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"Here We Go Again" (c) Rob Base: "Eric's Top Tracks 0f '09" (90-81)

by Eric C. on December 3, 2009


90. “Fast Rapping Time”-Verbal Kent & Kaz One

Why????? Why??? Crafted in the same vein as Eric B & Rakim classics, “Don’t Sweat The Technique” and “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em”, Verbal Kent really caught me off-guard with this one, but definitely in a good way.  But, at only 1 minute and 26 seconds long, I mean c’mon?   The highlight of Verbal & Kaz One’s impressive collaborative LP, “Brave New Rap”, it’s  crazy to imagine just what “Fast Rapping Time” just how much praise and attention this track would have garnered if allotted a well-deserved three minutes or so.  “Fast Rapping Time” while instantly gratifying, is really like that hot chick in high school, while you may have reached “2nd base” with her at one point or another, she really only left you with a set of blue balls.

89. “My Life”-U-N-I & Ro. Blvd

My, my, my…it’s hard to believe that the sample that provided the backbone for U-N-I/Ro. Blvd’s “My Life”,  not to mention one of my all-time favorite tracks…period, Norman Connors feat. Michael Henderson’s “You Are My Starship”,  also fueled the  Mobb Deep classic “Trife Life” from their classic sophomore LP, “The Infamous”.  Two seemingly opposite tracks, yet both very effective in their own manner.  Also, if you haven’t peeped “A Love Supreme” just yet, I highly suggest you do so as it served as one of the best “free” albums of 2009. Good to see that U-N-I is living up to all the hype they’re received in blogosphere/MTV, etc. over the last 2 years or so.

88. “Coffee & Snow”-Blue Scholars

Whew, talk about cutting it close to making a “year end list”, “Coffee & Snow” actually leaked right around the first week of 2009. While many people may have forgotten this track shortly after the pass of those cold winter months, “Coffee & Snow” stayed in rotation for a hefty portion of the year. Damn, tell me this sh*t doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy….especially if you’re from the East like myself. Damn, I miss those days of shoveling snow on an hourly basis..yeah, right. One thing’s for sure, Sabzi’s beat for this joint was Fiiiiiiiya !!!(C) Fizzy Womack…ahem, I mean..Lil’ Fame.   “Coffee & Snow” honestly made Blue Scholars “OOF” such a huge disappointment, being that I was expected much more flavor in the form of this as well as past classics such as “Loyalty” and “Bayani” for that matter.  I mean, yeah, I get the concept but I had a difficult even skimming through “OOF”. Oh well, there’s always 2010!

87. “Feel The Beat”-Illogic and Ill Poetic

“I been thinkin’ about this/For a mighty long time..” Wooooo!! “Feel The Beat” exemplified the raw energy and enthusiasm within Hip Hop.  On Illogic & Ill Poetic’s collaborative LP, “Diabolical Fun” (Don’t Sleep!!), Illogic thrived not only on his wordplay, but his cadence, voice and most importantly wit, were all off the charts as well. Of course all of the aforementioned assets wouldn’t be worth a damn cent if the emcee whom possesses all of those above qualities is lacking confidence and personality. Thankfully, Illogic injected each track with a sense of honesty, humbleness and candor that was truly refreshing, and what Hip-Hop needs these days. There’s really not much fault that lied within any of the lyrics that appeared on “Diabolical Fun” as Illoigic flowed effortlessly while varying subject matter from straight-up “braggadocio” (the BOOMING “welcome to my got damn album cut”, “What’s My Name”), to addressing the problems in our music today (”What Happened?”), to the extremely danceable, breaker’s anthem “Feel The Beat”, all of which kept the album flowing like Moet and undeniably fresh. Kudos to you Illogic!!

86. “Dum Dum Dum”-Tha Connection

Tha Connection has mastered the art of “staying in the public eye”, releasing numerous efforts over the course of two years without supersaturation of B.S. material, dropping free releases on what seems like a bi-monthly basis. From the opening moments of the Sade-sampled, Baker produced “Royale” to the bouncy, Sci-Fi laced free-for-all, “Dum Dum Dum” (which uses the infamous loop that fueled Cormega’s “Fallen Soldiers” as well as the Jay-Z/Kid Capri effort “It’s Like That”) to the “Ex Girl ta’ Next Girl” sampled “Fool In Love”, “Love Royale” hit harder than Mike Tyson. Utilizing a wide array of producers from the immensely talented Vans Cal (just WHO is this guy??) to the bass heavy flavor of KG Boom, “Love Royale” was surprisingly as “put together” as Kim Kardashin. One would think that with such a vast contrast in production styles from the contributing beatsmiths “Love Royale” would have encountered a few bumps in the road, which couldn’t have been anything further from the truth! As impressed as I was with “Trapeze”, “Love Royale”  improved that much upon it’s predecessor (not counting Goon Trax’ “Moon Water” if you wanna’ dig deeper), I’m extremely impressed with this album as tha Connection has solidified themselves as a duo to keep an ear open for 2010 and beyond!

85. “Heat”-Finale

By all accounts, one glance at the track listing, along with the notable producers involved, made “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 emcees 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 out-shined that of his producer’s performance behind the boards. CONSISTENT, Finale exemplified the term as his flow didn’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 sounded 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.

The fast-forward material on “A Pipe Dream..” was virtually non-existent. If I had to cut out one track, being nit-picky, it would probably be the aforementioned “Motor Music”, not that it’s unlikeable by any means, it was just more of a let-down than anything else…especially considering the culprits. However, from the frantic, electro-boogie of “Waiting Game” (where J.L. affiliate Khrysis does his best Lab-Tech impersonation) to straight bananas, J-Dilla-laced “Heat” (Damnit, another M.O.P. sample? YESSSSS!!!!), the contributing producers laced Finale with some serious HEAT! I honestly don’t see another track this year bumping “Paid Homage” from my favorite track this year as this Flying Lotus produced thumper is so elegantly layered it gave me goosebumps with each listen, and it didn’t hurt that it packed enough low-end to rattle your spine. If you’re searching for some of the best production in 2009, don’t stray to far you can find a healthy chuck of it, “A Pipe Dream..” had plenty of it!

84. “Numb”-Ancient Tongue

Ancient Tongue’s debut is WORTH YOUR MONEY. Anyway, upon first listen to “Time…” go ahead and skip to “Numb”..OK, you there yet? I’m talking to you down-loaders out there. Now, one of the most overused yet effective samples in Hip Hop is the Honey Drippers’ “Impeach The President”, “Numb” features one it’s best usages that you’ll ever experience as melodic keys are layered atop the bare bones thump of this classic break-beat for an funky expedition. EXPERIENCE indeed, that’s the word that most accurately describes Ancient Tongue’s “Time Tells Tales”. Twenty-One tracks deep with quite a few “interludes” sprinkled into the mix, Ancient Tongue successfully incorporated elements of Dub, Reggae and Jungle (check “10,000 ft.” for a prime example, and be sure to make it thru the first minute of the track, the pay-off is worth the wait!) into their live instrumentation to make for an extremely enjoyable listen that in most cases would be a difficult task to pull-off effectively.

83. “Fuzzy Navel”-Floyd The Locsmif

Thank you Dart Adams for hipping me to the latest release from one of Hip Hop’s most overlooked and underrated producers, Floyd The Locsmif.  My first exposure to the production mind of this ATL resident came in the form of “The Outskirts”, Flyod’s unofficial remixes of classic Outkast tracks. If my memory serves me correctly he actually dropped some material nearly two years ago that made it’s rounds on the interwebs (and it wasn’t Divine Designz #1 either), but I just can’t seem to track down the title of the disc.  This time around, Floyd is sure to garner a bit more widespread attention with the release of “Divive Designz #2″.

With only appearances from Dave Ghetto (speaking of which, that Hustle Simmons album was waaaaay overlooked!) and Kam Moye aka Supastition, “Divine Designz #2″  granted “the Locsmif” the opportunity to showcase his production range, that up until now, has been under the radar for the most part.  One listen to the electro-funk of “Fuzzy Navel” will soon change all that, as Floyd exemplified the meaning of clarity and most importantly depth in the layers of his beats.  While you won’t be able to find the album floating around in blogosphere for free DL, do as I did and shell over the 10 bones on Itunes, a purchase that is well worth it…to state it lightly.

82. “Stars”-Fashawn

Truthfully speaking, “Boy Meets World” blew me away! I mean, I knew that after listening to “The Antidote” this would be a promising debut, but I never imagined that it would be this good. It takes alot for me to listen to an album 7 (!) times in succession, as I believed that the last time an album took me for that kinda’ ride was…well, “Below The Heavens”! So what are you waiting for? Go buy the album already!! Anyway, right from jump-street, the raucous “Intro” set the party off on the right foot with what was probably the hardest production on the album, which is then followed up by the clever, Talib Kweli-sampled “Freedom”. One-half of Emanon, Aloe Blacc makes a notable appearance with “Hey Young World” (as he did on “Below The Heavens” as well). However, things really began to pick up (not that they ever really fell behind) with the jazzy, almost classical-vibe of “Star”, a track that exudes Exile’s funk (production-wise, of course).

81. “Just To Say”-St. Mic

While “Honest Music” won’t move the units of say a “Blueprint 3″ or even “OB4CL2″, it shouldn’t be overlooked by any means. I can truly appreciate a multi-talented artist putting out quality material such as this. Like your Moms used to say “honesty is the best policy”, and a no-frills, non-gimmicky album such as “Honest Music” stays in rotation much longer than albums that are released amidst all the glamor and glitz only to disappoint you tremendously after just one listen. Mudd of Jazz Addixx came through with what could possibly be his best production to date. My favorite cut from “Honest Music”, “To Say” found ST/MiC playing the bigger man on this bouncy-masterpiece, without being too preachy. That’s yet another thing that I find intriguing about ST/MiC, for the most part this album is almost completely void off all negativity: no cusses, no frontin’, playin’ the gangster role…it is what it is….”Honest Music”, and as a dedicated fan of underground Hip Hop, I can appreciate that.

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