What’s good boys and girls? For now, we just have the link for entire 25 songs. Links for the individual songs will be up a little later, I have some football to watch now. Have fun!
75. Nicolay & Kay feat Oh No & The Luv Bugz – Tight Eyes (From: “Time: Line”)
I felt that Time: Line from Nicolay & Kay is another album that came out so early that cats that have problems holding their attention on a 50 minute album surely forgot about it. Truth is it’s one of my favorite albums, as we shall soon see. The lead single from their opus came in the form of “Tight Eyes” which was blessed with Oh No and his “group” of sorts (I’m guessing). This is another song that ’94 Travis would call ’09 Travis a pussy for liking. In my older age though, give a me nice mellow, head swaying track such as “Tight Eyes” with some uplifting singing and mood inducing melodies.
74. Citizen & Livin’ Poetry feat Kevorkian – Hip Hop (For Real): (From: “Live Free, Die Hard”)
More from the Citizen and Livin’ Poetry. I’ll admit, what sucked me into this track right off the bat was the ill Spanish horns that Citizen hooked up. They give it that mariachi flavor, that is just something “different”. While the beat is what hooked me initially, all three MC’s do their thing, and while the verses are not entirely the most memorable, the most certainly don’t take anything way from the overall enjoyment of the track.
73. Royce Da 5’9 – Shake This (from: “Street Hop”)
The lead single from the DJ Premiere executive produced LP coming from one of my favorite (if not my favorite) MC at the present, Royce Da 5’9. The track is produced by Primo, which is actually kind of surprising, since it doesn’t contain the trademarked Primo sound. Not saying it isn’t an excellent beat, the stings set the frantic mood of darkness and hopelessness that Royce portrays in his lyrics. “Shake This” is similar to what might have been found on his excellent “Death Is Certain” LP from a few years back, Royce chronicles some events of his life the past few years. It’s an excellent track that sets up the anticipation for the upcoming album.
72. Kooley High - There You Go (from: “The Summer Sessions” EP)
What’s better than a group of hungry artists over a traditional (read: dope) 9th Wonder beat? Not much in the musical world, that’s for sure. The three MC’s, Charlie Smarts, Raposody, and Tab-One kick their stylings over the soul sample from 9th, and it has what any memorable track has (besides a dope ass beat), a mind drilling hook. I can’t tell you how many times I caught myself singing this track in my head this past year.
71. Invincible - Sledgehammer (from: “Shapeshifters”)
Between Jean Grae and this Detroit female, who ever said there wasn’t any more good female MC’s is obviously smoking some crushed smarties. Invincible dropped easily one of the nicest albums to come out in ’08. She somewhat suffered from Trav’s dreaded “I enjoyed the album as a whole more than I did any individual track”, but I’d rather have a full dope album than one dope jammie. This was my favorite track from her “Shapeshifters” LP. I’m big on the busy musical backing, equipped with banging drums and a Dilla-isque hand claps and other odd little sounds that bring it all together. Lyrically, it’s a dead heat between Jean Grae and Invincible for top female MC. Invincible makes her case with dead on verses that are both sharp as a knife, yet smooth as cashmere.
70. Has-Lo – Ain’t Got It In Ya (from: “Small Metal Objects” EP)
“I ain’t one of ya corny ass soul producers….”, the opening line from Has-Lo comes echoing in the headphones, and you realize he has issues with some of the current fads in hip hop. What better way to convey that message than to go “Pop Goes The Weasel” ala 3rd Bass circa 1991 all up on someone by hooking up a nice soul sample himself and letting run wild. Literally. At about the minute and five second mark, Has just let’s the sample play, as to kind of rub the noses of the offenders in it. But unlike some of the soul productions out there, Has hooks up loud drums and some killer bass kicks that are sure to rattle a rear view mirror or two. Has of course comes with the lyrical muscle as he drops his sometimes dry sarcasm onto the ears of the unprepared. Nice track off of his “Small Metal Objects” EP. And a warning; Has gave me a frozen Philly from Geno’s, seven slightly used Playboys from the 80′s and an old Steady B 8 Track, so you’ll be seeing more of Has throughout this list.
69. Ed O.G. & Masta Ace – Doesn’t Matter (from: A leak on their myspace pages)
My most anticipated project of 2009? I’d probably have to go with the Ace & Ed collaboration, “A&E”. It’s not some pipe dream, as I’ve gotten reports from several close associated people to Ace that this is already in the works. I don’t have much info on this track, I’m not even sure if I have the title correct on it (it was listed as A&E on their myspace). The beat honestly is somewhat of a disappointment. It’s not horrible or anything, just kind of blah. It’s just real simple with not a lot going on in it to really catch my ear. That said, it’s still nice enough not to detract from what Ace and Ed have to say. Neither of them are the greatest lyricists, but they are good MC’s, meaning they have a lot of the other intangibles going for them, flow, style, tone, presence, and it’s all found on this track.
68. Edreys – I Like It (From: a released single)
I really thought we’d hear more from this cat this year. Edreys was the first artist that I featured on our “New Artist Spotlight” that we started back in February or March. “I Like It” seemed to have a lot going for it and it seemed a lot of cats were feeling it. Yet, there was much after this and I haven’t heard anything from the cat or his camp in awhile. The dude is a nice MC, nothing mind blowing or different, he just does it well. The beat is also nothing spectacular either, but again, on point and moves the body. Hopefully we’ll hear more from the cat in the upcoming year as I think he has some talent.
67. Bronze Nazareth feat Canibus, Keith Murray, M-80 - Handle The Heights (From: Almighty Sins “Original SIN”)
Bronze Nazareth is one of those dudes that always offers up music that I like, but for whatever reason I never get gung ho over. I like the medieval like strings and drums that are often associated with his music. “Handle The Heights” also features two of my favorite MC’s from the 90′s, Canibus and Keith Murray and in what seemed like a total blast from the past, both bring the heat. Keith Murray is the Keith of old, that Def Squad, chair smashin’ MC that sounded like he woke up with a cotton ball shoved down his wind pipe. And once again, Canibus just proves that he needs to have some beats (as well learn how to write a complete song) and he’d live up the hype, and have the career that so far has lived up to Ryan Leaf proportions.
66. Elzhi – Guessing Game (From: “The Preface”)
Originality is something that is lacking in hip hop. But then again, originality doesn’t always mean “good”. You have cats that just go out there and give us the same cookie cutter sound and style that we’ve been hearing for the past 15 years. Then you got cats that make shit so far out there and try to convince us that it’s still hip hop, yet it sounds like some techno/electro/trip hop bullshit that you hear over in a foreign club. Elzhi though comes with something different on this track and still keeps it hip hop. Surely those of you that have checked this track know what I’m talking about, as he takes the cymbals at the of a line and parlays it as the start of the next line, with an entirely different meaning than you might think. It really causes you to listen to what is being said, and is indeed a fun kind of “game” as the chorus says. This of course would all be lost if the beat wasn’t enjoyable, and no worries about that.
65. Grip Grand - But Anyways(From: “Brokelore”)
Grip Grand is my favorite “new artist” this year, at least he was new to me. Truth is, Grip’s been around since the late 90′s, coming up with legendary Bay Area label Bomb Records. On “But Anyways”, Grip shows that sometimes, simple is better. Over a bangin’ drum track, and a little dash of guitar here and there, the feature of the track is found in the sample that is best recognized as the introduction to House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. You know what I’m talking about, those dope ass horns and bass drums, that sounds like a marching band getting ready to take off. It’s simple, but shits dope. Grip comes out and just runs amuck over the track as he disses himself, makes sarcastic jabs at others, and just embodies everything that I dug in this cat over 2008.
64. Evidence feat Phonte, Blu & Will I Am - For Whom The Bell Tolls (from: “The Layover” EP)
Evidence as a solo artist has been killing it the past couple years. I’ve always been okay with Dilated Peoples as a group, but Evidence by himself has put out quality music that makes me take notice. That’s the case with the multiple mixtapes and the EP Ev released this past year, all nice projects that make the listener ready to hear more. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is a nice little posse cuts of sorts, featuring two of the more popular MC’s in Phonte of Little Brother and everybody’s “next to blow”, Blu. The slow, meandering beat and the Christmas song sample works for all involved.
63. Elzhi – The Leak (from: “The Preface”)
The lead off track for Elzhi’s “The Preface” was a nice start to a great album (just how great I thought it was, coming soon). Black Milk demonstrated his prowess of wrecking shit all year with a nice beat that had his trademark bangin’ drums. The singing/chanting hook works nice as well. Of course Elzhi does what he does best, just rip shit. A perfect example why he gets my vote for MC of the year.
62. Torae feat Skyzoo – Click (from: Torae’s “Daily Conversation”)
Ask Eric over at When They Reminisce about my feelings on Skyzoo and he’ll quickly clown me for not liking him. I never have really, he just kind of has that boring flow that I have never really gotten with. Torae himself is kind of hit or miss for me as well, but he drops some joints that catch my ear from time to time. Anyway, you put a nice Primo track behind these two and suddenly I see why everyone else is ridin their johnson. Primo hooks up some dope horns as Sky and Torae do a nice job of holding things down.
61. Hired Gun – Dead City (From: “The People’s Verses”)
My man Hired Gun hit me up right about the time I was getting ready to call it a “wrap” for the year and dropped this video on me. I must have played the “Dead City” video four or five times in a row, which is a sign of a good song (and video). Hired Gun i
s dropping more than your average bitch, trick, and ho lyrics. He is dropping food for your mind. Something that makes you think. The beat is rather basic, but the string (violin?) sample just adds to the serious tones already found on the track. More good shit coming from Hired Gun in the very near future.
60. Has-Lo & Small Professor – Prelude (Small Pro Remix) (from: “Fuck Has Day: Remixed But Still Fucked” EP)
It was hard for me deciding between Has-Lo’s original creation of “Fuck Has Day” and “The Remixed But Still Fucked” version of Small Pro. Has’ original opus is a darker and more sinister production, while Small Pro is a little more up beat and boombastic. In the end, it finally comes down to my mood. One of my favorite joints on the original creation is the EP’s kickoff, “Prelude”. Yet somehow, Small Pro stepped up the game even more by offering an equally sinister, yet somehow a more “livilier” version. Small Pro demostrates why he should be all the rage of upcoming producers in the new year.
59. Kurupt – Yessir (From: The forthcoming “G-Boy Status”)
The artist mentioned in the 60th song, put me onto “Yessir”, a Pete Rock created beat with Kurupt doing his best laid back flow over it. The two make a nice pair with Kurupt spitting lyrics like he was from Philadelphia or someplace back east and Pete compliments Kurupt with a nice beat he could jus flow to. And, “yessir”, this joint is catchy as fuck.
58. Pacewon & Mr. Green – Hip Hop (From: “The Only Color That Matters Is Green”)
The whole “Hip Hop is great” topics for songs is growing a little old and has been done waaaaay too much. Yet, I can still get sucked into a good “hip hop is my love” track fairly quickly. “Hip Hop” from Pace and Mr. Green is one of those good ole “anthems”. As I previously mentioned, these two work well together. Nothing new here as far as subject matter, but it makes you proud of being a hip hop head.
57. Elzhi feat Royce Da 5’9 – Motown 25 (From: “The Preface”)
Two of my current favorite MC’s doing their thing on “Motown 25″, and possibly two of the best lyricists going right now in the game. Honestly, this song started a lot lower when I first put this list together at the beginning of December. Over that time, I got on a “Motown 25″ kick and just went crazy with it the past month. Both verses are just freaking crazy insane. I think this is an obvious example of both MC’s trying to out do each other in a friendly little competition. If these two ever made an album together (like the rumos have it), it could be one of the most lyrical, rewind button breaking albums ever.
56. The Roots feat Dice Raw, Peddi Crakk & DJ Jazzy Jeff – Get Busy (From: “Rising Down”)
I love tracks like “Get Busy”. The shit is just noise, fuzz, buzz, and chaos at its best. Just like the title implies, this is just a busy track, with a wicked bassline that just reminds this former Bomb Squad junkie of the Bomb Squad themselves. It’s just aderaline pumping, chest thumping, music at its best. Then you get three MC’s like Black Thought, Dice Raw (who’ve I’ve always liked) and Peddi Crakk, and you got yourself everything needed for a classic track. This was another joint that jumped up a lot over the past few months. I somewhat slept on the Roots album earlier in the year, but played it a lot more the last couple months after revisiting it.
55. Shawn Jackson - Feelin’ Jack (From: “First Of All….”)
Shawn Jackson was another one of my favorite “new discoveries” of the year. The cat has been around since the late 80′s but finally came to light for a lot of us out there. His album “First Of All…” is a favorite of mine, therefore, not as many tracks made it on to the list since I listened to the album as a whole a lot. This particular track grabbed me with it’s slow, laid back head noddin’ beat. It’s got swagger, and a lot of it. Kinda like a laid back gunslinger before a busts a cap in yo ass. And Shawn Jack can bust a lyrical cap in that ass as well, as you see on the track.
54. Kooley High feat Lazerus & Edgar Allen Floe – Water (From: “Summer Sessions” EP)
Ahhh, it was nice to have 9th doing his thing again and the beat for “Water” might possibly one of the best 9th beats since his Chitlin Circuit days with Little Brother. It’s got that 9th sound, yet it has “more”, if that makes sense. The funny thing is, the beat reminds of flowing water, it’s fluid in nature.
53. Foul Mouth Jerk feat Masta Ace - Small Town USA (From: “Streetlight Music”)
I don’t hear of anyone talking about Foul Mouth Jerk’s “Streetlight Music”, which is unfortunate. Not saying it was the greatest release of the year, but it was good enough to at least get some recognition. The dude had a nice little album with a large variety of topics covered (he dropped second best anti-Bush track ever, after Louis Logic’s “Ugly Truth” track. This particular track has the Jerk hooking up with my favorite MC, Masta Ace over a soulful and energetic track. Both FMJ and Ace do their thing, just rapping about touring and the “small towns” around the na
tion. The Jerk does an admirable job at keeping with Ace, which isn’t all that easy as Ace drops one of his best verses I’ve heard from him in awhile (including the eMC album). Very nice track that more people should check out.
52. Oddisee feat Motion Man – Holding It Down (From: “Good Tree” EP)
Sometimes a beat comes a long that just amazes me. The MC, whoever he is, could be singing the ABC’s over it and the beat will make that shit sound incredible. That’s what the beat for “Holding It Down” does for me. Oddisee absolutely KILLS this beat, with a simple sax loop, but it’s simply incredible. However, instead of having some wack no name MC singing the ABC’s over it, he gets the incredibly talented and equally slept on Motion Man to spit some bars over the flames. The end result is head swinger that has all the aspects of a great hip hop song.
51. One Be Lo – Gray (from: “The R.E.B.I.R.T.H.”)
What’s in the water in Detroit? Really, I want to know, because it seemed like anything that came out of Motown this past year was flames. In some ways, I forget that One Be Lo is from Michigan and the Detroit area. I forget how dope this album was, since it was released early in ’08 (and it leaked late ’07), but it would be a shame not to mention just how incredibly dope One Be Lo is, even though by his standards, the R.E.B.I.R.T.H. album up to par with his previous material, it still blows out a majority of the projects that dropped this year. “Gray” is nice sax driven beat over a mellow bassline and equally nice drum track. It’s some mood inducing music, something that I value a lot more in my old age. It’s a somber track, yet uplifting in the same sense. Impressive in this day of age, and hell, you gotta love the “The Outsiders” sample clip at the end of the song.