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Plays, Spins, & Thoughts

by Travis on April 25, 2008


Ahhh, the weekly charts is blessing us with it’s presence once again. It was something that was supposed to be a weekly thing, but like a lot of other things on this blog, I kind of do it when I have the time and/or the energy. Regardless, there a lot of songs I’m enjoying, while not all that many actual albums. Here are a few blessing the iPod..

Top 10 Tracks

10. The Program – Gotta Get The Cash

The K-Def/Decapo collaboration project that came from my man Dan Love over at From Da Bricks. I had to warm up to the MC on this project and I’m still not sure I’m digging the rest of this EP, but this track just reminds me of some classic golden age shit. The beat is freakin amazing with K-Def freaking a sax sample to go with other tantalizing tidbits to make one of the best beats I’ve heard in a long while.

9. Big Quarters feat Alicia Steele – August

I featured this Minneapolis crew this past winter when they slid me their album. While I liked it, it kind of got lost in all the shuffle with the mediocre 4th quarter releases out there. I had a chance to go back to their “Cost Of Living” album and it sounds even better now. The crew sent me their newest track, which I take is going to be on the new album, and it’s rather nice as well. With production that is breaking away from the norm, but still with in the realms of good hip hop, the MC’s do their thing. This is definite head bobbing music.

8. Baje One – Mission Statement

I didn’t pay “Mission Statement” much attention the first dozen times or so I listened to his free EP “Weightless” being given away on Def Jux.com, but when I got around to listening to the words, it jumped into the rotation. I’m a beat person first and foremost, which means sometimes it takes me awhile to zero in on whats being said. Sometimes that never happens if the album just sucks beatwise. I listened to what Baje One was spitting on this track and I just related to it. It wasn’t how he was saying it or the quality of the lyrics, it was all about what was being said. I guess I’m getting old, but I am digging this track.

7. Amad Jamal – Goin’ Postal

If you’ve been following the “Philaflava Obscure Tracks” series that I’ve been doing the past month or so, you’ve no doubt heard of this man, Amad Jamal. He’s back ladies and gentlemen and he had a handful of good songs to download on his myspace, which is where I got the track “Goin’ Postal”. Back again is his smooth flow and a voice that is easy to zero in on. He is an above average MC, which makes this even more enjoyable. The track hooks up some humming with a thick bassline which I almost want to say sounds like an Evidence production, but I could be wrong. If this track is any indication of what to expect on the upcoming album, then I’m on board.

6. Foul Mouth Jerk feat Masta Ace – Small Town USA

No doubt that this might have been around for awhile according to some accounts, but it’s new to me. “Small Town USA” doesn’t really stand out from some of the other hip hop songs out there, but it’s my “type” of sound that does it for me. Then of course there is the matter of the guest that appears on the track, some dude named Masta Ace. He isn’t too shabby on the mic. That being said, Foul Mouth Jerk is rather new to me and in some ways reminds me of a tamer Fatlip from the Pharcyde fame. That is probably just me, but I like the fact he posses skills on the mic to really let shit fly over the quality track with all kind of cool horns, flutes and vocal samples. I’m going to be checking out FMJ more.

5. Grip Grand – But Anyway

Sometimes simple is better. “But Anyway” is an example of that. Beatwise, it’s main claim to fame is the first couple bars from the beginning of House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, those horns at the introduction. They are basically looped over a drum beat. It’s so simple, but it’s just fuckin’ dope to me. It reminds me of some kind of “entry” music for a boxer or fighter. The simplicity lets a newbie to me, Grip Grand, flex his lyrical muscles as he comes with punchlines and straight up MC skills. Great song.

4. Archetype – Blocked Up

From the Japanese release “Unfolding”, my favorite group of the past year comes with a new track that is full of that flavor that draws me to the Lawrence, Kansas duo. Nez Beats is one of those producers that I think could hang with just about anyone. His flavor is what gives Archetype their sound. On “Blocked Up”, he comes with an eerie vocal sample with whirling piano keys flying around. Then not to be outshined by the beat, iD come out and drops his penetrating lines that come at you with a forceful tone. Good music isn’t dead, it’s just living in Kansas.

3. Storm Davis feat Prolyphic & Ams Uno – Fatbackburners

“Fatbackburners” contains another particular kind of sound that I’m into. A hard, in your face, type of beat that just comes straight at the listener’s jugular. The menacing electric guitar type sound gives way to a horn sample over the hook which is layered over crazy scratching. I like most of Storm’s catalog, but this might be my second favorite S.D. track after his classic “Kegstand Poetry”. I’m not familiar with the two guests on the track, but they both do their thing and even make the track better in some aspects. I can see this track playing its way into a major song for the year 2008, it’s just a crazy track that makes me want to tip tables over and chuck bottles of cheap beer against a brick wall. Ahhhh, hip hop at its finest.

2. Oddisee feat Motion Man – Holding It Back

The production on this track is crazy, with a sassy sax loop as it’s basis, Oddissee, someone who is usually hit or miss with me, comes more than correct on this track. It’s one of those tracks that just gets stuck in your head.
I was pumping gas humming this damn song. And it’s a feel good song, another positive going for it. Top it all off, I’ve always liked Motion Man, so while it is kind of strange to hear him over this type of beat, he pulls it off and changes any preconceptions you may have had about him.

1. The Roots – 75 Bars (Black’s Reconstruction)

When it comes down to it, I feel that Black Thought is one of the top MC’s in the game, bar fuckin’ none. To me, this is hip hop in it’s rawest, purest fuckin’ form. Just an MC over a bassline and a drum track. “75 Bars” is just Black spitting. No hook, no choruses, just straight up Black Thought running down fools like a redneck trucker. Except for that horrid Birthday Song, I’ve liked what I’ve heard from the upcoming Roots album, this track only makes me get even more fiendin’ for it.

Top Spins

1. Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold

I will admit, I didn’t understand this album at first. I’ve been a little stand offish about this ever since hearing “Shoulda Known”, which while it’s somewhat addictive like the drugs Slug is rapping about, it just didn’t seem like one of those tracks that I would really care about past a couple weeks or so. Then there was the second video, “Guarantees”, which I didn’t care for at all. I figured that was one of the “oddball” tracks from the album, so I wasn’t overly worried about it. After I “previewed” I threw it on the iPod and gave it a listen. Much to my surprise, there were more tracks like “Guarantees” on the album. In fact, it was more like that kind of thing that what I came to expect from Atmosphere. I was kind of disappointed. But I kept listening to it and about four days later, the music all came together to me and since then I’ve been playing once or twice a day. It’s a more “mature” Atmosphere on this album. The music is more mature, the topics are more mature, it’s just something that a thirtysomething would be more likely to make music wise. I can see people really hating on this album, and honestly 10 years ago I would think it was garbage myself. At this point in my life though, I can get down with this album something major.

2. Poorly Drawn People – Shoot For The Stars, Hit The Ceiling

The homie Storm Davis and pals, such as Reason, Dox and others bless us their second “mixtape” in the form of “Shoot For The Stars, Hit The Ceiling”. I’m still getting my bearings with this collection of songs, but so far there has been some songs that have really stuck in my head. I’ve already mentioned “Fatbackburners”, but there is more to this joint than just that track. If you’ve been a fan of their music in the past, this is just an improvement on their earlier projects which shows the crew has tremendous promise in the future. If you haven’t heard of PDP, this would be a nice introduction to what the crew is all about.

3. Grip Grand – Brokelore

My homie Scholar from Souled On was the one that alerted me Grip Grand first, that same night my other colleague from When The Reminisce told me that while he didn’t like Grip, that I might dig him. Well props to both of them, because I’m digging this MC who I know very little about. Grip combines descriptive and in depth lyrics with authentic hip hop soundscapes that combine to produce songs that suck the listener into his world, whether it be telling about his struggles or just straight up kickin’ lyrics. For me, it’s a complete album, which is something you don’t see much of in hip hop these days. I can see this album growing on me in time, even more than it has already.

4. Buckshot & 9th Wonder – The Formula

I’ve had MANY an argument with my boy Dino about the quality of “Chemistry”, Buck’s and 9th’s first collabo together. It’s the reason he calls me a hater, a backpacker and too critical these days. I thought that album was a major snooze fest and could only get with a few tracks. It was mostly the beats that did it for me. To me, it was the point that 9th started just rushing shit out with out having beats with “soul” to them. I wasn’t going to let the first album cloud my hopes for the second album between the two, “The Formula”. I do think this album is better than the first one in the terms of overall quality, I also think it’s lacking the standout tracks that “Chemistry” had. Never happy, I know, I guess I am too critical.

5. Siah & Yeshua DaPoed – The Visulaz Anthology

The rerelease of Siah & Yeshua’s underground classic self titled EP. I for one didn’t collect the vinyl back in those days and did not latch on to one of the rare gems that came out on every hip hop nerds favorite label, Fondle ‘Em. So going into this project, I was somewhat unfamiliar with their music. What a shame, because they dropped a jewel with this one. While neither is a “amazing” MC, they both bring different elements to the table, with Siah almost sounding like a Jewish Q-Tip and Yesh coming hard in his own right. The production was some smooth jazzy flavor, which just makes everything sound crisp and yet still possessing a gritty edge. I have more with these two coming up in the future, so be on the lookout for that.

WHY???

Why am I starting to become slightly concerned with the direction 2008 is taking in concerns of the number of quality of hip hop albums? So far there is only four or five albums that really “do it” for me this year.

Why does the new Roots album have a guest artist on damn near every track. I’m cool with Malik B making a showing whenever he wants, but I wouldn’t mind just hearing Thought alone for most of the album.

Why does Talib Kweli’s voice just get more and more annoying to me?

Why do I think Detroit is one of the top cities these days in the hip hop game? Cuz of tracks like this, courtesy of Elzhi.

Why does the A Tribe Called Quest reunion sound too good to be true?

Why is the Pharcyde reunion on the same bill sound almost as exciting?…notice I did say “almost”.

Why in the fuck am I not living in Denver for that tour? I might have to go back just for that.

Why is there some new Rap Diva Show bullshit out now? I didn’t watch the White Rapper Show and I ain’t going to watch this, shame on Serch.

Why did the above show have that Khia chick on there from “My Neck, My Back” fame, and why is she pissed at Serch? I read something about it on Serch’s myspace, but he didn’t give details…

Why is THIS story on Ivan “Doc” Rodriguez one of the best articles I’ve read in a really long, LONG time?

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