The List: 5 rap albums you've probably overlooked this year

Justin McIntosh, Columbus Alive

Run the Jewels 2 will inevitably end up atop many year-end lists, and is probably the rap album non-rap fans listened to this year. That's cool and all - it is a good album - but damn if it's not frustrating to those paying a little closer attention to the genre. If you're a hip-hop tourist, consider this your call to go beyond Killer Mike and El-P. This isn't necessarily a list of the best rap albums of the year (that's coming later), but it is a list of the criminally disregarded.

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib,Pinata

The best team-up album of the year. Actually, scratch that. This is my pick for best rap album of the year. Period. Woefully overlooked. Monumentally bonkers (in a good way). Gibbs takes Madlib's Stones Throw throwback backpack aesthetic and pairs it (to great effect) with his hardnosed, street-rap tales, churning out his most commercially viable and accessible work yet. Worth it alone for that too-short Danny Brown guest verse on "High."

Father,Young Hot Ebony

Father's "Look at Wrist" is the perfect summation of everything the founder of Atlanta's burgeoning Awful Records does on YHE. It's minimalist, looping, sleepy, hypnotic, addictive, and, yes, weird (as with most things coming out of Atlanta these days). Listen to it three times and an earworm will spontaneously spawn in your head repeating the song's simple refrain to infinity and beyond: "Wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, I want my wrists so cold pneumonia in my fist." If you're feeling this, check out Father's fellow Awful Records rappers Archibald Slim and Ethereal, each of whom put out fantastic (and completely different sounding) mixtapes this year.

Mac Miller,Faces

Mac Miller's a household name, sure, but if you still think of the Pittsburgh ex-pat as a goofy suburban stoner rapper with no substance, you're, well, still partly right. Miller can still be a bit aloof, and he's still high like every day, but on Faces, Miller's unraveling in California is laid bare in starkly self-aware fashion ("I've been drownin' with this shallow soul"). It gets a little dark at times ("I might die before I detox"), but it's never not compelling.

Rome Fortune,Beautiful Pimp 2/Drive, Thighs & Lies/Small VVorld

It's been a good year for the Atlanta bugout rapper. He released three distinctly original (and wildly charismatic) projects that have folded everyone from iLoveMakonnen to Bassnectar and Four Tet into his peculiar, beautiful aesthetic. You should definitely give each a spin, though my personal favorite is Small VVorld. Bonus points for the long, blue beard.

Vince Staples,Hell Can Wait/ShyneColdchainVol. 2

The loosely affiliated Odd Future rapper put out two of my most-listened-to releases in this EP and mixtape. Like a lot of rap in 2014, Staples' influences aren't tied to geography or the golden age. It's all in play, and he mixes elements of conscious rap and street rhymes with such urgency and fire that when he raps "Homie I ain't humble, I deserve this shit," you know it's the truth. The Hell Can Wait EP will end up on more year-end lists, but Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, while a little more uneven, contained higher highs.