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WYDU's Top 20 Tracks of 2/21-2/28

by Travis on March 2, 2009

New Week, which means it’s time for last weeks WYDU Top 20 Chart, where we play the underground hip hop version of TRL Live, just without that wack ass host. You’ll see this week, we have some new additions, some subtractions, but you’ll recognize the top tracks as they hold tight still.

In another update, I guess I’m getting old so I don’t understand this whole Twitter phase going on right now, but I signed up WYDU for being on it, which is….well, me. I still have no idea why anyone on god’s green earth wants to know what I’m doing and I’m not totally sure I want everyone on god’s green earth to know what I am doing all the time. None the less, if you are really bored and feel like stalking errrrrr following me, the link is in the right hand column.

On to WYDU’s Top 20 Songs of 2-21/2-27

Reminder, it’s the song followed by last week’s rating and the potential movement in the future in the parathesis

20. Deep Rooted ft Blu – From The Heart (Last Week: N/A, Steady)

(From: D.E.E.P. R.O.O.T.E.D. LP) Deep Rooted is a group out of San Diego (my second favorite city in the US), California, made up of Mr. Brady, Johaz, Brea, and DJ Artistic. They just dropped their D.E.E.P. R.O.O.T.E.D. album this year, and while I’m not always overly crazy about some of the singing found on the album’s hooks (although Brea is like “wow” in the looks department), its among my top three favorite albums released so far this year. On “From The Heart”, with the underground favorite of the moment, Blu, everything comes together with an engaging performance out of Blu, Mr. Brady, and Brea. The beat is an alluring combination of hard drums and a sing songy vocal sample and when you add Brea’s vocal hook over the top, it’s nothing short of beautiful. Not how you would usually describe a hip hop song, but that’s what “From The Heart” is, beautiful.

19. Kooley High feat HaLo & Charlie Smarts - The Bomb (Last Week13, Steady)

(From: Upcoming mixtape, Kooley Is High) Now, if this track was left off of the upcoming Kooley High mixtape, then oh boy, watch out. Charlie Smarts, one of the Kooley MCs and HaLo aka Mr Ben Ready (former Spotlight artist) drop precise rhymes over a rather tasty Oddisee beat. Lots of horns blare out and HaLo provides why he should be the next to blow up. Both MC’s do their thing and bring the heat on the microphone. If you haven’t seen the Kooley High Documentary, “One Day”, then check it out here:

18. Taybot feat Scribes – We Stay Fly (Last WeekN/A, Steady)

(From: The Phil&Numberman Mixtape) I’m always checking for any artist coming out of the Great Northwest, and Taybot resides out of the emerald city, Seattle. Sea-town has been growing lately, with the emergence of Blue Scholars and Jake One out of the area, Seattle is slowly being put on the map. Taybot hopes to be the next in that line. By the time you read this, the Taybot Spotlight will already beat up and you will know all about him. This particular track comes the Taybot/Phil&Numberman The Mixtape, which possess several dope tracks. I’m not wholly sure who produced “We Stay Fly”, but I’ve always been a sucka for some dope strings and he even throws some keys on top of it that gives it that “holier than thou” feel to it. Lyrically, everyone does their job and it’s aided by a sort of rastafarian hook, which adds that little flavor to it.

17. The Understudies – This Is The Beat (Last WeekN/A, Up)

(From: CC3: Or Something) My boys from the Bay Area, The Understudies, drop their debut video and in typical Understudies fashion, it’s armed with an unique beat. The sample sounds like it might have been taken from a 30′s album, but I’ve always been keen about those kind of sounds. I lose count of all the MC’s that drop a verse (and who), but that’s not important, as they all do a fine job on the mic. “This is The Beat” is simply smooth and suave kind of sound and one of their better creations. The video renewed my interest in the song. Some how I seemed to lost the digital copy of the album I had on my computer for awhile, but things are back in working order. If you dig this song, you should check out the album:

16. Cy Yung feat Hanan - Special (Last WeekN/A, Up)

(From: The Cy Yung & Centric LP, Back II Lyfe) I need to come clean and admit I fucked up last week and meant to put this track on the chart and completely forgot it when I came down to making the list. “Special” is from one of the hardest hustlin’ dudes in the game right now, Cy Yung. Singing on hooks for me is a very fine line. It can greatly add to a track or it can rip it down faster than 10 tons of TNT. Fortunately for this track, it adds up like 2+2. It gives me that feeling of a mid 90′s track, and Masta Ace and the INC’s Leschea or Kwame’s singer in the New Beginning (alright, they were early 90′s), Tasha Lambert. The beat is simple but effective in giving Cy a canvass to paint the mood he is trying to express. Hip Hop can’t be aggressive all the time, so this track is a nice switch up.

15. RCA Miles High – Island Jazz (Last Week16, Steady)

(From: Da Beat Tape) I’ve been on a big time instrumental kick the past couple weeks. Kid Hum’s album was the main one, but this dude, RCA Miles High out of Oceanside, California, slid over his Da Beat Tape” to me a couple weeks ago and “Island Jazz” has been stuck in rotation ever since. He has a couple other tracks that might crack the Top 20 here in the future, but for now it’s all about “Island Jazz”. The concept of “Island Jazz” is an interesting one in deed and the vibe of this track is exactly how I’d imagine it sounding. A smooth sounding sax sample over a soft melody invokes lounging on a Caribbean with a fruity drink. Chillin’ in the true effect.

14. AmeerNever Be Shits (Last Week9, Steady)

Ameer dropped the The New Dream toward the end of 2007 and since then, I’ve been keeping my ear open for some new music and I finally got my wish. “Never Be Shits” is a soundtrack for all the underdogs out there. Over a sparse, but loud, drum pattern and a rolling piano sample, Ameer provides hope for those out there with the cards against them. It’s nice to have meaning in a hip hop song, not nearly enough out there.

13. i-El (Ilyas) – Telepathy (Last Week8, down)

(From: The free EP, The Prelude) One third of Tanya Morgan drops an ill jam over a dope J-Dilla beat. I needed a reminder why Dilla was such an amazing producer and this track (which I’m sure ). Ilyas sounds great over the trademark Dilla drums and synths. The vibe of this track is nothing short of great as it’s just pure vibe out music, even the drums can knock books off the shelves. Shit’s great

12. Harmonic 313 feat Phat Kat – Battlestar (Last Week6, Down)

(From: the project, Word Problems) Harmonic 313 is a Detroit producer, and we all know how I feel about D-town as of late. He brings the Detroit sound on the track “Battlestar” and that’s not all he brings with him. He brought friends as well in the forms of Phat Kat and Elzhi. The track “Yeah” was one of my favorite tracks of Elzhi’s “The Preface” album, so hearing this too again over bangin’ ass drums is all I needed to hear to get me pumped.

11. Blaq Poet – Too Strong (Last WeekN/A, Up)

(From: B-Side to “Ain’t Nuthin’ Changed” 12 inch single) I’m a little late on Primo and Blaq Poet’s latest opus, the single, Ain’t Nuthin’ To Change b/w Don’t Give a Fuck and Too Strong. Apparently, it leaked back in December, but I’ve been off my blog route for quite some time. While the single is dope (check the video), this (entirely too) short track, “Too Strong”, is a prime example of what I love about hip hop. Nothin’ but straight up dope rhymes and a dope beat. I love New York hip hop, but for me, it’s been off it’s game the past few years, but this right here is the way it should be done. Don’t fuck with Poet….now where is the damn LP?

10. Cunninlynguists - Never Come Down (The Brownie Song) (Last Week5, Down)

If you have followed this blog long enough, you know that Cunninglynguists are a favorite of mine. Their last two albums have been named in the top three on my year end list. Word on the (blog) streets is they have a double LP dropping in the second quarter. I’m usually DEAD set against double albums. I still stand by statement is there has never been a double album that wouldn’t make a better single album, yes that goes for Wu, Biggie, Pac, all of those. But, if you have Dirty Acres and A Piece of Strange together in one package, I couldn’t argue about that. Kno demonstrates why he is quite possibly my favorite producer going right now as he laces a soulful track as Deacon drops seemingly silly lyrics about pot brownies….or so it seems. As with a lot of Cunninlynguists tracks, I’m sure it goes much deeper than that. Looking forward to see what the dopest crew out of the south is going to bless with this year. The video also dropped this week, it has shades of “Half Baked” going on in it.

9. Blu – Vanity (Last WeekN/A, Up)

(From: Her Favorite Colo(u)r) I remember in the summer of ’07, Eric and I were both trumpeting Blu & Exile’s Below The Heavens, shortly after everyone was on the bandwagon, and for good reason. Below the Heavens is one of the best releases of this decade….easily. Right now, after signing to Sire Records this past week (why?), Blu is larger than ever. I truly hope he makes it and QUALITY hip hop becomes the rage….or do I? That’s for another post I guess, anyway, I’m still getting my bearings on the free mixtape Her Favorite Colo(u)r, some of it seems too….simple I guess, like he is just going through the motions or I’ve heard it before from him under a different song title. This particular track though grabbed my attention and had me on repeat often this past week. It’s nothing amazingly different from his past works, but it’s all the reasons I started liking him in the first place.

8. Kid Hum Trilogy (Prayer, Church, and Bells) (Last Week4, Steady)

Kid Hum – Prayer
Kid – Church

Kid Hum – Bells

(From: The instrumental LP, Fossil Fuel) You simply can’t listen to one of these three tracks without listening to the others. They appear all right in a row on the album, so usually, when I listen to it, those are the first three I go to, then start it from the beginning. All three, “Prayer”, “Church”, and “Bells” have been branded into my subconscious the past two weeks. I wake up in the middle of the night, “Prayer” will be going off in my head. My mom, who was in the room one day while I was blaring “Prayer” said she liked the song, asking me if it was on the radio. Kid Hum really created a masterpiece on the whole album, not just these three tracks, but these three beats get it stuck like a scratched record.

7. Zimbabwe Legit feat YZ - Vicious Cycle (Last WeekN/A, Steady)

(From: the House of Stone LP)See last week’s warning that every once in awhile, a track that might be a year or two old will sneak into the chart. Usuall
y it means I missed something when it first dropped. This happens to be the case of Zimbabwe Legit’s Stone House album that dropped toward the end of ’07. I can’t recall even reading anything about it, which is unfortunate if the rest of the album is anything like “Vicious Cycle”, with the holy one, YZ. You might remember Zimbabwe Legit as being one of the first hip hop groups out of Africa to gain any major exposure in the states and they were always a group that I enjoyed but never got too deep into. The track sounds like some straight up authentic hip hop, which is all good with me. One of the members recently hit me up with some live performances the crew has been dropping, which makes me even more interested in the album (which I ended up copping on Amazon Saturday night).

Vicious Cycle Live from galactus 22 on Vimeo.

6. Y Society – At My Own Pace (Last WeekN/A, Steady)

(From: Travel At Your Own Pace) Another track from a year back or so. The thing is, I didn’t sleep on this album, but for some reason, when they FINALLY released the single for “At My Own Place”, I don’t remember the track sounding this fuckin’ dope. Damu produces high energy, this track has that and more. It’s truly a insane track, with scratching, mixin’, cuttin’, it’s got it all and the beat underneath of it is baby butt smooth. It’s like that sweet and salty popcorn shit you get. It’s got the best of both worlds combined to make a tasty treat.

5. Blue Scholars – Coffee & Snow (Last Week2, Down) *better quality mp3 this week

This was a throw together track that came on a whim? Wow…….Sabzi is one of the illest producers going at it right now. That is witnessed on the critically acclaimed (especially this critic) album Bayani from ’07 and the Common Market album Tobacco Road that dropped last year, both of which Sabzi produced in entirety (or at least 99% of them). The story behind this track was they put it together after a winter storm came through the area (Seattle). The angelic keys are nothing short of amazing and Geologic does his thing lyrically. A truly impressive track that only makes me more hungry for more from the Scholars.

4. Low Budget - Tailor Made (Last Week - N/A, Up)

(From: Laser Disc) Who said Australians can’t make hip hop? First there was Cee & Bekah and now there is Low Budget, who is comprised of Genetik on the mic and some dude named Polarity on the tables and comprising the beats. The track has a real disco like flavor to it, which makes it a fun “shake ya ass” type of track, yet still within the confines of hip hop rules. A strong bassline will rattle windows and annoy anyone in the next room. And who knew Darth Vader retired in Australia and is rollin with Low Budget now?

Low Budget “Tailor Made” from Low Budget on Vimeo.

3. Pugs Atomz – Roof Top (Last Week - 3, Steady)

After Detroit, Chicago might be my next favorite region/city to be doing it lately. On “Roof Top”, DJ Vadim drops an infectious groove, as Pugs Atomz just rides the beat perfectly. I’m a sucka for those old 40′s sounding blues samples (not saying that’s what it is, but it gives me that feeling) and this track has it. I’m looking forward to Pugs upcoming album by the same name as much as I am anything. The track is staying steady at number three although I thought it had a real good chance at claiming the top spot this week. Still paitently waiting on the album.

2. C Rayz Walz feat Slug – In Your Soul (Last Week- N/A, Steady)

(From: C Rayz Walz’s Who The F%@k Are You?) I’m not always the biggest C Rayz Walz fan. Every now and then, he’ll drop something that will blow my socks off and “In Your Soul” is such a track. The hook is simply the type of stuff that says “Top 40 Hit”, and I’m not talking of the WYDU variety neither. It’s simple, yet extremely catchy. It has the over used chipmunk sample in the song, but it’s more of an added piece than trying to build the song around it, so it makes everything all alright. I like C Rayz as an MC, when he isn’t getting all Def Juxed out (read: weird as shit). It’s when it he just stands up and spits is when he is at his best in my opinion. That’s what he does on “In Your Soul”. Everyone knows that I dig Slug as an MC, but while he does nothing to tarnish his image or rep, it’s not him that makes this song. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t hurt it in the least and he drops a great verse, but he’s not the focal point. I can see this song being in the top 5 for quite awhile, so you might as well check it out now.

1. Arablak – The Deed (Last Week - N/A, Steady)

(From: The Social Light Sounds 2009 Sampler) Our first track to be at number one for back to back weeks. Props goes out to Arab Blak and DJ Manipulator, your plaque (read: construction paper made into a trophy) will be in the mail. What can I say about this track though? I was talking about that authentic hip hop sound a few tracks up, and this track embodies that spirit as well. The spirit of ’94? Quite possibly, yet it still sounds fresh. DJ Manipulator laces a blaring horn sample over boom bap drums. Oh, and there is some nice scratching. All that doesn’t sound like anything unheard of before, which it isn’t, but it just sounds doper than most. Arablak sounds like someone else, who I can’t quite put my finger on yet, but it’s a good thing. He has mic presence, commanding respect and delivering his rhymes with the utmost confidence which just adds to the whole overall auroa of the track. I’ve been jamming track since first getting it a couple weeks ago. I’m definitely going to be checking for Arablak, Manipulator and the whole Social Light Sounds crew in the upcoming year. Props goes out to Manipulator for the full track.

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