1. “Awake”-Freddie Joachim
I’ve always been a big fan of Freddie’s “forward thinking” production. Always keeping in touch with Hip Hop’s golden era with his back to basis drum patterns, Freddie has done a helluva’ job carving out his own niche by doing the simple things, such as adding melodic synths over well-known breakbeats as heard on the melodic neck-snapper, “Awake”.
2. “My Poetry”-Hannibal King f. Nero & Donny Goines
Wow! After first hearing “My Poetry” for a brief moment on a recent 2DopeBoyz Radio mixtape, I’ve been hooked ever since. Utilizing the ever so popular Nas’ sample “..my poetry’s deep/I never fell” from “Halftime”, Hannibal King laced underground heavyweight Donny Goines and up and comer, Nero with the perfect backdrop for this slick verbal sparring.
3. “Trying To Make It”-Bobby Creekwater f. Stat Quo & Sandman
Wasn’t Creekwater intended to be the “next big thing” on Shady/Aftermath Records? I mean, dude’s name was buzzin’ about a year or so ago and then suddenly…poof, gone! However, Creekwater’s most recent product, “The BC Era” EP is packed with heat, namely the Stat Quo & Sandman-assisted, “Trying To Make It”. Produced by Focis, “Trying..” is an energetic, get up and get something-mover that features a scene-stealing performance from one of my favorite emcees who has yet to drop an “official” album, Stat Quo. Speaking of Shady/Aftermath, wasn’t Stat supposed to…..ehh, politics I guess?
4. “Floatin”-Stacy Epps
Yo, even though Stacy Epps “The Awakening” isn’t exactly considered Hip Hop, you need to get hip to this album yesterday. Even though I’d much rather hear Stacy’s one of a kind voice sing rather than spit (which she does on occasion on the album) “The Awakening” is an elegant body of work delivered from the voice that carried Madvillian’s “Eye” from the MF Doom/Madlib masterpiece. Which reminds me, I really need to dig “Madvillainy” out again. It’s been nearly three years since I’ve heard that album. Nevertheless, peep “Floatin” for a dose of the spine tingling vocals that Ms. Epps is blessed with.
5. “Jetlagged”-Note To Self
NOTES TO SELF’s first ‘shot’ is the product of much hard work from determined and talented rappers Swamp Donkey and Roshin, producer/rapper Bronze One, and 2003 world DMC champion DJ Dopey. These artists are in the classic sense, a true group, devoted visionaries who thrive on collaboration to further their goals. Truthfully, I wasn’t really expecting much from this album but I was pleasantly surprised with “A Shot In The Dark”. My favorite track from the album “Jetlagged” features a classic Lonnie Liston Smith sample that W.T.R. favorite also freaked masterfully on “The World Is Ours”. A track about relationships, “Jetlagged” is an honest, heartfelt cut that is bound to get you reminiscing over that long-lost love.
6. “Molly”-Tame One & Parallel Thought f. Aesop Rock & Breeze Brewin
Are there any more distinctive voices in Hip Hop aside from those of the three individuals that appear on the Parallel Thought-laced “Molly”. Imagine, just for a second, that you had your choice to pick a super group comprised of some of the most individualistic, innovative emcees in Hip Hop, the trio of Aesop Rock, Tame One and Breeze Brewin (one of my all-time favorites) would be a damn good combination based on the showing of “Molly”. Also, Parallel Thought’s “super-flyish” backdrop for “Molly” is just an added bonus as the three aforementioned emcees mesh together perfectly without coming off as the least bit “forced”.
7. “Grandmother Earth”-Apollo Brown
Yes, yes, yes..Detroit has done it again. You mean there’s more talented beat makers emerging from the D? Of course, remember this past winter when I shed light upon Apollo Brown’s instrumental opus, “Skilled Trade”? Well, Apollo is back with “Make Do”, yet another collection of what Apollo has up his sleeve. Featuring a grittier sound than say that of Black Milk or 14KT, Apollo Brown’s sample reliant chops showcase a heavy J-Dilla influence without completely jocking Dilla’s signature sound. While I’m not quite sure how the cover art for “Make Do” matches up with the track listing and flow of the LP, if you had to pick one track that pairs up most with the artwork if would be that of the moody-”Grandmother Earth”, as the cut accomplishes a contradictory feat; a head nodder that is also somewhat depressing, yet funky…does that make any sense? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Nevertheless, be sure to cop “Make Do” on Itunes, at 37 (!) tracks in length, this gem is well worth your coin.
8. “On The Run”- Royce Da 5’9″
Finally, the long-awaited “Street Hop” will drop Tuesday, but those “internet savvy” folks have surely had the album in rotation for over a week or more. Lyrically, Royce is on top of his game on “Street Hop”, but production-wise…ehh, honestly some of the fat could have been trimmed off to make for a healthier serving of “Street Hop”. However, the majority of reviews that I’ve read for the album thus far have been extremely positive, I may be jumping the gun being that I’ve only got the through the album twice. One track that I have bumped more than twice is “On The Run”, a track that finds Royce unleashing his story-telling abilities packed with vivid imagery that instantly reminds you of a fellow white kid from the “D” over a melodic, soulful production courtesy of (?).
9. “Bottom Line”-Skyzoo
Damn, just how good is Skyzoo’s official debut “The Salvation”? Truthfully, I was really surprised in regards to the turn-out of this album, as the finished product is stellar. What’s really weird is that I consider 9th Wonder’s contributions (“The Beautiful Decay”, “Easy To Fly”, “Like A Marathon” and “Under Pressure”), while certainly not wack, to be some of the weaker productions on “The Salvation” especially when held in comparison with the like of Best Kept Secret’s “My Interpretation”, Cyrus Tha Great’s “The Opener”, Just Blaze’s “Return Of The Real” (even with the mid-nineties title) and most certainly Eric G’s bouncy production featured on “Bottom Line”. Fueled by a Jamaican-vibe, “Bottom Line” is somewhat reminiscent, at least on the production-tip, of the Sister Nancy classic “Bam Bam”.
10. “On The Creep”-XO
D.C. STAND UP!!!! Once again, score me a late past for XO’s “RealMatic”. Growing up in the definition of RURAL in PA., I only could receive one Hip Hop channel on my radio dial, 93.9 outta’ D.C.. So yeah, when I first heard “Go Go” music, and trust me I heard ALOT of it, I wasn’t all too impressed…especially after the trillionth listen to the Chuck Brown remake of Busta’s “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”, but looking back on it, “Go Go” music has been a huuuuge part of my life. So know when I hear these newcomers such as the Best Kept Secret and there BIG drums, it reminds me of those days sitting next to the radio with my finger on the pause button trying to record Paula Perry’s “Paula’s Jam” or Jay’s “Dead Presidents”. So as you can tell, it’s no wonder I’m feeling the BOOMING production featured on XO’s recent mixtape, “Realmatic”.
“On the Creep” is XO’s take on B.I.G.’s “Gimme the Loot,” with X.O. going all “Slick Rick” on em’, flexing two different voices to have a convo about a robbery over a haunting track from the production team of Nex and Rio. It’s a brilliant idea that’s carried out perfectly, a stellar example of the talent that is brewing in Hip Hop’s newest hotbed.