Wednesday , 17 January 2018
Home » Author Archives: Justin

Author Archives: Justin

Editor-In-Chief - Justin Ivey is the Editor-In-Chief at and has been with the site since 2009, when he began working as a summer intern. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Justin is a graduate of Louisiana State University. He has previously written for such outlets as Complex,, SoulCulture and The Well Versed and is currently a contributor at, Knockout Nation and DIG Baton Rouge.

Top 10 Albums of 2014

Nothing has bothered me more than hearing people say that 2014 was not a good year for Hip Hop. There were so many great albums released during this year that you must not have been paying attention to feel that way. 2014 produced notable comebacks from legendary groups like the Wu-Tang Clan and Dilated Peoples while also delivering much anticipated albums from the Step Brothers and Black Milk. Mississippi left a lasting mark in 2014 as 7evenThirty impressed on the independent scene with his album The Problem while Big K.R.I.T. made the album we all knew he could, Cadillactica, on the major label side of things. And speaking of the south, Nashville emcee Starlito proved once again why he’s one of the most underrated artists in the game on Black Sheep Don’t Grin. Atmosphere endeared themselves to listeners on the well crafted Southsiders, a particularly rewarding listen for longtime fans of Slug and Ant. The frontrunner for album of the year was Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s Piñata, which somehow managed to live up to all the lofty expectations fans had for this emcee/producer collaboration. And while Piñata had the inside track on that top spot for most of the year, Run The Jewels shook up everything in late October. Killer Mike and El-P have been a tour de force ever since they decided to team up. These two artists, respected heavily for their work individually, have carved out a new legacy together as Run The Jewels. Their second album, Run The Jewels 2, ... Read More »

Top 10 Mixtapes/Free Albums of 2014

After years of trying to keep the mixtape and free albums categories separate, KN finally caves in and combines them. The ambiguous nature of what defines a mixtape or album in today’s Hip Hop scene makes it a losing battle trying to classify these two in different ways. So this time around, all free releases are thrown together. That means narrowing these choices became harder, but I think it also means the quality of each pick is that much better. This top 10 is heavily dominated by the south and the city of Chicago as Vince Staples is the only selection not from those areas. The number one spot was certainly a tough call with three very deserving contenders. Lil’ Boosie’s comeback endeavor Life After Deathrow easily could’ve been the top pick as it is some of the Baton Rouge native’s best work to date. Lil’ Herb emerged from the shadows of his cohort Lil’ Bibby to release Welcome To Fazoland and show the world he’s a force to be reckoned with for years to come. And while those aforementioned projects were incredible, Mick Jenkins’ The Water[s] was a true gem of 2014. The Chicago emcee has released some quality projects in the past, yet The Water[s] is a clear breakthrough for him. Jenkins really finds his voice on this record via his poignant observations on the world around him along with some excellent beat selection. It appears that big things are on the horizon for Mick Jenkins, but fans ... Read More »

Top 10 Slept-On Albums of 2014

The top slept-on albums of the year category has always been near and dear to KN. We’ve always prided ourselves in spotlighting talented artists who don’t get the constant coverage from major outlets and sharing their work with our readers. Slept-on albums epitomize that attitude as the artists and projects featured here may have flown under the radar, but truly warrant your time. The 2014 edition features a lot of KN favorites that we’ve shown love to over the past few years. Names like K-Rino, Marcel P. Black, CYNE MarQ Spekt, Willie The Kid and G-Side should be no strangers to our loyal readers. Also making the cut are some newer artists such as New York group RATKING andAtlanta-based Wara From The NHBD. Securing the top spot this year is Locksmith with his album A Thousand Cuts. The Bay Area emcee has always impressed with his rhyming capabilities, but this album was his most personal work to date. Locksmith opened up on this album while still maintaining his lyrical prowess to great results. Lock’s decision to be so candid, particularly on the brutally honest “Hardest Song Ever,” produced a connection to his fans that goes beyond his incredible wordplay. A Thousand Cuts deserves your ear, as do all of these albums, so don’t sleep on them! Locksmith – A Thousand Cuts K-Rino – Deprogrammed Marcel P. Black – Black Collar RATKING – So It Goes CYNE – All My Angles Are Right MarQ Spekt & Blockhead – JustPlayWitIt G-Side – Gz II Godz Willie ... Read More »

Top 10 EPs of 2014

The EP is such a powerful tool in today’s music landscape because so many artists are fighting for our limited attention. Being able to deliver a short, but potent record to listeners in the digital age is the perfect way to gain new fans as well as satisfy the needs of ardent supporters. 2014 produced so many quality EPs that it was tough to narrow this list down to just 10 selections. As you’ll see, that’s why so many honorable mentions are featured here. I think what’s most notable about this list is the wide arrange of stages these artists are at in their respective careers. The top 10 EPs of 2014 features veterans like Supastition & CunninLynguists, brand new talent such as Brown & OG Maco, and emerging stars in Vince Staples & Deniro Farrar. The top selection, though, goes to Los Angeles emcee Thurz and his Designer EP. After splitting from U-N-I a few years ago, Thurz made a statement with the socio-politically driven album L.A. Riots. Instead of following this breakthrough project with a similar theme, Thurz flips perceptions completely on the Designer EP. The EP is throwback to the g-funk vibes of classic West Coast rap and a lighthearted endeavor meant to put you in a good mood. Thurz accomplishes so much with just 7 tracks as his diversity and range as an artist is on full display. This must-listen record was an easy choice for the best EP of 2014. Check out the rest of picks below. Thurz – Designer Supastition ... Read More »

The 10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2014

This year, KN will be bringing you an abbreviated version of our annual “best of” lists. A major announcement coming later this week will better explain why this is happening, but I thought I would just give our readers a heads up that there will be just five categories for the 2014 lists. Also, this 2014 edition will be the editor’s picks. So whatever your thoughts on the 2014 selection are, your praise or disdain falls solely on my shoulders. Kicking things off is the most disappointing albums of the year. As I’ve stated in the past, it’s important to not look at this category as the worst albums of the year as it’s an inaccurate label for these LPs. These albums are deemed disappointing because I feel these artists are capable of better work and did not deliver a project that measures up to their respective capabilities. No album represents this sentiment more for me than The Roots’ …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. As a longtime fan of the group, it was a true letdown to see them sacrifice musicality for the concept. The Roots have shown they are quite capable of making a conceptual album that sounds good in the past, which is why it was so disappointing to see them not accomplish that on their latest effort. Worst of all, Black Thought felt like nothing more than a bit player on the album instead of the driving force that he should be. For these reasons, …And Then Your Shoot Your Cousin is the ... Read More »

Top 10 Albums of 2014
Top 10 Mixtapes/Free Albums of 2014
Top 10 Slept-On Albums of 2014
Top 10 EPs of 2014
Albums / Mixtapes Instrumentals New Singles Sponsored Releases
Ben Boogz (of 2 Hungry Bros): Soleil (feat. DJ M-Tri)
MarQ Spekt & Blockhead: Devil’s Island Storyteller (feat. Sadat X)
Hassaan Mackey & Kev Brown: That Grit [EP Review]
Big K.R.I.T: Cadillactica [Album Review]
Black Milk: If There’s A Hell Below [Album Review]
Stalley: Ohio [Album Review]
Ras Kass Talks Blasphemy LP, Working with Apollo Brown and Longevity in Rap
D.S. Interview At 90.5 FM [Video]
Artist Spotlight: RF3RD
Otis Brown III Talks The Thought of You, Jazz & Hip Hop’s Symbiosis and Donald Byrd
Lazarus: Open Heart Surgery (feat. Bizarre of D12)
Clay James: Kool Water Intro (Music Video)
Git x 1Mt: Lifestyle of an Artist
British Producer Actress Embarks on Short Tour – Win Tickets!
Paid Dues
Win Passes to see Lil Wayne, Ab-Soul and more at Paid Dues Fest in Los Angeles!
Microphone Check 1-2, 1-2
Donwill: Bad With Names Episode 8: 2014 Wrap Up (feat Von Pea)