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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Homeboy Sandman, 'Hallways'

22. Homeboy Sandman, 'Hallways'

Homeboy Sandman songs are dense and word-drunk, spilling past the margins, demanding repeat listens. They're modern East Coast koans in perpetual communion with that old Freestyle Fellowship challenge: Can you find the level of difficulty in this? Hallways represents the latest unfurling from the Ivy League-educated Queens native, whose wry angst and self-reflection have filled up two full-length albums and five EPs since signing to Stones Throw in 2012. Over restless slaps and cartilage-cracking beats from Oh No, Jonwayne and Knxwledge, Sandman unleashes a therapist's office worth of anxiety fit for a lost rap soundtrack to Deconstructing Harry. He frets over infidelities, hypocrisies and loneliness; the smell of tobacco smoke and what his proximity to hipsters says about him. Obsessed with the noise in his head and the rapidly changing neighborhoods surrounding him, Homeboy re-works rap forms and functions into something truly personal. J.W.

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