Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 25 of 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!!!

I recently posted on the best album of 2008, and then followed it up with a list of other albums from 2008 that everyone should check out. Well, here is the list for 2007 for anyone that's a little behind. Like I alluded to in the last post, I was doing the top 25, but last year it didn't work out like that. I probably had about 40 and I didn't want to exclude some and not others. Even though some were better than others, all are worth listening to. What's the difference though? If an album is worth it it's worth it. It doesn't really matter where it would rank if there were a limited amount of spots. Because of this, the list for 2009 will probably be the same - just a list of some of my favorite hip hop albums from 09. Anyway, here's the top 25 of 2007. Now excuse me while I drink a pint of Guinness.

Top 25 hip hop albums of 2007

1. Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth
2. Jay-Z – American Gangster
3. K-OS - Atlantis
4. Scarface – M.A.D.E.
5. Talib Kweli - Eardrum
6. Blu and Exile – Below the Heavens
7. Cunninlynguists – Dirty Acres
8. Little Brother – Get Back
9. Black Milk – Popular Demand
10. Pharoahe Monch – Desire
11. Sean Price – Jesus Price Superstar
12. Devin – Waiting to Inhale
13. Joell Ortiz – The Brick: Bodega Chronicles
14. Marco Polo – Port Authority
15. KRS-One & Marley Marl – Hip Hop Lives
16. UGK – Underground Kingz
17. Kanye West – Graduation
18. Ghostface – The Big Doe Rehab
19. Wu-Tang Clan – 8 Diagrams
20. Lupe Fiasco – The Cool
21. Joe Budden – MM3
22. Chamillionare – Ultimate Victory
23. Smif n Wessun – The Album
24. J-Ro – Rare Earth B-Boy Funk Vol. 2
25. Senim Silla – The Name, The Motto, The Outcome

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Other Noteworthy Albums in 2008

Below is a list of albums from 2008 which I think are worth checking out. In years past, I would come up with a "top 25" list. But, this year I found it surprisingly difficult. The best were pretty clear, but to come up with the top 25, leaving others out - well, I couldn't do it this year. There were a lot of releases that I thought were worth a listen, but I couldn't really decide where they fit in when trying to rank them in any kind of way. Also, there were some that were mixtapes that turned into albums later, and well, shit I don't know. A lot of wierd shit going on that made it hard for me to rank. So, here are a bunch of albums from last year to give a listen if you haven't already. And, if you have, go back and listen again because I said they're good. They aren't really in any particular order, although the first few are the very best of the best - the ones I was struggling with for album of the year. By the way, a write up of the album of the year, in my opinion, appears in the post below. Also, clearly even I am unable to find and listen to every single hip hop LP released in a given year, so let me know if there is something of value which I left off the list - I probably haven't heard it yet, and would like to. If not, well, I will gladly argue with you. But, from what I have heard in 2008 here is my list of noteworthy hip hop albums, plus a few extra that you should just listen to.

Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons You Paint That Shit Gold
eMC – The Show
Nicolay and Kay – Time:Line
The Roots – Rising Down
Elzhi – The Preface
Q-Tip – The Renaissance
Akrobatik – Absolute Value
AZ – Undeniable
Black Milk – Tronic
Joe Budden – Halfway House
Kanye West – 808’s and Heartbreak
Little Vic – Each Dawn I Die
Buckshot & 9th Wonder – The Formula
Braille – The IV Edition
DL Incognito – A Captured Moment In Time
Blount Harvey – Live At The Station
Substantial – Sacrifice
J-Live – Then What Happened
Kidz in the Hall – The In Crowd
Immortal Technique – The 3rd World
Little Brother – And Justus For All
Phonte – The Phon-Tigga
Murs & 9th Wonder – Sweet Lord
Skillz – Million Dollar Backpack
GZA – Pro Tools
Ice Cube – Raw Footage
Soul Cannon – Kaboom
Pacewon & Mr. Green – The Only Color That Matters...
Reks – Grey Hairs
Jake Lefco – Missing Trooth
Jake One – White Van Music
Heltah Skeltah – D.I.R.T.
Dela – Changes of Atmosphere
Murs – Murs for President
Jean Grae w/ Blue Sky, Black Death – The Evil Jeanius
Johnson & Johnson
Nieve and Cook – Away With Words
DJ Revolution – King of the Decks
Scarface – Emeritus
EPMD – Back in Business
D.I.T.C. - The Movement
Danny - And...I Love H.E.R.

The Foreign Exchange – Leave It All Behind
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It
B.B. King - One Kind Favor

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Best Hip Hop Album of 2008

Okay, so it's the beginning of March now, and everyone is looking ahead to what's coming out in '09. Well, me too. But, I gotta backtrack for a minute (or for the next few posts) because I've been going back and forth in my mind for the past few months about which album I liked best in 2008. I'm not really too sure why. I mean, what does it really matter? A good album is a good album, and people should check it out and enjoy it for what it is - not what it is better than. Someones always gotta be crowned in hip hop though for some reason - even if they do it themselves (right Wayne??) It's the spirit of competition that helps make hip hop so interesting. Another aspect that makes it unlike any other genre. So, in my humble opinion the best album of 2008 can be summed up by one of the first lines in the opening of the album...

"What good is an ear if a Q-tip isn't in it?"

Throughout most of the year, the debate in my head was between Atmosphere and eMC. Both great albums. When I heard Q-Tip was about to drop 'The Renaissance', I actually was sort of dreading checking it out. I wanted it to be good, but I was afraid I'd be disappointed by The Abstract once again. Personally, I thought 'Amplified' was pretty bad, and even though his label trouble made it hard for him to release anything for many years, what I did get to hear was not impressive. Q-Tip seemed to be a shell of his former self, foregoing the sound and depth of his Tribe days, making sub par dance music, and a bunch of empty filler tracks instead. Songs that didn't display any real thought or originality. To borrow a line from Guru, it was "mostly the voice" that carried him.
That said, when I decided after a week or two to put this on while taking a trip somewhere it brought a smile to my face. Q-Tip is finally back. From beginning to end Q-tip is on his A game like never before - or like he was in the early to mid nineties. The songs are original, soulful, and expressive. The lyrics flow so nicely over the musical backdrops, it's hard to imagine they could ever be separated. The Renaissance is hip hop to the core, but is pushing the genre forward in a unique way. Soul, Jazz, Rap. Cutting, scratching, and looped samples are not forgotten on this album, but live instrumentation is added to really bring the tracks to life. The bass guitar and percussion on "Man/Woman Boogie" is a perfect example of where Q-Tip is at musically. Q-Tip rhymes, but isn't afraid to drop some melodic vocals to round out a track (no, not like 50 Cent - I said melodic vocals that round out a song). Those that have been fans since the Tribe days know that no one makes music like Tip does. His voice adds to the music like it was just another instrument in the band. Spoken perfectly by him on "Official", "I feel what the beat does, people fuck wit me cuz, when the song end, I become what the best was". Exactly.
I love this album more and more every time I hear it - and I must have listened to it 50 times or so by now. If you actually have not taken the time to experience The Renaissance yet, then go buy it, put it on, turn it up, and find out what good hip hop music feels like.