Yes, every rapper has a ode to the cannabis in their catalog, but Ace Lover’s “Weed Spots” is one of the better ones that I’ve ran across. Part of the great catalog that Ace Lover built up in the early part of the decade, this New York emcee ran down some spots around the five boroughs. Ace had a knack for spitting his rhymes rather effortlessly and a flawless flow, and those characteristics are demonstrated on this single. The beat is a light key based tracks with some scratches and the homies adding to the atmosphere by charming in with their adlibs. Even some soulful singing on the hooks finds it’s way perfectly on this unheralded jam.
On this early Jean Grae track, which might have been one of her first after changing from her What? What?, finds Jean dropping laugh out loud advice on how to break up with your girlfriend. Jean covers 25 (minus 13, because she is superstitious) different ways to break up with a money hungry ho, or that crazy chick that won’t leave you alone. Lines like “One Four, make the back door, your only position”, will have most males laughing their asses off and most women shaking their heads. This is all over a beat from the best DJ Premier imitator to ever grace the planet, M-Boogie. That’s not a diss, because he copies the sound so perfectly, I can’t be mad. Someone needs to try some of Jean’s advice and get back to me.
Craig Mack, that mid 90′s Bad Boy reject, that will always live in hip hop lore with his “Flava In Ya Ear” single. Craig did get the wrong end of Puffy’s proverbial stick, and never did quite bounce back from his release from Bad Boy. It’s obvious though that Craig Mack still had that knack to make some hits, as proven by “The Wooden Horse”, which has always been my second favorite Craig Mack after the aforementioned “Flava In Ya Ear” single. The problem, the sample, “Rubber Tree” from the Rat Pack legend, Frank Sinatra would have never passed clearance. Therefore not a lot of cats have heard it, unless you were lucky enough to catch it on one of the file sharing sites of the day, like yours truly did. Produced by none other than Mark The 45 King, the beat is straight up funky, no denying it. Vocally, Craig Mack is on top of his game, as he drops lines that made him known and liked on Project: Funk Da World.
Al-Shid feat Hug - Fight Club
Found On: Ign’ant 12″ (Old Maid Entertainment, 2002)
One of my bigger disappointments of the last decade that there was never a straight up Al-Shid and Hug album, of course produced by one of the greatest producers to ever grace the game (IMHO), J-Zone. The duo did release some singles, they were created as solo singles, one from Al-Shid and one from HUG, but the other would also appear on the tracks, all under Zone’s tutelage. It was “Fight Club”, the b-side to the “Ign’ant” single, that was my personal favorite of the handful of solo tracks from the two. It features a straight hard spanish guitar type of sample from Zone as Hug and Al-Shid just drop one liners and battle rhymes, which border on adrenaline pumping and laughter. It’s a shame there wasn’t more from these two.
Little Brother was infamous for having some of their greatest material not ending up on albums, which is a shame. Personally, my favorite thing LB ever dropped (and this is from a self professed Little Brother fan) was The Chitlin Circuit Mixtape (and it’s close follow up, The Chitlin Circuit 1.5 Mixtape) and my favorite track from it was “Sinners”. It’s probably my favorite track that Little Brother ever did, and that’s saying a lot. I’m not sure if it’s the humble hook, trying to be that righteous man, yet falling into the traps of lust, lost spirits, and the traps that come with being man. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a religious type of person, but I do want to live right. Besides the message the Phonte and Pooh deliver flawlessly, 9th Wonder was on top of his game during this time and drops a haunting backdrop that goes along with the theme perfectly.
Emanon – Six Million Ways
Found On: The Waiting Room (Shaman Work, 2005)
Cats are seeming like they forget that Exile has been around for a mad long time. Before the Blu album and his recent solo works, Exile was in a group with Aloe Blacc as Emanon, a group that has been in existence since the late 90′s. The last album these two would do together as Emanon was the dope Waiting Room, which birthed the somber “Six Million Ways”, in which Aloe covers three different stories of cats that meet their demise. It’s just a simple piano loop fashioned together by Exile with some timely placed cuts on the O.C. sampled chorus. Aloe Blacc delivers a lazy flow that keeps with the somber feelin’ making it a rather powerful track.
Way back in 2006, a two full years before The Show would drop, and probably when they were going to go by the name G.M.C. (wisely changed because of possible legal complications), the four brothers, Masta Ace, Stricklin, Wordsworth, and Punchline released “4 Brothers”, which I believe is the first from them in a group form. It’s nothing more than merely all four going for theirs on a simple repetitive beat, that employs a vocal sample, some synths and a key sample. It actually works well, but you find yourself listening to the guys verses, which are full of great lines.
The greatest album that no one has heard in the past decade. I continue to champion the effort that Archetype dropped in the great year of 2007, in Bleed For Them. It was their track, “Keep It Comin’ ” that was probably the best track on that album, as Nezbeat takes a familiar sample and just straight up flips it into something rather incredible. The production is top notch on the album, and this track is a prime example of what to expect on it. ID is more than capable of matching the tracks beautiful intensity with his lyrics, and even Nezbeat, who isn’t an emcee by nature makes the track even better with his verse.
Hell, even I had forgotten about this track and I had it listed as my second favorite song of the 2008 year (the album dropped late 2007). “Sounds of Life” from 1773 was one of those musical appreciation tracks for music itself. For anyone that has a heavy passion for music in general, this track is the soundtrack for that love. The melodic beat is nothing short of amazing, with it it’s string sample and horn stabs. Produced by Ill Quality, who only has two production credits to his name, and they are both on the Constant Motion album that this track appears on. The lyrics and hook bring the best to the memories to the listener as they run down why music is important part of anyone’s being.
Chicago MC, Pugs Atomz, has long been a solid contributor to the hip hop underground scene. While we didn’t get a solo album from Pugs that I was hoping and expecting, we did get the excellent Stormy with fellow Chi-town producer/MC Rashid Hadee. We also had “Roof Top”, which Pugs released late last December. Produced by DJ Vadim, that combines some unorthodox sounds and samples, but that’s partly what makes this song so great. DJ Vadim has never had a traditional sound, and Pugs works well with the beat, constructing rhymes that go together perfectly with the sounds of Vadim.