Top of the afternoon to you all. Hopefully everyone made it through the New Year’s celebration safely. I’m sure some of you are nursing hangovers and the such. Hell, some of you may still be celebrating or starting round two of the party going. I can recall doing that a couple times in my past. This year, for the third time in the past four years, I stayed home and chilled. Maybe it’s my growing older, maybe it was the one year of the last four that I did drink resulted in someone losing their teeth and the cops contacting me the next day. Regardless, remaining sober was kind of a good thing. One of my resolutions is to drinking a little more sparingly, which I already have since moving back (last Saturday night not included).
With the new year being ushered in, it means its time for my favorite time of the year. No, the holidays are fine and all that, but I’m talking about year end lists. I’ll admit, I’m a nerd that loves lists when it comes to this kind of thing. I’ve been making year end lists and year end tapes, cd’s and now play lists for my new Ipod (I feel so 21st Century) since ’89. While I don’t have all of those tapes anymore, I can still remember what songs and the such were on the tapes. I’m just a list fiend, what can I say?
As I look back at the year 2007, I have mixed emotions again. Probably no time before have I listened to this much new music in a year. I couldn’t keep up, plain and simple. I did see a return of the “underground”, meaning there was a lot of quality “do-it-your-selfers” out there this year. Some was great (Archetype), some was good (Unified School District), some was mediocre (Boulder, Colorado’s own Whiskey Blanket) and some just outright sucked (I have a few in mind, but I guess I’ll save that for the 2nd annual Pantie awards coming later this week). But after my first ten favorite albums of the year or so, nothing really made me listen much more than a week or so to it. That being said though, I’d probably be willing to say this was the best year since the 90′s and even quite possibly the best year since ’98 (although I have fondness for the year 2004). The mainstream sucked, and probably always will, but the explosion of blogs and the internet in general meant that music that might not even have been heard made it to the ears of eager listeners.
The rest of this week, I’ll be going over MY personal favorites. My favorite albums, my favorite songs and the rest of the gang will have a say on the Pantie Awards. These are NOT what I think are the best. These are MY FAVORITES. Meaning they are songs that I liked. Don’t tell me that “so and so” isn’t in there, I know what I like and what I don’t. It’s my OPINION. You can disagree with me, cool, but it’s all opinions. Like assholes, everyone has an opinion, this asshole just happens to have a blog that he can force his opinion on everyone else (yeah, I’m kind of grumpy today). A few songs also were released last year, but these were songs that had an effect on me this year. I tried to stick to songs for this year, but I just couldn’t ignore a few of them. So don’t tell me “so and so song came out in 2006″, I don’t care.
Today we’ll go over 100-76 songs for the year. I will say this, this was the first year since I started doing a top 100 for the year that I had songs that I was very sad not to see make it the 100. There were some great songs this year. It’s so hard to keep track of songs over a year. The mass quantity of music makes it so hard to find those “jewels”. I’m sure I’m going to have a completely different list than some of my colleagues such as Eric at WTR, Dan Love at From Da Bricks and Dart Adams over at Poisonous Paragraphs.
What I usually do is if I hear a song I like during the year, I put it in a folder on my computer. Over the year, I keeping adding to the folder. This year, I had over 500 songs saved. Around the second week of December, I started compiling the list and shaving it down. I got it down to 235. Then 175, finally I think I got it down to 120 songs. Then I let it “simmer”, meaning I tweaked it here and there the last two weeks of the year. I’m sure I’m missing some quality tracks, but as I said, this is what I heard that I liked. I’m still going over the other year end lists on other sites and finding stuff that I either over looked or just didn’t year for whatever reason.
Alright, enough bullshit, let’s get it going
TRAV’S TOP 100 SONGS OF 2007
Link For All Songs
100 – 76
I’ve already mentioned in past posts that I like the white boys from New York known as Junk Science. Dusty samples, laid back rhymes and a great sense of humor, which shines on this track, “Jerry McGuire”, about quitting your job. I know I’ve had more than my share of two bit crappy jobs to be able to relate to the quirky rhymes found on the track.
What do you get when you combine three of my personal favorite MC’s with one of the up and coming producers? You get “The Best To Do It”, a track that was scheduled to appear on an album, but I can’t remember who’s and I can’t find it on the google search. Regardless, this track screams “classic” with Aussie producers, M-Phazes, doing his best Primo imitation. All three MC’s are just beasts on the mic. I’d even go out on a limb and call Royce my favorite MC this year as far as a MC would go. Elzhi and Supa are also both dope in their own right. This track might sneak up on a few people, but for fans of Primo-esque beats and of the three MC’s, you have to check this.
It’s no secret that while Eric of “When They Reminisce” have developed a solid friendship this past year, we have an unspoken rivalry. We each try to push our own likes down our readers throats. Him with Ill Poetic, me with Archetype. We go back and forth on new releases, we debate, disagree, but in the end, I know at least for myself, he has introduced me to some music that I might not have listened to otherwise. Mr. J Medeiros’ album was one of those. While I’m not as crazy about the album as he was…surprise surprise, I did love this song. Again, maybe it’s my old age, but I’m drawn toward stuff that I can relate to these days. I might not have hit rock bottom this past year, but I’ve trolled toward the lower depths, which this song covers. Nice strings, a well placed DMC vocal sample and some dope scratching made this track a well liked joint.
There are several reasons for this song by Iller Than Theirs makes the list. Of course there is the Masta Ace verse. If you read this blog much, you know that I’m on the verge of being an Ace “Stan”, and M.A. drops a dope verse on this track. It almost kind of seems out of place, like he just sold them a verse, but it’s fuckin’ dope. It’s a perfect example of why I think Ace is one of the best to ever do it. Then there is the dope horn sample that is found on this track. I’m really trying to knock my head and figure out where the sample is from, but so far no dice. I’m all about beats usually and this beat is nice. Finally, like their counterparts, Junk Science, they posses a sense of humor. The song is about how things change, deal with it. How fuckin’ true is that?
As much as I found the 8 Diagrams LP somewhat bland, I do have multiple songs from the album make the list and this is the first one. It serves as the tribute track to Old Dirty Bastard, and although it contains a fairly simple beat hook, it does a good job of conveying the emotion that the Wu had to be feeling after losing their group jester. Personally, I think Method Man came off with the strongest verse (like I think he did on most of the album), but all the Clan carry the emotion throughout the track.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Binary Star’s “Masters Of The Universe” is one of the best albums of this decade. I can’t say I was devastated when the duo broke up, because, well I simply was just getting into the album. None the less, One Be Lo aka One Man Army has grown into an underground darling of sorts. His former partner though, Senim Silla finally released his own solo album this year. I’ll save my take on the album for the top albums of the year (ooops, did I just let that one out?), but this was my second favorite track from the album. My favorite track, For the Record, came in at #48 on last years list. Silla has an intriguing flow and shows that he himself is no slouch on the mic. A great flute sample and bass line make this just a smooth track to close your eyes to and just ride the wave.
Is it possible that the person who had the best year out of the Wu-Tang Clan wasn’t even apart of the “official” members? Hell Razah had a very solid year, with the release of a collaboration with album “Wu B-Leaguers” Blue Sky Black Death and his own solo project, Renaissance Child, which this joint appears on. Living up to its name, the track contains a nice jazz sample that really gets the listeners hips moving and neck nodding. You also have MF Doom, which I usually try to avoid like the plague and Talib Kweli, who will probably show up on many year end lists, just not mine.
I’m going to have to try not to let the cat out of the bag for the Pantie Awards, but let’s just say that LB’s “The Get Back” is in the running for “Disappointment of the Year” in my book. Without getting into it right now, I’ve long been a fan of Little Brother and when I got my hands on “The Get Back”, the leadoff track Sirens, got me excited for the rest of the album. Containing a nice sung hook (biting my tongue, biting my tongue…fuck it, one of the few contained on the album) and Phonte and Pooh displaying why they have one of the better group chemistries in Hip-Hop. While I was wishing for more joints like this on the album, I’ll take this one for now.
92. Sly MC – Pump It Up
One of my “boys” graces the list with one of his tracks. I’ve been pushing this kid to do his thing for the past two years. Sly is a hell of an MC, which makes this being one of the rare tracks that I’m more into the lyrics than the beat. Those of you who are familiar with WYDU’s own DJ SoulClap’s “Promo EP” that was pushed on here earlier this year, have heard Sly over SoulClap’s “Beautiful” track (which was one of the songs I was sad to see not make this list). I really expect dude to make some noise. We have been working on a mixtape of sorts in the past that has sort of stalled and he is also hopefully coming out with his own album this month. If I had the resources to start my own label, this would be cat that I’d want in my stable.
Everything Okay is a track I got from an album for review purposes. I ended playing this track over and over again. I might have played it a bit too much as I kind of overkilled it after awhile, but it still had to be on my list. Simple string sample and a sung chorus, which as I’ve said a multitude of times, if done well, I like sung choruses. I have high hopes for Dahlak in the future.
Meth and Ghost both drop great verses on this track that combines a haunting beat with the familiar kung-fu bites that we have come to associate with a Wu-Tang song. Now if only the rest of the album could have sounded closer to this. This track grew on me after my initial few listens and if it would have been a little earlier in the year, it might have even been further up on the list.
I suppose these could be interchangeable since they are basically the same song but with different guest artists. These aren’t exactly great songs, but it’s pretty damn cool to hear everyone from Redhead Kingpin, to Rob Base, to Doctor Ice to even Father MC of all people, gracing the mic on these tracks. It was great to hear from some of these artists again and that alone makes these joints must hears and a fav of mine. It was also the instigator of the posts of most proud of this site, the Nas “Where are They Now” posts.
I realize that it’s now cool NOT to like Kanye West, but I’ve always went against the grain. Yes, I know real hip hop heads are supposed to shun Kanye, but sorry, I just really liked “Graduation Day”. You could even go back on this blog and find where I said that “Stronger” was garbage and I wouldn’t argue with you. I hated this song at first. I mean, Daft Punk? Really? But the shit grows on you. Plus I’d much rather have people thinking Kanye was hip hop than the Ying Yang Twins or whatever other bullshit that is being played on the radio these days.
I haven’t been a Brother Ali fan in the past. Usually his voice grates on me by the second track and I just can’t deal with it. His “The Undisputed Truth” LP this year got rave reviews from the message boards and blog lands, which I guess would be his intended target audience. I didn’t mind it, it was better than anything else of his I had listened to. This track seemed to standout the most for me. Maybe it was because it was the first track on the album and I didn’t have that desire to stab myself in the ears with a rusty nail or maybe it was the familiar and comfortable sample they use on the track with my favorite, guitars and loud organ sounds that made me like this track so much.
85. Storm Davis of Poorly Drawn People – Bethany (from “Nothing Stays Gold”)
Storm Davis is another example of an artist that I enjoy because I can relate to his subject matter. Storm released his “Kegstand Poetry for the Recovering Alcoholic” in 2006, but I didn’t discover the music until earlier this year, thanks to Krooked over at HHB. This track might be a little “emo” in nature, but I’ve never been one to shy away from that. A lovely piano sample accompanies Storm as he displays a tightened up flow ab
out a girl, of course. I look forward to hearing more from Storm in the coming year and I’m sure I’ll be pimping his music to the rest of you.
It’s well known that I’m not a big fan of the southern hip hop movement, but Chamillionare always manages to make something that interests me. It doesn’t hurt that this track has one of my favorite MC’s of all-times in Slick Rick guesting on the track. I’ll admit, it’s not the greatest track of all-time, but it’s catchy and I liked the video.
Could the year of 2007 go down as the year of Blu? You’ll be seeing much more of Blu on this coming up. For those of you who might have missed this, which is entirely possible since I don’t know if this was a legit release or not, Johnson & Jonson consisted of Blu and producer Mainframe. Armed with a quirky and catchy sample, this track demonstrates why Blu has the chance to be one hell of an MC (as if he wasn’t already).
82. Blue Scholars – 50 Thousand Deep (from “Bayani”)
Blue Scholars is another group you will be seeing a lot of on the year end list. The Scholars prove that you can still drop a socially challenging record and have it still sound good without being too preachy. The song deals with the riots in Seattle during 1999′s World Trade Organization meetings. Real shit for real people. Challenge the system and the man will beat your ass down. That’s what being said here. Whether you agree with it or not, the guitar sample that flows lazily throughout the track makes the listener take notice as Geologic rides the sample nicely. Thought provoking and good all in one, what a concept.
All three of these cats are prime examples of why I’m diggin’ the Detroit sound these days. This track is heavily influenced by J Dilla, this is obvious as soon as you start listening to it, but all three are tied to the legendary producer. Phat Kat dropped an album that many slept on, probably including myself while Black Milk is slowly rising up the producers ranks as one of Dilla’s protege. Then you have one of the original SV members in T3 also on the mic. This track kind of sounds like some of the tracks that appear on Black Milk’s album, but luckily enough, I like that sound.
Every so often a tune just gets stuck in my head. “Woodchucks” by Junk Science happened to be one of them. I woke up one morning with it stuck in my head and it stayed there for the next week off and on. Again, a catchy chorus drills itself in my subconscious and I have a song that I can’t stop playing. The beat is something fairly simple with some sparse keys and a drum break for the most part. I can see how some people might not feel this, but I dug it.
I hate either hate Neptunes production or I love it. This is an example of the later. I’m guessing that the readers out there either love this or hate this as well. I’ve compared Jay to junk food before, meaning it’s not really the best for you, but it tastes good sometimes. This is a prime example of that. He really is a good MC, despite what some naysayers may preach. I think this is an example of that since not the average MC could rhyme on this track.
Yes, I slammed “The Get Back” earlier on the list, and I’m still utterly disappointed in it, but this track grew on me while the others wouldn’t. I like a sense of humor and in typical LB fashion (no pun intended), this track is full of the their trademark goofiness. Illmind is another producer that has improved in leaps and bounds as he has a few other production credits besides this track that will show up.
77. The Smile Rays – Chicken (from “Smilin’ On You”)
DAAAAAYUM, Therapy comes like a freakin’ beast on this track. I’ll admit the chorus is teetering on the corny side of the fence, but it’s refreshing to hear an MC come so hungry on a track, especially when it’s called “Chicken” (I’m just full of them tonight). Batsauce comes nice with a beat, but it’s mainly used to let Therapy shine. The track though is one of the reasons that their Rawkus 50 album “Smilin’ On You” became my first ever digital purchase.
I usually have Primo productions dotted all over year end lists such as these and this year is probably no different although it might be a little more the lighter side as I thought (for the first time ever) that Primo gotten kind of stale. Don’t get me wrong, stale Primo beats are still better than 95% of the peoples fresh beats and he is still number one on my all-time fav list. Big Shug isn’t the greatest MC in the world and I don’t think he’s trying to come off that way either. He just provides hip-hop heads with that real boom-bap sound that.
75-51 coming tomorrow……