59. “Everything Man”-Talib Kweli (click track title to preview or DL)
I’ve mentioned it before, Madlib churns out the best beats on Talib’s “Ear Drum” (sorry Pete Rock). This melodic, bass filled track is a perfect start to the album, couple that with soothing vocals from one of my favorite (although highly overlooked) vocalists, Res and this is a track that is fodder for the soul. Madlib loaded “Everything Man” with a thump that matches one’s heartbeat that is sure to rattle your chestplate. Lyrically, Talib will never be “Michael Jordan”, however, he’s best suited as a “Scottie Pippen” of sorts…lyrically strong, but far from overpowering.
The self-titled cut from Pharoahe’s solid follow-up to “Internal Affairs”. Yet another banger laced by my “comeback” producer of the year, Alchemist. I was first introduced to “Desire” via the Clinton Sparks assisted mixtape “The Awakening”, which I actually liked more than the actual album. The timing of the dual releases for Kweli’s “Ear Drum” and “Desire”, made it quite difficult to pick a clear favorite. However, in the end, I walked away slightly dissapointed with both of the highly anticipated releases.
With a catchy chorus like: “Erytime they come around/your face turn to a frown/You see it’s bout’ to go do down/That’s that Brookyn Bullsh*t/They won’t let us in the spot/cause last time they let us rock/The party came to a stop/That’s that Brooklyn Bulls*t”, it’s hard to find fault in this clever single from Aftermath’s newest signee. With an equally dope video in tow, “Brooklyn Bullshit” quickly became the anthem that another single of it’s likeness (Juganot’s “En Why Cee”) did not…..for reasons unknown. Just a taste of what’s to come from Joell, oh….and while your at it, be sure to peep the equally impressive “warm-up”, “The Brick: Bodega Chronicles for even more goodness from this honest emcee.
“Surviving The Times” is Nasir Jones at his story-telling best. While Nas discusses his upbringings in the Hip Hop game and his Queensbridge surroundings, a familiar sample plays and the gentle piano keys caress your eardrums. While not the dopest sh*t you’ve ever heard Nas spit on, it does it’s job inducing a steady head-nod. Strangely, I have yet to read any comments on the peculiar gentlemen who produced the track…..who is, believe it or not, Chris Webber. “Surving…” is the first “teaser” from Nas’ forthcoming LP, “Nig*er”, which from the looks of some of the track titles is sure to ruffle a few feathers.
Canada is in the HOUSE!! Very seldom, do I listen to what some may categorize as “International Rap”…but boy, am I ever glad that I peeped the Specifics “II”. Talk about a dope hook! “My Tunes” came outta’ nowhere and proved to be a mainstay in the “Most Played” file on my Ipod for the better half of the last quarter. Upon first listen to the Specifics second effort, “My Tunes” was the only track that that left me in “Oh Shit” mode. I feel that “II” is a well rounded LP as the duo of Golden Child & Think Twice seem to compliment one another very well which in turn leads a very complete, almost effortless album. For the second go round’ the Specifics “II” sounds more like a follow up from seasoned veterans rather than an album from a triumvirate who garnered very little attention nationally with their debut “Lonely City”.
Damn Trav! When are we gonna’ review this shit! After gaining the top spot on my “Most Played” for earlier this year with the extremely dope “Model Citizen”, Ohmega Watts’ “Watts Happening” found itself blaring from my headphones yet again for the better portion of this . This go round’ Ohmega teamed up with Kentucky’s very own Theory Hazit to drop another “heater” that is sure to get me through the winter. A more uptempo track than “Model..”, “Triple Double” finds Ohmega & Theory declaring themselves the “Vince Carter & Jason Kidd” of this rap ish’”. I can’t even say enough about what a talent this dude (Ohmega) is, the production on “Triple Double” is BANANAS! The bassline is crisp, the horns are looped to perfection and hell….even the cuts are sharp. Oh yeah, neither Ohmega or Theory Hazit is lackin’ in the lyrical department either.
Stop sleepin’ on Educated Consumers “Write Hear”! Yet, another release that more than likely flew under your radar in 2007, “Write Hear” is comprised of crisp drums, clever samples and dope lyrics from Seez Mics. If there’s one world to classify “Write Hear”, it would without a doubt be “refreshing”, Hip Hop could use a few more “surprising” releases such as this. “1 Hit Wonder” finds Seez Mics “running down the numbers” with a clever rhyme scheme and knocking drums that only begins to hint of the originality that can be found on this highly underrated offering from the College Park, MD duo. One of the best “underground” albums that I discovered in 2007.
Taken from “Perseverance” (The Madlib Remixes), “Ghetto Rhyme Story” finds the originator of “Lung Collapsing Lyrics” delivering his usual consistent lyrical performance, while beatsmith Madlib does his best “Speak Ya’ Clout” impression by supplying Percee with a different beat for all three of his narrative verses. Admittedly, I’ve grown to enjoy the original “Perseverance” a little more over the last few months after shunning it initially, much in part due to the blandness of Madlib’s beats. Don’t get me wrong, Madlib hit the nail on the head with “Madvillianary” and “Jaylib, however, the odd pairing of the L-I-B and Percee just took a little getting used to initially. I truly feel that Percee would have been better served had he employed the beat making talents of such East-Coast based producers like Da Beatminerz, Showbiz or even Primo. Still, Percee one of the better “comeback” albums of ’07.
Trav at W.Y.D.U. slid me this album back in September, since then it’s been a chore to get it off “repeat” and allow myself to open up my ears for any other “new” material(which tends to hurt productivity here). Musically, Archetype’s outstanding sophomore effort “Bleed For Them” is leaps and bounds over the majority of the stuff that I received for review purposes in 2007. Producer/sometime mic spitter Nez and primary lyricist I.D. have crafted a consistent album that was surprisingly released in 2005 (Wake Up!) and given it’s proper re-release in ’07. While, the “PM Dawnish” utterance throughout the chorus of “Utopia” might rub some the wrong way, it’s hard to front on guest emcee Joe Good (whose voice resembles that of Reef Tha Lost Cauze) and Nez’s intriguing production. The chorus on “Utopia” still gives me goosebums each time I hear it as the clever mixture of sounds all comes together for the track’s climax during the break. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover as this Lawrence, KS (fuckin‘ Kansas!) duo blessd us with an impressive opus that may have takena listen or two to get accustomed to…but, when fully engulfed, this album will only grow on you as the well-oiled production coupled with heartfelt lyricism is sure to please even the most “underground” Hip Hop headz.
From one of my favorite ”albums of the year” Evidence’s “The Weatherman” featured countless bangers, “Chase The Clouds Away” not only proved to be one of them but the track was also perfect for just cruisin’ on those beautiful spring afternoons. “Chase The Clouds Away” finds Evidence describing a perfect day in L.A. over another dope Alchemist instrumental. Even though Evidence is not the best emcee in Hip Hop he’s always remained consistent, even raising the bar much higher with “The Weatherman” than on his previous releases as a credential-carrying member of the underground mainstays Dilated Peoples. While the beat collective of producers on “The Weatherman” varies from time to time, Evidence put forth a grand effort, rolling with the punches on the groundwork laid by the likes of Alchemist, Khalil, Sid Roams and even some of his self-produced material. Shame on you if you missed out on this one!