Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums

7. Future

In a year largely devoid of quality major label rap albums, Future stepped up to the plate, delivering a sophomore effort that expands on the pop proclivities first exhibited on 2012's Pluto while it's also the Atlanta rapper's most varied project to date. Honest is chock-full of boldface guests, but Future manages to ride roughshod over all of them, while getting the most fired-up verse from Pharrell since his Neptunes days on the bruising "Move That Dope" and a rare vindictive 16 bars from André 3000 on Dungeon Family passing-of-the-torch anthem "Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)."

He's at his best when he's wearing his heart on his sleeve: "Blood, Sweat, Tears" sees him delivering a bleary-eyed victory toast over a swelling Boi-1da beat; elsewhere, "Honest" is a ballad that's equal parts braggadocio and vulnerability, a worthy successor to Future's 2012 benchmark hit single "Turn On The Lights." He may no longer be the hottest or even the weirdest rapper from Atlanta (the latter honour belonging squarely to Young Thug), but with Honest, he's making sure newcomers don't forget who's blazed a trail for whom. (Max Mertens)