It’s Friday night, so I’m not totally sure how much of this I’m going to get done with. I can already guarantee that I’m not going to finish the whole thing tonight, as you’ll see tomorrow when I post this up. That being said, we enter the the downhill side of the list, the other side of fifty, and all that jazz. I curse Eric for setting the bar higher this year and doing little write ups with each song. Last year I broke them into 50 links one day and 50 links the next day. That was much easier, these write ups are kind of a pain in the ass and my creative fuel tank is teetering on low anyway. None the less, I do like year end lists, so it pays off in the end. Enough of the bullshit….on with the songs.
One last thing….I pride myself on knowing whats going on this nerd thing called the Blogosphere, but one site slipped my attention until this week and for that, I suck. And I’m calling out the rest of you for not calling me out for pushing the snooze button one too many times. Metal Lungies is my type of shit. Full of interesting posts, off the wall humor (they have a member called HungoverMonkey, beats my original moniker of “Hung Wench” all to hell) and not taking shit too seriously. Plus, they got Marco Polo to do a guest post for their year end list, which makes me kind of jealous, cause I can’t say who I got for our guest judging panel, but he’s no Marco Polo….(sorry Storm…haha). At least I’m starting the New Year off right, I’m on board now.
TOP 50- 26 of 2007
Link for all the songs
Joell Ortiz is another reason I’m holding out hope for the New York scene. I really enjoyed his “Brick Bodega Chronicles” LP, it had hints of everything, gangsta thug shit, straight boom bap, and honest exposure of himself, like found on “125 pt 4″. I didn’t pay this joint much attention at first, but I remember when my boy called me. Our conversation went something like this; Dino: “Man, that Joell Ortiz album is pretty nice”. Me: “Yeah, I like it, it’s better than I expected”. Dino: “I loved the last song, that beat is so smooth”. Me: “That song? Man, I guess it’s aight”. Dino: “Man fuck you, I never know what the fuck you like anymore. You to damn crictical”. I figured I better go back and listen to it and low and behold I started listening and he was right. The beat is so nice and the lyrics are on some real shit…and when I say “real” I mean like everyday life type of things. Ortiz has the potential to be a great artist in the game, its just lucky for us and him that he finally got off of Aftermath, now we might actually hear another album sometime before the Mayan calender date of Dec. 21st, 2012.
You all had to know Archetype were going to show up sooner or later. For those of you out of the loop here is how one of my favorite albums of the year came into my hands: I was sent an email in early September from Dan, co-owner of Dakagon Records concerning about possibly reviewing an album his label had just released. I get 4-8 of these requests a month, and try to accommodate, but as some of you have probably realized, I’m just bad about doing reviews in a timely fashion. I received the album on a Thursday and honestly I didn’t listen to it until the next Monday afternoon when I sat down to play some Madden. I throw the disk into the computer and start listening. For me, the music hit me immediately. It’s very rare these days that something hits me immediately. What is even more rare is that even after it hits me that it just keeps getting better and better. That’s what Archetype’s “Bleed For Them” did for me. I’ve probably played this album 250 times this year, no joke. Naturally, all of my favorite tracks from them are in the top half of the list and “Think of Me” is just the first of the batch. This track has a rather familiar sample (my boy found it and played it for me, but I can’t remember what it is) with keys, horns and all that good stuff that is like a excellent combination pizza. The track has some personal attachment to it as I played it for some friends before I bailed out of Denver. Or maybe I should send it to all my female stalkers out there….something to hold at night…ahaha.
I know I’ve heard the beat for “None Shall Pass” on an old 80′s John Hughes movie or something, in a love scene, a girl leaving boy scene, some shit like that. At first, I wasn’t sure if I like this song or not. If you go back to Eric and I’s review of Aesop’s album (I can’t find it, but its on one of our blogs), then you could read my conflicted feelings about this album and song. I’ll admit though, this shit grows on you a ton.
I know this was released in ’06, but it wasn’t until a fellow blogger pointed the UK artist (the only one on the list I think) Ty and the song “Closer” out to me in January. I can’t remember who it was exactly, but many thanks. This song is just some smooth and mellow shit and Ty is a pretty damn good MC. We Americans, meanin’ me, are some snobby fuckers and any tint of a accent from anyone not named ”
Slick Rick” just bugs the fuck out of us. No accent here though, just quality lyrics and a nice flow over flowing keys and a smoothed out drum track.
I can hear a certain blogger cursing me as he reads this already. “Home” is my one and only Ill Poetic joint, although another came close to getting on. Funny story about this joint, the file that I had for, um, “review purposes”, had this joint titled “Hoe”. It kind of boggled me, cause the song didn’t sound like “that kind” of song and Poetic didn’t seem like he was into degrading women in that manner either, but whatever I thought. I eventually figured it out and it makes a lot more sense. Ill Poetic is nice behind the boards, qualified on the mic, and “Home” exemplifies that more than adequately enough.
“Opening Salvo” is another track from the beautifully produced Blue Scholars album. Obviously by now, you should come to realize that I liked that album a lot. This track was the first full track on the album. Sabzi tweaked a guitar sound that serves as the beat’s backbone, it makes it a rather interesting backdrop. Despite the great beat, I think the hook on this track is the selling point for me.
Joell Ortiz spits some darts on “Brooklyn Bullshit” and it’s all done over a familiar guitar sample. To me this is what hip hop, at least New York hip hop, is all about. It breathes the essence of classic Brooklyn hip hop. This joint should be the theme song for the borough.
Those of you who aren’t familiar with Charon Don, you might know him as part of the JuJu Mob that runs with Chief Kamanchi, Reef The Lost Cauze and those cats. On this track, Reef drops by to lend a hand over a track that is just chock full of energy. Both MC’s go for theirs and spit hard, rapid fire, lyrics that anyone who appreciates fine lyrics can appreciate. As I mentioned, the beat is a highlite for myself. I like high energy tracks and “Just Wanna Know” is that. Lots of scratching and a killer vocal sample just amps this track up into the stratosphere of adrenaline.
42. Prodigy – Mac 10 Handle (from Return Of The Mac)
A pet peeve of mine is recycling a common break thats been used to death already. “Mac 10 Handle” uses the “Easin’ In” sample that was first made popular by Ice T on his hit single “High Rollers” and has been used at nausea since then. For that reason, I didn’t care for this song at first, but damn this shit can grow on you. Top that off with the fact that Prodigy just sounds like a dude you don’t want to meet in a dark alley and you got a great pairing of beat and MC.
“I Can’t Win” is another joint that came out in ’06. Once again, don’t bother telling me that, I don’t care. My list. Truth is, I didn’t really listen to his album all that much in ’06. I did listen to it quite often in the beginning of ’07 after I saw it on few Year End Lists. It has some personal connections. Not that I rap, but it often feels that I’m in the L column in the game of life more than I’d like. Couple that with the fact that Pack is a great MC, one that probably doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves, kind of like the song is saying.
40. El-P – The Overly Dramatic Truth (from I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead)
More spaced out, LSD inducing, hip hop. “The Overly Dramatic Truth” sounds like a soundtrack for someone getting ready to take a plunge off the Empire State building. Dark and disturbing, El-P’s match the mood magnificently. No shit, earlier this year, I laid down after work and fell asleep with this album blaring in my headphones, later I woke up and this joint was coming out the speakers and I thought I was seriously having some kind of bad dream. Needless to say, I didn’t go to sleep with this playing anymore. No way in hell I’d want to listen to this on shrooms or something.
Die hard Scarface fans will call blasphemy for “Girl You Know” making the list. To some of them, this is equivalent of selling out, with Face rhyming over a 9th Wonder sounding soul sample. But to someone like me, it’s just Brad showing how diversified his music has become. Artists grow, and this song is a perfect example of Scarface growing with the times. For me the vocal sample is the hook that snagged me on the first listen. A true head bobber from the legend.
38. Cunninlynguists feat Devin the Dude – Wonderful (from Dirty Acres)
“Wonderful” was another song that I probably overkilled the rewind button a little too much with. When I first copped “Dirty Acres”, only two joints really stood out at first, “Wonderful” and “Yellow Lines”, so those got the most play, plus I had some personal reasons for my obsessive compulsive behavior as well at the time. “Wonderful” is one of the more up-tempo joints on an album filled with mellow material, armed with a bouncy, sing-songy beat the boys and guest Devin the Dude discuss the beauty of one of my favorite subject, women. Devin steals the show on this cut with a great verse.
Is there any producer that I’m anticipating more this year than Jake One? Probably not. Jake really hyped up an already good song in “North by Northwest” and made it even better. By including some dope ass horns and an ill bass line, this track quickly became one of my favorites after receiving it as a promo item from an unnamed source. I hope to hear more from Jake in this upcoming year.
In what might be described as the oddest match up of artist and producer, RJD2 and Little Brother teamed up on “Best Kept Secret” and dropped a fuckin’ heater. This is what I want to hear from a Little Brother joint. The beat is simple but banana’s with some nice guitar and some kickin’ drums. All three MC’s are also on point and give the fans what they expect out of a JL collabo. As far as the album itself, I thought this mixtape was 10 times better than “The Get Back”, but LB’s also release some dope “mixtapes”...Chitlin’ Circuits anyone?
Now this is what a leadoff song on an album should be like! Remember when the first song on the album was always something to get you amped up for the rest of the album? “My World Is…” is that type of song. For some of us, this was our introduction to Blu, the first time you heard of him (if you hadn’t checked out the Jay Loves Japan EP before this). Blu comes rushing out the gate with great rhymes that let you know that this kid is something to deal listen for in the near future. And let’s not forget the beat. Exile’s “Dirty Science” album made my top 5 last year and I’ve always liked his production on the Emanon albums. To be honest, that was the initial reason I anticipated this album. Trust me, this is just the first of many cuts to appear on this list from what could possibly be the album of the year.
Armed with a beat that sounds like it belonged on “The 12 Monkeys” soundtrack, “Rushing Elephants” was my favorite song off of “8 Diagrams”. I’ve always liked unorthodox beats such as this and I guess thats my main appeal to this song. The rest of the Wu might have had more shining moments on the mic on “8 Diagrams”, but the whole combination made this the star of the album.
How refreshing is it to have Q-Tip on this list once again? How awesome would this beat been on the Wu album? How dope are those horns? How dope is “Just a Little Dude”? I’ve had this song stuck in my head numerous times over the course of the year. RZA’s project for the Afro Samurai series was a very strong project and helped fuel my anticipation for the “8 Diagrams” project that left me somewhat unsatisfied. At least we know he still has it in him.
If you are going to do a tribute to hip hop these days, shit better be good, cause it’s been done a million times before. Joell Ortiz does just that on “Hip Hop” which just reeks of the culture. The opening line of Joell’s first verse says it the best:
“I’m not trying to bring New York back I’m just a breath of fresh air, that good old New York Rap”
If someone had no clue what New York and what hip hop was about, this would be the song I’d play for them.
Not the greatest Nas song of all-time, “Surviving the Times” is still pretty damn nice coming from one of the greatest to ever do it. An autobiography of sorts, the song is a journey through Nas’ trek to where he is today. The beat is fairly simple, but fits the mood well.
I’m not a big Polyrythym fan in the least. I hated the “Break Glass” LP, but for me, “Headsense” was the diamond in the muck. More of that boom-bap, in yo’ face type of hip hop, the track contained all the elements that made me fall in love with hip hop in the first place.
It was good seeing Kanye employing DJ Premier for cuts on both his own album and Common’s lack luster effort. The cuts are a nice touch to this soothing and relaxing beat that focus on piano keys as the backbone. The song also exhibits a lyrically stronger Kanye and he drops some strong points and makes forget what a complete ass he can be.
28. Pacifics feat Illmind – Maps (from The Case Ep)
I’m sure “Maps” came out in 2006, but I fell in love with it this year, so here it is. Illmind is slowly conjuring his way up my favorite producer’s list after starting off on the wrong foot with a god awful “Black Album” remix album back in 03-04. A swingy beat with some interesting drums and a guitar loop highlight the beat. In all honesty, I think it’s the singing on the hook that really sucks me into the overall composition.
27. DJ Jazzy Jeff feat Posdnous – Let Me Hear You Clap (from The Magnificent)
De La was fairly quite this past year, which for me is a bad thing. Aside from the Gorillaz appearance, “Let Me Hear U Clap” was the only thing I can recall seeing any of them on. The song reminds me of one of my fav’s from last year, the Pos track that was on Oh No’s Lp, in that it has a happy, vibrant beat that Pos just seems to fit so well on. Jazzy Jeff did a nice job on this beat and although some people weren’t completely up on Jeff’s album, I thought it had some nice moments to it.
A damn near flawless beat that combines strings and banging drums, “Fallin’” was my favorite track off of Jay’s “American Gangster” LP. The track almost induces a feeling of falling, it’s that effective. Not often that a beat dominates Jay’s lyrics, but this is close. I have been catching onto the lyrics more though on the weaker remix versions of “Fallin’” floating around on all the AG remixes.