Top 8 of 08 #1: The Roots – Rising Down

January 7th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I don’t think #1 could have been anything other than The Roots.

I’ve been a fan since Things Fall Apart. I think I got it off the strength of You Got Me and the fact that Mos Def was a feature and man, I got one incredible album for my money. Or my mom’s money. Whichever.

That album introduced me to Eve and Beanie Sigel and Jill Scott, forced me to listen to and gain an appreciation of Erykah Badu (she could miss me with that Call Tyrone business, I was a teenager and not trying to hear that), and pretty much solidified my taste in music. I stayed in that neo-soul/conscious rap vein for years, and never really left it.

(I have a spanish remix of You Got Me called Me Tienes. It’s just as good as the original.)

To say that I’m partial to The Legendary Roots Crew would be an understatement. When added into the mix with the Dungeon Family, Wu-Tang Clan, and Company Flow, you can pretty much decipher why I have the taste in music that I do. The Roots are a pillar for me.

Rising Down is easily their best effort since Things Fall Apart. There are a lot of features, but it isn’t just for the sake of sales. Each feature goes in on their respective verse, resulting in an album full of heavy songs.

One of the highlights is Black Thought’s solo joint, 75 Bars. He’s always been an underrated emcee, even though he’s a beast on the mic. He gets his Beanie Sigel on and delivers three minutes of free association raw rap. He rips it for every second of the three minutes, to the point where picking just a few lines to quote is a lost cause.

Peedi Crakk delivers one of the best verses on the album with his guest spot on Get Busy. Get Busy is also notable because it’s a Philly hometown pride track– DJ Jazzy Jeff, creator of one of my favorite albums from last year, is behind the scratches.

It’s Crakk man, used to back spin
Now I spend stacks and stacks
and Uncle Sam tryin’ to tax all my hard earned raps
Damn! We makin’ Yens, Pesos, Euros, we representin’

Wale, Chrisette Michelle, Saigon, Dice Raw, Styles P, Malik B, and Common are all some of the features on the album, and all are top notch. The actual production is up the the usual Roots quality. The album veers from laid back (Rising Down) to frantic (75 Bars) and it doesn’t hurt it any. The variety gives Rising Down legs, since there’s always a track for your current mood.

I couldn’t pick a favorite track on this album if I tried. It’s full of catchy choruses, great verses, and amazing beats. I sing off-key to Birthday Girl just like everyone else, and Singing Man is another one that brings out that kind of behavior.

It’s just like, man, could these guys be any more talented? Even bad Roots albums are just bad in the context of albums like Things Fall Apart and Come Alive and Do You Want More?!!??!. Why are so many rappers amazingly terrible?

Congratulations to The Roots for embarrassing rappers again. Keep on doing it until they all start coming correct.

The rest of y’all need to buy Rising Down and take notes.

Official videos:
75 Bars
Get Busy
Birthday Girl
Rising Up

(I’m gonna take a day or so and then get back to talking about comics. I haven’t been to the shop since before Christmas.)

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08: Mixtape Interlude

January 6th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I listen to a lot of mixtapes. They’re a great source of free tunes, they let your favorite artists wreck other artist’s beats, and really, they let you hear hungry people before they get fat and tired. Mixtapes are worth it because a lot of artists will break down some kind of clever gimmick in order to get attention. I don’t use gimmick in the derogatory sense, mind you– just in that it’s an attention getter. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but here’s my five favorite mixtapes of 08, with a bit of commentary.

Did I mention that mixtapes are free? Download links after each mini-review.

Super props to 2dopeboyz for a) hooking me up with these mixtapes and most of my new music and b) having the best website name on the net.

Honorable Mention: BK Cyph x 2dopeboyz – Never Sold Crack: The Series
BK Cyph is a dope lyricist, and his Never Sold Crack: The Series is like Ghostface’s Run– straight up storytelling rap. It’s begging to be animated or put into comic form or something. You can catch it here on 2db. Download them starting with #8 and listen to them in order.

#5: XV – 40 Days, 40 Nights
Sometimes, you just have to respect someone’s work ethic. Crooked I and Mickey Factz did weekly series for a good long while. XV broke out with something even more serious– 40 days and 40 nights of music. That’s two songs a day, if you aren’t good at math.

And he did it. He freaked new beats, old beats, and pretty much every hot song you could find. NERD’s Spaz turned into Frag Out, an Xbox Live anthem. Mos Def’s Mr. Nigga got a remake for 2008, Andre 3k’s She Lives In My Lap showed up, and Kanye’s Love Lockdown caught a remix. The line that really made me stand up and pay attention was this bit on Mr. Nigga:

Now, who is the cat that’s relaxing in the sauna
and somebody asks, “So, what you think about Obama?

I dunno, maybe you have to live in San Francisco to get it.

There’s something here for everyone, from comic fans (Day 32 featured “Galactus (The Planet Eater)” and “Silver Surfer”) to game fans (“Frag Out”), classic rap fans, and even fans of The Killers. When Blogs Cry is the most bizarre Prince remake I’ve heard in ages, too.

The original files can be found here on 2db, where I first got them. However, I re-uploaded them because I ended up re-tagging all of the mp3s. I added them all into the same album, as opposed to being separated into 40 Days and 40 Nights, and renamed them so that they’re in the format “(Day 26-N) Go In (produced by Just Blaze)”– it makes sense when you look at it, and they’re all in order, too. Grab that from right here.

#4: The Clipse – Road to Till The Casket Drops

Yo, I wish the Clipse would stop misspelling things. Play Cloths and Road Till the Casket Drops have them looking bummy.

Anyway, The Clipse have basically been mixtape kings for a few years now. Their We Got It 4 Cheap series have been mostly great, even though the retail release was like biting into a hot buttered brick. Road to… is their latest mixtape, and it’s largely a Clipse solo joint. They get on over Swagger Like Us, Pop Champagne, Addiction, and a couple other hot joints from this year.

It’s a testament to their skill at doing their kind of rap that even though the subject matter isn’t all that different from WGI4C or Hell Hath No Fury or Lord Willin’, the songs stay interesting. I feel like So Fly (Now We’ve Had Her) is the weakest track on the album, but the rest are pretty tight.

They even get on Lupe Fiasco’s Dumb It Down, which is practically the anti-drug rap theme song, and turn it to Numb It Down, which is about (you guessed it) selling dope. It’s the kind of move that’s so bizarre it works. It’s as if someone went and turned Burn, Hollywood, Burn into the theme song for next year’s summer blockbuster, and it worked. It’s weird. The contrast is kind of nuts.

Complex magazine has the download for you.

#3: Esso x 2dopeboyz – The Gardens

I discovered ESSO earlier this year, and he’s remained a favorite. I’ve burned through his mixtapes, and he’s put out a staggering amount of music in the past couple of years. It’s good for my brain, bad for my HD space. His three full-length mixtapes, ESSOcentric, ESSObama, and E3: E-Day (make sure you watch Anti-backpack) are all bangers. E3 came close to taking #3 on this list, even.

But, no, instead, it’s gotta be The Gardens.

I listened to Lil Wayne’s Carter III when it came out like everybody else. I was kind of amazed that codeine had turned Wayne into such a dope rapper, but the album didn’t really click for me. I blamed the rhymes– Wayne was clever, but mostly style. The beats were hot enough that I’d been keeping my eye out for an instrumental version.

The Gardens is Esso rhyming about his life, love, and living over six of Weezy’s Carter beats, including the Kanye produced “Let The Beat Build” as “Get Ya Beat Killed.” Maybe it should have been called “That’s how you get your album killed,” because I haven’t gone back to Tha Carter III since. The Gardens is a thorough little… EP, I guess, going by the length. The rhymes are tight, the beats are hard, and it’s just fun to listen to. It sounds like the kind of album that’s both carefully chosen and sounds like it was done for fun. Hit up 2db for the hookup.

#2: B.o.B. – Who the Fuck is B.o.B.

I’d seen B.o.B. around, but it was this mixtape that sold me. The only way I know how to describe him, and I hate to do him a disservice by comparing him to other artists, is that he’s kind of like what someone who was Andre 3000 and Big Boi from OutKast at the same time. He flips back and forth between painfully honest raps (“I used to wear a grill, because that was the trend/ not because I liked it, I just wanted to fit in” on Generation Lost) and that down south bump I still love.

Other than a guest Lil Boosie on an otherwise hot song, this album is pretty much one banger after another. Bobby Ray sat down and made one of the best albums of the year, proving that he’s one of the best dudes to debut lately.

He’s charming, not afraid to poke fun at himself, and has sick flow. Just from a flow perspective, he’s worth listening to. He even takes a stab at racism on track 17, Nigger. It’s as tongue-in-cheek and pointed as Auto Tune, his ode to the gimmick of 2008.

Download it here, courtesy of The Smoking Section.

#1: Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing

Did you meet anybody who didn’t like this mixtape? I probably don’t even have to recommend it to you. I bet you already have it, don’t you?

For those new to the party, just go ahead and download it. It’s Wale creating an album in the form of an homage to Seinfeld. Rather than just being an album to hang Seinfeld references on, he uses the gimmick to hammer on a bunch of different topics.

Honestly, just google him. Download the mixtape and google him and then come back and thank me.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08 #2: Ice Cube – Raw Footage

January 6th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Who knew Ice Cube was still dope?

I thought he had disappeared to Hollywood, coming back only to make joints like We Be Clubbin. That’s not fair, actually. He’s done some shockingly good work with Lil Jon, notably Roll Call, which blends early ’90s Cube and Lil Jon’s high impact production into something that’s like a throwback from the future. (The bit in the video where Cube goes into his house and masks up is one of those things only rap and superhero books can get away with. Of course Cube kept his black gear, baseball bat, and black Impala in his garage, despite his family life. He’s the realest, Disney movies aside. Never mind the fact that this video is Beat It 200X.)

Raw Footage is that album that reminds you where Ice Cube got his start and the days when he was untouchable. If you go just by years, Cube is almost on elder statesmen status, despite not looking any older than he did years ago. He isn’t the best rapper, and doesn’t really bother with the wordplay acrobatics that a lot of other rappers employ. What he is, however, is a rap juggernaut.

His flow is steady and undeniable. Its pacing and subject matter are going to keep hitting you while you listen. He’s relentless. This isn’t an album that I could sit back and just idly listen to until recently. I had to be an active listener and figure out what he’s talking about, digest it, and come back.

Cube’s the archetypal angry negro, but that was 15 years ago. Now he’s something else. I don’t want to say that he’s mellowed with age. I think it’s more that he’s just matured. He deals with religion on Raw Footage, and his personal beliefs, which is something that doesn’t happen often enough. He shows a certain amount of contempt for the people who grew up on his music, but didn’t learn anything from it, on Hood Mentality. He sprinkles bits of wisdom throughout the album, and even stereotypical braggadoccio rap like Do Ya Thang is about building self-esteem and being true to yourself.

Ice Cube’s about to hit 40, man. That blows my mind. Straight outta Compton was twenty years ago.

The standout on the album, and off the album, is easily Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It. It’s that Ice Cube I love to hear- the one who is smart, has been in the business for years, and knows what he’s talking about. He puts everyone who ever used rap as a scapegoat on blast, and does it with a deftness that I feel like only he can bring to the table. He went through his share of rap-related drama in the ’90s, and was the poster boy for gangsta rap for years. If you look at any of the recent outbursts in the past year, the finger always came back around to rap. “If gangster rappers didn’t say nigger, would Michael Richards have done it? What about Don Imus, what if rap wasn’t so offensive?” The remix to the song features Nas and Scarface and is even better than the original.

When you put three of the most respected emcees from each coast on a record, you’re going to hit gold. I kind of hope they actually make that album together. The only problem is that if you get Scarface on a guest appearance, he’s going to wreck you and end up with the best verse on the song. It’s true here, it was true with both Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel songs, and it’s true on his Nas guest spots, too. Uncle Face is a monster.

I Got My Locs On with Young Jeezy is pretty tight, too, and Get Used To It is Westside Connection 2008. Cube’s Why Me with Musiq Soulchild is pretty dang chilling, too. I have to give special mention to when Ice Cube starts kicking fast food chicken metaphors toward the end of Thank God, too. It’s a weird detour, but hilarious, and instantly understandable if you’ve ever hit a Popeye’s chicken. Get Money, Spend Money, No Money is the anti-swag anthem, too, which is sorely needed in rap these days. That’s your money, man, I don’t care how you spend it when I don’t have money of my own.

Raw Footage is the most westside album to come out in a while, and one of the smartest rap albums to hit in 2008 in general. It’s a far cry from the Cube of ten or fifteen years ago, but there’s a definite through-line from then to now. I love how angry he is on this album, as if he looked back at what he’s done and the message his fans took from his work and started kicking over tables and throwing a fit.

Official videos:
Do Ya Thang
Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It
Why Me?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08 #3: Heltah Skeltah – D.I.R.T.

January 5th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Heltah Skeltah’s Magnum Force was probably the first CD I ever bought. I’d owned tapes, yeah, but buying a CD for the first time? That was a big deal. No more taping songs off the radio for me! It must’ve been probably ten years ago at this point. I knew of the Boot Camp because my uncle was a Black Moon fan, but all I was probably thinking was that I Ain’t Havin’ That was one of the dopest music videos I had ever seen in my entire life. The fact that I got an album with features from Method Man, OutLawz, Kurupt & Daz, Anthony Hamilton (before I was even a fan of dude), and the entire Boot Camp Clik was just icing on the cake.

In a way, the video for I Ain’t Havin’ That is the Cliff’s Notes for Heltah Skeltah’s style. It’s classic Brooklyn smack you in your face rap, ala MOP, but with this air of self-consciousness you don’t see in 99% of rappers. When DMX is talking about beating you up and shooting you and digging you up and eating your corpse arf arf arf what niggaaaaaaa, he’s probably saying it because he thinks it makes him sound hard. Heltah Skeltah knows it’s all rhymes, so they aren’t afraid to let loose with something like

Just in case, I’m renaming both of my hands Laxative and Colonic
They ah, smack shit out any nigga who want it

I don’t even know how to describe it. Self-conscious thug rap? Tongue-in-cheek braggadoccio? Sean Price made a living as the self-described Brokest Rapper You Know after Heltah Skeltah broke up. Rock a.k.a. Al Catraz a.k.a. Da Rockness Monstah a.k.a. look just watch this video.

Da Incredible Rap Team, as an album, a concept, and an album title, is classic Heltah Skeltah. It’s tongue-in-cheek funny, but thugging it at the same time. Magnum Force started off with Sean Price talking about how that record had to be “just like the last album, only better.” It’s true for DIRT, too– it’s just like the last album, only better.

The ten year break between Magnum Force and DIRT didn’t do anything to decrease Sean P and Rock’s charisma and teamwork. Their flows still perfectly complement each other. Rock’s voice is still ridiculously deep. Sean P is still coming with ridic punchlines. The beats are still dirty, dusky, and grimey. There’s even a BCC posse cut and a track that hearkens back to Therapy, off Nocturnal.

DIRT is kind of like innovating while doing the same thing over and over again. It doesn’t reinvent the Heltah Skeltah wheel, but it does add just enough to the formula to keep it interesting. They’ve grown as artists without giving up where they came from or paying slavish tribute to the past. They’re smarter, funnier, and seemingly hungrier than they were ten years ago. The whole album is two guys who are eager for people to listen and have fun to their music. Instead of dropping an overly serious and overwrought LP (hello kanye), they produced the music they, and their fans, enjoy.

How do they feel about other rappers?

Y’all say they nice? We say they polite… y’all like ’em though.
Rappers embarassed to say they rappers… proud to say they sell crack, though!

DIRT, like Magnum Force, is an album I keep coming back to. There’s just something about it that’s attractive, from the beats to the rhymes, and it’s a shame it’s going to end up so underrated. It’s a nice break from generic thug raps.

Also, there’s a ton of references to The Wire on the album.

Official videos:
So Damn Tuff feat. Buckshot & Rustee Juxx
Ruck n Roll
Everything Is Heltah Skeltah

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08 #4: T.I. – Paper Trail

January 5th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

T.I. has had an insane year. At the top of the year, he was facing serious jail time, his 2007 album was on “Successful, but Average” status, and he had Shawty Lo running around Atlanta making youtubes of how he isn’t actually from Bankhead and is a lying snitch.

By the end of the year, he’s looking at a year inside, launching his new clothing line, signed Killer Mike to Grand Hustle, obliterated Shawty LO, put B.o.B. on, has something like a million hit singles, and a platinum album. Quite a turn around, isn’t it?

One thing I’ve always liked about T.I., other than the fact that he’s also a skinny smart black dude from Georgia, is that he always looks like he’s having fun. The What’s Up, What’s Happenin’ video is the most exuberant diss video in years. He looks like a dude with jokes, or at least one with a healthy bit of self-consciousness. He seems like a regular guy, despite the movie star clothes and rap braggadoccio. There’s something kind of forthright and honest about him, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

This carries over into his album. Some of the songs are typical rap joints, but he isn’t afraid to get personal, either. He opens up about the death of his best friend Philant on Dead and Gone, and interspersed throughout the album are mentions of his trials and tribulations.

What’s nice is that it never rings as hollow as DMX’s prayers on his old albums did. T.I. went through a very public arrest. Everyone knows what the deal is. But, even though he doesn’t have to, Tip breaks down his reasons for doing what he did and how he feels about the decision. We end up with an album with mainstream appeal, but personal lyrics. T.I. has been doing that for ages, though– go back and listen to Be Better Than Me.

Of course, it isn’t all personal. His jawn with Ludacris, “On Top of the World,” kicks off with “rich by popular demand,” which is quickly followed up by two of Atlanta’s most successful rappers going in on how they went from nothing to something to everything. They pay respect to where they’ve been even as they look to where they’re going, and point out that it isn’t all just clothes, bankrolls, and hoes. T.I. drops this gem on his last verse:

I sold dope and dropped out of school, seems it’s all they can see
They don’t notice none of my family did that since me (nah)
I broke that cycle, now my family live a life of
Mandatory minimums, but not when the judge sentence us
Cousins in college, where you think they get tuition from?
(Answer that) Just for standin ’round wishin, huh?
Hey while you stand around lookin dumb, I make it happen
Takin action over time, got damn good at it

And it’s true– both of these guys have poured their cash into making life better for people where they came from, diversified their income, and went from mice to men.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out Swagga Like Us. Even though I basically hate the word swagger now, T.I. comes on stage with extraordinary swagger. He’s on a track with three of the hottest rappers out, though only one of them is really all that talented, and sons all three. Kanye and Wayne drop typical verses for those two. It’s aight, not great work from those two. Jay-Z makes a solid showing. T.I. wraps up the song, though, and recaps his life, career, and year while showing that everyone who thinks the south isn’t lyrical is an idiot.

Paper Trail bumps. It’s a thorough record, with club songs (Swing Ya Rag has a remarkably listenable Swizz Beatz) and classic T.I.P. tracks (56 Bars). It’s definitely something to keep in the ride. What’s funny is that he predicts this reaction in 56 Bars:

World hopped off my jock, I got ’em right back on it

Official music videos:
Whatever You Like
No Matter What
What’s Up, What’s Haapnin’
Live Your LIfe (when did this video come out? i totally missed it)

Honorable mention:
Ain’t I, by Young Dro (it’s a hot song, I just wanted to link it)

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08 #05: Young Jeezy – The Recession

January 2nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I used to be a Young Jeezy hater. I think I first heard dude in Fabolous’s Do The Damn Thing, where he gave a funny, if uninspired and really kind of dumb, verse. The problem with that verse is that it was quotable, just off the strength of how dumb and how ad-lib laden it was. If you can come out with more quotables than the punchline heavy Fab, well, there’s something there.

I couldn’t escape Jeezy from 2007 to 2008. I got put on to Juelz Santana after years of hating and went through a few months of playing his CD. Make It Work For You was catchy and has a pretty ridic beat. Grew Up A Screw-up was probably the first song where I genuinely respected Jeezy. It’s not even a special verse– it’s just vaguely autobiographical. There was something about it, though.

Young Jeezy’s The Recession somehow, someway became one of my favorite albums of the year. I couldn’t even figure out why I liked it until a couple weeks after it came out. I just knew that I kept playing it on my iPod and feeling guilty, and then turning up the volume to drown out the guilt.

The overall theme of the record is that there’s a Recession on and it’s time to make money because time’s almost gone. He kind of sticks to the point, but like any good trap star, he’s kicking that drug dealing thing more often than not. So, what’s left is an album that occasionally shows flashes of what would be called conscious rap if anyone but Jeezy was rapping, and throws post-T.I. drug rap at you at the other times. Tracks like Vacation eschew the album’s concept entirely, Put On is hood motivation (and probably has one of the last good Kanye verses ever), and Crazy World is all about a recession.

The Recession, as an album, isn’t quite as smart as it should be. Jeezy has a niche, and that niche requires banging, bass-heavy beats and cocaine talk. He comes off better than he ever has before, though, which makes the entire album surprisingly listenable. His rasp-heavy flow is pretty charming, and his ever-present ad-libs (Yeeeeeeeeeeah!) add even more charisma into the mix. His punchlines are off-kilter, and he’s willing to commit cardinal sins like rhyming Columbia three lines in a row just because it’d sound hot on a song. It makes it a fun album to listen to, despite the subject matter, just because it’s so weird. Why should we call him Jeezy Hamilton? Man, why not?

Listening to Jeezy gives me a weird mix of hometown pride (he used to live in the next town over from my hometown, Macon/Warner Robins representing), a weakness for ignant rap, and genuine enthusiam. The only way to explain it is that it’s a fun record. Jeezy himself sums it up with his first few bars on Crazy World:

What they want?
They want that young shit
That dumb shit, that “where you from?” shit
That ride around your hood all day with your gun shit

I said earlier that I couldn’t figure out why I liked The Recession. It took me listening to My President Is Black, Jeezy’s collabo with Nas, to figure it out. Nas is one of my favorite emcees, so I obviously have a a vested interest in the song. The thing about that song is that Nas, who dropped one of the top five greatest rap albums of all time, was completely bodied by Jeezy. While Nas was talking about how some stripper isn’t a politician, she’s a pole-itician, Jeezy Hamilton spit two verses about real life and a love for passed rap artists that completely outclassed Lil Homey. In my hater days, I’d have said that it’s the equivalent of Justin Timberlake outsinging Al Green on the same song. Nowadays, I just appreciate.

Official videos:
Put On feat. Kanye West
Crazy World
Who Dat (“why he keep saying yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah? I’on’t even know”)

Hot guest appearance:
I Got My Locs On, by Ice Cube

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08 #6: eMC – The Show

January 2nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

eMC is Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Punchline, and Stricklin, and their The Show is one of those long lost fossils of rap– a concept album. It isn’t as thoroughly concept-heavy as, say, Prince Paul’s A Prince Among Thieves (if you hate that album you are less than trash), but it’s about a day on the road of eMC, a touring rap group.

It works. It uses skits to fill in the blanks, and most of them are a minute or less, thankfully. There’s nothing worse than falling into a five minute skit about nothing at the beginning of a song. The songs are tight, the production is spot-on, if not particularly spectacular, and the rhymes are tight.

That’s the thing about this album. eMC is heavy with true spitters. I first heard Punch & Words on the classic Lyricist Lounge tape from years ago. Wordsworth alone had ridiculous punchline, a , and insane jokes. Masta Ace has dropped like eighty thousand albums, it feels like, and is a New York rap mainstay. Sean Price (of Heltah Skeltah) shows up for a classic guest appearance.

With the exception of Stricklin, eMC hails from Brooklyn, New York, New York. All of them have been around for ten or more years at this point, too. You know how people talk about how they “need to bring New York back?” This is where New York has been all this time. It’s that same mold that Big L, Big Pun, and a bunch of other rappers were pushing in the ’90s. These cats just never stopped doing it. It’s not that they haven’t evolved– it’s that they didn’t fall for the Chicken Noodle Soup, Swaggariffic, and Pause rap that infested NYC after 2000.

In the current climate, eMC’s The Show isn’t very marketable at all. That’s just being honest. It’s real hip-hop, no gimmicks. No sex symbols, gun play, drug dealing, or swagger to speak of. It’s regular people rap. It’s a bunch of guys who love the art form getting together and making something worth listening to. It’s an easy going album, and something you can keep on in the background while you work. Really, all it’s missing is a Jean Grae guest appearance.

Hey, do you guys remember when Busta Rhymes made fun music like this? That was a good time, wasn’t it? Too bad he’s too busy making Arab Money and dealing drugs now.

Official videos:
Leak It Out
(EMC) What It Stand For

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08 #7: Immortal Technique – The 3rd World

January 1st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

The problem with dead prez is that they’re kind of stupid. If you actually listen to Hell Yeah and watch its terrible video (in concept and execution), you’re going to realize a couple things. One, their scams won’t work. Two, the video is one of the worst-conceived pieces of trash in years. That’s your revolution? Really guys?

Immortal Technique is probably just as extreme, if not more, but he’s actually got some smarts behind his eyes. The 3rd World is a mix of old tracks and new, and is a delightfully coherent taste of rebel rap. It’s still hipster and college student high on new philosphy-friendly, but there’s actual meat to it, too.

One thing Technique has over other rebel rap-types is that you can see his growth as an artist and a thinker as you follow his career. He’s adjusted his views. There’s less misogyny and homophobia than there was seven years ago. His criticisms are more focused and direct. And yes, his skill has gotten better, too.

Immortal Technique is raw rap. It isn’t a record you put on to chill with your friends and play video games. It definitely isn’t one to play when your girlfriend comes over for the weekend. It’s abrasive. It’s not as harsh as Technique’s Dance with the Devil (don’t click that), which I listened to once and then promised to never, ever listen to again, despite its quality. It was too harsh, too real, and too dark.

3rd World is more palatable, though he isn’t afraid to put the boot in. Lick Shots, with Crooked I and Chino XL, is one of those tracks that’s just three dudes going in, Reverse Pimpology is the second coming of Industry Rule 4080 (record company people are shady), and Payback features Diabolic and a much-missed Ras Kass getting back on his political grind.

I’m not even getting into Technique’s in your face rhymes. He’s very quotable, but you really can’t quote him without either getting arrested or funny looks. He just sounds angry, but in a good way. He’s urging revolution and striking back at the system. It’s something like Tupac said. “Only in Cali will we riot, not rally, so live and die.” Talking is easy. He wants to see action. He even takes aim at rappers who jump onto “conscious” songs once every couple of years on Lick Shots:

Niggas love to say “Fuck revolution!”
Until the jury come in and move for the prosecution
And them brothers act like a born-again Huey Newton
Forgot about the bullshit music they was producin

You want to have a computer nearby while listening to Technique’s 3rd World. Sometimes you have to google something he talks about just so you can know more. Tech is well-read, intelligent, and worth listening to. It’s music to get angry, or perhaps be angry, to while you drive or commute.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out Immortal Technique’s Beef & Broccoli, wherein he dismantles those people who think that veganism or vegetarianism is some kind of revolutionary act. Here’s a spoiler: it isn’t.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Top 8 of 08 #8: Nas – Untitled

January 1st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I was going to do a Top 10 or whatever for comics that came out in 2008, but realized that I had no interest in explaining to people why Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s run on All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder is better than Grant Morrison’s run on Batman in almost every way or why certain comics just aren’t enjoyable and are in fact Silver Age navel-gazing at best. Instead, I’m stealing a page from Tucker Stone‘s playbook and doing a music countdown instead. I’m doing only eight for 2008, but if you’re curious, numbers nine and ten were NERD’s Seeing Sounds [Explicit] and Ill Bill’s The Hour Of Reprisal [Explicit], respectively. NERD because I’ve loved their sound for years and Everybody Nose/Everybody Nose Remix, Anti-Matter, Sooner or Later, and Spaz are all genuinely excellent songs. Ill Bill has a few great songs, too, most notably White Nigger and the track about his uncle.

The next five weekdays are going to have two posts from me a piece at noon and midnight. On the next to last day, instead of posting my #1, I’ll post a quick top 5 round-up of some free music and then hit y’all with the #1 pick the next day.
Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon