Confession: I hate the “holiday season.” I don’t understand the hype over Christmas trees, I have no desire to wear an ugly sweater, Christmas music feels like daggers in my skull, and all of a sudden people are expecting me to bake shit. The word “cozy” makes me nauseated. I prefer to be on a beach wearing nothing. Aside from the socially accepted binge drinking that accompanies these tough times, there is one thing that gets me through December – year-end-best-of-lists. As with Pinterest, year-end-best-of-lists allow me to filter my obsessive white girl compulsion to categorize and evaluate into something relatively healthy. And now that Labeling Men has been kind enough to publish my word vomit on a weekly basis, I am beyond excited to make some lists that people other than my mom might read. Before I get into it, quick shout out to DJ Mustard for producing basically all of these songs, and ditto to Nicki for spitting gold on quite a few. Ok, leggo!
Click here to listen to Anna's Top 50 Traxxx of 2014
1. 2 On – Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q
Pitchfork described “2 On” as “glossy ratchet pop,” which is pretty all I want to listen to ever. “2 On” is the most club ready song of Aquarius, which (*spoiler alert*) is easily one of my favorite albums of 2014. Tinashe belongs to a recent resurgence of 90s RnB, joining the ranks Frank Ocean, Miguel, and, of course, my main man Drizzy (when I first heard Aquarius, I texted my friends – “ya’ll I found the female Drake!”) And Praise Allah that women are finally getting in on this game. Many an Aaliyah comparison has been made, but DJ Mustard’s bouncy synths and trademark chorus of looming, ambient hey’s make the track feel classically 2014. “2 On is basically a new way of saying turnt up,” Tinashe explained to VladTV this year, “Being super hyped up with your friends when going out.” So here’s to 2 On’ing our way into 2015, in which we hopefully will hear much more from this glossy ratchet pop goddess.
2. Two Weeks – FKA Twigs
“I think FKA Twigs and Tinashe might be the same person,” my friend Aaron told me a few weeks ago (two weeks perhaps?). My first reaction was something along the lines of “da Fuckkkkkkk,” but a brief Google image search allowed me quickly see his point. Tinashe is the hip hop version of Twigs, who is in turn the indie-weird-girl version of Tinashe. Critics have compared both to Aaliyah. Pitchfork said “Two Weeks” might be an “Aaliyah homage,” calling the track “one of the finest stoned makeout jams to come along since ‘Rock the Boat.’” Both Tinashe and Twigs have released some of my favorite jams of 2014, and both have been the first women in years to slay 90s RnB vibez. But unlike “2 On,” which really just makes me want to throw on 2 chainz and hit the club, “Two Weeks” is hits me on a deeply personal level. “No song better captures my 20s than ‘higher than a mother fucker / dreaming of you as my lover,’” my friend and Labeling Men art director Eric told me recently, and I cannot agree more. Here’s to hoping that in 2015, these dreams become reality.
3. No Type – Rae Sremmurd
If there was another ode to my 20s aside from “higher than a mother fucker / dreaming of you as my lover,” it would be, “I ain’t got no type / bad bitches is the only thing that I like.”
As DJ Mustard is the shining star of 2014, Mike WiILL slayed 2012 and 2013 (see “Mercy,” “Bandz a Make Her Dance,” “Pour it Up,” “Body Party,” “We Can’t Stop,” “23”…the list goes on). But Rae Sremmurd shows he’s still got it. The Mississippi-born, Atlanta-bred duo is signed to Mike WiLL’s production company, Ear Drummers Entertainment, and popped off this year with “No Type,” “No Flex Zone,” and “Throw Some Mo” (see #37). But “No Type” gets me with by embodying all that I’ve been about in 2014.
4. Pretty Girls – Little Dragon
Not to be cocky, but this song speaks to me. And not just because I’m the picture of beauty, but also because the song is a cautionary tale about white girl California dreamin’, also known as my entire existence. Yukimi Nagano sings to girls seeking to live a “care free” “fantasy,” us chicas “aiming for the royal scene” and “TV dreams” (I personally have lost track of my fruitless attempts to become Internet famous). But Nagano cautions us not to “get stuck,” warning that “bubble hills” can “burst.” While I personally value my tendency to “magnify the universe,” we can’t all be badass bitches all the time. Sometimes white girls gotta cry. And no song gets me to shed a perfect tear from my waterproof mascara’d eyes like “Pretty Girls.”
5. Can’t Do Without You – Caribou
The combination of “Can’t Do Without You,” “Pretty Girls,” and “2 Weeks” in my top ten are starting to make me feel lame as hell, but what can I say, in 2014 I discovered feelings. The track’s obsessive looping dovetails its lyrics “And you’re the only thing I think about / It’s all that I can still do.” In trademark Caribou fashion, the song surges and builds, hitting near ecstasy towards the end, when lustrous synths pop off like molly. And that’s how you let the beat build, bitch!
6. Love Again (Akinyele Back) ft. Gangsta Boo – Run the Jewels
On first listen, “Love Again” had me feeling kinda bad as I belted, “she got that dick in her mouth all day!” I mean I didn’t feel terribly bad because most music I listen to is pretty fucking misogynistic, but this catchy chorus had me repping an act that I particularly despise due to its degrading nature, my small mouth, and fierce gag reflex. But ANYWAY, the song was cemented as one of my favorites on the album when Gangsta Boo comes in. “Kept my bank account on swole / sniffed my pussy like a rose,” she says, before coming back at the boys: “I put my clit in his mouth all day!” This track puts an interesting spin on oral sex in a genre that has a long tradition of waxing poetic in this arena. “I’ve got this fool in love again!”
7. Queen – Perfume Genius
“Queen” is one of those technically great rock songs about which I’m completely unqualified to write. However, I know enough to pick up David Bowie vibes and to quote Stereogum: “The song  is the sound of floodgates letting loose, of all the muted intensity that’s come before igniting and burning hot and fierce [….] Perfume Genius has never sounded this furious and confident.” “Queen” is certainly fiercer than anything on 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It, which mainly consists of Mike Hadreas crooning over pretty piano riffs. Sadly, Put Your Back N 2 It was best known for Google and YouTube rejecting the album’s promo for not being “family safe” (it reflected shirtless men hugging – HOW crude). In “Queen,” Mike Hadreas seems to say “BRING IT ON,” opening with: “Don’t you know your Queen? Ripped, heaving / Flowers bloom at my feet / Don’t you know your Queen? / Cracked, peeling / Riddled with disease.” But social commentary aside, the song’s brilliance lies in its composition, which makes me literally bang my head like some white boy at a metal concert, a serious feat.
8. Try Me – Dej Loaf
My friend jokingly said this spring that 2014 was “the year of the transsexual.” Well Dej Loaf is not transsexual, nor is Mike Hadreas or Shamir, but all three contributors to this list capture an androgyny and gender non-conformity that has entered the mainstream in 2014. Although I’ve maintained for years that androgyny is always in, Shamir and Dej Loaf take it to a new level. I listened to Shamir for weeks thinking I was listening to a woman. And when my friend and I first heard “Try Me,” our shared initial reaction was “he’s good!” Dej Loaf, like Tinashe and Twigs, evokes 90s RnB vibes, but with a modern twist. “Try Me” has that airy, atmospheric sound reminiscent of PartyNextDoor and I Love Makonnen, but with a more violent, masculine energy: “Ima get his whole motha fuckin’ family / […] fuck around and Ima catch a body.” When HipHop Weekly asked about her sexuality, Dej Loaf responded, “I’m just me, man,” and that’s what 2014 is all about.
9. Lookin Ass – Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj, this is your YEAAARRRRRRRRRR (::Oprah voice::). Words cannot express how happy Nicki’s 2014 performance has made me. Every time I turn my head, she has a new single, new video, or new collaboration with a more “established” rapper whose track she eviscerates. And *Praise Allah* she seems to have finally left behind her bubble gum “Starships” phase. While I stand by everything Nicki does, I’ve always preferred the harder Nicki (see “Monster,” “Did it On ‘Em,” “Bees in the Trap.”) And Pinkprint is the Nicki album I’ve been waiting for since I feel in love with “Itty Bitty Piggy” in 2009. Nicki’s glorious transformation started in the beginning of 2014, when she shed her pink wig and cartoonish clothing for sleek blond hair and black on black on black for YG’s “My N*gga (Remix).” “Lookin Ass,” released shortly thereafter, showcases a similarly fierce style and look. The track, an angrier “No Scrubs” for the modern age, hits me hard because it seemingly compensates for the horribly misogynistic music I blast on the daily. For two minutes and forty one powerful seconds, Nicki repeatedly eviscerates the ubiquitous loser straight man, or “Boost Mobile ass n*gga.” While this song contains too many killer verses to list, I must say that “call me Clinton / I’m billin these N*ggas” is among her most hilariously brilliant lines. Watch her slay with two assault rifles in the Nabil Elderkin directed music video for maximum appreciation.
10. A Place Like This – Majid Jordan
“Hold On, We’re Going Home,” in which Drake unleashed OVO Sound’s Majid Jordan to the world, was my second favorite track of 2013. Again, I’m going to reference 1990’s RnB, which quite frankly I never listened to in the 1990’s (I was more about Everclear and the Beatles). Majid Jordan, like Rae Sremmurd, sounds like a one person’s name but actually refers to a duo, in this case – Canada’s Majid Maskati and Jordan Ullman. Like “Hold On We’re Going Home,” the song is beautiful, melodic, and understated, and never fails to…errr…get me in the mood.
11. Rule – Actress
12. Or Nah – Ty Dolla $ign
13. Ed Reed Jersey – The Range
14. Leave Me Alone – Kaytranada ft. Shay Life
15. Work, Work ft. Cocc Pistol Cree – Clipping
16. Pull – Spooky Black
17. Recognize – PartyNextDoor ft. Drake
18. In My Dreams We’re Almost Touching – Ricky Eat Acid
19. Attak (feat Danny Brown) – Rustie
20. Shades of Cool – Lana del Rey
21. On the Regular – Shamir
22. Ice Princess – Azealia Banks
23. All Under One Roof Raving – Jamie xx
24. Move that Dope – Future
25. Feels Like Vegas - Tinashe
26. Tuesday – I LOVE MAKOENNE ft. Drake
27. Feeling Myself – Nicki Minaj ft. Beyonce
28. Break the Bank – Schoolboy Q
29. Thirsty – PartyNextDoor
30. Canal - RATKING
31. Memories That You Call (feat Moonsiren) - ODESZA
32. Ghetto (Tired of Crying) – Popcaan
33. Paris – Little Dragon
34. Collard Greens – Schoolboy Q
35. I Just Wanna Party – YG
36. Money Memories (feat Superhumanoids) – Rome Fortune
37. Throw Sum Mo – Rae Sremmurd ft. Nicki Minaj and Yung Thug
38. Panther – MADE IN HEIGHTS
39. Old English – Young Thug
40. Trophies – Young Money
41. Sony – The Range
42. Who Do You Love – YG
43. Heart & Soul – FaltyDL
44. Pull Up (feat. Pouya) – Yung Simmie
45. I Can Hear the Heart Breaking As One – Ricky Eat Acid
46. Want Some More – Nicki Minaj
47. Don’t Tell ‘Em – Jeremih ft. YG
48. Lifestyle – Rich Gang
49. aisatsana  – Aphex Twin
50. The Way I Feel - Doss
Written by Anna Dorn