40 Best Rap Albums of 2014

From Young Thugs to Old Droogs, Rich Gangs to broke MCs with expensive taste — the year's best in rhymes

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Azealia Banks, 'Broke With Expensive Taste'

10. Azealia Banks, 'Broke With Expensive Taste'

Razor-tongued rapper Azealia Banks was in the 212, Montreal, London, Los Angeles, underwater and in your Twitter mentions. During the five-year gestation of her debut album, the Harlem beefmaster alienated rivals, record executives and fans — seemingly for sport. But for all her burns and bumps, Broke with Expensive Taste is the sort of effortless triumph that deserves to outshine the Internet circus. No one in rap shifts gears this fluidly. One second, Banks is spitting double-time heat over deep house, the next she's the bandleader for Afro-Caribbean funk grooves from Spanish Harlem. Then she's singing over broken London bass like Katy B. Ariel Pink shows up on "Nude Beach a Go-Go," because of course he does. It's like if Lil Kim's long-lost daughter remade Paris is Burning in contemporary Berlin. No one had such poison-pure creative vision, originality or versatility. J.W.

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