89. “Unreal”-NYOil (click track title to preview or DL track)
Musically, the standout track from Kool Kim’s….err….NYOils’ prequel/mixtape “Hood Treason” not titled “Ya’ll Should All Get Lynched. As one of the last tracks that appear on “Hood Treason” it’s easy to skip this one over, as I did countless times prior to catching the YouTube video for “Unreal” and being re-introduced to a great song. NYOil delivers a “get off your ass and get involved” message over a production that is reminiscent of some of Dr. Dre’s best work. The track escalates from being a steady “head-nodder” to a goose-bump inducing motivator when the strings are introduced near the 47 second mark of “Unreal”. It’s a damn good feeling to see cats such as NYOil who dropped a classic album nearly 16 years ago still putting out quality Hip Hop in today’s day and era.
“Dear God, tell me why have you foresaken Jaysaun?/Could it be all the chances that you gave me I squandered and wasted?/Chasin’ the aroma of success that I tasted/I passed the streets S.A.T.’s and I aced it/But the drugs so frantically/drove me so close to the edge of insanity/I thought of puttin’ two in my canopy/I spit on everything that was handed me/I chose doin’ dope and coke, so guess where that landed me/engulfed in hell-fire and brimstone/Sippin’ sianide and Kool-Aid with Jim Jones/I thought do I really wanna’ be up at Def Jam?/Gettin’ manipulated like a pawn in a cheap game of chess, man/I’d rather swallow half a handful of some mess tabs/And cook a batch of amphetamines in a meth lab/These are regular thoughts from a mad man ramblin’/Whose brain stays scambled like alphabets from Campbell and….” Sweet Jesus! Just how dope is Jaysaun? Equipped with a powerful delivery and lyrics for days, this Beantown spitter shined on the poignant “Fallen Angelz” despite equally impressive verses from Hip Hop mainstay Ed O.G. and the venomous Slaine. Another dope track from an album full of em’, but also loaded with it’s fair share of mediocrity.
Sean P’s “Jesus Price Superstar” dropped so early in ’07 that without doing my homework, I could’ve have sworn dropped in ’06. Whatever the case, the album may have been somewhat a letdown when in comparison to Sean’s impressive debut “Monkey Barz” but it all had more than a handful of dope cuts, “Violent” being the pick of the litter. Sped-up sample? Check. Traditonal 9th Wonder snares and kicks? Check? Sean P’s playful and comedic lyrics? Check, Check. Not going too far against the grain, Sean P sticks to his guns to craft a track that Sean simply states: “The Beat is smooth/the rap is hard/just the way I like it/bless the mic and the God..it’s violent”. While Sean P has never been lyrically dense, his wordplay and deliver cater to most of the underground crowd and “Violent” is a track that follows along the lines of previous classics such as “Onionhead” and “Heartburn” from “Monkey Barz”. It’s Violent!!!
Finding themselves in familiar territory, rapping about the “ills and downfalls” of being independents in Hip Hop, a re-vamped Big Pooh and lyrically consistent Phonte get a helping hand from newcomer and fellow Justus Leaguer JozeeMo over a dope Illmind production. Proving that they can make out just fine without 9th Wonder’s beats, Phonte & Big Pooh crafted an album that did just enough to differentiate “Get Back” from “The Listening” and “The Minstrel Show”, yet they didn’t stray too far from the formula that made both of those albums solid. As Pooh says: I’ve been misconstrued/Lied to and abused/But my fans still say that they love me/….we do Big Pooh, we do.
Aside from Wyclef’s “Sweetest Girl” (#100) my other “guilty pleasure” in ’07 was Khaled’s posse jam “We Takin’ Over”. It’s truly hard to put my finger on exactly what I love about this track other than the fact that I had to listen to my Wife play this over and over for the past month and a half. Fact of the matter is, the song is actually pretty darn good. Although, it’s quite annoying to hear Khaled shout “We The Best” over and over with any chance he gets on his compilation of the same catchphrase. Akon has become the new milenium’s Nate Dogg, Rick Ross and Weezy verses are less than catchy, but T.I. and Fat Joe come through with a few nice drops and Khaled’s production on this track is kinda’ hard to front on.
Two years have passed since the release of their debut “National Anthem”, but judging from the recently released “Training Day” Sean Boog and Khrysis (whom can just as easily be confused for Joe Scudda and 9th Wonder based on their similar lyrical and production styles) have emerged from the shadows of Little Brother as a force to be reckoned from the Justus League camp. “Sum Of Me” is the first track that really grabbed me as the soulful, bass heavy track is evidence (pun intended) that once again the NC to CA connection works wonders (as also witnessed on the appropriately titled “NC To CA” from Ev’s superb “The Weatherman”). Along with a beautifully sung hook by the reigning crooner of the Justus League (sorry Percy Miracles) Darien Brockington this track just has a nice, laidback feel to it that’ll have your head bobbin’ for days. With thick keyboards and a bombing bassline Khrysis holds up his end of the bargain with production that had the internet buzzing enough to pose the question “You think Khrysis is nicer than 9th on the boards?”, throw in lyrics of self-reflection from Sean Boog and Evidence and you got yourself a winner.
“Havoc gets cool points for utilizing the same sample that Tribe made popular with “Luck Of Lucien” and weed heavy Cypress Hill wannabees Total Devastation used a few years after for “Many Clouds Of Smoke”. This is the biggest attempt at achieving Urban radio play on Havoc’s disappointing debut solo LP “The Kush”. It is what it is though….short & sweet, lacking any real lyrical depth but still funky enough to keep the girlies‘ ass cracks drippin‘ sweat on the dance floor.”-”Most Played” 9-16-07…..”I’m The Boss” has been, and will be the only track that I revert back to Havoc’s lackluster solo effort “The Kush” for future plays. Even though Prodigy’s “Return Of The Mac” may have had it’s “issues” as well, playing it after “The Kush” makes it sound as if it were “Illmatic”!
“When I first peeped the tracklisting for “The Dream Merchant Vol.II” my first two thoughts after coming across the lineup of Saigon & Scudda for “Saved” where: “How in the hell did Scudda get on a track with Saigon?” and “Let’s just see how bad Scudda‘ can fu*k this up”. Boy, was I sorely mistaken!! Who’d have thought that Scudda would deliver a powerful and moving verse that parallels elements of my life. 9th does his thing as well, the Snoop vocal from “Murder Was The Case” sounds chilling…especially during the hook when the bass drops out and 9th lets the sample ride”.-Most Played 9-16-07
Ahem! Okay, so I’ve had ample time to digest Beanie’s new LP “The Soloution” and while the first taste was very…umm..bland, I’ve grown to appreciate what Beanie’s got goin’ on here….aside from the R Kelly joint that is. “You Ain’t Ready….” is a prime example of the knockout punch that Beanie is going for with some of the beats on “The Solution”. You can’t front…some of the beats on the album are HARD, and while the odd pairing of Styles P & Beanie may be an acquired taste, I feel that they both deliver solid performances on this Dame Grease produced banger. Certainly no Erick and Parrish, Styles and Beanie do take it back to the days of passing the mic “back and forth” like a hot potato over an echoing drum kick that leaves your eardrums ringing.
One thing is evident after listening to “Jeff-N-Fess” from DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “The Return Of The Magnificent”, Chi-Town’s Rhymefest is one funny ass dude! With one liners on “Jeff N Fess” like: “Nig*as in New York, though?/You can set yourself on fire and they still be like/Nah son, he I-ight B….it’s hard not to crack a smile when listening to Rhymefest go at everyone on this uptempo banger. Utilizing the sample that GangStarr made famous with “Words I Manifest”, Jazzy Jeff takes it one step further implementing his skillful scratching tactics and underlying the sample with a little extra “ooomph” that your neighbors will be hearing for blocks. One of only a few notable highlights from a disappointing sophomore compilation from Will Smith’s better half.