Found On: “Brown Study Remixes” Mello Music Group
Wow, when I first received the advance of Boog’s “Brown Study Remixes”, I gotta’ be honest, I was really let down…especially when you consider just how dope the O.G. version of Boog & Apollo’s Brown’s “Brown Study” LP is. However, my tune has quickly changed as this jawn has remained in the “Most Played” of my Itunes for the later half of December, namely, Def Dee’s remix of “Blink”. Hot damn! I mean, dude “kilt” this remix, the horn stabs and hook are on some Dilla “Stakes Is High” ish! Very impressed with the production from one of Mello Music Group’s recent additions.
Found On: ”Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang” (EMI Records)
Speaking of over-hyped, some of ya’ll really bit Raekwon’s “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang” hard. I mean, regardless of the production line-up (to include: Alchemist, Scram Jones, Sean C., Erick Sermon, DJ Khalil and may more) and Rae’s proven track record, “Shaolin..” was a very uneven and at times elementary record. One of the main beefs is indeed the production variety on the album as the LP truly lacked cohesiveness. However, there are some great tracks on “Shaolin”, specifically the Kenny Dope-produced, “From The Hills”. Wait! Kenny Dope? I can’t even front, for bumpin’ “From The Hills” since March, I never even knew that Kenny (GREAT to see dude still killin’ it!) laced the track, guess you learn something everyday, huh?
Found On: “Scars & Stripes” (Jamla)
What is it about Away Team (Khyrsis & Sean Boog) that makes them such an underrated duo? Well, for one, Sean Boog, while having a smooth voice and adequate delivery , definitely isn’t packin’ the lyrical content of, say…P. Monch, but with Khrysis on the board with the heat, the duo does churn out some pretty solid work. It seems like these cats have been around forever now, but they lack that one stellar “hit”, that’s restricted them from album decent sales and notoriety. However, “Scars & Stripes” is undoubtedly the duo’s best crafting to date as showcased by the Evidence-laced, “What Is This?”.
Found On: J E S U S (Nature Sounds)
Earlier this year, a mysterious album titled Jesus turned up on the popular music site Bandcamp, uploaded by an artist calling himself “B”. Soon, the LP was discovered to be the latest work from enigmatic L.A. rapper Blu, and within hours, it was the talk of the blogosphere. The album was soon removed, but it arrived in physical form via Nature Sounds. Of Blu’s variety of releases and releases this year, “J E S U S” turned out to be my favorite from the “odd” collection. With “Doowhop” Blu links up with underground favorite, Alchemist and lyrical heavyweight Planet Asia to birth some of the most soulful ‘ish you’ll hear in your lifetime. Oh and that “NoYork” album? “Below The Heavens” it ain’t, nor will there ever be another. Belee’ dat!!!
Found On: “Save Yourself” (Rapmechanics)
Yet another highly slept-on LP from Verbal Kent. I know a lot of cats are kinda’ hit and miss with dude (it’s hard at times to actually differentiate between Kent and Braille) , but “Save Yourself” is packed to the gills with bangers. I mean, good Lawd, peep the production line-up: Pete Rock, Apollo Brown, Marco Polo, !llmind, M-Phazes, Wizard, etc. There’s no frontin’ on “Save Yourself” as Kent solidified himself as one of Chicago’s finest lyrical marksmen. On “Cry” you have Verbal spitting crazy slick atop Apollo Brown’s dreary sample and HARD drum slaps, a track which actually eclipses the two production entries from Hip-Hop legend, Pete Rock.
Found On: “Classic” (Stones Throw)
God, I love this Lonnie Liston Smith sample!! THIS album surprised the hell outta’ me! M.E.D. has been kinda’ wish-washy with me since the release of “Push Comes To Shove”. How ever, make no bones about it, labeling your album as “Classic” is quite brave and while the outing does fall short of classic status, “Classic” is undoubtedly, by leaps and bounds, M.E.D.’s finest work to date.
With a talented guest list, to include Talib Kweli, Oh No, Aloe Blacc, Planet Asia and Kurrupt, “Classic” is void of any booty ‘ish. The hands-down winner on this LP though, is the Karriem Riggins-produced, Talib Kweli-assisted title cut.
Found On: Lone Sharks (Groggy Pack Ent.)
Now, the Doppelgangaz “Lone Sharks” is one album that I unintentionally omitted from by “Top 15 LPs” released this year. I bumped this like gangbusters when it first dropped, but one of my ipods crashed and I’ve unfortunately forgotten to add it back to my playlist. Nevertheless, “Lone Sharks” is a damn fine independent release with two emcees (EP & Matter Ov Fact) that take me back to the days of the Cella Dwellas’ debut LP. I absolutely love the old school vibe of the production that fuels “Lone Sharks”, speaking of which I recently found out that these cats actually did some production for Lil’ B? Damn, really?
Found On: “Self Titled” (Fat Beats)
Honestly, I had crazy high expectations for this album. Lyrically, I’ve always been one of Sean P’s biggest followers/supporters. As for Guilty Simpson? Ehh, you really can only slay so many emcees and wack rappers in an album, nah’ mean? Now, Black Milk? Love this cat man, really do, “Album Of The Year” did just that, it truly evolved into my favorite album of 2010. So, while still ahead of the game and in the top 25th percentile of albums released this year, what exactly went wrong with Random Axe? Personally, I think the expectations for this LP were entirely too lofty. Also, is it just me, or does some of the production from Milk on this album see a bit dated? Still, you can’t front, this album when compared to most of the ‘ish that dropped this year still knocks, I just wish I could put a finger on what’s missing?
Found On: “A Dreamer’s Journey” (Self-Released)
“A Dreamer’s Journey” is one of the most pleasant, unexpected and refreshing (almost sounds like a Sprite commercial, huh?) listens that I’ve encountered this year! S1, after gaining even more notoriety with his helping hand in recent Beyonce/Kanye West/The Throne projects, laced “A Dreamer’s Journey” with one of the freshest production canvases of 2011. Mythy, Myone and S1 have crafted an album that is original and not the easiest to classify, as they properly represent their stomping grounds, Dallas.
Found On: “A Face In The Crowd” (Envision Ent.)
It’s worth noting that Boston-representative, EDO. G’s rhyme skills have decreased somewhat over his last few outings, but good lawd, dude has gotta’ be in his 40′s by now. Regardless, the M-Phazes produced “I Was There” is pure history, a nostalgic cut that traces EDO’s paths from his entry to the game in 1990 to present day. Plus, as an added bonus the track closes with one of the best samples from the Carmelo Anthony-produced Mike Tyson documentary. Nice to hear M-Phazes evolve from just another 9th Wonder sound-a-like to tracks like “I Was There” over the last two years.