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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Rick Ross, 'Mastermind'

19. Rick Ross, 'Mastermind'

On his sixth album, Rick Ross' music hasn't substantially changed: He still writes each verse with dense snowflakes of words, consonant rhymes of elegant architecture; his beats still recall hip-hop's commercial zenith even as the genre slips further from the klieg lights. A surging rookie class pushes Ross' name from the headlines — art more ridiculous, art more real, art that does both at once — but no rap music is quite as opulent, as lushly orchestrated, as formally executed as the clean droptop raps of "Supreme," as evocatively grandiose as "Rich Is Gangsta." Mastermind may not be his best album but consistency is rarely this effortless or rewarding. D.D.

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