12/04/2014 03:31 EST | Updated 12/04/2014 03:59 EST

Best Hip-Hop Albums Of 2014

Robb Cohen/Invision/AP
El-P and Killer Mike with Run the Jewels performing as part of the CounterPoint Music Festival on Sunday, Apr. 27, 2014, in Kingston Downs, GA. (Photo by Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)

Hip-hop is an oft-maligned, much misunderstood genre. But like any other musical genre, its mainstream representation isn't necessarily indicative of its overall depth or artistic scalability.

The star power did seem to be lacking this year, however, with an overarching output that felt slight compared to years' previous – and with nothing that completely dominated on a mainstream and underground level.

That said, if you knew where to look, hip-hop music expanded your mind in 2014, took you on tuneful excursions and proved that it's more encompassing and enlightened than any constricting "gangsta rap" subgenre.

In fact, the year marked some bright spots for hip-hop, both as a genre and as a movement. Here are the top ten best hip-hop albums of 2014.

America Votes
The latest polls, breaking news and analysis on the U.S. election from HuffPost’s Washington, D.C. bureau