Sunday, December 31, 2006

12 Albums you shouldnt have slept on in 2006

This list is for anyone who believes Nas' album title holds any weight whatsoever. For the record I purchased Tanya, The Roots, Lupe, Rhymefest and Camp Lo.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Top 11 things I want to see happen in 2007 (and their chances of happening)

It was previously a top 10, but recent developments have brought about a change.

11) Another old head drops a classic - De La did it with The Grind Date, Masta Ace arguably did it with Disposable Arts and A Long Hot Summer, Busta Rhymes, CL Smooth and Dres held it down this year. Might someone from the golden age still have a smoking album left in them? Slick Rick, KRS-One, Rakim, Kool G Rap, what's popping? Chance: 38%

10) Eminem goes back to being the best in the game - Black folks hate him because he's white, black women hate him because he called one of them a bitch when he was 15. This doesnt take away from him being the best one doing it in his day, yes I'd even put him over Hova the God besides the fact that Jay has the stronger and lengthier catalogue. Chance: 20% because he's probably too wealthy and problem laden to really care about smoking out his competition

9) Talib Kweli makes a believer out of me again - The Beautiful Struggle lost me completely and I havent been impressed with his guest appearances since. But I've heard a few heatrocks from him recently so he may be focused with the forthcoming Eardrum. Chance: 45% because I'm still skeptical

8) A new Joe Budden album that was worth the wait - He's been promising The Growth was coming out for 3 years now. With Def Jam seemingly forgetting about him altogether he may be ill-fated to go to that big independent in the sky known as Koch. If he does come out this next year, will he really be able to release the album he wants to put out free of commercial records the label made him do? Doubtful. Chance: 40% because he may not come out at all.

7) Little Brother gets mainstream success - I'll consider 100,000+ copies sold to be mainstream success for a group of their stature at this point. They deserve it, people know their name but ultimately it's up to the push that the label gives. Supposedly things are gearing up to be a good look, but Phonte said he wont be shocked they're left out in the cold again. Chance: 60% because I want to be optimistic about this.

6) Saigon & Just Blaze to be the 2007 hardcore Gang Starr - He's a household name thanks to Entourage, with production from arguably the best producer doing it at the moment. Plus scary black rage is always a good look for corporate marketing. Chance: 80%, leaving the other 20 to unforseen circumstances.

5) Kanye West tops Late Registration - He's already said Common's Finding Forever is next year's best album, but we all know he laces himself with production that's better than what he gives anyone else. He topped College Dropout and left us all thirsty for more. When asked to speak on it Ye replied "I'm working on it, and it's very scary to anybody not involved with it". Graduation could seriously establish him as a hip-hop legend. Chance: 60% because he's reportedly getting help from Sa-Ra who are very hit or miss with me.

4) T.I takes his rightful place at Hip-Hop's helm since Jay-Z doesnt care for it anymore. - I've been saying it for years, he's the Southern Jay-Z. He's authentic to the streets and the mainstream (appearing on a Justin Timberlake single means you're major), he's released 4 solid albums (the first 2 are considered classics), sold 500,000 his first week this time around and heightened his validity by bringing us his protege Young Dro. With massive braggadocio and the lyrics to back it up, the game is pretty much his after this next album. Everyone from Puff to Jigga to Phonte recognizes that he's the one. Chance: 85%

3) Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 to be better than Swift & Changeable (Ghost & Doom's album) as well as every Raekwon LP since the original - I may be asking for a lot but The Vatican 2 Mixtape was pure fire as was Rae's guest appearance on Busta's "Goldmine". An Aftermath LP pretty much means your production is amongst the best, let's just hope the Chef doesnt find a way to fumble. Chance: 40% because I'm a believer but I'm also using common sense.

2) We Got It 4 Cheap Volume 3 - I dont even have to worry about the quality, it's coming. Chance: 100%

The number one thing I want to see happen in 2007 (drumroll...)

1) Lupe Fiasco listens to Midnight Marauders - He made a blunder comparable to his hero Nas' worst. ?uestlove has tried to show him the light, hopefully the word will spread around the industry and rappers that he considers friends will have an intervention where he's forced to ingest this classic. I could place the album in his inbox, but who am I other than some kid on the internet with a blog claiming to know a thing or two? Chance: 29% because he seems stubborn and bullheaded. I wouldnt fault someone for creating at this point.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brief Thoughts on 2006's Fourth Quarter
For those not in the know, the fourth quarter of the year is when labels release their biggest albums in hopes of ending the year with a financial bang. It's no coincidence that your favorite acts tend to release projects from October to December. My ratings are on a 10 point scale.

Nas - Hip-Hop Is Dead - He's generally unfocused except when it comes to bigging up the old school. Otherwise he's all over the place, still talking thuggery, black militance and raunchy sex in the same verse. He's pretty contradictory saying Hip-Hop is Dead when some of his labelmates arent progressive enough to advance the culture. How can you say Hip-Hop is Dead and sign a contract to record for Def Jam? Arent they part of the machine? In any case Nas is like the abusive boyfriend who tells a woman he wont hit her again. "I swear I'll change" = "Nasty Nas is back this time" Listens: 2 Rating: 7.5

Snoop Dogg - Tha Blue Carpet Treatment - He's far too old to still be rapping about cripping, pimping and killing. But he makes good music, and "Think About It" is one of the best songs of the year. "Like This" and "Which One (of you bitches like me?)" are undeniable as well. Listens: 1.25 Rating: 8.5

Game - Doctor's Advocate - The gods from up above have blessed this kid with great beats every time out the gate. His entertainment value is strong as you're left guessing if he's truly crazy or just trying to get people to pay attention. His innumerable mentions of Dr. Dre seem stalkerish but the album is great. Listens: 2 Rating: 9.0

Jay-Z - Kingdom Come - We expected a monumental event, and while he fell short of that Jigga came through in the clutch. Almost every song had a concept and a topic, and his rhymes are still strong albeit the grownup route he's taken. A few songs (Trouble, Dig A Hole) sound too futuristic where we'd all prefer an album of vontage bangers like "Oh My God". There's no defending "Anything" so I wont try. Listens: 3 Rating: 8.5

Jim Jones - Hustler's P.O.M.E - If you dont understand street music or have a predisposal towards hating Dipset as a whole, of course you'll lie and convince yourself that this album sucks. The facts remain: Capo can make a good song and Max B's hooks are the perfect blend of comedy and sincerity. Led by strong production, captivating adlibs and a fantastic swagger, the movement moves on. Listens: 1.75 Rating: 8.0

Ghostface - More Fish - If you dont know by know, you never will (btw I cant wait for him to hijack the Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes classic). Ghost has dedicated his career to being as true to the art as he can, with great storytelling matched with creativity, humor and authenticity in his lyricism. Listens: 1 Rating: 8.5

Mos Def - True Magic - What happens when you're pissed off at the music industry and comfortable enough from movies to say "Fuck you"? An album of uninspired music that you dont promote, have artwork or even a cover for. Listens: 1.5 Rating: 6.0

Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury - Four years and two stellar mixtapes between albums later, was it worth the weight (pun intended)? Yes. Pharrell and Chad cooked up all manners of futuristic gumbo for Malice and Pusha T to serve up their swaggerific, well-dressed, conflicted dope boy music. Whether it's classic is up to how it stands the test of time, but it's very strong overall. Listens: 2 Rating: 9.0

Young Jeezy - Thug Motivation 102: The Inspiration - While I havent heard this album yet, he's made me a recent convert. He's proven that you dont need to rap your ass off to have a respectable place in hip-hop. Like Game and Jim Jones he does what he does over strong production and that's how he wins.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hot 97 Rocafella Takeover

Winter 2001 Jigga brought his upstart bandits to Funkmaster Flex and history was made. Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek had careers, Freeway had only laid down the 1-900-Hustler verse at that point. The rest of State Property spit fire that evening and held down the label without Jay having to do anything other than cheer them on and confidently boast. You can hear the excitement in his voice.

Shout out to Desus for the link.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The two reasons so many people hate southern hip-hop.

1) They cant relate to the environment – The south has its own slang, sound and culture that has expanded far beyond the roots of the south Bronx. If you haven’t stepped far outside of New York (based hip-hop) to understand what’s going on all over the country, you’re pretty much stuck with an unjust bias. At 14 as a staunch New York supporter (Tribe, Wu, Blahzay Blahzay, Smooth Da Hustler, Jeru, Gang Starr etc.) I wasn’t checking for Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik whatsoever, ditto for Atliens when that dropped. Going to school down south was one of the best things to happen to my musical tastes. At first I hated going to sleep every night with people right outside my window blasting various No Limit records, in little to no time I was introduced to artists like Devin the Dude, Fiend, Mystikal and Juvenile plus Aquemini got 5 mics my freshman year with a street single featuring Raekwon so I had to give it a try. It’s been on ever since and while I still don’t know as much as I’d like to about southern rap I’m always open to it.

What haters fail to realize is that in saying “Fuck the south” they’re pretty much denying one the right to tell his story. I don’t expect any southern artist to be the next KRS Shakespeare if they can make good songs. It’s not that hard to make a good song: standard verse + dope beat + good hook = good song. Newsflash for those not in the know – YOUNG JEEZY MAKES GOOD SONGS. On the crunk tip, Lil’ Jon had a legitimate movement down south prior to going mainstream, you’d have to spend time down there to understand what his music did to people in the clubs. We gave Nore a pass for “At the white boy club while I’m buyin’ the bar, they like ‘Hey now, you’re an all star!’ and another pass for “Put the bogie out in your face, now your face laced like ashtray face.” Why was that acceptable and why did we love his debut album? He had beats and hooks (and he was from New York) The Rich Boy “Throw Some D’s” record is incredible but people will hate it because he’s from down south. Young Dro raps his ass off better than any east coast newcomer this year, but people couldn’t hear past his accent and the “Shoulder Lean” hook to see that he was bringing it.

2) They don’t like the topic material coming from southern rappers – If you love The Clipse (Virginia is south btw) yet immediately shut out a southern artist for talking about drug dealing, you’re a hypocrite. I too agree that the cocaine/snow metaphor shouldn’t have been taken so far that a rapper went to building a full-fledged Snowman movement from the ground up, but Dr. Dre titled two albums with a slang term for marijuana and we all loved it. Jay-Z talks about spinning rims, Slick Rick wore big time jewelry and NWA killed people while disrespecting bitches. Why is it a problem when southern rap does this? Possibly because they’ve pretty much flooded the airwaves and made it hard for anyone to get shine. You cant be mad at their grind though, they establish a buzz where they are and let the majors come to them rather than the east coast approach where everyone has a demo or a Myspace music page. In 2006, so called hip-hop lovers cant distinguish a good southern record from a bad east coast record, nor a good southern artist from a garbage backpack east coast cat who raps about being true to the culture.

Outkast got universal love because they set a standard for upping their creative ante everytime out, Little Brother gets love because they stick to a formula of making more “real hip-hop”. But there’s a whole world to check for outside of cats who you feel obligated to respect. T.I. came out in 2001 with I’m Serious, the hipsters and bandwagon jumpers came aboard with Trap Muzik and after four albums in the game he still isn’t respected on the east. The Sqad Up series of mixtapes proved that Lil Wayne could rap with the best of them, yet people still sleep. Another reason the south is winning right now is the problem of infighting on the east coast, where everyone wants to be the king. In the south everyone either respects the king or doesn’t even concern themselves with jealousy over who’s on top.

Don’t get me wrong, some serious garbage has come about since the south has taken over (Yung Joc is trash, Ying Yang sound too much like degenerates for me to listen to, Franchize Boyz make candy music, and there’s a whole slew of generic acts not worth anything) All I’m saying is you’re hating a whole region for the wrong reasons. If you’re going to hate let it be because you understand the music and know that it isn’t suiting your tastes
50 Cent is a Pussy

I'm waiting on a remix featuring Game.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Otha Fish (In The Sea, That Is)

A collection of Ghostface's greatest.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The song responsible for today's southern drug dealing records.

Slap yourself twice if you've never heard this song or album and jumped on the T.I. bandwagon with Trap Muzik or even worse "What You Know About That". UGK was talking it and well respected by their peers, but this was THE anthem from 2001-2003 which made everyone else pretty much start rapping about the lifestyle. If you're unaware, the drug strip is called "the trap" because most dealers know that the only way out is through death or jail, but they brave the odds everyday regardless.

This was around 4 years before Young Jeezy had an album in stores.

Dope Boyz -