We continue to countdown my personal top 100 favorite hip hop songs of the year. As I mentioned yesterday, my favorites, my opinion. Fair enough? Good. Making one of these lists is difficult and admittedly, rather nerdish in nature. I know I’m not the only one to look forward to these lists so just a little insight to my crazy and deranged mind and musical tastes and maybe I’ll introduce something new to someone out there.
I’ve long been an Aesop Rock hater. I’ve never hidden that fact. However, I thoroughly enjoyed his 2007 album, None Shall Pass. How much I enjoyed it, you’ll just have to wait for me to ramble on about that. The problem with the album though, it happened to be one of those albums that I enjoyed everything, but nothing sounded better than the rest. Which there is nothing wrong with, it just makes it difficult to choose one song over the rest. “Coffee” had a nice live band feel to it and like the majority of the album, Aesop actually makes sense when he is spitting his lyrics. I am particularly enthralled with the drum track on this joint as they sound like a native beating down on the elephant skins, adds a nice live feel to it all.
A song that has Lil Scrappy on it (so much for my ban of having anyone that had a name starting with “Lil” on the blog), an underground female MC, and a relatively unknown MC from……Pittsburgh??? And it could pass as a club banger??? I would never have guessed something such as “Up In Here” was possible, let alone sound decent enough to appear in my top 100. It was and I wish clubs would play this song, it’d be better than 90% of shit that gets played. Charon Don and DJ Huggy, otherwise known as Hands Down bring along Rah Digga and Lil Scrappy and do there best “get your ass off the wall” imitation and really get you going. This track was my theme song at our last Madden tournament as I rolled over the competition…..HANDS DOWN, WE THE BEST OF THE YEAR……
I figured “What A Job” would be the official anthem for bloggers and posers world wide at the beginning of the year. I’ve seen it on enough year end lists, but UGK seems to have taken that title over in the end. I’m not saying the song isn’t good, or it wouldn’t be on here. Devin the Dude does what he does best over a lazy, indo smoke inducin’ beat, Snoop sounds somewhat relevant again and the verse from Andre was one of a few this year that made people remembered why they liked Outkast so much.
I’m not a big fan of singing on tracks much, but 9th Wonder’s “Sunday” just seems to live up to its title so much, I don’t mind it. I really gives me that Sunday afternoon feeling…sitting back with some ice tea (or beverage of choice), watching the birds fly by, reading a good book under a tree. It encompasses a Sunday afternoon to a “t” for me. I’ve also been a fan of Chaundon for awhile and I feel he adds that “hip hop” flavor to the track adequately enough.
“Classic” came out of left field earlier this year. There was another version of this without Rakim, but for some reason I lost it early on and stuck to this one. Primo laced this banger in one of the better Primo beats heard this year. Not as good as you might think with the lineup on it, but it’s still some classic boom-bap shit that showcases three of the all-time greatest lyricists in Nas, KRS, and Rakim, then Kanye.
70. Donny Goines – Do It For Hip-Hop (from “The Excerpt PG 1″)
Donny Goines is an up and comer MC from New York who still gives me hope for the Big Apple in the realm of hip hop. As an MC, Donny is very capable on the mic and he demonstrates that on this anthem like joint in “Do It For Hip-Hop”. The beat for this sounds like a Primo clone, which might be why I enjoy the track as much as I do. This is New York hip hop the way it’s supposed to be done.
Blue Scholars grace the list with their second song, “Joe Metro”. Using a soothing piano loop to set up the mood, Geologic once again accompanies the track ever so effortlessly. He paints a picture for the listener, which i
s walking through the streets of Seattle. Having spent some time in the past in Sea-town, it’s much like this. It’s a very cinematic song with a beautiful beat.
One of the faults I hear about 9th Wonder is that he doesn’t have beats that knock. I’m not sure what people want, but “Thank You” knocks something fierce. Strong kick drums reside within this beat along with a trademark 9th Wonder soul sample. The MC’s, O-Dash and DOX, might not be the best, but they bring that raw energy that hip hop seems to lack. I believe hip hop was founded on MC’s spitting hard venom on the mic and thats exactly what these two cats do, they spent just some straight in ya’ face rhymes. Good shit.
“Y’all Should Get Lynched” stirred up some controversy earlier this year, both on youtube, as the video was banned, and in blog land. I’m not exactly in the position to agree or disagree with NYOIL as its kind of a touchy subject, but I do agree there is some major bullshit in hip hop that people are just pimpin’ to make money off of. I’ve lighten my stance on the subject these past few years, mainly because I feel like its a losing battle. Back to the song though, NYOIL (or Kool Kim, depending on the rumors) does drop some thought provoking lyrics, whether you agree or disagree with how he is saying it. At least its a song that makes you think, make you talk, make you feel something, not much music, let alone hip hop do that anymore. The beat just adds to the whole feel of the track.
66. Freeway – It’s Over (from “Free At Last”)
Freeway is another MC that I’ve never been overly impressed with in the past. “It’s Over”, from his album “Free At Last”, is a certified banger though in my book. Strong horns, dope scratching, a nice chorus and Freeway delivering a strong performance on the mic. This track grabbed me immediately and has only gotten better the more I listen to it.
Seattle’s Boom Bap Project comes with a throw back track in the form of “The Shakedown”. A simple drum break, with those boom bap drums and a well placed vocal sample that gives the MC’s, who are somewhat medicore, a great back drop to paint their rhymes on. The track really sounds like it could have came out in the mid 90′s, but it’s still fresh and doesn’t have a stale feel to it that some retro hip hop has these days. Strong track from another Northwest group. That is good to see.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that the new Scarface album, “Made“, was good. When I gave it a listen, it more than lived up to my expectations. I would have no problem calling ‘Face one of the best MC’s to ever grab the mic and I while he’s never totally let me down with an album, his last couple weren’t what I expected out of Brad. “Never” was the first joint I heard from the album, which got me equally pumped for it. Scarface isn’t the same Akshen that we first heard with the Geto Boys, but he is more of a polished MC, as this track exemplifies.
Before you start hitting your keyboards to call me out, I’ll spare you the time. This is a direct quote from me in the past; “El-P’s production sounds like someone hitting an aluminum garbage can full of howler monkeys with a metal baseball bat”. In other words, like Aesop Rock, I’ve never been a fan. Then “I’ll Sleep….” dropped and I began to question everything I thought I ever knew about the universe. His album was my favorite album at the half way point of the year. Is it going at the top spot on the year end? You’ll just have to wait, oh the suspense, I know. “EMG” (aka Everything Must Go) is a prime example of what I like about the album; disturbing, chaotic noise that sounds like the Bomb Squad on LSD. Like Aesop’s album, while liking the album as a whole, it’s better heard as a whole and individual tracks are a little harder to judge. This track just happen to stick out a bit more than some of the others.
I’m a sucker for tracks with dope old school bass lines and organs. “Weapon X” is so basic, like a Mickey D’s cheeseburger, but damn I love the old school flavor found on this track. It was kind of surprising to see the X-Clan making a comeback, but I think they could add to today’s scene with just their teachings and their flavor they add….and maybe, just maybe, the crowd might be ready to accecpt them again. Then maybe I’m smoking crack. None the less “Weapon X” is just some good old school flavor that the thirty something heads such as myself should really dig.
One of the highlights of the year for me was interviewing Milk D. Shit, its one of the highlights of my life. I’m not one to get star struck at all, but I do have certain artists that I would buy anything they put out and Milk happens to be one of them. T
his remix made me a happy camper, getting to hear Milk on the mic again. Honestly there was nothing wrong with the original version, it was my favorite joint on 50′s album, but hearing Milk bring that late 80′s flavor back again, over the beat for my all-time favorite hip hop joint, it just made me smile.
60. Public Enemy – How You Sell Soul To A Soulless Person Who Sold Their Soul ( from “How You Sell Soul To A Soulless Person Who Sold Their Soul”)
I can’t begin to describe how nice it was to hear Public Enemy sound like the P.E. of old. This track (I’m not going to type it out again) sounds like it could have been on one of their first four albums very easy. I’m sure that having G-Wiz on the boards again had something to do with bringing their old sound back. Horn stabs, a strong bass line and a trademark siren noise dominate this track and add anger to Chuck’s scathing lyrics. Nice to see he hasn’t lost it.
I know several of my staff and other blogs (namely WTR) have “Loyalty” much higher on their lists and in retrospect, maybe it should be higher on mine. None the less, this is a beautifully produced song that has so many lush sounds on the track that you have to really listen to all that is going on with it. The main sample has been used before on a Little Brother joint and 9th Wonder, but they tweak it enough that it’s familiarity doesn’t interfere with the enjoyability of the song. The message itself is a good one as the Blue Scholars are about positivity. Grown folks music and a beautiful song all around.
Sounding a bit like Vakill on the mic, Theory Hazit dropped a very solid effort in ’08. I checked it out based on Eric’s recommendation and fell in love with the title track. Using another familiar sample….“Sound of Music?”…..I can’t help whistling along with this beat and just nodding my head along to the beat. Lyrically, dude is a strong MC, spitting lyrics like a true MC should. I know the dude is down with LMNO and some of those cats and I think is on some spiritual subject matter, but if it sounds dope, I’m all good with it.
57. Smile Rays – By Design Three (from “Smilin’ On You”) *not posting since the album is only 10 songs and I’d have three up on here*
As mentioned previously in the list, the Smile Rays are among my favorite “discoveries” this year. “By Design Three” employs the same sample used on 3rd Bass’ “Green Eggs and Swine” from their “Derlicts of Dialect” LP, but with some added tweaks and Da*sey’s soulful crooning on the hook. The song stands as a strong example of why I’m anticipating anything the Smile Rays do in the future.
56. J-Ro feat Chords – U Call That Love (from “Rare Earth B-Boy Funk Vol. 2″)
I would have never though I’d be putting a love song by J-Ro on my top songs of the year list, but I dig “U Call That Love”. In J-Ro’s defense, it’s not your typical mushy ass love song, the Ro-gram puts his own twists on the story as well. It’s something refreshingly new from the former Lik’s member. The beat is simple enough, a piano loop (I dig piano loops) and a drum track, but its meant to be a simple backdrop for J telling a love to chill or be out.
I’m not always on some backpacking, underground nerd shit. I still like my raw N.Y. shit just as much as I did back in the day. The problem is, it’s not that much raw New York shit out there anymore. “Brooklyn” though lives up to its namesake as a raw and in your face track. Booming drums over some organs and of course a Biggie vocal sample just make one nod their head insanely. Fabo drops some nice shit when he isn’t trying to chart all the time. I’d like to see if he made just a strictly hardcore hip hop album fans and ignored trying to make some radio friendly bullshit.
Another track on that Just Blaze shit, organs, some electric guitar or synth on some uptempo shit, that’s what this remix of “Impossible” has going for it. I wasn’t all that thrilled with the mixtape, “The Outsider”, it appeared on and apparently no one else was either. Despite that, this track is on some harder than nails type shit.
Detroit STAND UP!!! I don’t care what anyone says, Detroit is fuckin’ killin’ it this year. First you have Black Milk, who isn’t the greatest MC of
all-time, but he makes some bangers on the boards. Then Guilty Simpson is a freakin’ beast on the mic. I regret not hearing his mixtape until it was really too late to include on any of these year end lists. He sounds like a Beanie Sigel when he used to be hungry on the mic and wasn’t making bullshit radio hits. Guilty sounds like he was made for this track with the pounding drums and Guilty’s angry snarl, this is just some straight hard shit. Listening to this now, this probably should have been higher on the list.
El-P drops another crazier than a hyper kid on angel dust type of track with “Smithereens”. As I mentioned before, you could probably pick just about any track off the LP and I’d be okay with it, but the sirens and Bomb Squadesque production sells me on this track along with the hook that I’ve caught my self singing on numerous occasions throughout the year. The intro kills me too, with the “bring me…the dramatic intro…”, yeah, I guess it’s just me.
Again, some of my loyal followers are probably saying, “what in the fuck is he thinking?”, well…..As I have said before, some “pop-hop” isn’t all that bad and I’d much rather have Kanye and this album represent what hip hop is to the masses than most of the other crap out there. Sure, ‘ye has some corny ass lyrics on this joint, but it’s just a feel good happy joint. That’s the problem with hip hop anymore, people don’t want to have a good time. You can’t make joints like “It Takes Two” (which is basically what this is in a different flavor) and be considered legit. This also has some personal sentiment attached to it. It’s the Good Life baby!
50-26 coming tomorrow….25-1 on Saturday…..My top 40 Favorite albums and mixtapes and other notable fav’s on Sunday (hopefully) and The 2nd annual pantie awards on Monday….Full slate, stay tuned…..Also more interviews in the next week or two and some other stuff I hope to have coming…..