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The Lite(r) Side Of Things

by Travis on June 11, 2007

Welcome to another week, party people. The temperatures are rising, nights are longer and weekend BBQ’s are kicking into full effect. I spent Sunday at a BBQ myself, munching on skewers of grilled scallops, peppers, and pineapple, and much to my surprise there was some hip-hop being played. Not the type I’m usually in to, but hip-hop themed music none the less. Grouch and Eligh of Living Legends fame got a lot of play at this particular gathering, which I found rather odd, due to the tree-hugging Boulder type of people attending. As far as Grouch and the whole Living Legends crew, I’ve never been a big fan, but it was better than the “Butterfly Jane and The Tree-Hugging Flower Children” stuff that was being played earlier in the day. I know being a internet blogging, indie loving, Atmosphere playing, uber hipster white dude that I’m supposed to like anything that the Living Legends put out, but I’ve never seen much of a reason to pay much attention to them. Even their star child, Murs (Is he still with them?), didn’t pique my interest until the 9th Wonder colabo’s. They were one of those groups I should like, I suppose, but never could get into.

I bring this up, because I guess I kind of liked it. It was Grouch and Eligh’s “No More Greener Grasses”, which honestly I had never even heard of. Not that I had never heard the album, but I’ve never even heard OF the album. I’m not sure it was the mood I was in, or the company I was in, or the fact in was in the peaceful foothill town of Golden, Colorado, or the fact that I could see my mecca land that is Coors Brewery off in the distance, but I rather enjoyed the album. I’m not sure if I listened to it again I’d feel the same about it, but I guess I just found it interesting how a persons mood and surroundings can influence a persons tastes when it comes to music. Yeah, I’m in a philosophical mood……..deal with it.

Shameless Self Promotion

I’ve been bragging about my upcoming guest posts for a while now and the first one has finally been posted. It comes courtesy of Oliver Wang’s Soul Side Summer Songs Series, complete with what I think is the first ever posted picture of me on a blog along with Brian. One thing I learned about writing for other people is that it’s much harder than doing your own site. I’m probably my own worse critic in anything I do and I tend to be modest almost to a fault, but anything I wrote for that post I hated, including the final product, but it is what it is. I wish it could have been better, but I need some of my faithful loyal readers to at least leave a comment so I don’t look totally out of place on that site.

I do thank Oliver for the opportunity, he has been supportive of this blog in the past and it continues.

Top Referrals.

Like any true blog nerd, I like to keep track of who’s checking and how many people visit the site, but one thing I hadn’t checked in awhile was the top referral sites. It wasn’t too much of a surprise I guess, but here they are:

1. Bust The Facts - almost double the amount of referrals as the next nearest site. If that site every goes down, I might as well pull the plug as well…hahaha

2. Crooklyn’s Classics - Crook will always be my man….where you at?!

3. Biff’s Hip Hop Spot – I’ll always credit Biff and boys with really getting this site off the ground.

4. Hip Hop Bootleggers – Krooked’s site always throws traffic our way.

5. The Dice Game – I was kind of surprised at this one, but kind of cool. It’s high up on my list, so I always check it.

Top 10 Albums of the First Half of 2007

I’m never one to pass up a chance at making a list. Don’t ask me why, but to me, lists are like number porn. I just don’t get it. Anyway, 2007 has been……what’s the word for it……kind of bland I guess. I always look for a reason to bitch about the state of hip hop and while I did think it was getting better the past few years, this year hasn’t been all the great. I’ve even gone out of my way to listen to a lot more newer stuff than I have in the past, but there has just been so many swings and misses so far, but no clear cut grand slams.

Honorable Mention
First and foremost, this album gets the shaft in my lists because it would easily be the top album for this year…if it was released this year. It was released on Halloween last year, but I didn’t give it a listen until early December, but it wouldn’t be until this year that I played the shit out of it. This got mention in my spins for most of the ’07 winter and early spring. It just reminds me of why I loved hip hop to begin with it. I’m not going to say it’s a classic, that word gets tossed around to loosely when there hasn’t been a bonafied classic for a long time, but it’s a solid release that contains all that I love in hip hop, dope beats, scratching and good lyrics with a nice flow. Came out to late for last years list and to early for this years….but it’s still the best album since “A Piece Of Strange” by the Cunninlynguists.

1. El-P – I’ll Sleep When Your Dead

I know I’ll catch heat over this from some of my regular visitors and fellow bloggers and I can’t explain why I’m so infatuated with this album, but I am. I never cared for 90% of the Def Jux catalog (I still don’t understand why everyone loves that Can Ox), I only slightly liked any of the Company Flow material and for the most part thought El-P’s production sounded like a bunch of monkeys trapped in a garbage can with hammers. With that said, this albums production sounds like Hank and Keith (aka Bomb Squad for those sorry sap suckas who don’t know) in their prime. I love noisy beats that entail mass confusion and that’s exactly what this production sounds like. I’m not going to say that everyone should see the creativity in this album, because I know this is probably an acquired taste, but just I’ll give credit where credit is due, I really like this album.

2. Blue Scholars – Bayani

This has only been in rotation for 2-3 weeks, but it beats out the other stuff for number two rather easily. It’s good to see a group from the Northwest put out not only a quality joint, but one that is also getting love from around the nation. The album has its weaknesses, but the beats are amazing enough to pull any potential glitch out of the muck and makes
the album an absolute enjoyment to listen. It’s kind of funny, because this hasn’t been even officially released yet but it’s on my list of things to buy for sure. My favorite track is different than others, who seem to favor “Loyalty”, which is good, but I’m more partial to “Still Got Love”.

3. Marco Polo – Port Authority

This is another album that got plenty of play before it actually dropped, but it’s managed to stay in my rotation for a good amount of time. Best known for the Masta Ace track, it contains other bangers such as OC’s “Marquee” and some other tasty stuff. There is some stuff that is rather lack luster as well, but that’s something that is common theme from here on out. Marco is unique in the fact he doesn’t really have any defined sound, which works for him and against him. “Marquee” sounds like Buckwild did the beat, but I’m pretty big on judging producers on their individual talent, but if you have to copy a producer, make sure it’s a good one.

4. Senim Silla – The Name, The Motto, The Outcome

D-Town is killing has been killing it and as you will see on this list, I’m digging a lot of stuff coming out of the Detroit area this year. As far as Senim Silla, underground cats should be familiar with this dude, since he was one half of Binary Star with One Man Army aka One Be Lo. I’ve been waiting for this album for awhile now after hearing the “For The Record” almost two years ago, which is an excellent track. Senim Silla comes with that same kind of flavor found on the Binary Star albums, but with his own flavor when it comes to lyrics. I can see this album moving up over the year, it’s that good. Platform8470 Interview with Senim Silla

5. Royce Da 5’9 – The Bar Exam

I think Royce could be one of the greatest if he ever came with some consistency. The dude brings a hunger on a track that rivals that of LL in his early Def Jam days. Combine that with the tracks where he hooks up with Primo and there is a bonafied classic album just waiting to be born. This mixtape shows the potential for what the album may come with when it drops. Some good music on here.

6. Evidence – The Weatherman

I had no expectations for this album since I listened to the last Dilated album a total of one time. Then “Mr. Slow Flow” dropped and I was interested. Toss in some guest apperances from favorites of mine such as Phonte and Slug and I wanted to listen to it. You know what? It’s a pretty good album after all. The Alchemist production on this shits all over the Alchemist production on the Prodigy album and even the no-names come correct, such as that Sid Roams dude who did “Slow Flow”.

7. Little Brother & Mick Boogie – And Just For All Mixtape

I’ve followed Little Brother since first hearing about them from Questlove preaching about the on Okayplayer way back in the day. I was a little disappointed with “The Minstrel Show” and one of the reasons was the beats. Don’t get me wrong, I like the majority of 9th Wonders music, but he gets kind of lazy, or sometimes his stuff sounds rushed and that’s was my problem with a lot of “The Minstrel Show”, the beats sounded rushed with no real soul behind them. I got very bored with it quickly. When it was announced that 9th and Pooh & Phonte were going their own ways, I had no problem with it. This mixtape proves that they will be just fine without 9th in the mix.

8. Black Milk – Popular Demand

Detroit back in the house with Black Milk. I liked this album a lot at first, but I have to admit I got bored with it rather quickly. I’m not sure if it’s just too monotonous or the fact that it sounds too much like Jay Dee. Tie that to the fact that he’s probably not the most entertaining MC of all-time and the album just doesn’t hold my interest very long. Good for a few weeks though and definately not a bad album. Good enough to make the list.

9. DJ Jazzy Jeff – The Return of The Magnificent

As with most “producer” albums, this is unconsistent as fuck, but the good tracks make it strong enough to take the time to skip through the fast forward material and there is enough of them to keep you listening. Jeff lives up to his “Jazzy” moniker with some smooth beats and interesting enough MC’s to make this a worthwhile album.

10. Talib Kweli and Madlib – Liberation

I haven’t really liked anything Talib had did since the Reflection Eternal album, minus a few cuts on the other albums since that and add that to the fact that I was one of maybe 12 people in the world that falls asleep immediately when I hear the Black Star album. Don’t even get me started on Madlib. Quasimoto? Sucks. I haven’t heard anything from Madlib since the Lootpack days that really grabbed me. I was prepared to dislike this album. Much to my surprise, I actually really liked this album. Madlib actually made beats instead of some bugged out shit that you have to be on your second blunt to enjoy and Talib didn’t sound like he was completely whinning. It almost makes me want to hear “Ear Drum”……almost.

Honorable Mention: Sean Price – The Passion Of Price

There are still a few albums that I haven’t really digested enough to list yet, such as the Pharoahe, Big City, Talib, KRS & Marley and others. There have been some surprises this year for me besides the El-P and Madlib/Talib albums, such as actually enjoying a minor league Wu Tang members in Hell Razah and Snowgoons. Joel Ortiz dropped a surpringly decent album as well that got some play. All in all though, a *YAWN* boring year so far, think I’ll go back to listening to the Golden Age shit.

Trav’s Spins For The Week.

Lots of “new” stuff this week, so it was a busy week,

1. Blue Scholars – Bayani

Did I mention that I LOVE this album. It took a while for it to grow on me, but once it did, it’s getting a spin or two a day for the past couple of weeks. The production is the strong point, but the MC grows on you after awhile as well. Great album.

2. Senim Silla – The Name, The Motto, The Outcome

I played this a couple times then put it away for a week or two only to drag it out again last week. I’m glad I did, because this has really rocketed it up on my popular opinion chart. He gets a little preachy from time to time, but the overall cohesive listening experiance that this album is rare found in albums these days. It’s an album you can sit down and listen all the way through without any problems.

3. Buff1 – Pure

I’m almost embarrassed to say I’m listening to someone called “Buff1″, but this album is another surprised. It’s another cohesive album that is easy to listen to all the way through. He was a member of Athletic Mic League, who’s first album was a good listen. Another Detroit area MC killing it right now. Do I dare say that Detroit is killing New York lately?

4. Pharoahe Monch – Desire

I gave this a listen last week and intially nothing stuck out to me. It wasn’t that it was bad, but if nothing grabs me the first couple times of listening to something, I don’t really give it much of a chance afterwards unless something makes me. Well I busted this out Saturday to give it another listen and a couple things grabbed me, enough that this won’t get pushed away for awhile.

5. Junk Science – Feeding Einstein


I heard a track from these dudes back in ’05 and liked it but never heard the album. I finally tracked down on a blog and it’s not all that bad. It’s something creative and different from your run of the mill bullshit.

WHY???

Why is it hazardous to your health to be a Denver professional athlete. See JR Smith and Demarr Johnson

Why do I actually enjoy the combination of Madlib and Talib Kweli. Those are so far my favorite joints on the new Talib album

Why can I kick ass at free Denver Poker tour events, but you get me into money events and I choke?

Why can’t the Pirates beat the Yankees to save their ass…oh wait, it’s the Pirates

Why was there a gang of new shit (at least to me) this past week. It can’t spread it out and save some good stuff when there is nothing most of the week?

Why do drink 14 beers on a Friday night knowing I have to be up early the next morning, only to wake up with no hangover but still puss out and only have three saturday night in the drunken monks quest that is the Slushy Gutter Summer Mission

Why did Eric from When They Reminisce come correct with his recomendations of Blue Scholars and Buff1, then drop the ball with that MF Doom sound a like Uncut Raw. You still get props though E!

Why am I trying to listen to so much new stuff lately?

Why have I been lazy with this lately? It’ll change….hopefully

No single tracks this week, I’ve rambled enough and plus I’m out of time….so some re-ups
The Nonce – The Sight of Things EP (Wild West, 1999)
http://www.zshare.net/download/22452573c8713f/
1. Live & Direct
2. The Greatest MC’s
3. Turnin’ It Out
4. The Sight of Things
5. Checkbook…
6. Who Falls Apart
7. Articulate With Math

In 1995, the duo of Yusef Afloat & Nouka Basetype released their highly slept-on longplayer World Ultimate, an album fuelled by the laidback flavor that undoubtedly influenced later left-coast groups like People Under the Stairs, Visionaries etc. Although some of the album’s tracks like ‘Mixtapes’ turned a few heads, the group didn’t make a big impact and I figured they had become another victim of the industry until I saw this underrated EP in a store back in 1998.
Stylistically, The Sight of Things follows on (for the most part) right where World Ultimate finished. If you’re looking for some joints that are gonna get you rowdy in the club, look elsewhere. The Nonce are all about making you relax. A lot of cats that attempt ‘laid back’ hip hop usually achieve only in sending the listener to sleep. On the EP’s best tracks like ‘The Greatest MC’s’ and ‘The Sight of Things’ however, The Nonce have it both ways. The binding of the rappers’ slippery flows to their self-produced bumping beats results in relaxing music which doesn’t tread into monotony. ‘Checkbook’, which deals with folk who let their ends (or lack of) get the better of them is another track that gets props.
The only times the record falters is when The Nonce attempt grittier, less jazzy production like on ‘Turnin’ it Out’ and ‘Articulate With Math’. Both sound uncomfortable, and suggest that the group would have been wise to stick with what they do best. Everyone has to experiment sometimes I guess, but on an EP-length release there’s no room for error.
Still, this is a fine EP sure to please any fans of underground west coast hip hop. Tragically, Yusef Afloat was murdered a couple of years after this release. A couple of posthumous Nonce albums appeared last year: Advanced Regression & The Right State of Mind, neither of which I have either seen or even heard.

Three and a half pairs of panties outta five.
Polarity

Cenobites- The Cenobites LP (Fondle Em’, 1995, Re-released in 97′) Wax Version

A1 Lex Lugor (3:50)
A2 I Was Forgotten (3:48)
A3 Kick a Dope Verse (Remix) (4:09) Featuring – Bobbito
A4 Mommy (3:19)
A5 You’re Late (3:44) Featuring – Percee P
B1 Rhymes I Sniff Aka Carlos Died (4:13)
B2 Keep On (4:34) Featuring – Bobbito
B3 How The Fuck You Get A Deal (5:38)
B4 Kick A Dope Verse (Remix) (4:13) Featuring – Bobbito
The Cenobites were a group made up of Godfather Don and Kool Keith. They made some tracks after the Ultra’s Four Horsemen LP then Bobbito put them on an EP in 94′. Later in 95′ they released the EP with added tracks. In 2000 a cd version was dropped with another extra track.
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