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W.T.R. presents “Picks of the Litter” (The Top 100 Tracks of ‘08) 60-51 aka The "Preservation" Edition

by Eric on December 20, 2008

60. “Stoopid”-Sene f. Blu

Taken From: Sene’s mixtape/compilation “Elevator Music”

Highly slept on, Sene delivered a major knock-out blow in 2008 with the extremely funky “Stoopid”.  A track that finds Sene calling out all those triflin’ girls with “the Butterfly tats, tatted right above (their) butts”, who also “gold dig with their greedy friends, givin’ into needy trends”.  Throw in W.T.R. favorite Blu on the hook: “Get a lil’ sample of Love but ya’ just go..” and you’ve got a bonafied winner that is bound to get your neck-snappin’ and ass movin’.  A member of the coveted “Next 1000″ from URB magazine, this Brooklyn native is only gettin’ started.  Utilizing dope, jazzy samples and hard drum breaks, Sene has a bright future ahead of him…..and with a voice like his, it’s not hard to believe that his cat was born to emcee!

59. “Right Here”-Samon Kawamura f. Oh No

I downloaded this album from “HHB” a few monts ago, after seein’ it pop up in Dart’s “For Doz That Slept” column in his weekly review series…I figure,  if Dart’s givin’ me a headz up I know it’s gotta be decent. In short, this Tokyo-born, Berlin-based producer & turntabilist’s sophomore LP “The Unfold” does not disappoint. Chalked full of faraway grooves and subtle, eargasmic undertones that keep the album fluid, Samon also scooped up quite an impressive line-up for this compilation of sorts. “The Unfold” also featured appearances from some of the underground’s finest to include Kev Brown, Aloe Blacc, Ta’Raach and Oh No. The beats are the highlight of this album, as witnessed from the superb head-knocker “Right Here” were Samon gives Oh No a taste of his own medicine. “Right Here” is 3 minutes and 33 seconds of whiplash-inducing drums and strings, a track that bares a striking resemblance to some of Oh No’s fine production tactics that he’s garnered much props for. Plus, anytime anyone sprinkles a track with some of M.O.P.’s vocal antics it’s always a winner in my book. “Right Here” hits it’s apex near the 2:20 mark as the music goes from frantic to soothing…if that’s at all possible and the Pete Rock outro is a nice little added touch that pays homage to one of Hip Hop’s legendary beatmakers of all-time. Be sure to check this album out RIGHT HERE (props musical schizophrenia!), no pun intended. “Unfold” is a very cohesive, enjoyable piece of work from a little-known producer who may not be “little known” for very much longer. Oh, be sure to peep the Aloe Blacc (one of the most talented, underappreciated cats in Hip Hop) track “Try” as well……smooth as hell!

58. “Dream Streets”-Buff 1

After last year’s release “Pure”, I wasn’t really sure if Buff 1 would be able to match the quality that one of 2007′s biggest surprises delivered, with his highly anticipated follow up “There’s Only One”. Holy Shit!!! Buff’s second attempt was fu*kin’ AMAZING!! It was almost inevitable to not group this release along with all the hype that surrounded fellow Detroit resident Elzhi’s solo debut “The Preface”. However, after listening to “There’s Only One” constantly for the past few months, I’m here to let you in on a lil’ secret. Three things are very apparent when comparing Buff’s solo effort and Elzhi’s debut:

1. Most of you already know that Black Milk handled the production duties on “The Preface”, and even though Black does contribute one track to the album (“Never Fall”), the production team of the Lab Techs (who handled all but one track on “There’s Only One”) trumps Milk’s usually outstanding work….BIG TIME!! If these cats aren’t in high demand after the spine tingling beats featured on this album, then the Hip Hop industry is insane!!

2. All in all, there’s really no comparison between the two (“Only One” & “The Preface”)….”There’s Only One” is the better album, POINT BLANK, there’s really no discussion.

3. Even though Elzhi may be the wittier of the two emcees, Buff 1 is right up there with my favorites in Hip Hop right now. As sad as it is to admit to some, there’s only two emcees (now three, if you include Buff) in the game who’s lyrics I can memorize after listening to their albums in full for just a few times, those “two” being Jay Z and….are you ready for this??…the Game!!! Buff is one of those emcees whose lyrics and delivery are extremely easy on the ears. All in all, a wonderful follow-up that only improves on it’s debut, easily one of the top three releases of the year thus far….if not the best, we shall see?

57. “Killing Me” Fundament/Shinogo f. Muneshine

Ahhh….Canada’s in the house 1nce again! A month or so ago DJ Ragz IM’d me with the MP3, “Killing Me” stating: “Dude, you gotta’ hear this ish’..instant classic!”. Without much hesitation I dl’d the track only to nod away in total agreement with 1/2 of the Jazz Addixx.  Fundament, aka Tim Stuart killed it over this Shinogo produced track.  An airy, Ill Poetic meets 14 KT-type of backdrop, Shinogo laid the perfect groundwork for Fundament to offer his take on the material things in life.  I can guarantee you, a couple back-to-back spins of “Killing Me” and it’s hard not to fall in love with it, especially with an all too catchy hook that goes:  “I want the cars, the keys, the cash, the weed, the pads, the steez, the schwag….”.  Also, not to be outdone fellow “Canuck” Muneshine joins the party in his quest for “The booze and the bars/The beauty with the boobs and booty that’s large”.  Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t your typical, run of the mill “get money” joint. Fundament, Shino and Muneshine all added their own individual takes on subject matter that’s been run into the ground somewhat, and in the end made it come out super fresh!!  Also, major props to both Fundament and Muneshine for their respective “drops” on the “Preservation” mixtape.  “From T Dot to CA/MTL to VA all day…Let’s get it!

56. “Story Be Told”-Nieve and Cook

First things first, you remember A.D.O.R. of the Pete Rock produced classic “Let It All Hang Out”, right? Well, you can’t tell me that emcee Nieve doesn’t sound EXACTLY like him. What’s the relevance you ask, nothing really..just thought it was a nice little factoid. Matter of fact, “Away With Words” is a “nice little album”. Sporting a jazzy/soulful/mellowed out vibe, “Away With Words” will more than likely fall between the crevices of the countless releases that will never garner much attention…but it should NOT be slept on…this album is real nice. It never fails to put in a positive state of mind, similar to the feeling I get when I listen to Theory Hazit’s latest joint “Lord Fire” and Ohmega Watts’ “Watts Happening”. “Story Be Told” reminds me alot of Braille’s “Many Stories” that I bumped the hell outta’ when “The IV Edition” first leaked, mostly in part to the belted, breezy hook thanks to Cook Classics’ always fresh production. Also, don’t sleep on the Nomak remix of “Chronic Intoxication”, another joint that could have made this list as well.

55. “In Ya’ System”-Primo The Cinematic

“Easy Mo Bee” lives on!!! One listen to ridiculous production that is Primo The Cinematic’s “In Ya’ System” and it’s easy to see where this comparison arises. “In Ya’ System” features that “crazy, robotic, futuristic type sh*t” that Craig Mack was talkin’ about near the start of the Mo Bee classic “Flava’ In Ya’ Ear”.  Not just on the production side of thing, Primo The Cinematic is own some ol’ next sh*t lyrically as well.  Born and raised in the city of wind, Primo-now a Virginia resident-has never lost his Chi-Town roots. A wordsmith by nature Primo’s “Contemporary Classic” is one album you NEED to check out this year if you have $10.00 burning a hole in your pocket.  Hell, even if you don’t, “Contemporary Classic is well worth the hard-earned dough!  Get this, 31…yes, 31(!) tracks deep, Primo’s “In Ya’ System” is just one of many gems featured on the double album.  A big thanks to Ragz for putting me on to his fellow member of the Embassy Click. Get the album NOW on Itunes


Money by Primeridian, Rashid Hadee, Pugs Atomz. from Pugs Atomz on Vimeo.

54. “Money”-Rashind Hadee, Primeridian & Pugz Atomz

“I jus’ get it my waay”, gotdamn this track knocks!! Produced by Tall Black Guy, some of Chi-Town’s finest connect for this “gotta’ get money/by any means necessary” anthem. Flipping the all-too-familiar “Substitution” break over a thick bassline, producer Tall Black Guy scored a huuge winner on this “Get Money”-type anthem (see Fundament’s “Kiling Me” above). W.T.R. favorite Rahsid Hadee wastes no time digging into the subject matter that fuels this anthem: “Money fallin’ from the sky/No, it don’t grow on trees/But it can grow on me/And my hands can be the branches and this can be the leaves/Keep it comin’ full circle/3-60 degrees…” Man, this track is one of the biggest sleepers of the year as it’s grown on me like a bad fungus. “Money” is yet another track that features “one of those” hooks that you’ll be hummin’ to yourself over and over. Oh, don’t sleep on the lyrical performances of Pugz and Primeridian…”Gimme tha’ 20′s, tha’ 50′s, tha’ hundreds…”

53. “Dedicated”-Katalyst f. Diverse

“What’s Happening” was second album from the Australian hip hop artist, Katalyst (aka Sydney based producer Ashley Anderson), a fairly nice follow up to Katalyst’s award-winning debut album, “Manipulating Agent”. “What’s Happening” was released by the little known, Invada Records. The album also featured guest vocalists from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia – including Stephanie McKay, J-Live, Steve Spacek, Diverse Katie Noonan (george), Magic Dirt’s Adalita and Beautiful Girls’s Mat McHugh. But, it’s “Dedicated” that featured underground favorite Diverse that totally outshines any track on this album and all but a select handful of tracks that dropped this year. Even though, if you wanna’ be picky, “What’s Happening” dropped in the summer of 2007. So what? I guarantee you that you’ve also been sleeping on “Dedicated” as well.  A very introspective and very personal track, Diverse rides this smooth Katalyst production effortlessly.  Despite the very heartfelt lyrics, “Dedicated” has the potential to be a breaker’s anthem, due in large part to the crazy breakbeat.  Tell me those horns on the hook aren’t on some mid-nineties sh#t?  GREAT….GREAT track!!

52. “Telepathy”-Ilyas (of Tanya Morgan)

Man, I gotta admit I became quite a bit of a Tanya Morgan “STAN” in 2008, going so far as to track down much of whatever they’ve laid down over the last few years (don’t sleep on “Moonlighting”!!). The trio of Tanya Morgan had already delivered some of ’08′s best work with the release of their EP “The Bridge”. Also of note, DonWill and producer Suhburb’s collabo “Suhburban Sprawl” was an unexpected surpise as well that reeked of originality and dirty, distorted production (in a good way, of course). I know that this collaborative effort between members DonWil and Ilyas leaked on DJ Low Key’s site earlier in the year but for reasons unknown it’s got lost in the sauce amongst the 300 GB’s on my spare hard drive and I’ve just recently put it in the mix. Clocking in at 31 tracks deep, IlWil’s “Beat Thieves 2″ was a roller-coaster ride of eclectic production and quality lyricism that is very welcome in Hip Hop’s landscape. One of the most impressive qualities of Tanya Morgan is that they’re not afraid to make fun of themselves, never taking themselves to seriously and that’s a rarity today. However, Ilyas’ “Telepathy” is just the opposite, an honest ode to the female sex and the attraction between male-female from Ilyas’ perspective over THUMPING production! Honestly, if you would’ve have asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have placed this amongst my top five singles of the year….however, I’ve bumped “Telepathy” to death over the last few months and the slew of dope releases of late has bumped this one down a few notches. Still, don’t sleep on this talented trio and in the meanwhile, give “The Bridge” a listen while you’re at it!!

51. “Rock It Number Nine”-MetaForm

Damn….”It’s been a long time/I shouldn’t have left you/Without a strong beat to step to….”. Move over DJ Shadow and your so-called masterpiece titled “Entroducing”, there’s new blood on the block that’s begging to be heard. Out of virtually nowhere appeared producer MetaForm’s instrumental opus, “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants”, piecing together layers and textures of samples and familiar breakbeats that make you say “damn, he dug that up?” I first heard this album on the way home from work in early ’08 and I’ve been nearly speechless after each and every listen, and this is coming from someone never been one to stay in tune with an instrumental album in it’s entirety without straying off into “la la land” (A.D.D.’s a bitch!). DO NOT let the cover art mislead you, “Standing On The Shoulders…” is quite possibly the most complete instrumental Hip Hop album that I’ve ever heard (outside of 14 KT’s “The Golden Hour”), even with the less than favorable tiny little tidbits of Drum & Bass thrown in for good measure (not too much though).

All that I can tell you about MetaForm is what I’ve gathered from his Bio, so below is just a nice little “copy and paste” from his site:

“From the ashes of Razed High, the multi-instrumentalist, vinyl villian and gadget scavenger-hermit, Hai-Ding, broke the confines of the West Coast and morphed into a formidable musical force now secretly migrating between L.A., San Francisco and Tokyo. Under the moniker Metaform, his anonymity, coupled with a divine knack for gleening the essenceof countless genres has both positioned him as an act to be reckoned with, as well as enhanced the mystery of his identity.

Metaform paints a portrait of the seedy underbelly of east and west by blending live instrumentation and structured samplings to hone his skills. Sequestering himself in the Boom Box (his modest home studio with an array of toys), Metaform redefines “street” and takes genre-bending to dizzying heights. Pick your poison. “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” pays homage to ear candy soul classics and folds in healthy doses of just the fix you need.

Garnering praise from XLR8R, URB, CD Baby and DJ Magazine, Metaformdelivers. This new release is a cocktail with flavors of RJD2, Iggy Pop, Underworld, Thomas Fehlmann, and DJ Shadow. Those with ears like fine tooth combs may also dream of where Metaform could be heading and thus drool at the prospect of future releases blending Anticon-esquefractured hip-hop beats with the experimentalism of Animal Collective and the beauty of Home Video, Mum or some other smokey-lounge act.”

….Hmm, interesting…now let’s get to the good stuff beginning with the album’s opener “Rock It Number Nine”. Man, what a great way to start an album, most of you will recall the “oooh, ahhh” sample from the Young Gunz’ “We Choose” which appeared on their album “Tough Luv” (which, I thought was a pretty darn good album) and you’ll also recognize the xylophone from Nas’ “One Love”. At only a minute and a half long, “Rock It…” is a short but extremely sweet track that will bring a smile to your face every time you hear it. You might as well go ‘head and throw another all-too-short track, the 55 second “The Telephone” in that same category as this whiny sample leaves you yearning for more. However, the true gem on “Standing On The..” is “Crush”. The track opens with some soothing female vocals over swift, boom-bap drums, but near the .08 mark is when the “oh shit” moment commences as the smooth guitars elevate the track to another atmosphere. The guitar sample was the same lick that made Rappin 4-Tay’s (yeah, Rappin 4-Tay!) “Playaz Club” at least tolerable and surprisingly I’m not sure why this sample hasn’t been utilized even more since 1995. Whatever the case, be sure and check “Standing On The Shoulders..” out, I promise that you’ll walk away satisfied!

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{ 1 comment }

Travis December 22, 2008 at 7:15 pm

A couple I have to go back to and re-listen. I still think you are smoking the hippy lettuce for saying the LabTechs are better than Black Milk or that “There’s Only One” is better than the Elzhi…don’t get me wrong, I like both LabTechs and “There’s Only One”, but I still give it to Black Milk and The Preface

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