So Yeah, Wiz Wacka Cudi Kanye Weezy Drake Nicky Minaj blah blah blah. I just don’t give a flying fuck about that stuff. If My Beautiful Laundrette Fantasy Island is your bag, go for it, but my mission is to hype the unhyped and underhyped.
Anyway I must have listened to about five, seven thousand songs this year. It’s like a sickness. I can’t, I won’t, I don’t stop. I went kinda overboard sifting out my favorites for y’all; next year you’re on your own.
- Super Chron Flight Brothers :: Cape Verde / DirectTV If you don’t know how much love I got for SCFB by now, you got rocks in your head. This third LP has the best beats yet, word to Bond and Willie Green. Cape Verde is a dissonant, addled and jumbled look at Amerikkka through the lens of TV–or maybe vice versa. Woods & Privilege drop more deadly one-liners than there are magic marshmellows in Lucky Charms; the songs are so stream-of-stoned-consciousness that each listen brings out another gem. Yeah, they let the samples run way long; yeah, the TV concept drifts in and out…because they were high. Woods spits every line like it’s the last, a pissed off, hungover Chuck D; Privilege brings his sly, sing-songy jokester sound in counterpoint. This is political rap without sloganeering, ghettoism without nihilism, intelligence that doesn’t pat itself on the back (when Woods says it’s ‘a Titus Andronicus moment,’ he leaves it to you to Cliff Notes that shit). Dropping references from Boo Radley to Ally Sheedy, The Shining to Foghorn Leghorn, and about a million other things, Cape Verde is somewhere between PTSD High & Rising and Fear of a Black Sarcasm. Cop that shit and bump it in your soon-to-be-repoed ride.
- KRS-ONE & True Master :: Meta-Historical KRS meets the Wu-Tang sound…it’s like chocolate and bacon, you wonder why no one thought of this before. Best KRS in about twelve years.
- Iron Lyon :: The Foundation EP Just some plain old dope shit. What can I say. This ain’t Pitchfork. I ain’t gonna go all metaphor on your ass.
- Greenhouse (Blueprint & Illogic) :: Electric Purgatory Part 2 I already showed love for Blueprint, and this was a definite top play for the year.
- June Marx :: Body of God / Core of Vengeance Daaaayumn this shit came hard, like some RZA-produced Mobb Deep. Don’t sleep.
- Ski Beatz :: 24 Hour Karate School Pretty damn dope and not making other people’s end-of lists.
- Ghostface Killah :: Apollo Kids Holy fuck, after the majorly lazy Wu-Massacre, Ghost springs back hard with some rock-solid Iron Man shit. The Wu were kinda on the wane in 2000, but definitely picked up speed the last couple of years and stayed on top.
- Grey Matter :: Grey Matter Straight from the heart, Grey Matter’s debut was sometimes too sincere to the point of didactic, but definitely on point and bringing back a deep, deep love of hip-hop.
- Open Mike Eagle :: Unapologetic Art Rap Funny, deft, smart…I wish it had better beats but this was one of the most interesting records of the year. I know I called OME out on owing Rammellzee, but actually he’s more a direct descendent of Basehead (…who I’ll get on to next month). While the hipsterati were all emolliating their privates with Das Racist’s Essence of Williamsburg, O.M. Eagle brought a more intelligent, thoughtful, playful, diverse and honest record.
…plus the records I picked in June.
Back in the lab, the Large Hip Hop Collider produced some interesting scientifical theorems. The Pro-Tools Imbalance proved that advances in software means you get a lot of records with great beats and mediocre-to-shitty rapping (c.f. eighty thousand white rap duos).
Shame On A Weed Carrier Theorem a.k.a. Self-Etherization Phenomenon had a lot of MCs getting murdered on their own shit by guest spots (see Hell Razah, Virtuoso, Ill Bill et al.)
Piff’s Law states that the mixtape is always better than the album, which is disappointing ass. Unlistenable, horrifying, smelly, stinky ass. But the mixtape is fire.
- Joell Ortiz :: Project Boy/Farewell Summer/Belly of the Beast > Free Agent
- DJ Muggs x Bambu :: Los Angeles, Philippines > DJ Muggs & Ill Bill, Kill Devil Hills
- Cypress Hill :: The Uprising > Rise Up
- Mr. Dibbs :: Inducing Panic > Dead World
The Bandcamp Paradox encapsulates the unexplained phenomenon of free and inexpensive shit being better than what’s released by record labels. Not like you pay for that either.
- Malcolm & Martin :: Criminal Minded Off the back of the Movement Music mixtape, this track-by-track cover/reimagining of BDP made me stop hating on the ‘classic album remake’ concept (since it always just shows the new MCs aren’t as good). Definitely feeling this.
- Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All :: Radical This was definitely Odd Future’s year. With that name and the hype around ‘em, I was expecting some kinda Panther Moderns/Clockwork Orange/4chan Clan thing, like Burroughs’ Wild Boys but with less salamander butt-fucking. In reality it’s a crew of talented teenagers with straight-up teenage attitudes, a lot more debut Beastie Boys than debut Geto Boys. Yeah, there’s a lot of rapping about rape and other ’shocking’ stuff, but they’re so obviously fucking around it’s pretty hard to be offended. No question Tyler the Creator makes some incredible beats. The lackadaisical, rambling, drawling lyricals don’t always meet up to that, but the lack of calculated bullshit and raw honesty bring heat. Pure energy. Also, how can you not like a crew whose de facto leader comes with tweets like this:
- Bloody Monk Consortium :: Burden of Truth EP Sounds like somebody locked Killarmy in a dark basement for five years with nothing but PCP and Chinese opera records.
- Two Ton Sloth :: Siphoning Dreams I don’t know if this is on outer edges of hip hop or not. Not even sure if it’s music. But it’s dope on that what-the-fuck-am-I-listening-to tip.
- PSY/OPSogist :: All The Absent Voices Honestly PSY/OPS’ best work since The Cathode Ray Tube, and best instrumental shit I heard this year.