DJ/MC Mr. Ramble and Producer/MC Dave Redi team up to form Front Porch Poets, an incredibly dope duo hailing out of the Netherlands. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t always pay as much attention to overseas cats as I should, but there is no reason not to check these dudes out. There is no accents, no foreign styles, in fact, they could be confused for hailing from anywhere, USA. I’m also one that is finding the whole soul production movement to be somewhat played out, but producer Dave Redi hooks things up lovely, with melodic, soulful loops that remind why I loved the soul movement in the first place. Tracks like “Soul Survivor”, “Ease Off”, and “Blood, Sweat, & Tears”, all are perfect examples of why I’m digging For The Record so much. Lyrically, they are not the greatest emcees, but they are still entertaining and bring a good vibe to each track, where they aren’t overpowered by the beat and they are not trying to overpower the beat. Smooth like butta…
4. NoCanDo – Jimmy The Lock (Buy)
Every time I tell cats I’m digging this album, the reply I get is, “YOU?!” It is something that normally I wouldn’t think I would like, but something about the diversity found on NoCanDo’s Jimmy The Lock. I like to say it’s a west coast version of an El-P album, with a bunch of weird sounds, diverse production, loud banging bass, and a ton of wicked synths. You have a track like “Hurry Up & Wait”, which contains a straight up wicked bassline that rattles the room every time I play it on the computer. It’s also got a very contagious hook, that is/or sounds like a autotune venture, but it’s just banging to me. It helps that NoCanDo is a great lyricist and a great song writer. He makes catchy songs, and his verses are always on point. You know that the former Project Blowed member could rock the mic, but it’s his song writing skills over obnoxious noise (and I mean that in a good way) that bring the album uniqueness.
3. Dessa - A Badly Broken Code (Buy)
Dessa is known for her part in the Minneapolis collective, Doomtree. One could tell this female had skills on the mic just from listening to her hold her own, if not more, with the fellas from the group. She finally released a solo album this winter, in the form of A Badly Broken Code. While it’s not for everyone, read: you won’t like it at all if you are a straight up hip hop head, she is a great musician in the general sense. It’s kind of a combination of indie rock/hip hop/spoken word (which she is known for anyway) and soul. Dessa covers all these musical aspects and she does them quite well. Her lyrics are deep, something that you aren’t going to figure out in one sitting. They cover a wide variety of topics, and somewhat dark in nature. She sings, she raps, and she recites poetry. It’s all there, proving that she is very talented with what she does.
2. Strong Arm Steady – In Search of Stoney Jackson (Buy)
Call it a technicality, but I’m including In Search of Stoney Jackson in the year 2010, since the physical product dropped in January. Yeah, I know it was released on iTunes, but I’m still boycotting an mp3 only release if the physical product comes out later. What is not to like about Strong Arm Steady’s In Search of Stoney Jackson? This is one of Madlib’s best production efforts on a lyrical joint since his Lootpack days. I’m sure some of y’all will argue with me on that statement, but regardless, the production is on some top notch shit. All three main members, Krondon, Phil Da Agony, and Mitchy Slick all hold their own on the mic as well. The vibe they construct on the songs, works so well the Madlib production, it sounds like a movie score. It’s some straight up, smoked out, solid music from the west coast. The west isn’t dead yet, and dope hip hop is alive.
I can’t really say I was surprised by The Stimulus Package. I’ve never been the biggest Freeway fan, but in his defense, I never thought he had the right beats to rhyme over. That problem was solved, and did he ever find the right rhymes to spit his lyrical darts over. Freeway is an acquired taste on the mic, mainly due to his voice, he can wear on a listener. There is no chance of that over some of the best Jake One production of heard from the Sea-town producer yet. Jake One laces up some soulful joints that he is starting to become known for, on tracks like “Never Gonna Change”, the super dope “One Thing”, and “Know What I Mean”. Jake just brings out the best in Freeway, and Freeway makes the most out of the bountiful dope tracks he was blessed with. It’s going to be hard to beat out this album the rest of the year.