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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Step Brothers, 'Lord Steppington'
40
15/40

15. Step Brothers, 'Lord Steppington'

Chalk up Lord Steppington as another winner for the Alchemist, the beat chemist who has toured the world as Eminem's DJ and crafted street bangers for Queensbridge thug poets like Nas and Mobb Deep. His stepbrother-in-crime is Evidence of backpacker heroes Dilated Peoples, and the two recruit friends like Action Bronson, Styles P and Roc Marciano for an album that turns off-kilter samples into no-frills bangers. Ev and Al just wanna make music to smoke to, whether it's the piano-laced blaps of "Mums in the Garage," the drum roll blasts of "Just Step," the bass strums of "See the Rich Men Play" or the synth licks of "Dr. Kimble." Check for the hard knock boom of "Byron G," which features a cameo from Scott "Mad Skillz" Caan — yes, the Entourage actor — who used to rap with Al as part of Nineties Cypress Hill protégés the Whooliganz. M.R.

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