In typical WYDU fashion, we are the last ones to turn off the lights on the year 2008. We like to come fashionable late to the year end parties….and we like to be the last ones to leave. I think this years is even later than last years, and last year was pretty freaking late. That’s okay though. This year I brought together some of the greatest minds in the industry. Okay, they were the only ones that would say “yes” to my crazy little plan, but they were all people who’s opinions I respected and I got them together to have them give me their favorites of the year. I did this for two reasons. For one, I wanted some cats who thought differently than me. Who wants to read my crazed ass ideas of what’s good and what isn’t? You do that all year anyway, might as well have at least one day off from my totally hair-brained opinions. Of course I did have some input in this as well, but there was enough people, it was fairly diluted. The second reason I did this was so if some artist got pissed off, I could just say “It wasn’t just me, it was 15 other people that thought your music was crap”, it’s always nice to cover your back. Of course I’m just kidding….or am I?
The list of contributors reads like this:
Paten Locke aka Therapy of the Smile Rays, The AB’s and his damn self…..(be on the look out for his solo debut in 2009)
Has-Lo of WYDU (Be on the look out for many projects from him in 2009)
DJ Soul Clap of WYDU (Be on the look out for multiple projects from Germany’s hottest producer)
Names of Brews Rhymes With Crews
Kevin Nottingham of This Is Hip Hop
Chris of WYDU
CH Commish of the Slushy Gutter Crew and Slushy Gutter Summer
Citizen of The Understudies
Hugo of WYDU
Rahyzel of Rate Your Music
Polarity of WYDU and of Low Budget (Album coming soon!)
Diction of Rate Your Music
PDT of Rate Your Music
Eric of When They Reminisce
Lex of Sinistah Circle
HaLo solo artist and Kooley High affilate
Jason Gloss of Philaflava & The TROY blog
Dart Adams of Poisonous Paragraphs
Small Pro, Producer extraordinaire
Jaz from Cold Rock Da Spot
Notion of the Movement Family and as a Solo Artist
Cee of the Movement Family and Cee & Bekah
Scholar from Souled On
So after a couple weeks of piecing together the greatest hits, misses and all that in between, I present to you, for the last freaking time, the year 2008 in all its goodness.
The wonderful world of mixtapes. Back in my younger days, a mixtape meant previously released (sometimes some exclusives) mixed together by a DJ. The better ones were great ways to hear new tracks and artists. Since then, they’ve morphed into a way for artists to release a project without having to worry about all the BS that goes along with a proper release. Most often than not, they are filled with a bunch of crap that the artist doesn’t want to put on a proper album. I’m learning to accecpt them, because they can have some good materail on them and they usually don’t have to worry about clearing samples since a lot of them seem be of the free variety.
This years winner comes from the Washington DC artist, Wale. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t get it about Wale. I really don’t. Despite that though, Wale’s “The Mixtape About Nothing”, beat out any other “mixtape” by double the votes. I listened to it a couple times, but it wasn’t anything that stuck on me. I’m not sure what it is about him and his music, I just don’t understand the hype. That doesn’t mean the voters weren’t giving him his props:
Well said, and more than I can say about it. I’m giving it a spin while I’m writing this and it’s not bad, but I’m still not blo
wn away by it. So be it. There will be much hype and hoopla for his Interscope and Mark Ronson backed retail album debut. I’m interested to see if you can carry the well executed concepts and tracks to that of a “real” release. We shall see.
Trav’s Choice: Poorly Drawn People – Shoot For The Stars, Hit The Ceiling
Honorable Mentions (According to the Panel): Royce Da 5’9 – The Bar Exam, Edgar Allen Floe – The Road To Streetwise, Mick Boogie & Terry Urban – Jay-Z & Coldplay: Viva La Hova, Inverse - So Far.
The Best EP of 2008
The rise of the EP actually became one of my favorite new trends in the world of promos and blogs. They are short, sweet and to the point. Perfect for a world left with a very short attention span due to the world of iPods, internet and fast food. I actually forgot to send this category out to the first batch of people in the panel. But from the people who were asked this and Illogic’s popularity in the “Free Project” category, I went ahead and declared “One Bar Left” the favorite.
Teaming up with another Ohio native in Ill Poetic, Illogic dropped an excellent EP that lets him flex his lyrical muscles and also lets Ill Poetic get his shine on as well. The beats are crisp and pop the woofers in a full sound that leaves the best impression on the listener. Illogic has been around for a good period of time. He probably gets the unfair tag of “backpack” rapper, but despite that, he is truly a classic underground MC, dropping lyric gems that makes the listener reach for the rewind button. The chemistry shown between Po’ and Illogic only amps up my expectations for any potential future projects, because this was one EP I wish was a full length album.
Trav’s Choice: Has-Lo – Fuck Has Day
Honorable Mentions (According to the Panel): Common Market – Black Patch War, Tanya Morgan – The Bridge, Has-Lo – Fuck Has Day, Has-Lo - Small Metal Objects, Atmosphere – Sad Clown Bad Dub 12
This goes to the most surprising album. I tend to think of it as liking something you wouldn’t particularly like. Some of the voters went more with some newer artists that kind of came out of no where. The meaning is left open to debate. This year we had had example of both, with an old favorite taking it with an album that I think no one was expecting to like, yet it turned out pretty good.
Q-Tip is a long time favorite of many cats. Some people probably hold him at a legendary status, myself included. But Tip hasn’t really done much that has been universally liked since his days in A Tribe Called Quest (and even their last album got some hate). The “Amplified” LP was the target of hate and head scratching as Tip came with a flossier image and even though people would be afraid to say it now, but a lot of people didn’t care for the Jay Dee beats (I’ve always liked “Amplified”). There have been several leaks of Tip’s more recent material, both in the early forms of “The Renaissance” and another shelved album. Both of those caused no reason for anyone to get excited about the release of “The Renaissance”, myself included. While I’ve struggled to really develop any kind of appreciation for the album, lots of people, including my fellow WYDU founder Polarity, have been give the album their praise. It’s slowly been growing on me over the past couple weeks, as I’m starting to see what the others are seeing in it. Tip’s improved skills, the eloquent production, the Tribe like vibes, it’s something that no one saw coming.
Trav’s Pick: (Tie) Prolyphic & Reanimator – The Ugly Truth & The Knux – Remind Me In Three Days
Honorable Mentions (Panel Votes): P Brothers - The Gas, Prolyphic & Reanimiator – The Ugly Truth, Kanye West – 808 & Heartbreaks,
Ludacris – Theater of the Mind
The fact that RZA’s Digi Snacks is the most disappointing album according to our panel, it just goes to show no matter what, any Wu related album from the major players will always have some kind of anticipation to them. Personally, I wasn’t expecting much from this in the first place. I have to have some kind of expectations for an album to disappointment me, which I didn’t with “Digi Snacks”. Obviously, some felt different, and I understand that. From Rayhzel of RYM:
I’m not sure what the future holds for RZA. Obviously the Wu isn’t happy with him as they talk about recording the next Wu album without RZA on the beats. “Digi Snacks” appears to be a huge disappointment to even the hardest of hardcore Wu fans. The future will tell.
Trav’s Pick: Foreign Exchange – Leave It All Behind
Honorable Mentions (Panel Votes): Common – Universal Mind Contorl, Pete Rock – NY’s Finest, Del – The 11th Hour, The Roots – Rising Down, Nas – Untitled, Foreign Exchange – Leave It All Behind
The Most Slept On Album of 2008
I’m guilty of thinking just because something to me is obviously well known AND well done, then others surely know about it as well. That’s the case with Tanya Morgan, I just assume everyone sees them in the same light as me and that they have been checking their music since the Moonlighting album that was one of the best of 2006. I thought their EP, The Bridge, was very well executed and again felt that they were getting their just due. So when when the votes were tallied up and cats said that Tanya Morgan’s “The Bridge EP” was the slept on release of the year, I was somewhat shocked. To be fair, this was one of the categories with the tightest voting.
That said, TM is most definitely a group that hip hop heads should be checking for if they sleeping on their work. The nine track EP is just nine cuts of quality hip hop, that showcases the skills of all three MCs, Von Pea, Donwill, and Illyas. All three are talented MCs that use word play, stories and straight up braggadocio rhymes over dominantly mello type beats. The Bridge EP got plenty of spins from me, but I guess others felt that they deserved more recognition. Now, if they continue to improve over the already dope 06′s Moonlighting, then I will be screaming for their deserved recognition.
- These cats are bringing grimey soul back. Their music sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom
on a $20 mic but it’s dope as hell; they have a style all of their own.
Mad keen on the full length next year. - Cee
Trav’s Pick: Anyone of these releases deserved more praise than they got; Dagha – The Divorce, Shawn Jackson – First of All…., Grip Grand – Brokelore, Has-Lo – Fuck Has Day and Small Metal Objects
Honorable Mentions (according to the panel):J-Zone & Chief Chinchilla – Live @ The Liqua Store, eMC – The Show, Grip Grand – Brokelore, Dagha - The Divorce, Dela – Changes of Atmosphere, Akrobatik - Absolute Value, Shawn Jackson – First of All…..
The Overrated Album of 2008
*SIGH* I really tired to go the whole year without having to mention Lil Wayne or this album, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. In my older age, I’ve gotten away from judging people for what the listen to. Just because you don’t listen to the type of hip hop I listen to, I’m not going to preach and say this is the type of hip hop that is ruining our culture. I just won’t do it. I might believe it, or I might not, but I just leave it alone. But here it is, in all it’s glory and I’m faced with saying something about the highest selling album of the year.
To be fair, I’m not even close to being able to confidently say this album sucks. I only listened to it two times, and one of those was while I was doing something. I had a preconceived notion about what it would sign like and never really gave it a chance. But do I need to? I’ll just say its not my thing and I know it’s not my thing. I’m pretty sure 98% of the cats that were part of this poll probably aren’t the type that would listen to Wayne either, so I guess it’s a given that after Wayne and his album were shoved down the collective mainstreams throats that there would be some backlash, and here it is, in all it’s tattooed glory.
Trav’s Pick: Nas - Untitled
Honorable Mentions (according to the panel): Kanye West - 808′s & Heartbreak, Nas – Untitled, Q-Tip – The Renaissance
How nice was it to see Rock & Ruck aka Sean Price back together and dropping heat again? Despite Rock’s legal troubles, he was the Rock of old, with his deep and thick gravel like voice that inspired fear in the hearts of feeble MCs. Sean Price has been dropping quality projects the past couple years, so maybe it wasn’t such a stretch to seem him do his thing, but together as a group, it was good to see the two drop a very well rounded album. I told Has-Lo back in August or so there was no way this album would be any good….I guess I need to fess up to him and say he was right.
Some such as Has-Lo & Zilla Rocca thought it was straight up all about Rock
Trav’s Pick: Heltah Skeltah
Honorable Mentions (according to the panel): Q-Tip, Jean Grae
I had been getting a little tired of 9th Wonder’s beats the past few years, at least up until his Dream Merchant LP that dropped last year, which I enjoyed thoroughly. This year though, 9th came back with a vengeance in my opinion. I did not enjoy 9th’s and Buck’s effort back in ’06, Chemistry, so I didn’t have a lot of expectations for The Formula. I enjoyed the album much more than I thought I would. BUT, I guess the rest of the people didn’t. I guess I can see it in someways. I never quite understood the concept of the two coming together, their styles just don’t seem to mesh and it almost makes the music a
nti-climatic. Personally, I have an album that I thought was much more bland than this, but I’m trying to get the taste of many instead of my punk ass opinions…..
Trav’s Pick: Termanology - Politics As Usual
Honorable Mentions: Nas – Untitled, Termanology - Politics As Usual
Is there anyone that emphasizes hardcore hip hop more than Freddie Foxxx? Forgot all that fake gangster shit that is being spewed on the radio airwaves these days, that shit is straight up garbage. If I want the raw, hardcore rhymes, from a prototypical hardcore rapper, I’ll listen to Freddie Foxxx. Freddie came on the scene in the late 80′s with his Freddie Foxxx Is Here album, that was released on MCA. This would be during a time that major labels such as MCA had no clue how to market hip hop (and they still don’t), and the album ended up flopping something serious (and in hind sight, it wasn’t that great of an album). In 1992, Freddie, now with Epic/Flavor Unit, submitted an album to the label, which was titled Crazy Like a Foxxx. At the time, Freddie was coming off a strong appearance on Boogie Down Production’s “Sex & Violence” and was a part of the Flavor Unit, lead by Sha-Money and Queen Latifah. The album would ultimately end up being shelved by the label after some lukewarm reviews in The Source. Crazy Like a Foxxx would find itself being leaked on the internet, with rather shitty quality (they were made from the promo copies) versions made their way around the internet as early as ’04. That was until this year, when Fat Beats dropped a two disk version of Crazy Like a Foxxx, with disk one being the original commercial album and disk two being the demo version, which was largely produced by the DITC.
Trav’s Pick: Siah & Yeshua DaPoed – The Visulaz Anthology
Honorable Mentions: Jean Grae - The Jeanius, Q-Tip – The Renaissance
How do y’all go from the Blandest to the best? That’s 9th for you, but I think it also speaks of a better chemistry between Murs and 9th. The free album was an increasingly common practice in the hip hop world, but it’s surprising that two established artists with already solid fan bases would come at us with a free album, and that of the quality Sweet Lord is, but they did it. There was lots of quality free music released in 2008 and the voters got this up there by a pretty wide margin. Sweet Lord rivals the other two previously released Murs and 9th colabs, as it gives the listeners everything they liked with the two in the first place.
Trav’s Pick: Has-Lo – Fuck Has Day & Small Metal Objects
Honorable Mentions – Illogic – One Bar Left, Royce Da 5’9 – Bar Exam 2, Has-Lo – Fuck Has Day & Small Metal Objects
Jake One has long been on my audio radar for quite sometime. Even before his classic beat that was found on De La’s “Rock Co.Kane Flow”, I’ve been diggin’ this guys beats. So when I heard he was doing his own album, my expectations began to reach the unrealistic proportions. Maybe that’s why in some ways I was disappointed, but despite that, it was still filled with great beats and listenable tracks. Jake is one of those cats you can’t really put a stamp on his sound and say “this is Jake’s sound”, that hasn’t happened yet and may not happen. Yet, he is an extremely versatile producer and this project shows his great diversity as everyone from Blueprint to Young Buck can be found on the Rhymesayer release, White Van Music. For clarification, when I think of a producer themed album, I’m thinking of a producer who did all the beats on the album, while other cats brought the flavor. That’s the reason why I didn’t count Black Milk’s “Tronic” in this category.
Trav’s Pick: P Brothers – The Gas
Honorable Mentions – Statik Selektah – Stick 2 The Script, The P Brothers – The Gas, Dela - Changes in Atmosphere, DJ KO – Picture This
The Best Producer of 2008
Black Milk had one of the best years for any producer in the year 2008. He started the year off by blessing the highly underrated Fat Ray & Black Milk release, he then dropped several mixtapes in anticipation for his album, “Tronic”. And oh yeah, there was that little album by Elzhi that had some of Black’s best work of the year on. All in all, Black Milk had the type of year that some producers could only dream of. I have the feeling that there is even more in store for Black Milk as he continues to fine tune is game and bring that D-town funk.
Trav’s Pick: Black Milk
Honorable Mentions: Blue Sky Black Death, DJ Premier
The Best Instrumental Album of the Year
I have a few artists that I just never have understood the whole fascination with. MF Doom, Kool Keith (post Ultra) and Madlib. Besides his work with his original group, Loot Pack and the Jaylib release, he just hasn’t been my thing. Despite that though, I can’t help but to rant and rave how good his two Beat Konducta volumes were this year. Both Volume 5 the Dil Cosby Suite and Volume 6, the Dil Withers Suite were extraordinary pieces of music. That said, Volume 5 seem to be the universal favorite between the two and with good reason. I found myself listening to a lot of instrumental albums this year, just beats, something that was more than your basic four bar loop, actual music. That’s exactly what the Dil Cosby Suite is, it’s just good music. It’s in the vein of my all-time favorite instrumental album by the inspiration for the two volumes, Jay Dee’s “Donuts”. It’s that good. I even bought it on vinyl this year and I usually only by old releases in vinyl. This was a runaway favorite with the voters.
Trav’s Pick: Batsauce – The Gypsy Diaries
Honorable Mentions: 14KT – The Golden Hour, Metaform – Standing On The Shoulders of Giants, Batsauce – The Gypsy Diaries, Blue Sky Black Death – Late Night Cinema
The Best Mainstream Album of 2008
It’s good to see good music get the labeled as the best mainstream release. It helps also that The Roots have a strong fan base built and are considered one of the most consistent groups out there, very rarely do they disappoint over a full album. I actually slept on “Rising Down” for a good part of the year. I once considered The Roots one of my favorite groups, but haven’t been “wowed” by them since “Things Fall Apart”. After all the hype this was getting in December for it’s year end showing, I dug it back out and started giving it more listens. While it still doesn’t blow me away, it’s much better than I originally thought of it. It’s a darker release from the band which there is nothing wrong with and they experimented more on more straight up hip hop sounds and for the most part it works well. I have no problem with “Rising Down” being proclaimed best mainstream album of the year, it’s a strong album from one of the greatest groups in hip hop history…yeah I said it.
Trav’s Pick: The Knux – Remind Me In Three Days
Honorable Mentions: Ludacris – Theater of the Mind, Nas – Untitled, Kanye West – 808 & Heartbreaks, Q-Tip - The Renaissance, Murs – Murs is President
Worst Album of 2008
First and foremost, let me just say I personally don’t agree with this vote at all. As you can see the voters either loved or hated 808′s & Heartbreaks. While I don’t think I’d consider it a true hip hop album, I could appreciate it for what it was, and that was just music. Of course, I’m not one that listens to the radio a whole hell of a lot. When I do, I tend to stay away from the “Urban” stations, because it’s mostly garbage that I don’t care for anyway, so my exposure to the whole Autotune phenomenon has been rather limited. But there seems to be a lot of people out there that simply do not like this album. Hence, we are looking at it as the least favorite on WYDU. Just not mine.
Trav’s Pick: Sadistik – The Balancing Act
Dishonorable Mentions: LL Cool J – Exit 13, Planet Asia & FLO – Planet FLO
The Best Song of 2008
It’s sad when my own site names a song as the best song of 2008 and I didn’t hear it until 2009, when all the voters were voting for “Exhibit A: Transformations”. Admittedly, Jay Electronica has been one of those dudes I never understood the hype about. I’ve heard some unofficial collections of his works and they were nothing mind blowing, then the Star Wars EP or whatever the hell it was titled last year or the year before did nothing to sway my mind either. So I don’t check for dude on the regular. I do have to admit that this track is rather nice. I wouldn’t call it the best, but I liked it. It’s produced by Just Blaze which makes it every stranger that I didn’t hear it until the votes started to roll in for this. I’m a self proclaimed Just Blaze fan boy, so my desire to hear a dope Just Blaze beat such as this would have over ruled my desire to ignore Jay Electronica. To be fair, anytime you ask 15-20 people to pick their five favorite songs, you are going to get a wide array of tracks, but there were several that had multiple people mentioning. The year 2008 will go down as the year that Trav was schooled on his own site.
Trav’s Pick: The P Brothers – Outta Control
Honorable Mentions (Songs that got more than three votes): Royce Da 5’9 - Shake This, Jay-Z - Brooklyn Go Hard, Wale – The Kramer, Reks - Say Goodnight, Big Boi feat Andre 3000 & Raekwon – Royal Flush, Blue Sky Black Death & Jean Grae – Strikes
And Drum Roll Please……………….
Best Album of 2008
No, it wasn’t just me voting for Slug’s and Ant’s album, When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold. While there was a fairly large choices selected by people, this won by nine points according to WYDU’s top secret scoring system, which isn’t huge, but enough to make me not worry. Atmosphere came with a more mature album this time around, not in just lyrical composition, but also in sound. It was a switch up from some of their previous efforts which were continuously labeled “emo” by some of the hip hop heads out there (a label I hate). Despite that, the new album seem to gain praise from heads that normally dismissed the group as emo rock band wannabes. The album is a passionate look at….well, life. Some of it was Slug’s life, some of it was a fictional character, but it’s what keeping it real is really about.
Trav’s Pick: Same….
Honorable Mentions: eMC – The Show, Q-Tip – The Renassiance, The Roots – Rising Down, Blue Sky Black Death – Late Night Cinema
The Roots – 75 Bars (Black’s Reconstruction)
The Funniest/Saddest Fad In Hip Hop in 2008
This was an OVERWHELMING response by those voting. Apparently, death by Auto Tune would constitute into cruel and unusual punishment in some areas. And T-Pain wants royalties for artists using Auto Tune….Really? You really want royalties? Go fuckin’ talk to Roger Troutman then…..
For the life of me, I can’t find the lyrics anywhere to jack from another site, and I’m not about to spend a half hour trying to write it all down, but all you have to do is just listen to his first verse….COT DAAAAAAAAAYUM!!!!!! (hits the rewind button) Oh yeah, the cat following him up isn’t too shabby either. Royce’s verse got a few votes too for best verse as well. Insane lyrics going on on this track.
The Best MC of 2008
Detroit as a whole as an absolute beast in 2008 and Elzhi was the beast master. Nothing he did was wack, his hunger on the mic was like Jarrett of Subway looking for a ham sandwich. I’m a beat person at heart, but Elzhi made me pay attention to everything he said on “The Preface”, and I’m still catching up. He was the king of multi-layers, multi-sayings, and multi-meanings. Truly an incredible display of MCing skill brought on by Elzhi in the year 2008.
The music coming out of Detroit in 2008 was simply amazing to me. Of course there is the previously mentioned Elzhi, then you had the producer of the year in Black Milk, Royce is arguably the “king” of Detroit and while he didn’t drop a major album, he still dropped the dope Bar Exam 2 and has the hip hop community geeked up for Street Hop. Then you have some of the lesser known, but just as talented cats such as Buff 1 and his whole LabTechs crew, including 14KT who dropped on of the best instrumental joints in “The Golden Hour”. You had the incredibly slept on Now On, who had possibly the best album cover on their “Tomorrow Already” album, and in this case, you do want to just the book by it’s cover, because it’s great music. Then just outside of the D was and sort of starting it all of was One Be Lo and his R.E.B.I.R.T.H LP. It was a great year from the Motown city, and I really hope there is more to come.
It has to come out this year, or it falls into the same category as Detox where we really don’t give a shit if it does or not. It’s like the boy who cried wolf, keep telling us and after awhile we just don’t believe or care…
- “I still wanna hear it. Sue me already.” – Has-Lo
Best Promo For An Album
The “Paint It Gold” Series For the “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold”, people either loved them or hated them. Myself, I thought the idea was ingenious, and they were naturals behind the camera.
Feud of the Year
uhhhhhh….if this is what hip hop beef has been regulated to, count me out. Ice shouldn’t have even wasted his time with this youngster that only sold 10 copies of his album this year. Hope you enjoyed your 15 seconds of fame.