Album: “Before Taxes”
Simply stated, yU is THAT DUDE, with his debut “Before Taxes” it was easy to gravitate to his delivery and his voice, in particular on tracks like “Beats And Rhymes (From March 25th)” and the head-nodder supreme, the Oddisee-produced “Lunchin”. I mean, not even knowin’ dude and judging from his music, yU just seems like a real likable, down to earth cat that speaks truth from the heart. And while Diamond District pal Oddisee may have a very distinguishable and easily identifiable “twang” (for lack of better wording) with the way in which he spits, yU has that same Southern drawl in his voice that is even more pronounced, that meshes perfectly with traditional East-Coast boom-bap that took you back to 1993 on cuts like “Corners” (f. EyeQ) and the ridiculous flip of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”, “InTheReign”. What also struck me as very impressive was that the majority of the project (“Before Taxes”) was actually produced by the 1978ers (yU & Slimkat78), but it also featured some guest production from Kev Brown, Oddisee & Bilal Salaam. Quite possibly my favorite new artist from 2009, this dude’s got it all, including a promising future. Also, if you haven’t heard Diamond District’s “In The Ruff” by now, you lose.
Album: “A Pipe Dream And A Promise”
By all accounts, one glance at the track listing, along with the notable producers involved, would make Finale’s solo debut, “A Pipe Dream And A Promise” a sure-fire classic, right? However, you know just as well as I do that we’ve seen it all before: up and coming emcee gets various co-signs (ahem, “throwaway” beats) from highly regarded beat makers and proceeds to drop a bullsh*t album filled with topics ranging from the newest Air Yeezy’s (Jesus, who in the hell would wear those out in public, really? Supras? same thing) to all his swag, cars, etc. Thankfully, Finale’s performance did not disappoint on his debut and in some instances (”Issues” & the Black Milk-produced “Motor Music”, which wasn’t one of the more notable beats I’ve heard from him as of late) his lyrical display outshined that of his producer’s performance behind the boards. CONSISTENT, Finale exemplifies the term as his flow doesn’t incorporate many hills and valleys within his no-nonsense, straight to the point delivery. Matter of fact, and I know this may be waaaay left-field here, but he actually sounds like a more lyrical 50 Cent on some of his tracks. Of course, we won’t hold that against Finale, as 50 could only dream of crafting an album half this dope and have as many years left in the game as this Detroit native does. Word on the street is that Finale and Oddisee have a lil’ sumthin’ up their sleeves in 2010, we shall see indeed!
Album: “Love Royale”
In ’09 Tha Connection emerged with “Love Royale”, fresh off the heels of the duo’s phenomenal effort, 2008’s “Trapeze” (click to read W.T.R.’s take on the album) which was released on Domination Records. One of the strongest albums and biggest surprises of ‘08, “Trapeze” displayed a crazy chemistry between emcess SmooVth & Hus (think of a waaay more lyrical Group Home, but with production on the same level of consistency that DJ Premier blessed “Livin’ Proof” with) over eerie RZA-like production from a host of overseas talent (Vans Cal, whoever you are, hit a brotha’ up for an interview….your beats are AMAZING!!). Clocking in at 19 tracks deep, many could argue that albums as lengthy as “Trapeze” and “Love Royale” was quite risky, with most Hip Hop fans electing “quality” over “quantity”. However, tha Connection have mastered the art of “staying in the public eye”, releasing numerous efforts over the course of the last two years without supersaturation of B.S. material, dropping free releases on what seemed like a bi-monthly basis.
Take it to heart when I say “Love Royale” was LOADED with flair and originality. It’s a simple equation for success, really….ill beats and ill rhymes=a dope ass album! As I’ve always mentioned, tha Connection aren’t the most lyrically-potent duo that you’ll ever come across, but it’s their cadence and deliveries that have won me over from day one. Plus, you can’t help but respect the work ethic that SmooVth and Hus put in, persistence is a muhfuc*a’ I tell you!! I don’t just like the music that Hus and Smoovth craft, I fuc*ing LOVE it!! It’s hard to not to argue, that tha Connection isn’t my favorite group that’s poppin’ right about now as “Love Royale” flowed seamlessly from end to end. Still, considered “new jacks” to some, tha Connection will surely end up on your radar by the close of 2010.
Album: “Still Hear”
This is truly a travesty!! Thaione Davis’ “Still Hear” was sooo overlooked this year, that when I’ve posed the question “have you heard the Thaione Davis joint yet?”, many people look at me as if I have a dick protruding from my forehead. Released on the little-known Jericho Lounge Music labele and produced entirely by one of my favorite “under the radar” producers, Chi-Town’s Rashid Hadee (Little Brother, Chapter 13) , “Still Hear” offered us a vivid snapshot of the struggles that an independent may endure. Rashid handled complete production and provided an extremely soulful backdrop comprised of dense, sample-heavy melodies over sparse drumbeats. On the M-I-C, Thaione spit with the ease of a 10-year veteran in the game, who could give two shits about how many units he moves, as long as the album is looked upon as an “underground classic” one day. Quite honestly, Thaione’s “Still Hear” isn’t to far from “that one classic” you may have skipped over only to fall in love with a year later. “Still Hear” was packed to the rim with poignant content and relevant lyrics for these relevant times. A refreshing presentation of dope beats and rhymes full of integrity and conviction, this album was yet another page in Thaione’s catalog of quality music.
Album: “The Apartment”
Hailing from South Florida, Dynas has been a creative force within the South Florida music community for years. Originating from New York City, Dynas is credited as a true master of ceremonies, able to rock a crowd of few to many. He has hosted and performed with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, and Wu Tang Clan. Noted for his ability to visually depict urban tales with melodious harmonies. His artistry is head and shoulders above the normal Top 40 music landscape. Coming straight from the mouth of the ruler “Ain”t nobody got a style like he’s got, kid is ready” (Slick Rick- Def Jam), Dynas displayed flashes of brilliance on his BBE debut, “The Apartment”. Boasting an All-Star production line-up (Jazzy Jeff, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Spinna, J Dilla, Khrysis and someone you’ll be seeing more of this week, Illastrate) that would make an aspiring emcee drool, this “Rawkus 50″ campaign alumni delivered a well-planned “official” debut that is sure to end up on more than a few “Top 10″ lists for 2009.