I DL’d Bambu’s follow-up to “I Scream Bars For Children”, “Exact Change”, simply because Blue Scholars’ producer extraordinaire Sabzi was listed as a contributing producer in the production credits. Wow! Did I ever get much more than I bargained for! Admittedly, I slept on this album up until the later months of 2008, that is..until the most recent video for “Crooks And Rooks” rekindled my interest for “Exact Change”. “Crooks And Rooks” is one of those Sunday afternoon tracks that’s catered for booming in the whip while cruisin’ down to the local car wash or fast food eatery. However, I feel that Bambu would have really made a name for himself in ’08 if this track were released a few months earlier, as opposed to dropping in the cold-ass winter months….most definitely a summertime heater!
Very reminiscent, at least tempo-wise of “Thief’s Theme”, “Sly Fox” from Nas’ very controversial album (*insert here*) found Nas reverting back to his old ways lyrically while going at everyone from Fox News, to MySpace, to CBS and placing Bill O’Reily’s (deservingly so) dome on the chopping block in the meantime. Produced by stic.man of Dead Prez, “Sly Fox” proved to be the perfect meeting of minds between two of Hip Hop’s most revolutionary emcees. Speaking of Dead Prez, isn’t it about time they put out a new album already? “R.B.G.” was my unit’s soundtrack during my tour in Iraq in 2002-04.
“Pardon My Dust” is one record that blessed my ears in 2008 that really trapped me in a time machine and had me reminiscing about the overabundance of HEAVY East Coast joints that dropped on what seemed like a weekly basis, somewhere between the years of 1995-96.
For a prime example of the feeling I’m talking about, peep the opening sounds of “God Speed”, even though the track will instantly evoke memories of the Souls Of Mischief classic “93 Till Infinity”, producer Rek One did a helluva’ job slowing down the sample, adding echos and stutter-step kicks to give “God Speed” it’s very own identity. Also, Surreal gets major bonus points for delivering uplifting and honest lyrics, not only on “God Speed”, but throughout the majority of the disc. Lyrics are delivered in a clean-cut fashion, void of all cusses…I can respect that. It’s not everyday that you run across a solid Hip Hop album that you can enjoy, and at the same token, play it in the ride while your two little girls are strapped in their car seats in the back. By the way, is it just me or is anyone else having trouble playing this album on the Ipod?
Now wait a hot minute! Yes, I’m truly aware that Buff 1′s “For U” (taken from Buff’s truly spectacular debut “Pure”) actually dropped in the summer months of ’07. However, it wasn’t until M-Phazes remix album “Grindin” hit the streets that “For U” (which was already dope to begin with, gotta’ love the Jade sample) really started to stack up it’s fair share of spins on the Ipod. With “For U” M-Phazes took the emotion that Buff unveiled on the original and ran with it, the finished product turned out to be a true gem as M-Phazes proved that he was able to differentiate his production style from the rest of the pack….all the while, avoiding the tag as just “another 9th Wonder sound-a-like”. If what Buff stated is true: “My brothers say I rap better when my hearts broken”, then the M-Phazes remix of “For U” was the perfect stage for him to do so.
Ahh, keeping in turn with the M-Phazes theme we have going over these last two tracks, Muneshine’s “Globetrotters” really was VERY similar to the aforementioned “For U” at least on the production tip….maybe that’s why I loved ‘em both so much? Highly slept-on both lyrically and with his beats, Canada’s Muneshine (thanks for the drop on the “Preservation” mixtape) proved that he was a more than capable “double threat” on his solo venture “Status Symbol”. More or less, this is Muneshine’s ode to Canada as he “goes out and comes back full circle again”. With a very consistent track record, Muneshine is most definitely an artist whom you should keep an eye out for in 2009.
In a year that was filled with an overabundance of ridiculous posse cuts, who would have imagined that ATL’s Ludacris would scoop up lyrical heavyweights Nasir Jones and Shawn Carter (which is actually somewhat of an odd pairing) for a heartfelt ode to the craft that has opened manor doors for each of the featured emcees. While the opening moments of “I Do It For Hip Hop” are really mind-blowing, the track came down to earth a bit after the Wyldfyer drum track captures the essence of a traditional “Down South” break beat. Aside from the DJ Premier produced “M.V.P.” (yet another odd pairing), “I Do It For Hip Hop” was a true standout of Luda’s highly anticipated and unbalanced “Theater Of The Mind”.
Another Black Milk gem, Guilty Simpson’s “The Real Me” may have been released in the earlier portion of 2008 but would stay in constant rotation throughout the year, much in part to one of Milk’s slickest beats of what capped off a crazy year for one of Detroit’s finest. Although I really would have like to hear Elzhi kill the instrumental to “The Real Me”, Guilty was a more than able applicant to lyrically murder this bass heavy trunk-shaker. Maybe not one of the most charismatic emcees in the game, Guilty is easily one of the most recognizable with a distinctive flow and potent delivery. While short in length (“The Real Me” clocked in at just under 3 minutes) this track more than made up for it in stature and substance. Don’t sleep on “Ode To The Ghetto”, one of 2008′s most consistent and well-produced albums.
Damn Eric!! Joe Budden? Yep, I gotta’ come clean I’ve been a closet Joe Budden fan for quite some time now, all the while anticipating his actual “major label” release. However, I guess I’ll have to settle for the latest installment in Joey’s “Mood Muzik” series. After letting this sit on my computer for the longest, I finally decided to give this one a listen and much to my surprise, it was really a pretty decent album. “Dear Diary” is the true crowning moment for Joey on “MM3″ as he spits introspective and deeply personal lyrics regarding past relationships (or as I like to call em’ “relation-sh*ts”) over a bangin’ “Just-Blazish” track (please overlook the sped-up sample tho’) that for whatever reason reminds me of Fabolous’ “Breathe” everytime I hear it. There’s no denyin’ that Joe Budden is a gifted emcee, but he definitely could stand to up his production budget as many of the tracks that I’ve heard him spit on don’t seem to be up to par with his lyrics. Plus, we all know that Joey has had his share of bad luck with finding a home to actually put out a decent full-length LP. Still, don’t miss out on “Dear Diary” and even if your not a fan of the Stack Bundles’, Ransom’s and Joe Budden’s of the world, “Mood Muzik3″ is definitely worth your time.
Ya’ know, I’ve read my fair share of reviews for Jake One’s compilation album of sorts, “White Van Music” and not even once have I seen the album’s fitting end, “Home” one single mention. I mean, c’mon!! This isn’t only the best track on the album, it boasts one of the best productions of the year!! Recently (around the initial leak of “White Van Music” , I made a “spur of the moment” trek to PA for a last minute bachelor party for my cousin and “Home” must’ve played on repeat through three states (West Virginia, Maryland to PA). While “Home” might be pretty lengthy for some (just under 6 minute), it serves as a fitting ending to one of the…if not THE…best compilations (uh hum..next to “Preservation”, that is) of 2008.
Featuring an almost non-existent bassline (think The Beatnuts’ gem “Let Off A Couple) the line-up off emcees (Vitamin D, Ish, C Note and Maine) do a fine job of reppin’ Seattle to the fullest! Oh yeah….that’s Digable Planets ISH!!!! I know, right?
Damn ya’ll! I know that Now On blessed us with a teaser video for “Unwind” and judging from the line-up of “talent” that all make worthy cameos in the video…I wish they’d hurry up with that sh*t already! Don’t get it twisted…THIS IS NOT Pharrell Williams on the hook! Matter of fact one could also just as easily mistake the production featured for of the Neptunes. Nonetheless, “Unwind” served as my very first glimpse of Now On and after one solid listen to their album “Tomorrow Already”, I was reeled in. Making a 3rd (!) appearance on my “Top 100″, Now On crafted “Unwind” strictly for the ladies. A simple yet very effective backdrop fuels this track proving that more is not always better…especially when it pertains to dope production. “Tomorrow Already” scoop it up immediately, don’t get a late-pass!! So really, how many more tracks from this album will pop up in my final 20? Just one, but it will be pretty high up there…I can assure you.