Wrapping up this week of new music, we hop into my top 10 albums of the first half. What’s interesting, out of the 20 albums I had in the first quarter, only 4 of them remained at the half way point. Not sure if that is due to the week first quarter or a strong second quarter. I tend to think a little bit of both. Anyway, no messing around today, I have a shit load of emails I need to get to tonight hopefully, so in the immortal words of Slick Rick, “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere we go.”
10. Low Budget – Laser Disc
Summary: You may have remember Magnasound that Australian duo Low Budget dropped in 2006. Made up of Gentleman Gene on the vocals and Polarity aka Debonair P (?!) behind on the tables (yes, they actually have scratching on their records) and on the boards. Po is a beast on the boards, as he has a knack for flipping samples and turning them into golden age sounds. It’s quite impressive actually. I’m guilty for not giving non American hip hop its just due quite often, and I know Australian Hip Hop has a “hate it or love it” vibe in the global hip hop community, but I stand behind Low Budget’s lastest LP, Laserdisc.
Favorite Tracks: “Saturday Night”, “Cool Out”
9. Blaq Poet – The Blaqprint
Summary: Before I launch into it, the fact that I have this album at number nine even though I’m about to say that I was disappointed in the album, says something about how this album is still damn nice and just how great Primo is. Okay, since that is out of the way, on to the rest of my two cents. Blaqprint suffers from overly high expectations on my part. It’s not it’s fault that they didn’t live up to those lofty expectations on my part. I was thinking this was going to be on some new Gang Starr type shit. It’s not, plain and simple. Primo is simply very good on the beats and Blaq Poet just doesn’t have the chemistry with Primo that Guru did. Still, this album is nothing to sneeze at. It’s real hip hop in my book. Loud, obnoxious, banging New York hip hop. I miss shit like this
Favorite Tracks: “Ain’t Nuthin’ Changed”, “I Gititin”
8. Tha Connection – Love Royale
Summary: Tha Connection has been one of my favorite new groups to emerge in the past year. Their music has a vibe, one that you know it’s them when you hear it, and Love Royale is no different. The stick to their formula, but they perfect it even more. They use a lot of familiar breaks and beats, but they add their own flavor to it which gives it that familiar feel to it, like you’ve listened to it before. That’s part of what draws me toward their music, it is comfortable for me. Tha Connection is always busy creating music, which is a good thing because they bring the goods every time and Love Royale is no different.
Favorite Tracks: “Dum Dum Dum”, “Flow”
7. Diz Gibran & Moonshine – Soon You’ll Understand
Sounds Like: The second coming of Lord Finesse combined with Little Brother, and the Step Brother to Blu.
Download his free project, Soon You’ll Understand. http://diznmoon.com/
Summary: I’ve said it before, I’m really hit and miss with a lot of the LA music scene. It’s good to see them on something other than the gangsta tip, but some of it I just get with all the time. New comer Diz Gibran however is one new style LA cat that I can get with. Diz gets busy over some Moonshine beats, who comes a lot nicer than I remember him being on some of his past projects. Their are some straight up catchy music on Soon You’ll Understand and this album has only steadily increased it’s replay value for me since it dropped as a free release back in early April (just missing the first quarter cut for me). At 19 tracks, it might have been even better with the cutting of some loose weight, but the dope tracks more than make up for the weaker ones (what little there are). I hope this cat gets better and better because this is simply a great start.
Favorite Tracks: “Once Again”, “Impossible”, “City Lights”, “Truly Yours”, “Stereo”
6. Nite People – What Do You Mean You People?
Sounds Like: The Pete Rose of rap, not flashy, but steadily delivers the hits.
Summary: I really liked Nite People’s “Daily Livin’” LP from 2007, so when Arablak dropped me a line telling me about Nite People’s new album, I was curious how the crew would come this time around. From the get go, you know that What Do You Mean You People is going to be even better than their first album. While the album isn’t flashy, there isn’t going to be any singles that will make you say “oh shit!”, it’s consistent all the way through. I found myself listening to it more and more after having certain songs stuck in my head. It’s cliche to say this, but What Do You Mean… is nothing but quality hip hop, and it straight grows on you. With production coming from Tone Capone and DJ Manipulator, the beats are solid as EtheReal Plains does his thing. Highly recommended.
Favorite Tracks: “Stage Fright”, “You People”, “Color Schemes”, “IRap”, “Cliche”
5. Drumz & Llingo – Blak Market
Summary: Yes, I know if you don’t ready WYDU all that much, the names Drumz & Llingo might be new to you, but I suggest you check for them. Their Blak Market LP dropped in late December and really got me through those slow months of January and February. Armed with banging drums from both Drumat!c and Llingo (who also does most of the rhyming) and deep, heavy and rattling bass lines, the Philly duo put together a classic hip hop album. Classic in that there is none of that fluff BS synth music, just pure hip hop.
Favorite Tracks: “Nowonder”, “MC1two”, “Tipitbak”, “Bamboozled”
4. Blame One – Days Chasing Days
Summary: I was late jumping on the Blame One bandwagon. I didn’t really know who he was until last summer when I bumped into his mixtape. From there on out I was sold on him. Looks like the bandwagon has come to an end, as Blame recently announced his retirement from hip hop. At least his swan song, Days Chasing Days, will be the last thing he’ll be remembered for musically. Exile was already probably in my top five current hip hop producers, but dude cemented his spot after producing a good chunk of this album. But it’s not even Exile’s dope beats that sold me on the album, it’s Blame’s rhyme style, vocal tone and subject matter, it all just appealed to me. Days Chasing Days walks the fine line of variety and cohesiveness, making an album that leads you down a straight path, but gives you enough to do so you don’t get bored. Tracks such as the Sean Price assisted “Disturbed” is different from the title track, “Days Chasing Days”, but they work together very well. All around just a great album, too bad the good always retire early…or something like that.
Favorite Tracks: “Supreme”, “Wonder Why”, “Disturbed”, “Days Chasing Days”, “Words”
3. Tanya Morgan – Brooklynati
Sounds Like: A bastard child of the Native Tongue days
Summary: I was wondering how the whole Brooklynati concept was going to shake out after Tanya Morgan nailed their first concept type album on the head. With a name like Tanya Morgan, you already know that the group has a sense of humor and like using double meanings to describe things, and they use all those approaches when they tackled the Brooklynati project. The result? The music is great, and the whole story line, while not as good as Moonlighting, is still entertaining after a 50 plus listens. The whole Little Brother/Foreign Exchange/ Justus League vibe is very much present on Brooklynati, and they handle it well. Very entertaining album.
ite Tracks: “On Our Way”, “So Damn Down”, “Bang & Boogie”, “She’s Gone”, “Morgan Blu”
2. J Dilla – Jay Stay Paid
Sounds Like: Classic Jay Dee
Summary: Is it an instrumental album? Is it a compilation? I’m not all that sure, but I know it’s straight up classic J Dilla. I’m not going to sit here and praise Dilla for his musical genius that we unfortunately lost way too soon, but listening to this made me appreciate him all over again. It was great hearing what artists like Lil Fame, Black Thought and Blu would sound like over a dope Dilla beat. There are some great instrumentals on here and some nice work by the MCs as well. Is it a classic like Donuts? Probably not, but it’s got a lot going for it and it’s something I can listen to anytime on any day.
Favorite Tracks: “Lazer Gunne Funk”, “Smoke”, “Blood Sport”, “Digi Dirt”, “Reality TV”, “Pay Day”
1. Cunninlynguists – Strange Journey Vol 1.
Sounds Like: Outkast meets De La Soul….the best of the South combines with the best of the North.
Summary: I’ve never hid the fact that I’m pretty much a Cunninlynguists fan boy. I’ve named their last two albums one and two for the year in 2006 and 2007 and give them props whenever the opportunity arises. Kno is probably my favorite current producer, the southern twang of Deacon and Natti are nothing short of spectacular most of the time, and the songs are always something that I can relate to or can feel. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the seemingly “throw something together” type of feel of Strange Journey Vol. 1 when I saw the track listing for it. After getting the CD in the mail back in late March, my worries subsided as tracks like “Never Come Down”, “Die For You”, “Hypnotized” (which has some personal meaning these past couple months) and others. There are a couple skippable songs found on Strange Journey, but the rest more than make up for it.
Favorite Tracks: “Nothing By Strangeness”, “Move”, “Never Come Down”, “Hypnotized”, “Dance For Me”, “Die For You”, “Don’t Leave”, “Broken Van”