Score me a late pass for this one since it’s only been slightly over two weeks that I’ve been bumpin’ “..Transformations” in the Ipizzy. To be quite up front, I haven’t really been keeping up with Jay Electronica all that much over the past year. I don’t know if it’s the Just Blaze association or what, but for some reason in the back of my mind I fear that Jay’s debut album may end up on the same path as Saigon’s shelved (for now) “The Greatest Story Never Told”.
In the meantime, this Just Blaze-produced gem was more than enough to hold you over in light of Jay’s forthcoming debut. Lyrically, when Jay is on top of his game he is very reminiscent of an “It Was Written” Nas, very thought-provoking and at times confrontational. Although, I’m sure, if given more time “..Transformations” would have found itself in a much higher position on my year end single, for Jay Electronica this track is only a glimpse of the promise and hunger of a starving underground artist.
From the start of “The Golden Hour”, 14KT served as your tour guide on an emotional roller-coaster starting with the spacey, futuristic “The Waiting Room” (The Main Theme), which also happens to be my current “flavor of the week” from the album. Near the tracks ending the question is posed by a certain female: “In time..will I..survive or die?”, I don’t know but if this question is in reference to KT’s tenure as a thriving producer in Hip Hop the answer is simple…a resounding YES!!
What’s crazy is that I’ve had this album since the day prior to it’s release (thanks KT!) but I haven’t really had ample to truly sit down and give this album it’s due propers, so when Beads of Kevin Nottingham.com beat me to his punch with his analysis of “The Golden Hour” I wanted to kick myself in the ass! Especially when Beads stated that “The Waiting Room”, “sounds like it was made specifically for Andre 3000″….damn! I share those same sentiments each time I listen to the track, and you can actually hear the Organized Noize influence in many of KT’s productions. Yet, don’t get it twisted KT’s beats truly have their own unique identity. Simply put..”The Golden Hour” = CLASSIC!!!
Isn’t it so nice when The Game isn’t referencing Eazy, Big, Jay or ‘Ye, in what seems like every other bar or so? Let it be known, The Game’s three albums (“The Documentary”, “Doctor’s Advocate” and ’08′s “L.A.X.”) have all been “guilty pleasures” of mine. And I know that I’ve mentioned this on numerous occasions (I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of Game’s delivery, lyrics or a combination of both), but after about one thorough listen to a Game album, I feel as if I can recite every lyric word for word…weird, huh?
Produced by Brittany Spears’ former “fling” J.R. Rotem (dude does a fairly good Dr. Dre impersonation though!), the Chrisette Michelle assisted “Let Us Live” is a creeper of a track, a truly haunting groove. A slow-rolling, almost murky bassline serves as the perfect backdrop for Game’s voice and delivery. While not the most lyrical, Game has always been able to keep me tuned in to his gang stories and near bouts with death. And, quite honestly-”L.A.X.” was one of the more entertaining albums of the year and may very well have been the Game’s best piece of finished product to date.
Although-for reasons that will go unmentioned-I have a bitter taste in my mouth for Common Market, there’s no fronting on the masterpiece crafted in 2008 by RA Scion and Sabzi, “Tobacco Road”. I fall in love with this album more and more with each passing listen. You can’t tell me with a straight face that RA isn’t one of the dopest lyricist in the Hip Hop biz right now. I mean, dude is a serious beast with his lyrical structure and wordplay. At times, it goes without saying, that RA is very…umm…intricate, and if you’re not following along too closely it’s easier for the listener to lose grasp on the picture that RA is painting. But at the end of the day, it goes without saying, that he is a remarkable, awe-inspiring emcee. It’s just a damn shame that he goes largely unnoticed.
On a side-note, while listening to “40 Acres” on the way home from work last night I was struggling to draw an accurate comparison for Sabzi’s production style and techniques. Then mid-way through “40 Acres” it hit me…you can’t tell me that Sabzi’s production on “Tobacco Road” isn’t at least somewhat reminiscent of a “Love Movement”-Ummah. Sabzi is (and has been for the last two years) hands-down one of a handful of producers that I consistently check for and it’s a damn shame that Blue Scholars most recent track “Coffee & Cold” didn’t drop in 2008 because I can guarantee you that it would have definitely found itself in my top 5 tracks of the year…at least!!
And on that note…here’s the lighter side of RA with his response to Blue Scholars’ “Coffee and Snow”, “Tobacco & Snow Covered Roads”…damn that beat is hot!!!
If you may have peeped the album that Deday did with producer Fluent (who as a member of Uncut Raw dropped one of 2007′s most slept-on albums “First Toke”), titled “The Antique Black”, then you know this lyrical heavyweight is no slouch on the mic got skillz on the mic. As a member of the underground crew, the Molemen, Decay has been puttin’ in work since the mid-90′s.
Produced by Panik, “That’s War” is a frantic, hectic, noisy masterpiece. The groundwork laid by Panik was unlike anything that blessed my eardrums in 2008, while Decay coupled with the other half of Uncut Raw, Selfish to form a beast of a duo that supplied the lyrical mayhem for this track with the ever appropriate title. Oh, and in cased you missed out on the goodness, Decay’s “The Unlikely Hero” is definite listening material that is sure to satisfy all the hardcore, lyrical heads that can’t stand emo-rap.
My first exposure to Tha Connection came in the form of “Sentido” (click to preview) via the crew’s myspace page. Let’s just say that I’m felt this sh*t so much right now that if you also peep my myspace page you’ll see just how much. The buildup of this track was crazy ill thanks to slick production from AGQ. While, the consistent lyricism paired with fluid deliveries of Tha Connection made this cut one of my favorites of ‘08.
The bumrush didn’t stop there with this 12 track album, “Hibernation” was fueled by ill production as Vans Cal laced Tha Connect with a sick filter and an elegant horn loop that SmooVth and Hus verbally murdered. “Supa” (prod. by Max I Million) f. Prolifical almost possessed a more “West Coast” feel as the true art of “sh*t talkin” was mastered to pleasing results over “G-Funkish” production. Also of note, was the appropriately titled “Tunnel” a dark, grimey freestyle joint that fliped the Nas mixtape cut that didn’t make “Hip Hop Is Dead” (for Christ sakes, I can’t think of the title of that track to save my life!!).
I hear (and don’t hear) alot of bullsh*t that floods my inbox nowadays, you really have to “pick and choose” what you get yourself into. Needless to say, Tha Connection’s “Universal Dominance” was a good choice as it found itself amongst my “surprises” of 2008. Not to say that “Universal Dominance” was an instant classic…yes, there is indeed room for improvement in certain spots on the album. However, I’m anxious to see what the future holds for this talented duo from N.Y. ’cause these cats are definitely worth following! Click HERE to download “World Dominance”.
Damn, Eric!! Another Buff 1 track in your top 100?? Yeppers, hmm…do I sense a pattern here? Let’s just go right ahead and kill all the suspense, much to the dismay of Trav from Wake Your Daughter Up (dude, “There’s Only One” trumps “The Preface” big time..I’m takin’ it to my grave!)..Buff’s album is hands down my album of the year for 2008. Funny thing is, the only real competition that Buff faced was from fellow AsideWorldWide labelmates Now On (with “Tomorrow Already”) and 14KT (with his instrumental opus “The Golden Hour”).
Produced by…oh, what a coincidence…14KT, “Real Appeal” was one of the LP’s most versatile moments for Buff. Directed to the opposite sex, “Real Appeal” found Buff gettin’ his “LL” on. And while I felt as if Buff personally attacked me for a minute (“I may not rock clothes from the 80′s…I may not wear extra smedium shirts”), you can’t front on this track for one second. 14KT’s escalating bassline and that little extra bit of “sonic boom” made this one of the album’s most recognizable highlights. In 2008 the sentiment here at W.T.R. was truly “There’s Only One”..guess who??
Who doesn’t remember the pre-”Layover” YouTube videos of Evidence cookin’ up this goodness in the lab with W.T.R. favorite Blu while Khryis’ ridiculous instrumental blared in the background. Good Lord, was the finished product a home-run! ”For Whom The Bell Tolls”, in my fine opinion, is Khrysis’ crowning moment. No longer will I, Eric of W.T.R., compare Khrysis or refer to him as the “second coming” of 9th Wonder EVER again on this site….especially after his showing on “For Whom..”
As for EV’s “The Layover” EP, it seems as if SOO many EP’s dropped this year…many of them were fairly good too….but, EV’s “The Layover” was the cream of the crop. I recall making the statement a few months ago that “For Whom…” was probably the best beat of the year. However, after my first exposure to ALC’s joint “The Far Left” (crazy video, and for the record, my favorite track on “The Preservation” mixtape) quickly had me eating my words. And since we’re cutting out all the suspense today, I’ll just go ahead and say that “The Far Left” will find itself VERY high on my “Top 100″ after the smoke clears.
Keepin’ it in the J.L., well…sorta’, Bostonian Statik Selektah linked up with some of North Carolina’s finest to deliver one of the finest and most comedic party joints of the year via “On The Marquee”. Yes, the track’s structure is fairly simple, we’re all too familiar with the breakbeat that serves as the track’s backbone by now. So what matter this track so damn catchy? Quite simply, EVERYTHING! The hook was embedded in your skull after one listen thanks to Phonte’s “either you hate it or you love it” crooning, while Pooh, ‘Te and Scudda killed it (with a little help from Chaundon on the hook).
The real winner on this track was Joe Scudda. I mean, dude had me open with his lyrical performance on Pooh’s “Plastic Cups”, but Scudda’s verse was so easy to relate to and so damn addictive that he had me rewinding his verse throughout much of my Jamaica vacation. If you’re havin’ a sh*tty day a work, or you’re feelin’ bummed “On The Marquee” will always be one of those tracks to make you laugh a little and realize that everything doesn’t always have to be “so serious”.
Did someone say “addictive”? Wow…i mean…WOW!! Kanye brought the heat for “Brooklyn (Go Hard)”, which is to be featured on the soundtrack for the upcoming movie entailing Biggie’s “come up” of sorts, “Notorious”. And Jay? Well, let’s just say while it’s not “Reasonable Doubt-Jay” or even “Blueprint-Jay” for that matter, dude’s still got it. Without a doubt in my mind, Jay could probably torch 99 percent of the emcees in the game right now at the drop of a dime when given the proper motivation. But man, did Kanye ever kill it! It was nice to hear ‘Ye revert back to basics after some of his less than desirable production featured on “808s & Heartbreak”.
As for now, I still can’t tell the damn difference between Santogold & M.I.A. (“Paper Planes” was my sh*t though), but the addition fit in quite nicely on this track. Now, let’s only hope that Jay and ‘Ye do it up right on Jay’s forthcoming album an “Go Hard” in 2009.