Sometimes there is nothing I like more than a solid EP. You don’t have much room for mess ups, with four to eight tracks, you have one clanker and it’s a failure. For it to be a good EP, you need every track to be a banger. When it is a success, you have yourself a small collection of dope tracks, no waste, no fat, just lean hip hop. That’s why these five EPs were among my favorite for the past year, they were dope from start to finish, no weak tracks to wade through. I’ve always said I’d rather have a small collection of dope tracks than six to ten dope tracks on a 20 track album…
1. 5 O’ Clock Shadowboxers - Broken Clocks EP (Buy/Stream Here)
One of my favorite “out of nowhere” albums of 2009 was Zilla Rocca’s and Douglas Martin’s group project, The Slow Twilight. Together known as 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, Zilla on the mic and Douglas on the beats, created an original piece of work that sounded quite like nothing else out there. It was proof you can still be hip hop, yet sound creative and original. Why did they need an EP with some remixes and new joints?? They didn’t really, but we are all better people for it. While it didn’t cure herpes, it did provide some bangers. Two songs, “Bottomfeeders (Small Professor Remix)” and “No Fury (Zilla Rocca Remix)” were both among my top 30 songs for 2009 and “No Resolution 2″ will undoubtedly be on the list for 2010. The later is blessed with WYDU favorite, Has-Lo and has a possible verse of the year from Nico The Beast. The rest of it is all full of the Zilla presence, which just keeps getting better and better as the years go on. This wasn’t based on any favoritism, it was just the dopest EP I heard all year.
2. Blueprint – Blueprint Who (Buy/Download for Free Here)
Blueprint is one of the more consistent artists around, and when he releases an EP? Shit, just look out. Sign Language and Blueprint Vs. Funkadelic are both two of my favorite EPs from their respective years. This time around, Blueprint shows his versatility and tackles the classic rock band, The Who. For the past year or so, I’ve been on a big time psychedelic rock kick, hearing all the potential sample material that some of those LPs possess and while The Who isn’t exactly psychedelic, it still got my blood pumping when I heard what he was doing. You don’t need soul albums (nothing against them, I love soul music and samples as much as the next self professed internet hip hop critic). Quick and to the point, all five tracks are quality and show a different sound than your average hip hop EP. That’s all I want, dammit.
3. Dirty Hank – Dirty Hank’s Guide To Giving Up (Download/buy Here)
I had heard the name “Dirty Hank” from the Poorly Drawn People circuit as well as from Providence resident producer, Falside. It’s hard to hide my fondness for rap that’s main subject matter is getting fucked up, psychotic women and the art of combining the two. I’m not saying that’s the only thing Providence, Rhode Island emcee Dirty Hank is all about, but he does give some shine to those topics and he does it well. Part of the ever-growing Poorly Drawn People clique, Hank is unapologetic on songs like “Song About A ‘C’ Word” and the PDP member Reason assisted “Overslept”. And while he hates the comparisons, he is equal parts circa 80′s Beastie Boys, a tamed down RA The Rugged Man and Slug, and those are all meant as a compliment (I think he wanted to pour a can of Pabst’s over my head for using that comparison the first time). Hank dropped his “Dirty Hank’s Guide to Giving Up”, earlier this year and it has been in steady rotation on my iPod since then. Assisted by super producer Falide and up and coming MadPlaid, the beats are all on point, giving Hank a nice background to drop his alcohol fueled rhymes. And if you download his second EP of the year, I Might Need A Doctor, and put it with this EP, you have yourself a nice little 11 track album that is just as good as anything else out there, especially if you like paranoid, beer stenched lyrics.
4. J-Live – Undivided Attention (Buy Here)
J-Live is probably one of the more slept on emcees to bless the hip hop scene. He’s been an underground stalwart since the late 90′s and let’s all know he’s not about to go anywhere and is like fine wine, the aging process has been good to him. He dropped the Undivided Attention EP in preparation for an album dropping in 2011. Although he didn’t do any production on the EP, all the beats were dope ish, especially the Korede and Boog Brown assisted “The Way I Rhyme”. It was enough to definitely get me wanting to check the upcoming full-length feature.
5. IMAKEMADBEATS & MidaZ the Beast - The Nightlight EP (Download Here)
Yes, we pump up Doxside around these parts quite a bit, but for good reason, we believe that strongly in their music. You combine one of the top producers of the year 2010 in IMAKEMADBEATS with an emcee that Eric calls “a young, hungry Kool G Rap,” which I think is pretty accurate, and you got a strong EP that leaves you wanting a full length project from the duo. You will recall that IMAKEMADBEATS aka Neemo also released The Daylight EP with Butta Verses, which is equally impressive, but I’ve always been partial to the dark sinister sounds that are found on this EP as well as the rhyme darts that MidaZ spits. There is some excellent tracks in this collection (hell, they are all good), but “The Response” and “7 Years” are some of the better tracks you’ll find all year. Can we get a second helping please?