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"Eric's Top 100" (albums that barely missed the cut) Pt. II

by Eric on November 25, 2007

“Gravitiy”-Da Bush Babees

Whether “Gravity” was the only thing that “put the letters together” in their rhymes or the force that constructed their beats, it was clear after one good listen to their sophomore album that “Da” Bush Babees made it a goal to deliver a solid record.  “Gravity” extended itself to a mood that appealed to a mass audience of listeners, it seemed to be radio-friendly yet hard.  Equipped with mostly introspective lyrics and addictive, inviting beats the album aimed to rescue people that may have been caught in rap’s monotony providing beautiful, harmonizing, ragga flows of compassion with references to the Nubian nation.  More or less, they found a great way to reach out to everyone.  For instance, on the song “Gravity” you found the Flatbush natives communicating a sort of agony, letting us know that there ain’t “no deceivin’/Illuminati got that ass thinkin’/Yo, should I even rap…?  The posing of the question “should I even rap?” is usually no question, although today, as pointed out by the Babees “you can’t even smile in your video” the song may have been an unintentional forecast for the future of Hip Hop.  Also, “God Complex” was a song that I rewound several times attempting to decipher the lyrics-in what? Arabic.  I also found it interesting to hear the Bush Babees incorporating references to Elohim and the Holy Tabernacle Ministries.  The album’s first single “The Love Song” (produced by De La’s Posdonous) had a simple plan: Give love, get love, and everybody “groove to the music”, a message of unity making it refreshing even during it’s “pop-esque” moments.  With the exception of……maybe…..”Wax”, the rest of the songs don’t detract from the album’s wholeness and body.  With a helping hand from Q-Tip and Ali on the dope “3 MC’s” and energetic interludes, there was little room for disappointment on “Gravitiy”.  While, the album showed a maturity in the Bush Babees, far surpassing their debut “Ambushed” in terms of lyrical growth and production, the album was lacking that one true “knockout” punch that would allow it to crack into my “Top 100″.  Still, a dope listen from an animated trio whose rap careers all ended way too abruptly….-Eric

“At The Speed Of Life”-Xzibit

In the overcrowded Hip Hop industry where mediocrity has become the standard rather than the exception, the ability to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd has become quite essential over the years.  “Decent” has never cut the mustard over the time-line of the last 15 years or so.  In 1996 Xzibit propelled himself to the forefront of Hip Hop’s “Next Generation” as a member of the dysfunctional Alkaholik family.  Unlike the animated Alkaholiks, X to the Z’s debut “At The Speed Of Life”was, at times, weighed down by a no-frills, straightforward rhyming approach that became stagnant at certain moments.  Although X’s flow was fundamentally sound, his overbearing voice slightly contributed to the album’s monotony.  True, not everyone can pull off the gruff sound of Busta Rhymes or O.D.B., but Xzibit’s presence did make for a few unmemorable tracks on “At The Speed….”.  Even the interludes were boring, which exemplified the album’s conceptual void.  However, the album’s highlights come with the aid of guest spots.  The Likwit fam lent a rhyme on “Bird’s Eye View” as J-Ro and Tash displayed a style and presence that made the earlier Liks albums soo damn funky.  The clever “Plastic Surgery” which ironically dealt with commonality in Hip Hop, featured fellow Golden State members Ras Kass & Saafir as cosmetic surgeons who lyrically operate on Hip Hop’s surface.  The true savior of the album was the extraordinary beats of producer E-Swift.  Throughout the album, Swift’s impressive, bottom-heavy, tightly programmed production salvaged the remains of Xzibit’s debut effort.  As it stands, you’re only as good as what you’ve brought to the table, and although X was never a bad emcee, “At The Speed Of Life” contained nothing that really separated him from the pack from 94′-97′.  The album’s lack of cohesion made it, at best, an ordeal of fast forwarding, searching for a handful of notable tracks.  In order to make my “Top 100″, “At The Speed…” just didn’t quite keep up….-Eric

“Self Titled”-DJ Honda

The most accurate indication of Hip Hop’s continuation of a global art form may be seen in the adulation of our Japanese brethren, express for many of the music’s more “underground/less commercialy inclined artists.  In 1995 DJ Krush’s “Meiso” introduced a true (Far)Eastern collaboration featuring vocals from a handful of East Coast emcees with Krush’s moody “trip-hoppy” beats.  A year later, DJ Honda took the concept a step further with his self-titled debut on Relativity.  Honda’s self-titled debut featured a mix bag of an LP, dominated by some of New York’s most respected wordsmiths.  Though not everything on the album measured up as some of the contributing artists best output, there are several solid moments.  The introductory “DJ Battle” serves as a teaser that a nice serving of dopeness will ensue; Honda’s production tended to favor more melodic loops that competently followed New York beat blueprints, topped off with “scratched in” choruses a la DJ Premier.  Not coincidentally, “What You Expected” found Guru and Premier on a blaxplotation infected track, complete with Primo’s signature cuts replacing Honda’s on the break.  Redman showed up for “Dat’s My Word” spitting entertaining and playful references to “Yamahas”, “The Great Wall Of China”, “Godzilla”, and “fried shrimp rice” over a bumping keyboard resonance.  Meanwhile, “Straight Talk From New York” had Grand Puba upstaging Sadat X with his usual charming dash of ignorance: “It’s time to run right through you like White Castles do you/ Be true to the game or I’ll pretend I never knew you/Brothers here can’t get a red penny/Mess around and catch a bad one like that devil Denny (Reginald….L.A. riots?)”.  If there is a consistent flaw to be found in both the stronger and weaker material on Honda’s debut, it’s that the DJ /producer doesn’t make his presence felt enough throughout.  Traditional combo units (Gang Starr, Pete & CL) prove that the man behind the boards is just as important as the man behind the mic, via the distinctive personality that each brings to his music.  While you can’t blame Honda for not transforming into Dr. Dre overnight, Honda did stake his claim as a notable contributor for global Hip Hop….-Eric

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John November 25, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Yo, Eric. Good write Up. I hope you read my comment on the earlier “Eric’s Top 100 (albums that barely missed the cut” (part 1). I was wondering why you did not put the Bush Babees album in the top 100. I mean come on, you can’t tell that the mighty Mos Def on the “Intro” and the uplifting “Gravity” did not get pumped for the album. I do disagree with your choice of album weak joints. I actually thought that “Wax” was good joint for the album. The song I don’t feel so much is the “In Meh Dreams” cut. I may love it little more if I can actually decipher the lyrics of the song. Anyways, I cannot be mad at your reasons for not putting the album in your top 100. I do agree with you on the other two albums (especially Xzibit’s sporadic debut AL-BUM). Oh well, stay good and hope you continue on with these dope post.

So, peace to the nation, the people that represent, and those cats that never bug out to the extreme

Yo, If word is bond
then Q is gone

Krisch November 26, 2007 at 4:49 am

Hi Eric,

thanks for the DJ Honda joint, I have it on vinyl, which doesn’t contain the Out For The Cash version with Common.

But the original version (track 8) is missing in your rip.



Krisch November 26, 2007 at 4:50 am

I meant Track 8

Tim November 26, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Props for recognising Gravity. That’s a hella fresh album. Strange coincidence, but the title track just happened to come on my mp3 player on random, like, 20 minutes ago!

CheezPizza November 27, 2007 at 1:47 am

I’ve checked your blog regularly for a while now but never commented. Props on that DJ Honda. Props on the blog as a whole. Peace

superugly November 27, 2007 at 9:15 pm

I love Gravity…definite Sophmore effort that was better then the first..I believe 96 was the third best year in hip hop…with Stakes is High,Nocturnal and Gravity being dropped just to name a few..word.UG

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