(The single song links will be up when I recap all this crazy madness)
50. Little Vic – Sister Morphine (From: “Each Dawn I Die“)
The more I listened to Little Vic’s “Each Dawn I Die” earlier this year, the more I started to like it. Honestly, at first, I’d play the two or three tracks I knew already (“The Exorcist” mainly) and that was about it. Then I had to study up to know what the hell I was talking about when I was scheduled to do an interview with him. After giving it a few listens, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the effort. “Sister Morphine” grabbed my attention for it’s unique sample it used. After doing some research (read: Has-Lo found it and told me), I found it was from a Portishead type of group (I think, this music goes behind my expertise) by the name of I Monster and the track is called “Heaven”, on some Electro British pop scene or something like that. Anyway, this sample totally makes the song and Vic adds to the mood of the music by integrating an equally haunting chorus. It’s a track that inspires imagery, feelings, and mood, something that hip hop doesn’t always do for me much anymore.
49. Blu & Mainframe - Wow! (From: “Johnson & Jonson”)
Earlier this year, I think I compared Blu & Mainframe’s “Wow!” to a shampoo commercial or something similar found on an old Charlie’s Angels episode from the ’70′s. I still stand by that comparison, but that’s the beauty of the whole track. It’s simply just catchy as the Ebola virus. It’s got that 70′s funk vibe to it, maybe some of you beat diggers can tell me where the sample is from. Blu is Blu on this track lyrically, as he spits rhymes like an 9mm. The lyrics and the beat simply compliment each other perfectly. Blu takes us on a trip thru his day in Los Angeles, and this is the perfect soundtrack.
48. Buff 1 – Beat The Speakers Up (From: “There’s Only One”)
My appetite for loud, banging drums is always satisfied by Buff 1′s “Beat The Speakers Up”, which is exactly what the drums do on this jam. It’s sparse drums and hand claps are basic in nature, but they hit and they hit hard, which has always had an appealing effect on me. Buff comes off as an reincarnation of Run or DMC as you know he had pressed Lee’s and shell toed Addias on while he was kicking this in the studio.
47. Focus feat Little Brother & DJ Khalil – Back When(From: “Dedicated”)
What would a year end list be without any Little Brother on it? I wasn’t as keen on the Focus effort as some of my fellow bloggers, but I thought the beat found on “Back When” was a perfect backdrop for Little Brother to kick their neo-Native Tongue stylistics (wow, even I hate that description). It’s well chopped sample with the sounding of former LBer, 9th Wonder, but with a slightly beefed up sound. A strong track all the way around.
46. Butta Verses feat Lucian – Change The World (From: “Reality BV”)
“Change The World” is another example of my more mature tastes in music. I’ll shy away from using the dreaded “grown folks music”, but 15 years ago, any singing on a track would automatically cause me to chuck it out the window. There is a strong singing chorus that is associated with “Change The World”, that is backed by a mellow, swinging beat that causes unintentional nodding of the head. Growing old sucks, but give me this type of song any day in my old age.
45. The Gent$ – Cold (From: “The Gent$” EP)
For a song to grab my attention, some of aspect of the beat has to grab me. Sometimes it could be the strings, a horn, or a combination of things, or such as this song has, the drums. The hallow bucket sound found on this drum track just defines the whole mental imagery found on this track. It evokes a type of feeling, in this case, a feeling of hollowness and coldness, just like the name of the track. Music can be like a painting of sorts, in this case it’s an audio collage of sounds and musical notes that just paint this mood that this song causes. Or, fuck it, it’s just a dope song all the way around. It’s a free EP, do a search on this blog to find it.
44. Sev Dust feat Ft Elias – Far Cry (From: “Back To Dust”)
I’m not all that familiar with Sev Dust, nor do I remember what possessed me to check out his album from last year that “Far Cry” appears on. This song might be a little more ’07 than some of my picks, but I started jamming it soon after finishing up my tracks for ’07 and it had enough effect on me that it had to be included on this years tracks. It’s got an interesting piano loop that gives almost a non hip hop feel to it, like an old 70′s rock song, or even country-ish in nature. But it’s this piano loop that gives the track it’s identity. You
add on the singing chorus and the fact that Sev Dust is pretty good on the mic, and this is a very nice track that spent more than a few days stuck in my subconscious this past year.
43. Superstar Quamallah – California Dreamin (From: the vinyl only single)
While I’m not from Cali, I’ve spent my fair share of time in the Golden State over my lifetime. Relatives and girlfriends have caused it to be on of the most visited states in the nation for me. For those of you that have been there, you know that a sunny day along the beach in SoCal has a certain feel to it. Quamallah catches essence perfectly on the horn driven, “Californai Dreamin”. A nice chop of a Defari lyric serves as the tracks hook as the horn just runs briskly over the hook. It’s something of beauty, a true Cali soundtrack out there.
42. Grip Grand feat Darondo - Remember The Time (From: “Brokelore”)
I’m not one to shit on someone doing “remembrance” tracks, I understand that a lot of them have special meanings and come from the heart (or at least I would hope they do), but in someways, it’s been done one too many times. One of the best tracks though I’ve heard in a long time that deals with lost loved ones is Grip Grand’s “Remember The Time”. There is something in Grips voice that you can just tell is full of emotion and sadness. It’s a very somber track that you can relate to what he is saying. It’s not about anyone in particular, just lost ones in general. The side story to this track, which I touched briefly upon in an interview with Grip earlier in 2008, was the sample source. For those of you not in the know, Darondo was a soul and funk singer from the 70′s, and a rumored pimp. Not sure on that last tidbit, but regardless, the cat could sing and it adds a nice little touch to the song.
41. Guilty Simpson – I Must Love You (From: “Ode To The Ghetto”) (CHANGE THE TRACK ON MP3)
I may say I feel older and more mature and all this “grown folks music” garbage, but I still like my “ig’norant” joints from time to time. Guilty Simpson’s “I Must Love You” isn’t as bad as some the past shit I might have listened to back in the 90′s, but it’s still got an edge to it, as Guilty talks about loving a chick even though she drives him fuckin’ nuts, like women are akin to do. Over a weekend bassline, provided by the legendary J Dilla, Guilty tells home girl to ease up. Add the nursery rhyme like hook, and this shit was my jam.
40. DXArmy – Progression (From: “Progression”)
People, myself included, talk about advancing the art form. They, sorry, WE, want people to push the edge and expand the music. Yet sometimes, I don’t think cats have enough of an anchor into the true fundamentals of hip hop to be able to “take it to some ol’ next shit”. They don’t understand that every dope song starts with a dope beat and dope lyrics. They don’t understand that all you need to do is make an “anthem” and move on from that. The art of making an “Anthem” is a lost art. You just don’t hear it anymore. Everyone is too busy trying to be “different”, which is good, but have a clue about the fundamentals. The crew of NYC, DXArmy understands that whole concept of making dope music first and foremost. Their single “Progression” is one of the closer joints to an “Anthem” that I’ve heard in a long while. It sounds like it could have dropped in the mid 90′s with the wicked bassline that kicks in right off the bat, to the nice horn sample that leaves one thinking it had to be produce by someone out of DITC, such as Buckwild or Diamond D. This track is ill in all aspects, and it’s just classic hip hop. Build the foundation before you build, or that shit doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
39. Has-Lo – Calibration (From: “Fuck Has Day”)
What? Another Has-Lo joint? Hell yeah, we are starting to get into the really good Has-Lo tracks now. Has arms his assassin like flow with a simple, yet effective, beat. The thick bassline and sparse piano keys conjure up memories of RZA when it didn’t start having wet dreams of guitars in every beat he created. It’s almost Wu-ish in nature, which is only natural since Has credits Wu and RZA as major influences. Yet, it’s not some cheap Wu rip-off. It’s just Has flexing his lyrical muscles over a dope beat and even showing some of his quirky sense of humor. Hip hop at it’s finest for me.
38. Common Market – Winter Takes All (From: “Tobacco Road”)
I’m a big fan of Sabazi’s beats, have been since falling in love with last year’s “Loyalty” from Blue Scholars. Most of you in the know, know that Sabazi is one half of the Sea-town group, Common Market. This has the typical Sabazi sound, which still sounds like “Blue Scholars” for me, but hey, if it works, don’t fix it. The piano on this takes the key for me, with a nice simple vocal sample. It’s quite simple, but eloquently all piece together to make for a nice track.
37. Seel Fresh – Wrong Destination (From: “Street Famous”)
One of my pet peeves is if you pester me to have you or your artist up on the site as an interview or a spotlight and I take the time to write up questions and all that, then you better return the questions. I’m not the fastest cat in the world, but people have to remember, I do this shit for fun, I’m not getting paid much, if any at all. So I have other things that I’m responsible for and if I have the time, I’ll get to the questions, and if I send them, and you pestered me for a couple weeks for them, you best be answering the shit and send it back. That’s a rant, after Seel Fresh’s people hit me up numerous times about getting him up on the site. After hearing the album, I dug it enough, especially the single “Wrong Destination”, that I agreed with putting him up on an “Artist Spotlight”. I sent the questions, and as you can tell, I never got them back. I’m sure it’s not his fault, and even if it is, I don’t hold grudges, hence he has one of my favorite tracks. “Wrong Destination” is a nice tale about Seel Fre
sh’s (not sure if it’s autobiographical or not) life as a graf artist in the windy city known as Chicago. The dope piano loops ride over the strings as Seel spins the tale of a graph artist out bombing. It’s actually pretty dope, too bad they never answered my questions.
36. Nicolay & Kay - Blizzard (From: “Time:Line”)
Nic’s and Kay’s Time:Line album was one of those albums that I enjoyed so much as a whole piece of work, it was really hard to call one track a favorite over another. Yet, I did have a “favorite” off of the album, “Blizzard”. Nic said in an interview I did back in February with himself and Kay they were aiming for music that sounded from certain times in history, which I found a very interesting concept. This track, which served as a soundtrack for the birth, is an ill late 60′s/early 70′s sounding beat. It comes on some funk sounding steez or even some psychedelic rock type of sound. People complained about Kay and their perceived lack of MCing skills, but I felt he complemented Nic’s beats and quite well and executed the concept well. All good for me.
35. The Program – Gotta Get Da Cash (From: the free EP “The Article”)
From WYDU K-Def Interview:
W: My favorite song from the EP was “Gotta Get The Cash”, how did that song come about?
K-Def:Ah, Hamiliton Bohannon, that Bohannon is real sneaky too. Everybody got that sample, but you’ll recognize from the horns there is no bassline no drums. It’s the same part that was sampled on Ed OG ‘s track, but subtle elements are missing….
K-Def took his young protege, Decapo and hooked up the familiar sample and they made a great jam that has been done before, but again, if you are going to do something that has already been done, make sure it’s done very well, and K-Def and Decapo did just that.
34. Count Bass D – Can We Hang Out Tonight? (From: “L7″)
The more I get into Count Bass D’s music, the more I’m starting to think the cat is a musical genius, or at the very least, he is very versatile. His latest album, “L7″ is one of those albums you are not going to “solve” in one setting. If you don’t like using your mind when you are listening to your music, then it’s not for you. “Can We Hang Out Tonight”, is fairly simple on the surface, yet it’s deeper than that. Or maybe I’m just making it deeper than it needs to be. In any case, this track is another track that is extremely catchy in all it’s goodness. Musically it’s beautifully put together, with lots of layers and small pieces of sound occurring. I need to see how it works after a few drinks with a lady friend.
33. Soul Occs feat Punchline – Dedication To The B‘s (From: “Da Mixtape”)
Ahhhh, I always thought someone needed to make a version for the new century of Ice Cube/NWA’s “A Bitch Iz A Bitch”, and the Soul Occs made it. Of course it’s a little more politically correct than the late 80′s version, but it still gets it’s message across quite nicely. My man SoulClap drops a very nice, melodic beat for Tony Tigerstyle and Punch of eMC to give those B-I-T-C-Hes the deal. Both MC’s do their thing, and the cut, paste and scratched collection of the b-word is a great hook that should have any scorned man chanting right along.
32. Dagha – Scat (From: “The Divorce”)
I loved Dagha’s album, but “Scat” is the only track that made it in my top 100. That of course, is because the album is a great piece of work on the whole (and it really needs to be heard as a whole). That being said, this track is my favorite from one of the best albums of the year. The funky sample is a prefect backdrop for Dagha to kick his story, which is just a chapter in the album, but it sounds nice.
31. ST – Miss Beautiful (From: “The Color of Love”)
Myspace is good for something after all. In 2008, a group from Alabama, of all places, requested me as a friend. I don’t really turn anyone down, because really, why is it that big of a deal? But I check their music just to see what it’s like. When I went to ST’s (pronounced Esss Teee), “Miss Beautiful” was the track playing and it immediately grabbed my attention. So much so, I went and bought the track off of their snocap store….and I don’t do that if it isn’t the Smile Rays or K-Def. I’m not going to say this is on some “next shit”, cause it’s not. It’s just good music and I’m a-ok with that. The track has a nice guitar loop and that dusty vinyl sound to it, which adds to the feeling of staring at a fine classy lady. It all works well.
30. Large Professor – In the Ghetto (From: “Main Source”)
I’m not really all into Large Pro’s rapping on “In The Ghetto”, it kind of sounds stale and forced. But the beat is amazing to me in the same sense. Touches of a organ, a nice bassline, they all combine to actually make Large Pro’s lyrics sound better after a few listens. Then again, it just goes to show that a good beat can save a lackluster lyrical showing all the time for me personally.
29. Braile – The IV (From: “The IV“)
During the holiday season, I was standing in line for a cashier at the box known as Best
Buy. While I was standing there, I heard a song I recognized. It took me a quick second, but I realized it was Braile and “The IV”, my favorite song from his album by the same name. It was part of a basketball commercial, or a b-ball video game, I’m not sure. It does show the energy this track packs. It’s a head nodder and adrenaline creator as the music pulses through the listeners eardrums. Standing in line, I was almost on the verge of slamming into the old lady in front of me holding discounted computer games and Britney Spears CDs, undoubtedly for a grandchild or something. The energy almost grabbed me and made me do it. She would have been bounced into the fat redneck in front of her, and would have undoubtedly broken a hip or something and I could have blamed it on the music. Beautiful.
28. Archetype – Unblocked (From: “Unblocked”)
My favorite group out of Kansas, Archetype, came back on the scene in 2008 with “Unblocked”. Those of you who read WYDU will recognize Nezbeat and iD as part of the group that I tried to push on anyone that read this site in 2007. I pushed “Bleed For Them” pretty hard, as I think it’s an excellent album. Their 2008 import from Japan’s Goon Trax, was essentially the same album as Bleed For Them, except with a few new joints, this being one of them. “Unblocked” is an intriguing piece musically, if for all the layers of sounds going on in the track. Nezbeats is one of my favorite producers that no one else has ever heard of, and he shows why with piano stabs, strings, haunting vocal samples and other complex aspects. iD is very credible MC as well, as he spits effortlessly over a beat that others would be afraid to touch. Impressive track for the best slept on group going.
27. Has-Lo – The Usual Way (From: “Fuck Has Day”)
When I first got “Fuck Has Day”, I was blaring it while playing Madden. The first tracks had played, and while I thought they were dope, I was still more into my game than the music. In steps “The Usual Way”, and I had to push pause and listen to the song. For those of you sleeping, Has’ flow is among the best going. The cat can ride a beat like a bull rider on a bull. But, I didn’t notice that aspect of the song initially, it was the dirty, filthy beat that was coming out the speakers. Has, who produced it, hooked up a nicely utilized vocal sample over a kickin’ drum beat. He then hooked up some crazy scratching, and I was in dirty beat heaven.
26. Show & AG – Business As Usual (From: “Live Hard”)
I know somebody is going to say “but that’s from 2007!!” And yes, it is, but if my fragile memory serves me right, it came in early December. I had already selected my songs for 2007, so this track got shifted to 2008. It’s really in 2008 when I got the most enjoyment out of this track. What is to say about this track other than it’s Show & AG doing some classic quality hip hop.