60. “On The Run”- Royce Da 5′9″
Lyrically, Royce was on top of his game with the highly anticipated “Street Hop”, but production-wise…ehh, honestly some of the fat could have been trimmed off to have made for a healthier serving of “Street Hop”. However, the majority of reviews that I 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 less than a dozen or so times. One track that I have bumped more than twice is “On The Run”, a track that found 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 the consistently solid, often overlooked, Emile.
59. “Step Off”-People Under The Stairs
Now over ten years and seven albums deep, People Under the Stairs (the duo of Thes One & Double K) have built a genre and fan-base within hip hop of their own. Upbeat, crazy, full of energy and creativity, “Carried Away” followed in true P.U.T.S tradition. Let it be known that “Carried Away” was recorded entirely on reel to reel with an overabundance of rock samples, distorted vocals, drum machines, etc. Quite truthfully, up until this album, I’d never been a big follower of P.U.T.S. Not that Thes One & Double K are “wack” by any means whatsoever, it’s just that their style has always been a bit too much “Hip Hop and ya’ don’t stop” (translation: Old School) for my progressive taste, different strokes for different folks, right? Hell, I can recall DJ Ragz mentioning that this was his favorite Hip Hop duo ever. However, “Step Off” and the majority of “Carried Away” for that matter has “Johnny Gill’d” me (rubbed me the right way), and is quite possibly the duo’s best work to date.
58. “Eventually”-Huntor Prey
The track that truly blew me away from Huntor Prey’s impressive EP, “Original Sound Picture” was the pulsating tones of “Eventually”, which has served as my “get open” track for those mornings where I can barely drag my ass into the gym for those 5 a.m. workouts. One listen to this Ill Poetic-laced gem and it’s easy to see why “Eventually” gets the blood flowin’ at a rapid pace. Plus, a lil’ hint of M.O.P. thrown into to spice up the hook never hurt matters much either, considering that the vocal sample originates from the same folks who are responsible for “How About Some Hardcore”, “Stick To Ya’ Gunz” and “Ante Up”. Keep your ears peeled for Huntor Prey in ’10 as Ohio keeps their pipeline of talented artists on the “up and up” full.
57. “Invisible”-Apollo Brown
Upon downloading “Skilled Trade”, I was very impressed with the first dozen or so cuts when I first heard the free instrumental album (be sure to peep Apollo’s “Make Do” if you haven’t already as well!), then..BOOM! The angelic vocal sample that reeled me in on Finale’s “Arrival” (or “Depature” if you wanna’ get technical) blessed my eardrums with it’s mother, “Invisible”. Ahh, then it all came to fruition, no wonder this sh*t is so dope, it’s from the same cat who blessed Finale! No joke, Apollo Brown’s got some serious beats!! Displaying a nice range of samples, flips and techniques there’s no doubt that we’ll be hearing more from this Cleveland import by the way of Detroit City.
56. “The End”-Deep Rooted
“D.E.E.P.R.O.O.T.E.D” filled a void for what is sorely missed in our music today: the crew’s 2009 album was filled with positive messages that where not only appealing, but honest as well. Hopefully, this release from Deep Rooted made cats take Hip Hop a little more seriously. Featuring guest production from DJ Rhettmatic, Moka Only (Damn, not this cat again, right?), Exile (there’s no mistaking Exile’s production for “Closer”, you’ll identify it immediately without me telling you) and Kas One the production on this album was CRAZY with some serious knock for you trunk!!
Deep Rooted definitely saved the best for last on this LP as the album’s finale, the fittingly-titled “The End” (f. Sha Dula) also served as it’s most goose bump-inducing track as Brea’s sultry vocals meshed perfectly over the instantly recognizable soulful loop.
55. “Decision”-Busta Rhymes f. Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige, Common & John Legend
My dude Dart hit the nail on the head with his accurate take on Busta’s LP, “Back On My B.S.” when he noted that on one track you’ll be nodding your head furiously and the next you’ll be questioning if this is even the same album that had you so in tune just minutes earlier. I attempted to sit down with “Back On My B.S.” late one lat time Friday evening and I’d be fronting if I didn’t admit that nearly half the tracks on this LP are “fast forward material”. I just don’t understand, with such a great chemistry in tact, why wouldn’t Busta chose to do an album solely with DJ Scratch behind the boards? Problems tend to arouse when Busta reached out to producers like Cool & Dre, Jelly Roll (and by the way, Busta’s duet with soulstress Estelle, “World Go Round” should have been left on the cutting room floor) and even the “bonus” track with Bangladesh doesn’t do Busta Rhymes any favors whatsoever.
Thankfully, the Mr. Porter and Dr. Dre-laced “Decision” didn’t fall to the waste side as the foursome of John Legend, Jamie Foxx, Common & Mary J. Blige along with Busta came off natural, not forced over this mid-tempo jawn that is supplemented with the signature STRONG bass line and smooth piano stabs that Dr. Dre has become so notable for. Even the the smooth vocal hooks courtesy of Foxx, Legend and Mary J. don’t deter from the “street” essence of “Decision”. Without question, the highlight of Busta’s “Back On My B.S.”
54. “The Rules”-Saigon & Statik Selektah
During the opening moments of “The Rules”, Saigon stated: “I used to right all them raps ’cause I was in jail, now that I’m out”…ehh, nevermind. In a nutshell, Saigon is essentially saying that since he’sgot all these outside interests in his life right now, writing raps is not a priority anymore. Hmm, that’s good to know, because this is same cat who was considered the best that the underground had to offer a few years back, now he’s the same dude with a shelved album, produced by Just Blaze nonetheless, that will probably never see the light of day. So what does Saigon do? He recorded a “rushed” 11-track album in a 24-hour period with more fluff than flash. Really? Who even has “All In A Day’s Work” on their radar anymore? Thank you.
All was not lost on “All In A Day’s Work” though. One track that really separated itself from the pack of mediocrity was “The Rules”. Without glancing at the production credits for “The Rules” one could just as easily mistake the production for that of DJ Premier and not Statik Selektah. With Primo’s signature “Boom Bap” drums underlying a hefty piano sample, Statik jerked a Busta Rhymes vocal sample and sliced up Soulja Boy’s “YOOUUUU” to perfection for the hook, a very nice touch I might add.
53. “Getting Up” (DJ Scratch Remix)-Q Tip
Man, from the opening moments of the “Rhythm” intro to the the bonus cut “Reinvention” this mixtape was mandatory listening material. Literally, my jaw dropped the first time I made it through “The Best Of”, they just don’t make em’ like this anymore folks. I promise you this mixtape will have you dusting off “People’s Instinctive..”, “Midnight..”, “The Low End Theory” and hell..throw in “Beats, Rhymes & Life” as homework for the week ahead. Please, for a vital piece of Hip Hop history, check out this mixtape and while you’re at it pick up a dope tee HERE.
For a prime example of what I’m speaking on, notice the added “ummmph” factor on tracks like De La’s “Excursions” tribute, as well as cornerstone classics like “Award Tour” and “Check The Rhime”. Shoot, I have the actual CD pressings of “Midnight..” and “Low End..” and they didn’t come off this crispy! And speaking of “ummph”, I dare you to find me a track that’s poppin’ right now that had more “Low End” than the DJ Scratch remix of “Getting Up”. Damn, the last time I recalled hearing the bassline that fuels “Getting Up” was for the later segment of Buckshot’s ode to Rakim Allah “I Ain’t No Joke/Follow Me” which appeared on Funkmaster Flex’ “60 Minutes Of Funk: Vol. II”, I’d forgotten how much I loved that bassline back in the day until DJ Scratch rekindled the flame.
52. “Time Machine” f. Reks-Termanology
Taken from Term’s somewhat overlooked continuation of his “Hood Politics” series, “Time Machine: Hood Politics VI (!)”, this self-titled cut was fueled by one of the strongest basslines that I’d experienced this year! One listen to this masterpiece and you’ll immediately identify the culprit, which is none other than Extra P (Large Professor). Sounding somewhat rejuvenated, Large Pro truly succeeds in “taking it back” with a rolling bassline that shook your intestines. Make no mistake about it, Term’s “Time Machine: Hood Politics VI” is crazy nice, save for the last few cuts on the album (minus the Alchemist contribution “I See Dead People”). However, tracks such as the Don Cannon-laced “Brown Paper Bag”, the Pete Rock-blessed “Hold That” made the album a definite cop. Hell, even Sheek Louch makes a noteworthy (I know, right?) appearance on the slick “Hold Up”.
If you haven’t downloaded “Church League Champions” yet….well, then I’m pretty much speechless! Pac Div dropped a mixtape that was more well put together than most artists’ albums, straight up. Simply put, to hell with “got next”, Pac Div got “now“. While, I bumped “Church League Champions” like crazy the first week it dropped, it kinda’ got lost in the sauce amidst all the hype that surrounded the releases of Jay’s “Blueprint 3″ and Rae’s follow up to “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”. Now, “Church League..” is back in E.F.F.E.C.T. as the most recent choice cut from the album for me has shifted from “For You” to “Young Black Male”. Yes, it may be hard for me to relate to the subject matter and content within the track, but this eloquent production is just too darn good to pass up. With a thick bassline and goosebump-inducing keys “Young Black Male” is a perfect companion for that Sunday afternoon drive where all your worries are placed on the back-burner for a brief moment. Don’t get it confused, some have labeled Pac Div as “hipsters”, I like to refer to them more as trendsetters…and, with output such as “Church League Champions” Pac Div is bound to burn a few trails of their own!