In 2014, there was so much high-quality music coming down the pipeline. Many newcomers around this time have now solidified their place as legends in contemporary music. As a byproduct, some iconic records dropped around this time and deserve recognition to be at the forefront of public consciousness.

Here are 10 projects that have their 10-year anniversaries in 2024.

'My Krazy Life' - YG

Putting on for Compton culture and the West Coast in general, YG’s debut album is a masterpiece in the pantheon of West Coast discography. Immersed in a modern reinvention of West Coast production, My Krazy Life set the blueprint for what West Coast rap would look like in the contemporary era. Influenced by West Coast gangsta rap luminaries like DJ Quik, N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and E-40, YG set out to deliver his raw perspective on his narrative as a “Bompton” native. Full of authentic West Coast narratives and moments, YG is at his most vulnerable and honest on this record. Filled with features from the class of artists he entered stardom with — Kendrick Lamar, Ty Dolla $ign, Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, Drake and more — My Krazy Life is a cardinal anthem for the West and deserves all the praise. 

'2014 Forest Hills Drive' - J. Cole

With the advent of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, J. Cole cemented his place in the pristine upper echelon of modern-day rappers. Replete with zero gimmicks and nothing but uplifting, reflective bars and masterfully crafted tracks, he reached a tremendous growth spurt regarding his depth of songwriting and ability to curate a comprehensive, well-rounded record from beginning to end. During a time filled with political turmoil given the death of Trayvon Martin and a string of other innocent fatalities against Black men, Cole uses the record as a canvas to deliver straightforward, palpable commentary about race and class. In addition, he explores his stream of consciousness regarding his upbringing and the things he’s been through. While the record was very low frills and famously devoid of features, Cole’s bars are incisive, poignant and require more profound thought. In terms of sonics, the instrumentation on this record goes crazy as well. In 2019, 2014 Forest Hills Drive was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Many cite this record as Cole’s magnum opus, and that’s a fair evaluation as far as I’m concerned. 

'Oxymoron' - ScHoolboy Q

Pushed by his Black Hippy collaborator and former labelmate Kendrick Lamar to propel his artistry to the highest apex, Oxymoron is some of ScHoolboy Q’s best work to date. Rugged and unapologetically aggressive, Q’s third studio album encapsulates the irreverent phrase “I don’t give a f**k.” Bringing gangsta rap back to mainstream rap, Q aimed to fill a void he felt was missing for a long time. Also, paying homage to his past as an Oxycontin dealer, he wanted to divulge the elements of his past that make him who he is today. Given his success since his Oxymoron days, it’s only fitting to acknowledge his earliest official classic.

'Honest' - Future

Illustrating hints of who he would eventually become and how his sound would evolve, Honest is one of Future’s earliest seminal works. Robust with hi-tech, ostentatious, trap-heavy production choices, the record has some impressive features for a lesser-known Future. Some of his counterparts on the project include Pharrell, Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa, Kanye “Ye” West, Drake and even a rare appearance from André 3000. Of all the album’s tracks, “Move That Dope” was probably the most noteworthy, but everything else is catchy and par for the course, given the period. This record is most compelling because it established the ATL-bred artist and solidified Future’s DNA from then on. There was something novel and never-before-seen about him, and that’s why this record deserves a spot on this list. And to think, he goes by Grammy Award-winning Future now, so put some respect on that man’s name. 

'Girl' - Pharrell Williams

For iconic producer Pharrell Williams, the concept of reinvention is something he’s seemingly never been intimidated by. We’ve seen him do it during his years with The Neptunes. We’ve seen him transform into his rock era with the emergence of N.E.R.D. Even during the early years of his career, he went from crafting tracks like SWV’s “Use Your Heart” to Noreaga’s “Superthug.” Out of all the stark transitions, his Girl era was among his most soulful and experimental. With a much more acoustic, minimalist approach, Mr. Williams’ second studio album was a crystal clear tribute to women as it embodies feminine energy across the board. As an emblem of fun and playfulness, this record complements any fun-filled adventure or excursion. We can’t forget his ultra ubiquitous and joyful anthem, “Happy,” one of the highest-selling singles ever. Considering his entire discography, Girl is a precious gem of timeless tracks that illuminate the limitless range and brilliance of Pharrell Williams yet again. Cheers to an authentic classic!

'Souled Out' - Jhené Aiko

Embracing Jhené Aiko’s natural penchant for calm/soothing R&B music, Souled Out is 100% par for the course. Doubling down on the success of her breakthrough 2013 EP, Sail Out, this record takes her artistry to higher heights. Formally establishing her alternative R&B aesthetic, a signature combination of psychedelic music, R&B, neo-soul, hip-hop and elements of electronica, Aiko used this project to perfect the unique vibe she possesses that we know and love her for. Teaming up with a cohesive batch of producers — Dot da Genius, Fisticuffs, Key Wane and the legendary No I.D. — Aiko was able to craft one of the earliest bright spots out of her ethereal discography. In retrospect, this record was ahead of its time and was instrumental in pushing the genre forward.

'In the Lonely Hour' - Sam Smith

For a debut album, In the Lonely Hour set the bar extremely high for Sam Smith. For a relatively unknown act from the U.K., this record skyrocketed them to a global audience and led to becoming a household name. It won a Grammy for best pop vocal album and was a supreme coming-out party for a phenomenal singer with great promise. Whether Smith has reached this point again is up for personal interpretation, but there have been few artists with as much remarkable success straight out the gate as Sam Smith.

'Beyoncé' - Beyoncé

Dropping her fifth studio record as a complete surprise, Beyoncé strived to cultivate yet another awe-inspiring moment with the release of her self-titled album. The record captured Beyoncé at arguably her most mature juncture to date and explores feminist themes of sex, monogamy, beauty standards, relationship problems, and critiques of capitalism. In addition to the album’s hits, her producer team was also truly remarkable. Teaming up with some of the best and brightest in the industry — Ammo, Mike Dean, Timberland, The-Dream, Noah “40” Shebib and more — the soundscape of this project was eclectic and progressive. Out of her discography, this was another one for the books and pushed her to another level of superstardom.

'The Pinkprint' - Nicki Minaj

Deliberately returning to the hip-hop roots that initially propelled Nicki Minaj to superstar status, The Pinkprint is one of her most vulnerable records. On it, she wasn’t afraid to talk about personal matters, such as her espoused career aspirations before making it big. At this point in Minaj’s career, it felt like she had completely arrived, and the magnitude of this project only supports that notion. In terms of production, she had an all-star team for The Pinkprint: Boi-1da, Cardo, Hit-Boy, Hitmaka, Dr. Luke, Metro Boomin, Mike Will Made It, Polow Da Don, Zaytoven and others. The stacked line-up and the fruits of this ensemble manifest on the record. Some of her best production and lyricism exist on The Pinkprint, and it aged well. 

'X' - Chris Brown

Following many years of combatting the turmoil of the more unsavory elements of his career journey, Chris Brown sought to reaffirm his superstar status with the advent of X. In what feels like his most emotionally transparent album to date, the record is a forum for deep rhetoric related to sex, relationships and what these concepts look like for a then 24-year-old Brown. With an opulent aesthetic, he takes many liberties on this record as he traverses genres from track to track — EDM, pop, hip-hop, R&B and much more. Regarding features, Brown enlists a well-rounded collection of friends he’s accumulated over his multiple-year career: Brandy, Akon, Kendrick Lamar, Jhené Aiko, Tyga, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and more. Hitting the summer hard with iconic singles like “Loyal,” “Fine China” and “Love More,” is one of Breezy’s most successful records to date. In addition to the commercial songs, many B-sides continue to slap today just as much as when they first came out. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since then. Wow, it’s remarkable how time flies!