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WYDU Mid Way Report Day Four: Top 20 Hip Hop Albums 20-11

by Travis on July 16, 2009

We are down to the last two days of the WYDU’s Mid Way report. We’ll be covering my top 20 albums of the first half so far. No instrumental albums and no EPs, just albums. Some mixtapes might have found their way in, but the line between proper albums and “mixtapes” are more blurred than ever before.

This year started off hella slow. It wasn’t until the last couple weeks of March until things really took off. Even then it’s been rather streaky, with a couple weeks on fire, then we don’t hear anything for awhile. The landscape continues to change, with lots of free albums blessing the listeners. I’m not sure how I feel about the first half so far. There are some damn good albums, and I still cringe when cats say hip hop is dead, it’s not dead, you are on just on some lazy shit or can’t adjust your tastes. Either or, I’m still finding lots of music that entertains me. It’s never going to be ’88 again, or ’96 for that matter. Get over it and find something that interests you.

That’s my rant for the day. The second half has some things I’m anticipating. Of course the Paten Locke joint has me feigning. If Cunninlynguists does get Vol. 2 of Strange Journey out by the end of the year, that has the chance to be something big in my book. Arablak from the Social Light Sounds has let me hear a couple teasers from his upcoming album that building the excitement. So what I’m saying, the verdict for the year is still way up in the air and could go either way at this point in time. Now we’ll just jump into the bottom half of the top 20….

20. Mr. SOS – How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Bomb

Sounds Like: Stanley Kubrick came back as a MC and is tripping off some bad acid. No really, that’s supposed to be a good thing.

Summary: I’ve been waiting for a Mr. SOS solo album since he got the boot from Cunninlynguists back in ’04 or ’05. In my opinion, he was a major importance in the Southernunderground LP from Cunnin’. It’s taken forever, but How I Stopped Worrying & Love the Bomb finally dropped. At first, I didn’t know what the hell to think of this LP. It’s nothing like I was expecting, it’s not your traditional hip hop at all, yet it is. It’s hard to explain to someone that hasn’t listened to it, but the LP is supposed to be based in the future, and it sure the hell sounds like it. It’s something like the 2010 version of the Bomb Squad. Insanity on the beats, but refined. It’s an impressive LP if you are able to accept it’s complexity, which I’m sure some people won’t be able to swallow it.

Favorite Songs: “Bionic”, “The Balance”

19. Superstar Quamallah – The Invisible Man

Sounds Like: An old soul, making soulful hip hop

Summary: To be honest, it’s the music that makes this album. I’ve read some places that ding Quamallah for his rhyming on Invisible Man, but Quamallah does what he does, delivering effortless rhymes over great beats. That doesn’t change on here, as Quamallah does a great job on the beats, very soulful and moving and he brings back that old school flavor with a twinge of current flair on tracks like “88 Soul” and “California Dreamin”. A must have for anyone who loves the soul tracks.

Favorites: “88 Soul”, “California Dreamin”

18. Notes To Self – A Shot In The Dark

Sounds Like: A Canadian version of Dilated Peoples

Summary: It was Notes To Self’s EP, Warning Shots, caught my attention earlier this year. I picked it up mainly because of Evidence being on the EP, but after listening to it, I had to look into this four man group from Toronto a little closer. Their full length project, A Shot In The Dark, is solid all the way around with a couple great songs. Apparently they’ve been around for a little while, but this is the first time I’ve heard of them. While they aren’t on some “ol next other shit”, they do make a good quality album that should get plays from the underground/backpacker fan base out there.

Favorite Tracks: “Yellow & Gray”, “Days Like These”

17. Lonegevity – Sessions

Sounds Like: You found out you next door neighbor could rhyme…..and he was actually kinda nice.

Summary: I don’t know how I got Lonegevity’s free project, Sessions, or how long I had it. I got an email from my man Jaz of Cold Rock Da Spot saying I should check out the album. Low and behold, I looked in my iPod and there it was. Jaz was responsible for pointing me in the direction of Dagha last year, which had one of my favorite albums of the year. So I immediately hit “play” and the album. What I heard was nothing overly special at first, yet the just appealed to me. Certain songs made me want to re listen to them over and over. Lonegevity isn’t the greatest MC in the world, but he does have a nice selection of beats and he makes good songs, which for me is just as important as being the nicest on the mic. Well worth the free listen…

Favorite Tracks: “If You’re Down”, “Nice To Meet You”
Click below to download Sessions!


16. The Problemaddicts – The Guestlist

Sounds Like: If I were to make a mixtape like Funkmaster Flex did back in the day, but use the current favorites.

Summary: After having one of the better albums that came out of nowhere last year (The Dark Side of Oz), I was kinda disappointed when I heard The Guestlist. Not because it wasn’t good, but because they are really only on one or two songs. But then I started thinking about it, and they had a lot of my favorites and upcoming MCs I have my eyes on. Blacastan, Masta Ace, Poorly Drawn People, even Copywrite is present on this mixtape. Most songs are new or exclusive to the projects, so it’s a bunch of new stuff. Ironically, some of the material by groups I haven’t heard of are among my favorites, such as Black River Sound’s “Grow”. Despite not spitting on their own project, the Problemaddicts put together a nice little project here that has replay value.

Favorite tracks: “Grow”, “Hurting”

15. Diamond District – In The Ruff

Sounds Like: The 90′s met the 00′s and had little 9000 babies….or something like that.
Summary: D.C. is on the map, and it’s about time. Of course, we get some music out of D.C., but for as large of a city it is and with the amount of black culture there, it’s surprising it’s not known more for it’s hip hop. Diamond District, which is made up of three DC natives, Oddisee, yU and X.O., dropped an excellent free project for the masses, titled In The Ruff. With banging kick drums and melodic beats from the one and only Oddisee, they handle the mic well enough to even make the album better

Favorite Tracks: “In The Ruff”, “Who I Be”

00 Intro
01 Streets Wont Let Me Chill
02 Who I Be
03 Back To Basics
04 I Mean Business
05 Get In Line
06 In The Ruff
07 The Shining
08 The District
09 Make It Clear
10 Off The Late Night
11 Let Me Explain
12 First Time

14. Illogic – Diabolical Fun

Sounds Like: Loud drums, loud riffs, organized chaos and dope lyrics

Summary: I’m not sure what I should like better on Diabolical Fun, the beats or the lyrics. On one hand you have one of the nicer underground MCs in the game the past decade or so in Illogic. He’s an MCs MC. But I always found him kind of dull, basically because the lack of quality beats. Boy did ever change that this time around. Ill Poetic, a favorite of WTR and WYDU, did Illogic justice with just loud and obnoxious sounds, which is a good thing. Ill Poetic has gotten even better behind the boards since his own 2007 release and should be someone that gets more work.

Favorite Tracks: “Violent Verbage”, “Let’s Go”

13. Pseudo Slang – We’ll Keep Looking

Sounds Like: Xtracts of Slang and Pseudo Intellectuals got together to form a group….oh wait…..

Summary: While I’m not at all familiar with Xtracts of Slang, Pseudo Intellectuals out of Buffalo NY caught my year last year for one of my favorite albums that came out of nowhere. A couple members from each group got together to form Pseudo Slang. When I first hear We’ll Be Waiting, I was thinking to myself, “These dudes sound too much like Pseudo Intellectuals.” To my defense, it was early in the morning still. It’s a simple formula, but it’s a good one. It’s hip hop that reminds me of being in a smokey jazz room, listening to dudes kick it with a beret on or something. It’s that jazzy.

Favorite Tracks: “Broke & Copasetic”, “Bedouin”

12. Marco Polo & Torae – Double Barrel

Sounds Like: Some good ole fashioned boom bap

Summary: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this album when I heard about it. In the past I’ve been a fan of Marco Polo’s beats, but Torae never really did much for me lyrically. When Double Barrel dropped, my expectations for Torae were beaten but I was somewhat disappointed in what I heard from beatwise from Marco Polo. That’s not to say that the beats aren’t good. It’s that “smack you in the face” 90′s NYC hip hop. That’s good, but the bad thing is after awhile, all the beats kinda bleed into each other. Still, I’d rather have good beats bleed into each other than shitty beats. None the less, unfortunately, there aren’t many hip hop albums out there like this anymore and it’s rather unfortunate.

Favorite Tracks: “Hold Up”, “Double Barrel”

11. LoveJones & Phys Edison – Sunday Drive

Sounds Like: Some 70′s psych rock mixed with the hip hop monster after one two many hits from the bong.

Summary: Some serious vibin’ music coming from Mike Jones aka LoveJones and his producer Phys Ed. I like albums that create moods, and Sunday Drive does just that. There is no music that makes you want to punch a hole through your wall, but there is a lot of music that makes you want to get a fat bag of your favorite vegetation and just kick back and listen to the music. As I’ve mentioned before, the album came out of nowhere, and I really only downloaded it because the cover looked so incredibly goofy, I was curious to what it sounded like. The album hooked me right away though, and I can see this one moving up even a few more spots before the year is over.

Favorite Tracks: “Downtime”, “Sunday Drive Midnight Mix”

LoveJones and Phys Edison’s debut album, Sunday Drive.

Sunday Drive Download Link

Official Track list
1. Sunday Morning(Still Thinking About Saturday Night)
2. Sunday Drive
3. New World
4. Downtime
5. Phys Edison’s Brunch
6. Sit on the Moon
7. The One(My SV Shit)
8. Sunday Drive Midnight Mix
9. Had a Dream
10. B.I.G. Dreams
Bonus Tracks
11. The Get Up
12. They Gon Hate
13. Sucka MCs
14. Roll Call(Top City)

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