1. Downtown In My Mind”-Outasight
Ahhh…now Outasight’s “Downtown In My Mind” was just what I needed to put this hectic week behind me and prep me for the looong 15-hour drive that just happened to go down yesterday (from Arkansas to PA). Produced by D/Will (whom, thanks to the production wizardry that is showcased on this breezy gem will definitely be on my radar for the year ahead), “Downtown..” bullied the playlist from the remainder of Outasight’s LRG-presented mixtape “Further” (link provided by the SmokingSection), as the “put you at ease-vibe” of this beauty stayed on repeat while crossing through multiple states.
2. Vipassana”-Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
I gotta’ say out of all the free Ep/Mixtapes, etc. that have leaked over the last few weeks Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ offering “The Vs. EP” had to be on of the most “left field” releases yet also one of the more pleasantly surprising and satisfying. With “Vipassana” (which is defined as a “meditation technique” or “to see things as they really are”), Macklemore & Lewis saved the best for last, as the hook won me over and had me wishing there was more to this release than just seven tracks that where inclusive.
The whole concept of “The Vs. EP” was to sample contemporary indie-rock groups. “The VS. EP” was meant to be a concept album of sorts, as the duo finds the perfect balance between the very rock-oriented Killers, RHCP, and Arcade Fire with other artists like Beirut or Antony and the Johnsons. If you think that “Vipassana” has a bit of a Blue Scholars-feel, well then, I must say you have a great ear, as this duo emerges from Seattle as well. Again, another great, free release as you can find it HERE.
3. Golden Era”-Qwel & Maker
One of my favorite things to do, usually sometime around year’s end, is to leaf back through the releases of that coinciding year and compile about ten or so albums that really ruled the previous 365 days, in terms of playability. While scouring over many of the releases, just sometimes, I may find an album that I may have skimmed over, sometimes in favor of albums that stayed in rotation on the Ipod, others just outta’ pure ignorance. In 2009, the one of many albums that I’m kickin’ myself in the ass for overlooking and just really getting into over the last two weeks of the year is Qwel & Maker’s “So Be It”. I mean, damn, “So Be It” has some serious heat, whether it arrives via “Har Meggido” which is preceded by “Golden Era” (which is my favorite cut from the album) this long-play may be a nice “last minute” addition to all those year-end “best albums of ’09″ lists that are popping up everywhere right about now.
4. Day Dreamer”-Sleep (of Old Dominion)
Yet another album that I’ve discovered within the past week or so, Sleep’s “Hesitation Wounds” is blessed with one of the most honest, emotionally-driven tracks of the year, “Day Dreamer”. The unmistakable highlight of “Hesitation Wounds”, the Zavala-produced ”Day Dreamer” finds Sleep unveiling his most notable characteristic as an emcee, his near legendary mastery of diction, enunciation, and rapid-fire delivery over one of the album’s more up-tempo, airy compositions. I’ve passed up much of Sleep’s prior work with Old Dominion, simply on the basis of under-produced beats when compared to Sleep’s lyricism. However, “Day Dreamer” proves me to be dead-wrong, at least this time.
5. Be Alright”-Moka Only
Taken from Moka Only’s umpteenth album release, “Lowdown Suite 2: The Box”, “Be Alright” follows this week’s “most played” theme of sparse drum breaks sprinkled with airy, dense samples. Honestly, Moka drops albums at such an alarming rate that it’s quite difficult to even check for them, before you even get a chance to upload the album to Itunes, it seems as if another one of his releases have leaked. Needless to say, I truly don’t take many of his material too seriously, not discrediting Moka’s talent at all…it’s just that dude has such a deep catalog, you tend to wonder if dude takes his output seriously as well. However, I will say that Moka’s got beats for days, and is often overlooked for his production talents. Out of all the failed Dilla spin-offs out there (not saying that Moka is), even if unintended, Moka wins at keepin’ James Yancey’s production legacy alive and well!