100. “Sweetest Girl”-Wyclef f. Akon, Lil’ Wayne & Niia (Click each song title to preview track)
Taken from Wyclef’s recently released ”Carnival Vol. II-Memoirs Of An Immigrant”, “Sweetest Girl” incorporates pretty much everything that I despise in Hip Hop these days: an Akon feature, an unispired guest appearance (Weezy seems to be following a “nice” trend lately…Jay’s “Hello Brooklyn” and Little Brother’s “Breakin’ My Heart” anyone?) from the hardest thug whose sexuality has been in question more than a few times this past year and….lastly, a T-Painish’ hook belted out from Haiti’s finest, Wyclef. However, “Sweetest Girl” is catchy as a mofo and judging from the lyrics and the video for the single delivers a heartelt message that sums up the state of affairs in our nation today. “Sweetest Girl”, simply put, is just one of those tracks that you’ll see on the tube while brushing your teeth in the morning and you’ll be hardfought to keep from repeating the hook in your head throughout the course of the day. Damn you Wyclef!
Props to Nate @ “Hip Hop Linguistics” for putting me on to Scholarman’s “Candy Medicine” earlier this year. While “The Answer” incoporates a trunk rattling bassline and a sort of “sythesized” layer that adds a nice feel to the track, the true highlight of the song is the Scholar delivered hook: “Put your hands up if Hip Hop’s the answer/Sew seeds of knowledge like I’ma planter/Then watch the game grow/The love what I came fo’/It’s the real Hip Hop I do this this thing fo’. Lyrically, I’ve heard better, but Scholarman still gets down for his on the M-I-C. ”Candy Medicine” is definitely not to be missed as some of the album’s production reminded me of of less polished version of Ill Poetic’s “The World Is Ours”. Solid Hip Hop that unfairly went unnoticed in ’07.
Of course, the typical backlash was received when I announced my “guilty pleasure” with Rich Boy’s debut album and in particular the thought-provoking “Let’s Get This Paper”…well, maybe I shouldn’t say “thought-provoking” exactly, but the track and the self-distributed video were quite moving. While the typical backpacker and probably most of the core audience who visit “W.T.R.” on a regular basis may have turned up their noses to the sound of “Let’s Get This Paper”, Rich Boy came with his own, almost undecipherable lyrics to deliver an almost cinematic production that dealt with the perils of everyday struggles and police brutality within his surroundings. The only question that I have is, where was Preacher Mase in the accompanying video for “Let’s Get This Paper”?
“Panacea’s album is slowly but surely becoming one of my favorites of the year. The quality of “The Scenic Route” really makes it a task to select just onefavorite from the album, but “Blue Ice” is the biggest head nodder from ”The Scenic Route” complete with the “It’s Yours” vocal sample in tow. “Blue Ice” is probably the most “conventional” Hip Hop cut on the album. The remainder of the album is just simply beautiful musically”.-(Most Played 9-16-07). Wow, what a follow-up to “Ink Is My Drink” and another solid release from the re-surfaced Rawkus label, whom, with it’s “Rawkus 50″ made one of the biggest splashes in Hip Hop in ’07. I’m quite sure that you’ll also find “The Scenic Route” on my “Top Albums Of ’07″ list as it was one of the most cohesive efforts in what has been one of the best years for quality underground releases in recent memory.
Damn, the Barry White sample (“Playing Your Game, Baby”) is a mutha! Taken from Alchemist…..err…Prodigy’s (damnit, did it again!) prequel to “H.N.I.C. II”, the well-produced “Return Of The Mac”. While lyrically, Prodigy has obviously lost a step and proves the theory “two is always better than one” to be true, “Stop Fronting” finds P revisiting the days of his first solo effort “H.N.I.C.” which in my opinion was nearly as dope as any Mobb Deep effort not titled “The Infamous” or “Hell On Earth”. I’ve read on a few sites that “Return Of The Mac” was one of the dopest efforts of the year, that may be pushin’ it. I’d say it may have been one of the best produced, but hearing Prodigy spit about his Macs, bitches and jewels does tend to wear on you after about the third listen. Still, the album was more of a showcase for Alchemist’s “take it back to the ’70s beats more so than Prodigy’s bland lyricism. Gotta’ love though it when on “Stop Fronting” P spits: “I got Leann Rhames (Rhimes) passin’ me the weed son”.
“Who would’ve thought that I’d enjoy Aesop’s new LP “None Shall Pass”? Hell, I liked it enough to pick it up at Hastings today! “Getaway Car” is just one of three extremely dope cuts (the title cut & “Catacomb Kids” being the other two) that pop up on the album. Cage brings his own unique style to the table and Aesop has always impressed me on the mic, leaps and bounds above his performance on “Bazooka Tooth”. Is it just me or is some of his production is a little out? And Breezly Brewin?? Also, the highly underrapreciated Breezly Brewin has to have one of the dopest voices and flows in Hip Hop EVER??”-”Most Played For The Week”-8/30/07. Aesop has never been short on style, however, deciphering his lyrics can be quite a task at certain times. Good to see that Aesop even became a bit of an “MTV darling” this past year with his cut “Coffee” occupying warm up slots for shows such as “The Real World”.
Is it any coincidence that with his production showing on his collaborative effort with Talib Kweli “Liberation”, Madlib would also happen to lace the three dopest cuts (“Everything Man”, “Eat To Live” & “Soon The New Day”) on Kweli’s “The Ear Drum”? A nine song EP slash LP, “Liberation” proved to be the perfect warm-up for Kweli’s “Ear Drum”, prior to this collabo with “beat digger” Madlib the question was actually posed “will Kweli ever drop a consistent solo album”? I think that with his most recent release Kweli may have quieted all the naysayers briefly. “Liberation” left die-hard Madlib & Kweli fans longing for more of Kweli’s conversational lyricism and L-I-B’s dusty breakbeats. Who knows? Maybe Kweli & Madlib have a few unreleased goodies up their sleeves to hold fans over till’ the next “Liberation”. If we could only be so lucky.
Insight and Damu may have answered their own question with this banger that sounds as if it where capsulized from 1994 and delivered to the ears of the present day hip hop head who longs for Hip Hop’s return to the “Golden Era”. “What’s Next?”, if it’s Insight & Damu then Hip Hop is in good hands. If your expecting stagnant beats with simple loops and breaks, this is not it. Damu is an obvious fan of the era of that produced classics such as “Mecca & The Soul Brother”, “Center Of Attention” & “The Low End Theory” and it’s evident in his “throwback” production (that’s a positive). On the M.I.C., Insight is a competent emcee who will more than suffice “doin’ dirt all by his lonely”.
Uuuh? Love the album, hate the album cover. Not just because of the scenic background that looks like it would be better served on an L.F.O. (can you believer M.O.P. did a joint with those dudes?!) album cover, but simply because alot of cats passed up “Free Agent” for that same reason. Damn shame too! Skip came correct with his off beat-on beat flow that showcased his true rhyme skills over dope instrumentals. “Brookline” served as the album’s highlight, sharing the same piano loop that Buff 1 also jerked for “Moving Along” , plus, anyone that mentions Steve Grogan (former New England Patriots QB) in a track gets props from me. While the album’s title may suggest “Free Agent”, with this noteworthy performance Skipp Whitman should have major label aspirations.
“Comprised of Dee Jay Dust & Sev Statik, Sev Dust follows in line with other quality releases this year (Blue Scholars, Panacea, Mr. J, etc.) from the rapidly expanding Rawkus roster. “No 2 Ways” is just a “bare bones” posse cut complete with a dusty drum break and an looped guitar lick that will no doubt keep your neck snappin’. While the track is a bit lenghty (it’s a posse cut, what’d you expect?), it was still dope enough to keep me tuned in for five and a half minutes. Oh, and if you haven’t peeped SevDust’s “Back To Dust” don’t slumber this is a real solid album.”-”Most Played For The Week”-10/25/07