While some make the argument that hip hop is dead just by looking at what is being offered to the mainstream audience under the umbrella of hip hop, any look deeper easily reveals the opposite. The past few years (this year included) have seen a large amount of quality hip hop being released, some of which I have listed or written a little more extensively about on this blog. The fact is there is too much good music to even keep up with these days - and I try hard.
One of aspects of hip hop in these last few years that I have appreciated most is the collaborations taking place between credible hip hop artists. And it's not just a one song happening. These guys are putting together full albums of material and really experimenting with each other's skills. Some notable pair-ups off the top of my head are Buckshot & 9th Wonder, Buckshot & KRS-One, KRS-One & Marley Marl, eMC (Masta Ace, Strickland, Punchline, & Wordsworth), Felt (Murs & Slug + 1 Producer) - the third installment coming later this year I think, Random Axe (upcoming project with Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, and Sean Price - Black Milk has a couple of other collab albums in the works too) and, of course, Slaughterhouse.
This latest project to get excited about is a pairing of Tek & Steele, known together as Smif-N-Wessun (and briefly as The Cocoa Brovaz) from the larger NY collective BCC (Boot Camp Clik) with one of my top 3 all-time producers, Pete Rock. My favorites of these collaborative albums I'm mentioning are those that use one single producer to focus the sound and direction of the album. 9th Wonder did it on The Chemistry with Buckshot, Black Milk is doing it with Random Axe, a different producer is chosen for each Felt album. Smif-N-Wessun have a similar idea here with Pete Rock, and I'm counting on it being a success. Although, honestly while I've always dug Smif-N-Wessun's music a lot, if I were asked to pair Pete Rock with someone other than CL Smooth for a whole album I don't think they would be among my top choices. That being said, they got together with him, and I am patiently waiting to see what they can cook up. Below is a clip of Tek discussing the project among other things.