There were quite a few tracks that took me back to the days of yesteryear in 2010, the era of sparse, dirty drums placed beneath breezy horn samples, but none did the trick more so than yU’s “Corners”. A track that sounds like a leftover from Da King & I’s “Contemporary Jeep Music”, “Corners” was more or less a revamped lyrical version Run-DMC’s classic “The Ave” (from “Back From Hell”), you can peep the similarities on the hook. From one of the most potent “free” LPs of 2009, “Corners” captured my favorite spot from “Before Taxes” slighting other equally as effective cuts such as “Beats & Rhymes From March 25″ and “Brainwash”. –Diz Gabran
Borrowing the sample from Feist’s “Intuition”, producer Moonshine pulled a slick one, allowing the sample to properly breathe before re-working it into the finalized product, Diz Gabran’s “Impossible”. One of my most “slept-on” cuts from one of the biggest later bloomers of the year for me, the “Crooks & Castles” presented “Soon You’ll Understand” free lp, “Impossible” found Diz at one of his most honest, sincere moments on the album. To state the background laid by Moonshine and Feist with Diz’ insightful, thought-provoking lyrics was a perfect match, is almost understated. -The Left
It’s safe to say, being that we are months away from The Left’s (Apollo Brown, Journalist 103 & DJ Soko) official release of their…book it…one of the best albums of 2010, “Gas Mask”, that you’ve never heard “Get In Where You Fit In”. Well, today’s your lucky day as I’ve bumped this track soo many times over the last month or so that it was almost impossible to leave it off of my top tracks of 2009 (even though it may be a tad bit early). Consider this a warning, and you can thank me in the “comments” section”. Backed by a thunderous production from Apollo Brown, Journalist 103 spits straight fire over the thumping backdrop, throw in a M.O.P. vocal slice and this one is a certified banger!!
7. “Higher”(Revolution)-Aarophat & Illastrate
It’s gotta be the drums!!! Damn, producer Illastrate laced “Higher” (Revolution) with a healthy dose of em’. Not only that, but Aarophat absolutely staked his claim on the mic as one of the best emcees in the biz doin’ it. As I mentioned in their write-up as my album of the year, Aarophat & Illastate didn’t just bless “Black Noise” with hits they delivered anthems, “Higher” just happened to be the most forceful, kick in your door joint amongst a handful or worthy competitors from the album. Man, I absolutely cannot wait to hear more from this duo in the near future. Also, don’t sleep on Boog Brown’s forthcoming mixtape with Illastrate tentatively-titled “Miss Black America”.
6. “Hologram”-Diamond District
Yes, yet another late addition to the “top tracks of the year”, the Oddisee-produced “Hologram” . Also, one of the main reasons I caught on to this one a tad bit late was it’s non-inclusion on the “clean” version of Diamond District’s “In The Ruff” that initially leaked during the early summer months. I gotta’ keep it real, upon the first few listens I wasn’t really all too impressed with “Hologram”, I rarely even let the track ride out to the hook. However, one evening in early October while sitting on the couch playing my usual battles on NBA2K10, I was enjoying the “retail” version of the album. For the first time since I downloaded “In The Ruff” on Itunes I let “Hologram” play to the finish and needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since. Oddisee freaked the hook to “Hologram” masterfully and ever since that late October evening, “Hologram” has turned out to be one of the freshet cuts of the year, from one of 2009′s better offerings. -Jay-Z
Hate on Jay all you want (Lord knows, I do!). Yes, half of the “Blueprint 3″ was pure wastage in my humble opinion. Yes, dude dicked up when he said he was “off Timbs”, doesn’t he know, if you reside in the East Timbs are always “on”? Simply put, Jay-Z is an icon, a Hip-Hop legend, probably the best emcee to ever do it..at least, when all the smoke clears. Did I really wanna’ place Jay amongst my top 5 cuts of the year? Not really, sometimes I feel that Jay has such a head up on cats that it’s an almost unfair advantage, if you catch my drift? However, you can’t turn your nose up at “D.O.A.” (nor “Empire State Of Mind” for that matter), Jay took New York back with this one, thanks in part to a boisterous production from NO I.D. At times, I feel as that Jay does it so effortlessly, I wonder what “Blueprint 3″ would have really developed into if Jay really gave a damn?
4. “Driftin”-Aarophat & Illastrate
I know, right? What a boring top 10. A track from Jay-Z (given) and two cuts from Aarophat & Illastrate (which also pulled my “Album Of The Year” honors). You just can’t front on quality content, and “Driftin” was just that. I’m sure I’ve given you plenty of advance notice as to just how damn good “Black Noise” is, still it’s cuts like “Driftin”, a hypnotic trunk-rattling that have kept me coming back for more since the late summer months.
3. “Exhibit C”-Jay Electronica
I feel as if “Exhibit C” should almost be my default choice for “song of the year”, simply based on influence. Here’s two reasons why it’s not my “track of the year”:
1. I’m not too fond of Just Blaze’s Puffy impersonation a la “Who Shot Ya”
2. The song is simply too long, while the production as well as Jay’s lyrical performance are awe-inspiring, did this track have to be nearly six minutes in length?
Really though, Jay is the leading the now-generation of emcees, ladies and gents he’s here to save Hip-Hop..period. Lord knows, “Exhibit A” stills sounds as fresh as it did from day one. However, here’s the real question to all you out there: ”Exhibit A” or “Exhibit C”? Which one of these masterful cuts do you prefer? Jay and Just, can we get an album already? “Exhibit C” just isn’t fair to other rappers, Jay is doin’ emcees somethin’ awful!
2. “What A World”-Charlie Ross Project
Charlie Ross Project? I know many of you are scratching your heads right now, but you shouldn’t be, as only one other tracked received more rotation in my Ipod than the hypnotizing, inspiring, bottom-heavy, instant classic “What A World”. Simply put, this right here is the type of sh*t that I enjoy most as a blogger, really what I (we) do this for. When an artist such as Charlie Ross, yU, Aarophat & Illastrate, etc. basically emerges from the depths of “no-namedom” (I just made that up, pretty slick, ehh?) and delivers something as beautiful and original as this…well, it makes all this hard work and time consumption worth it.
DMV MC/Producer Charlie Ross, hot off the heels of the success and notoriety of Diamond District’s “In The Ruff”, dropped his very own “project”, one that was oddly enough birthed in Okinawa, Japan. To be honest, this is the first I’d heard of Charlie, and hopefully it won’t be the last. The project was presented by yU of Diamond District, whom I sure you know, dropped my 2nd favorite LP of 2009 “Before Taxes”. Sonically and lyrically, this is exactly the kind of music I treasure most. “The Charlie Ross Project” featured your traditional thump in the trunk coupled with a spaced out electronic flair and a hint of jazz. Also, Charlie’s forthcoming project with the likes of the aforementioned yU (“Done Deal” EP) and Charlie’s very own “Crate Music” beat tape, it’s only right that the DMV will keep on churning the quality of music that they did this past year. -Finale
I mean, was there any really doubt as too what would be my favorite track of 2009? I’ve only been telling cats just how dope this Flying Lotus produced-classic was since the first time I heard Finale’s “A Pipe Dream And A Promise”. With my A.D.D. I get tired of tracks, albums quick…real quick, yet “Paid Homage” was a track that I bumped in the ride with my wife, played on those long-ass days where the last thing I wanted to do was get to the gym and lift weights that didn’t need to be moved, but one track..just one cut..always gave me the motivation to do what needed to be done. Really, “Paid Homage” isn’t even that type of joint, it was simply the best “homage” that I’ve heard paid to J. Dilla since the legend’s passing. Whereas my favorite cut from 2008, Evidence’s “The Far Left”, was an in-your-face, get up an at em’ bumrush, “Paid Homage” followed along the lines of my favorite cut from ’07, Blue Scholars “Loyalty”, an elegant, not overly-produced gem that ages just like a fine wine. Heck, I’d even go as far to say that “Paid Homage” may…just may, be my favorite track over the last half of the decade. A toast to you Finale (and Flying Lotus), thanks for only adding more goodness to the great year that was 2009!