Found On: Milk’s “Popular Demand” LP (2007, Fat Beats)
Since Black Milk was “identified” as a producer first, let’s talk beats first. Throughout “Popular Demand“ Black Milk, now recognized as one of the industry’s most sought after beatsmiths, gave us nothing but hard, solid soundscapes. From the booming lead single, “Sound The Alarm”, which featured the always incredible Guilty Simpson, who absolutely rips it to shreds, to Milk’s more subtle, soulful stuff like “Say Somethin”. Black Milk never misses a step on the LP as he injected his production with dope samples and crisp drum sequencing. It’s obvious Black Milk was influenced by Dilla, but at the same time Black found own sound and identity on this LP.
Now, for Black Milk, the MC. Like many “double threats” (MC slash Producer), he is not the best on the M-I-C, but certainty not the worst. While he surely can pen good rhymes, his delivery was nothing to tell your neighbors about. However, on tracks like the Phat Kat (Ronnie Cash)-assisted, uptempo anthem, “Lookatusnow”, Milk gave just a small teaser of what we could expect from this vastly improved emcee, the artist that was showcased on Milk’s recently released “Album Of The Year“.
12. “Rainy Dayz”-Phat Kat f/ Dwele
Found On: Kat’s “Undeniable” LP (2004, Barak)
Believe it or not, I was actually able to scoop up Ronnie Cash’s debut LP, “Undeniable” at the BX while stationed in Kuwait back in the summer months of 2004. However, here’s a valid question for you die-hard Detroit rap followers: “Just why in the hell was “Undeniable” released in 2003 (with different cover art, nonetheless) and 2004? Whatever the case, there is one noticeable difference between the two releases (both released on Barak, strangely enough), the later only includes the Dwele-belted “Rainy Dayz”. A track that features one of the earliest Jake One productions that I’m familiar with, “Rainy Dayz” is just a small sample of the Dilla/Slum Village “feel” that shed light on the underground Hip Hop world with the classic, “Fantastic Vol.II”.
Found On: Oh No’s “The Disrupt” LP (2004, Stones Throw)
The one tidbit of info that I uncovered prior to copping Oh No’s slept-on debut, “The Disrupt”, was that he was indeed the brother of underground legend Madlib. That single nugget of information was the only validation I needed which led to the purchase of this well-crafted debut. While “The Disrupt” was a little rough around the edges and contained much room for improvement and evaluation of future material, tracks like the self-produced “Perceptions” and the ruckus-bringin’ production of Madlib for the Wildchild-assisted “Stomp That, V.2″ were just a few of the album’s saviors. One need not to venture astray from Black Milk’s “Popular Demand” as it also shared a ton of similarities with “The Disrupt”, namely: better producers than rappers. Also, one can be led to believe that Oh No handled the production on this album, which was only the case for about half of it, as Madlib lent some “brotherly love” and Dilla also contributed with “Move”.
Found On: Akir’s “Legacy” LP (2006, Viper Records)
Okay, so Akir’s “Legacy” may have very well been released in ’06. However, if I’m not mistaken (judging by an ’07 release on Amazon.Com), the album was actually given it’s proper release in ’07 via BabyGrande. Nevertheless, “Legacy” was a dope album from a very impressive emcee who lyrically evoked images of a young and hungry AZ (think: “Life’s A Bitch” AZ). “Treason” is just one of many tracks featured on “Legacy” that could have made the cut, solely on the basis of the lyrical ferocity displayed by this cocksure emcee. Admittedly, some of the album’s production could have been fine-tuned just a bit more, at times, it feels as if the quality of the beats don’t quite cut the mustard when paired with Akir’s fierce vocals. Still, I highly recommend this album to all the “lyrics” lovers out there.
Found On: B.C.C.’s “The Chosen Few” (2002, Duck Down)
I can vividly remember when I first popped B.C.C.’s “The Chosen Few” (which, IMO has some of the dopest cover art ever!) into the DiscMan. After the mandatory intro, “And So” blasted through my Sony headphones, “DAMN”, “to hell with that “For The People” ‘ish, THIS is the Boot Camp Click that I know and love”! Well, sadly enough, that sentiment didn’t last for long as “And So” continues to be the only thing that I seem to revisit “The Chosen Few” to peep. What’s even crazier is that many cats don’t realize that “And So” was produced by none other than Curt Cazal (JVC Force, Q-Ball, etc.) and if you listen closely enough you can even hear the production similarities to tracks like Q-Ball and Curt’s “My Kinda’ Moves”. One of the dopest crews in Hip Hop, “The Chosen Few” continues to be somewhat of a “forgotten” album from the Duck Down discography, rightfully so.
Found On: Geedorah’s “Take Me To Your Leader” (2003, Big Dada)
“Take Me To Your Leader” was a concept album, a very creative one at that, and it is seen from the space monster King Geedorah’s point of view. Basically, that means the entire album’s subject matter is his perspective on humans. But that’s just a general statement, as shared many different perspectives. It’s really very interesting. I would also say it’s unique because I don’t know any other album that has a similar concept to this one. But the thing that attracts me the most to this album is its’ great production (which also has very well used samples from movies).
The production on here is handled entirely by King Geedorah (but he has E. Mason helping him on “Fazers”), and is easily MF DOOM’s best produced album. Honestly, the production on this album is like a collaboration between El-P and RZA. I’ve never been the biggest Doom fan, and I realize that the song structure of “Krazy World” consists of a repeated loop with no bassline…..but, Jesus this shit is Ill!!!! Hearing “beauty” is when the drums cut out for a brief few seconds at about the 3:16 mark allowing the sample to caress your eardrums. Soon thereafter, the drums re-emerge and the neck snapping continues. From what I’ve heard from Doom this is his single “crowning moment”, production-wise thus far.
Found On: Ohmega’s “Watts Happening” (2007, Ubiquity Records)
Taken from Ohmega’s phenomenal “Watts Happening” (what in the hell is David Chapelle doin’ on the album cover?), “Model Citizen” is one of those joints that won’t immediately grab you upon the first listen, but be prepared….it’ll soon grown on you like a bad fungus to the point where it’s difficult to take off “repeat”. Defining the word “artist”, Ohmega sets out to make a difference on this track while shooting down all posers who glorify the “cars, guns & bitches” lyrics constantly. With that being said, it’s been real hard for me to hold my in my affection for this album, cause’ I highly doubt you’d want to read about it twice. “Model Citizen” is simply AMAZING, Ohmega’s lyrics aren’t too complex but the beat is just the opposite. With a beautiful horn section and soothing background vocals, this track hits it’s apex near the 3:30 mark when all the beautiful sounds in the record come crashing together leaving you wanting more from this talented emcee/producer. All I’ll say is BUY THIS RECORD! I liked it enough to go and purchase Ohmega’s debut “The Find” as well. I don’t know if my two little girls are softening me up at my old age or what, but I’m just lovin’ “musically inclined” shit like ”Watts Happening” as of late. Can you guess what I’ma say next? You betcha’, “Watts Happening” was also one of the best releases of 2007.
Found On: Diamond’s “Hugh Hefner Chronicles” LP (2008, Babygrande)
If the melodic “Bad/Good” was any indication, over 20 years deep in the game, Diamond D’s still got it!! In what is probably my favorite Diamond D track aside from mostly anything that appeared on the CLASSIC “Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop”, “Bad/Good” is an ill recollection of-as the hook states-”growin’ up in the hood”-from one of the founding fathers of the D.I.T.C. Featuring a crazy slick production from a little known producer, Anthony Accurate that could pass as a Diamond-laced gem, “Bad/Good” takes Diamond’s “The Hugh Hefner Chronicles” out with a bang. And while the album was a far cry from “Stunts..” (as in the case with an abundance of releases), in my opinion, I prefer it over Diamond’s sophomore release “Hiatus” and most definitely over 2003′s “Grown Man Talk”. I mean, damn….Diamond’s gotta’ be approaching his forties and to be able to still churn out bangers in traditional Diamond D fashion is quite an accomplishment in itself.
Found On: Madlib’s “Shades Of Blue” (2003, Blue Note)
I’ve never been one to feed into the whole “Madlib is the best producer alive” theory(s). Yes, dude is crazy ill and talented. However, dude has put out a TON of music and not all of it is as ear catching as his work on “Champion Sound” or this, “Slim’s Return”. Taken from Madlib’s Blue Note Records (the track also appears on the “Stones Throw 101″ compilation), “Slim’s Return” is on of the high points of Madib’s tenured production career. Even if ‘Lib jacked this beat off “Lyric Fathom”, and rather than do something more interesting with it he just made it sound more like the Gene Harris O.G., I ain’t mad. Still, undeniably one of the most original producer/emcee on the set, this particular album (“Shades Of Blue”) brought me closer to understanding the true essence of the linkage between jazz and hip-hop.
Found On: P Brothers’ “The Gas LP” (2008, Heavy Bronx)
Seriously, was there another track in Hip Hop this past year that truly captured the essence of that raw, grimey, dusty, New York-circa the Beatminerz era quite like “Outta’ Control” did? Shoot, I remember first sampling this on Dan Love’s “From Da Bricks.Com” and my mouth literally hit my keyboard, not long after Roc uttered: “We tell stories by the campfire”. I’d never even heard of the P Bros. prior to this joint, but you better believe in less than 48 hours I’d scooped up the duo’s entire discography. Not only was “Outta’ Control” one of the the best songs of ’08, “The Gas” was one of the best albums of the year, no diggety. The production that fueled “Outta Control” also carried on throughout the majority of “The Gas”, truly taking you back to the days of butter-suede timbs, Carhartt hoodies and Philly Blunt smoke. Also, did the P Bros. pick a winner when they scooped up the UN’s Roc Marciano for “Outta’ Control” or what? Take about a match made in heaven! Damn, this track was great! I think I might fall asleep to this album tonite..yeah, that’s a good thing, trust me.