspectah Deck, John Robinson, El Da Sensei, Cymarshal Law, LIFElong and Smif N Wessun. 2014's "A Moment To Reflect 3" was his first project in two years and by far his greatest feat. This extremely talented artist seems to get better by the years.

Matt Easton: After a ridiculous 2013, Matt Easton followed it up with a pretty decent 2014. Following the crazy rock inspired album concept, The Grey Area, Easton transitioned into releasing a plethora of singles. And he didn't stop there...last year was huge in terms of visual accompaniment. The most well received came in the form of, "Jet Life" which was filmed in more than a handful of different cities and countries and took forever to create. With catchy production and good lyrics + go-to guitar friend Wes Powell always lurking, Easton is on tempo to perhaps finally break free of the underground chains and become apart of everyone's music collection. Be on the lookout for the talented jack of all trades' The Phantom Image EP.

K Sparks: In the midst of today's mainstream Hip Hop culture that glorifies increasingly negative images, it's refreshing to hear an artist that goes against the grain. Being recognized by Peter Rosenberg and working with Kid Cudi got this talented New York emcee major promotion on sites such as XXL, HipHopDX, Nah Right, 2Dopeboyz and more. 2013 saw his first project "Self Portrait" which was followed by 2014's acclaimed "Vintage Art". With commercial radio and a list of blogs and sites behind him, K Sparks looks to continue his onslaught of releases as well as making bigger moves in the future.

Foster: At only 19 years old, this Thousand Oaks California MC seems to sound like he has his sound figured out. He flows and writes like he has been doing it for over 20 years hitting each line in the pocket perfectly. Along with his Life Now crew, Abhi and Lens, their sound is like no other. After a slew of singles, Foster dropped his "Just Kidding" EP in 2014 which made our Top Of The Year. 2015 will see his and Abhi's collaborative El Capitan project among other singles, videos and projects. With all that I have seen and heard in my years of Hip Hop, I can proudly say that these guys are the future of the legacy of that was built by artists such as J Dilla, Madlib, Pete Rock, MF Doom, De La Soul and many more.

Little Simz: Born and raised in North London, the young wordsmith known as Little Simz brings a new level of intelligence, creativity and musicality to the global Hip Hop arena. At 20 years old, Simz's exceptional flow and wordplay won her the opportunity to open up for Schoolboy Q as well as major promotion on big name sites. 2014 was her breakout year with the releases of the critically acclaimed "E.D.G.E." and her 3 part series "Age 101" which won praises from heavy weight acts such as Snoop Dog, Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000 and more. Its incredible to see what she has accomplished in just 2 years and it'll be even more a spectacle to see what more she can do.

M.i: Year after year, one of the most overlooked and underrated rappers, M.i, just keeps putting in work. Having support from most of the major blogs/music feature sites out there it is a wonder to me why he hasn't yet caught on. Last year the Texan musician released The 7th Album in which he produced and wrote all original material. The guitar inspired album was just another demonstration of what M.i continues to crank out on a yearly With absolutely ridiculous talent on his side, hopefully this cook can finally quit his day job in '15 and be recognized for the creative genius that he is. Rumors for this year include another "sessions" tape, which quiet honestly may finally be the golden ticket for M.i to break out.

Mega Ran: If you put video games, the 80’s, hip-hop, soul music, jazz and standup comedy into a blender and hit “puree,” you’d have something close to The Mega Ran Experience. After relocating from Philly to Phoenix, Ran almost quit before he was even started. Retro video games were the catalyst. Random began the transformation into Mega Ran, his alter-ego, an ode to the classic video game character Mega Man boasting incredible projects from 2006's "The Call" to 2013's "Blur Bomber". 2014 is by far his best year releasing a slew of singles and 5 projects. with 2015 already a couple months in, Ran follows up his collaborative works with Emcee Storyville and will also be dropping some projects with HiPNOTT Records as well. My man stays grinding.

Pyramid Vritra: 22 year-old, LA-based Pyramid Vritra has been making beats and writing rhymes since he was just ten years old. Linking with and Odd Future's Matt Martian and formed The Super 3 which releases caught the ear of Stones Throw leading to his signing with the famous independent label. His style is that of fluidity and a calm in the midst of complexity which explains his name which has two parts to it, he adds, ‘the pyramid has sides that are steep and smooth. Vritra is both a god and demon. While perfecting his craft in the past years, PV dropped his most work in 2014 with "Indra", "PV 2" and the acclaimed "Palace". Now that he has broken out, it's only a matter of time for when he takes a steed hold on the game and his career.

Jace Abstract: With so many artists in Europe breaking out it seems that Switzerland is the next to come up. Making his move to London, Jace represents a style of Hip Hop that is rare and missing. Coming up with dope artists including Lord Lhus and Juelz, Jace has been making a name for himself in the past year. Although not a big name to be seen on a lot of websites and blogs, Jace has been on the path and working with the right people to be having a cult following in just a matter of time. With last years "Middle Class Trash" with Mathz, "The GanzStract Experience" and his upcoming Strange Guys project with Lhus and and Da Landlord, I'm sure when it comes timne for his debut solo album it will be an instant classic.