Some old, some new. As always, this week’s playlist features some tunes that have been on blast.
March saw the release of many quality mixtapes and albums, the best (by a large margin) being Cunninlynguists’ Oreinology. CL’s resident producer/MC Kno has been on his own level beat-wise lately (see his 2010 solo debut Death Is Silent for more proof), helping make Oreinology their best effort since 2006′s A Piece of Strange, and an early frontrunner for album of the year.
Not every release lived up to its hype, though. Two albums in particular, Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers and Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers, should have been much better than they actually were. Lupe completely ignored everything that he did right on his first two albums and took a shot at the pop charts with mixed results. Lasers definitely has it’s share of good songs, but I expect a lot more out of a Lupe Fiasco album. By no means should half of the tracks sound like a retarded experiment from The Black Eyed Peas (complete with dance music beats and pop singers). Rolling Papers wasn’t bad, and I actually enjoyed most of the new songs on the album. The problem is that Wiz put himself into a box; every track is way too similar, all fitting into the “Black & Yellow”/”Roll Up” mold. And why include mediocre leaks like “Fly Solo”, “Cameras”, etc….? Basically it’s an enjoyable album but, like Lasers, should have been MUCH better.
The mixtapes released in March were generally able to meet expectations. Chip Tha Ripper’s Gift Raps was solid, but nothing too exciting; if you’re new to his music try The Cleveland Show instead. Rittz’ White Jesus and Neako’s Loudpack: Highlights were both extremely refreshing projects that were even better than I thought they would be. Both Rittz’ surprising versatility and NeakO’s creative sample selection made these my personal favorite two mixtapes of the month. Pusha T’s Fear of God & Big K.R.I.T.’s Return of 4Eva are right behind those, and definitely worth checking out.
Buuut, if you’re not into sifting through albums and mixtapes for tracks to bump, here are the 40 best that dropped last month:
- Kno’s new melodic sample+epic synths+hard drums formula is really beautiful. Haven’t heard really anything from Tonedeff since 2005′s Archetype (which features one of my all time favorites, “Porcelain“), and it’s nice to see he hasn’t lost a step.
- The best song on Rolling Papers. Wiz is best when he strikes a perfect balance between laid back weed raps and poppy choruses.
- Impressive self-production on this track, and some signature storytelling/introspective verses. Cole’s been quietly dropping gems on us this year..hopefully leading up to an epic debut album.
- Another Oreinology highlight.
For this week’s playlist I went with mostly “real” hip-hop stuff with CunninLyguists, The Frontline and 3rd Bass. I slipped the Diddy song in because I want to show some love to J. Cole who wrote the song. Let’s be serious, Diddy isn’t musical. He can’t rap, he can’t produce. He stole this song from J. Cole, so I post the song more for Cole than I do for Diddy.
CunninLynguists do not get nearly as much love as they should. Last year, Kno’s album Death Is Silent was regarded by many as one of the best hip-hop albums of 2010. This year, the group as a whole will release their fifth studio album on March 22nd. Here is the tracklist and artwork for what should be a ridiculous album.
01 Predormitum (Prologue)
02 Darkness (Dream On) f. Anna Wise (of Sonnymoon)
04 Hard As They Come (Act I) f. Freddie Gibbs
05 Murder (Act II) f. Big K.R.I.T.
06 My Habit (I Haven’t Changed)
07 Get Ignorant
08 Shattered Dreams
09 Stars Shine Brightest (In The Darkest Of Night) f. Rick Warren
10 So As Not To Wake You (Interlude)
11 Enemies With Benefits f. Tonedeff
12 Looking Back f. Anna Wise (of Sonnymoon)
13 Dreams f. Tunji & BJ the Chicago Kid
14 Hypnopomp (Epilogue) f. Bianca Spriggs
The good folks at QN5 lets loose of the tagless version of Thee Tom Hardy’s collaboration with the original CunninLynguists duo; off his recently released mixtape, The Hardy Boy Mystery: Secret of Thee Green Magic.
The above video is Kno of CunninLynguists talking about his decision to go solo and produce his own record, “Death is Silent”. Interesting quote: “If I don’t have anything to rap about, I’m not going to rap for the sake of rapping”. Don;t you wish every rapper felt this way. Kno has a true understanding of hip-hop. Download his album here.
40. Rip The Jacker – 2003 – Canibus
Throughout his career, Canibus has always been one of the best lyricists in the game. It wasn’t until 2003, though, that he teamed up with a producer that could match his talents on the mic. Rip The Jacker is entirely produced by Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind (of Jedi Mind Tricks), helping Canibus finally create a full, well-rounded, enjoyable album. It’s refreshing to hear Canibus rapping over Stoupe’s (obscure) sample based beats, especially since he goes off on every track with his signature complex lyrical style. As a fan, it’s really disappointing that these two never collaborated again after this project.
Top Tracks: Poet Laureate II | Showtime At The Gallows | Levitibus
39. Relapse – 2009 – Eminem
This will probably be the most unpopular pick on the entire list, but I’ll defend this album to the death. Most criticism of Relapse is based around the voices/”accents” that Eminem uses on some of the songs. I’m not going to say that I prefer this to his normal voice, but it works here. On tracks like Bagpipes From Baghdad, Same Song & Dance, Old Time’s Sake, etc., he’s using these flows to service the lyrical patterns he has created for these tracks, and the end product is great. The CD is essentially his Slim Shady alter-ego let loose, leaving Em to concentrate on nothing but bending words and creating crazy rhyme patterns containing his classic “don’t give a fuck” content. The result is his best lyrical album since The Marshall Mathers LP, and a real treat for the old school Eminem fan.
Top Tracks: Hello | Deja Vu | Bagpipes From Baghdad
90. The Tipping Point – 2004 – The Roots
The most air-time Black Thought’s ever gotten over a full CD, and the album thrives because of it. Check out the BDK/Kool G Rap impressions on Boom!; the man can spit. You can’t go wrong with any Roots material but this is a stand out.
Top Tracks: Guns Are Drawn | Star/Pointro | Boom!
89. The Format - 2006 – AZ
AZ get’s some of the freshest production of his career, with help from Emile, J. Cardim, DJ Premier & Statik Selektah. Just another reason why he should be considered one of the best ever, but rarely gets that recognition.
Top Tracks: The Format | Get High | Animal
When you think of this past decade in terms of hip hop, the word “golden age” certainly doesn’t come to mind. Some say that hip hop’s dive into mainstream culture sold out the genre, putting the importance of making as much money as possible over making as good music as possible. There have been a lot of lackluster albums put out in the last decade, and the top albums on this list don’t even sniff the classics of the 90′s. But, for those who had the patience to sift through all of the crap released from 2000-2009, there were a ton of gems dropped, and a LOT of music worth listening to. But which were the absolute best? I put this up for debate, and offer my list of what I think were the top 100 rap albums released in the 00′s. Feel free to state your opinions down below, as this is an extremely subjective list (everyone has a different definition of “quality”, and everyone has different personal tastes), and I hope that the list inspires some of this great music to be downloaded/bought. Enjoy.
100. The Mouse & The Mask – 2005 – Danger Doom (MF DOOM & Danger Mouse)
Danger Mouse provides the perfect backdrop for an album completely based upon adult swim shows, creating original material with lyrics only DOOM could pull off on the mic. Really makes you wish Danger Mouse would do more hip hop production; the results of him doing a project with a great MC were too good.
Top Tracks: The Mask (Featuring Ghostface Killah) | Space Ho’s | Vats Of Urine
99. The Blueprint 3 – 2009 – Jay-Z
A bit disappointing as it sounds like Jay was trying too hard for the radio, but overall very good release from one of the best ever. Even with a changed up style Hov remains a top MC in the game, and is always capable of dropping quality albums like this.
Top Tracks: On To The Next One (Featuring Swizz Beatz) | Already Home (Featuring Kid Cudi) | Young Forever (Featuring Mr. Hudson)