50. “Awake”-Freddie Joachim
I’ve always been a big fan of Freddie’s “forward thinking” production. Always keeping in tune 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”. Always kinda’ wondered why I haven’t seen dude associated with more emcees as the accompanying producer, Freddie always kills it!
49. “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.
48. “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 “The BC Era” EP was 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?
47. “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.
46. “Life I Know”-Kidz In The Hall
Damn, could someone please tell me where I heard the beat from “Life I Know” before? Was it featured on an interlude for one of Kidz In The Hall’s previous mixtapes? The Mick Boogie-assisted “Detention” perhaps? Or maybe it made a brief appearance on Naledge’s “Chicago Picasso”? Whatever the case, my ears where extremely pleased to revisit this dense, echoing, bass-heavy production once again by way of Kidz’ most recent “free-up”, The LRG presented-”The Professional Leisure Tour”, which is comprised of 13 original tracks that the Chi-Town duo birthed while out on tour. Rhymes be damned, Naledge is indeed dope, no diggedy, yet “Life I Know” finds itself amidst some of my favorite cuts from the year, simply because the production that fuels this joint is so damn addictive and has such a “repeat factor” that makes it extremely easy on the eardrums.
45. “5 Man Hustle”-Elzhi
Damn Eric! You don’t wanna’ let this one sit and marinate for a little bit, being that Elz’ “5 Man Hustle” was just introduced to the world via his “The Leftovers Unmixedtape” just late last week? I say, hell no! Laced by producer extraordinaire Black Milk, “5 Man Hustle” finds Elz in his “On The Run” (See Royce’s “Street Hop”, you’ll get the picture) mode, with a distinctive, quirky voice that just may very well be his most noteworthy lyrical performance from this mixtape that plays out better than most cats’ albums. Black’s production on “5 Man Hustle”, for reasons unknown, took me back to the late 80s-early 90s, Hurby Luv Bug, “House Party” days, meaning that at the same time this track is adding the extra snap to your neck, I could just as easily imagine Kid N’ Play doin’ the “kick-step” to this!
44. “Chips” (f. Mojo Swagger)
All I gotta’ say is, don’t be surprised if Aarophat & Illastrate’s “Black Noise” finds itself rubbing elbows with some of my top albums of the year. “Black Noise” has been receiving an excessive amount of play as of late as Aarophat’s fluid lyricism flows endlessly atop Illastrate’s melodic, bass-heavy backdrops, making “Black Noise” one of the most consistent albums from start to finish to emerge during the past year. Come to think of it, no wonder I liked Akir’s “Resurrect” (from his highly overlooked “Legacy”), Illastrate was also the mastermind behind the boards for the soulful gem, as I was just made aware of this recently.
“Chips” f. Mojo Swagger was initially my favorite cut from “Black Noise”, yet has recently been upstaged by the likes of “Higher” (Revolution) and “Driftin”. Yet for those have yet to experience the future classic that is “Black Noise”, “Chips” is a good introduction to the duo as it features the simplicity of the art-form that makes it so damn likeable…simply put, just good beats and rhymes….yes, it is that easy people.
43. “Mass Appeal 2009″-Convinced f. Shawn Jackson, Tunji & El Prez
Wow, this could have been the gift and the curse for Convinced, but thank goodness it turned out to be the “gift” as Convinced dared to go where very few have chosen to go…remixing one of the most classic Hip Hop tracks of all-time, GangStarr’s “Mass Appeal”. What I really like about “Mass Appeal 2009″ (besides Shawn Jackson’s inclusion) is the fact that Convinced and producer J-Keys totally revamped the DJ Premier gem (which would be somewhat of a daring task in itself), not just yanking the instrumental and unleashing a few meaningless freestyles atop the sample of Vic Juris’ “Horizon Drive”, but adding more low end and adding that 2000 and beyond flair that nearly allowed the track to come off just as fresh as it did back in ’92.
Let me be the first to go on record as saying that Fashawn’s debut “Boy Meets World” will go down as an instant classic. Remember Blu & Exile’s memorable debut “Below The Heavens” (of course you do, who am I kidding?), well let the comparisons ensue. One emcee (Fashawn) and one producer (the extremely talented Exile) take it back to the days of Guru and Preem or better yet, Pete Rock & CL Smooth to create a masterpiece that travels down the same pathway as the aforementioned “Below The Heavens”. More importantly, it’s hard to believe that Exile could top his performance on his collaborative effort with Blu, but trust me when I say there’s not one throwaway track on “Boy Meets World”. As Large Pro recently stated during an interview for a Fashawn “in store”, “this cat is young but has an old soul” (again, see Blu who also steals the scene on the soulful “Samsonite Man”) and possesses a voice that cuts the track almost effortlessly.
Yes, this week it is the pulsing “The Ecology” that has garnered the most plays on my Ipod from “Boy Meets World”, similar to the manner in which “Simply Amazin” (from “Below The Heavens) did during it’s initial leak. Yet, much like “Below…” I can foresee a new favorite emerging each week from one of my “go to” albums of 2009. Move over Finale with your “Pipe Dream And A Promise”, Fashawn and Exile have emerged from the darkness to craft an album that has rocked my year.
One of the decade’s most consistent independent Hip Hop groups, Cunninlynguists have returned with the highly anticipated “Strange Journey: Volume 2″. The trio of Kno, Deacon and Natti already have an impressive resume with underground favorites such as “Southernunderground”, “Will Rap For Food”, “A Piece of Strange”,
and “Dirty Acres” and hot off the heals of “Strange Journey: Volume 1″, you might as well go right ahead and put another feather in the native Kentuckians. Although not quite as dope as “Volume 1″, this 2nd installment of “Strange Journey” still had the official “Bloggerhouse” stamp of approval as Cunnin’ once again failed to put out anything that’s remotely wack or lame.
Implementing the dopest usage of “Funky Worm” that I’ve ever heard, the production duo of Kingston & Young God aka Blue Sky Black Death succeeded in one thing…forcing me to dig even deeper into their production catalog. As you’ll soon read, this year end list will reflect just how much I’ve been sleeping on this duo that simply doesn’t get the shine they deserve, from myself included.