Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's colddddd in the D

One of my favorite producer/MC's, Black Milk, recently announced that he's coming out with a number of releases in 2010. Hailing from Detroit, he's made it a known fact that he means to continue the late J Dilla's legacy, while establishing his own. I'm a huge fan of sample-based producers like Just Blaze and Kanye West, but Black Milk's style is completely unique. His ability to chop obscure samples into something totally unrecognizable, yet dope, is what sets him apart from everyone else. Below I've posted the latest leak from one of his upcoming projects. It's classic Black Milk, so enjoy.

Take a look at a preview of Black Milk's upcoming releases in 2010, including the highly anticipated collaboration with Guilty Simpson and Sean Price, known as, Random Axe.

Monday, December 28, 2009

He's Baaaaaccccckkkkkkk

Back from a self-imposed hiatus, Charles Hamilton is back with his latest mixtape, Normalcy. I haven't listened to it all the way through, but it's great to see him back to doing what he does best. Love him or hate him, the kid can spit. And yes, while his antics from time to time are baffling, he makes good music, and that's all that matters.

*This is a .rar file, so you need a .rar expander to open it up. Once again, just google ".rar expander" and it should be one of the first links. It's free, and it takes two minutes to set up.

Also, check out the vid for "Charles Hamilton Is Back," below...

The Cool Kids + Don Cannon= Merry Christmas

As the New Year approaches, my excitement is growing just thinking about the sheer amount of potentially amazing CDs that could come in 2010. Included in that list is The Cool Kids' official debut, When Fish Ride Bicycles. While no release date has been set, The Kids have never failed to deliver great music. Once again teaming up with DJ/Producer Don Cannon, they've decided to drop a 4 song EP just in time for Christmas. As always, the music is fresh...

While you're at it, make sure you take a look at the official video for "Knocked Down," off the Gone Fishin' mixtape.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2010

As the 4th quarter of 2009 comes to a close, we can only look ahead to the future. And my God does it look bright. As good as this past year was (and it was pretty damn good), I think it's fair to say that 2010 could blow away '09. So without further ado, let's see why next year could be one of the greatest in Hip Hop history.

The Game- The R.E.D. Album

When Game announced that L.A.X. was going to be his last album, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who smelled 'BS' in the air. As soon as he announced that he would be releasing The R.E.D. Album, Hip Hop fans began to wonder what direction he would go in this time. Thus far we know that the album is going to be executive produced by Dr. Dre (which marks the first time they've worked together since his first album) and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes. A virtual 'who's who' of producers are said to be contributing including Timbaland, DJ Premier, Just Blaze, RZA (!) and Polow Da Don. Since Dr. Dre is co-executive producing this album, hopefully it'll be a little more cohesive than his last two albums, which had one too many filler tracks.

Common- The Believer

Many fans (including myself) were disappointed with Common's last album, Universal Mind Control. While there were definitely some jams on there, it simply lacked the 'Hip Hop' feel that we've come to expect from Common. Well, consider this a return to form because Kanye is back as executive producer, with No I.D. and Twilite Tone (who produced the majority of the songs on Common's first album, Can I Borrow a Dollar). In a recent interview, Common stated, "we know that we want to do some raw Hip Hop. That's exactly the direction and feel we want, so that's the basis of it. 'Ye and I definitely know we want to do some pure Hip Hop." That's good news for the rest of us.

Dr. Dre- Detox

Ahhhh, yes... Dr. Dre's Detox. Is it real? Is it a myth? Well, the good news is that it is real, and there are rumors that it is near complete. Supposedly, it's going to be released after Relapse 2, but once again, the only person who really knows for sure is Dre. This is easily my most anticipated CD of all time, regardless of the genre. Armed with the usual suspects of the Aftermath production crew (Denaun Porter, Mel-Man, DJ Khalil, Dewaun Parker) as well as outside production from Timbaland and Just Blaze, I think it's fair to say that this album could be one of the greatest ever.

Eminem- Relapse 2

When Eminem declared that he would be releasing two CD's after quite a lengthy hiatus, I was skeptical to say the least. To say that I loathe album filler tracks is an understatement. I'll always take an album with 13 songs, that I can play all the way through, over a double-disc album that I have to skim through. Personally, I thought Relapse was a bit of a let-down. It was great to hear Em rhyming again, but once again, I found myself skipping a lot of the tracks just to get to the few that I liked. Dre's production, which is usually always on-point, seemed uninspired and lackluster. Fast-forward to the sequel, and we're set for what one writer claimed to be "The Dark Knight of Hip Hop album sequels." If Relapse was more along the lines of The Slim Shady LP, then Relapse 2 is The Marshall Mathers LP. Said to be more personal than his previous albums, Em said he went in an entirely different direction than originally planned since he decided to work with Just Blaze and Denaun Porter for the majority of the album.

NaS & Damian Marley- Distant Relatives

Shrouded in mystery, little is known about Distant Relatives, and that's exactly how NaS and Damian Marley want it. Meant to shed light on Africa, DR is more than just a collaboration of two great artists. Both Nasir and Damian have stated that they have looked for an opportunity to speak 'the truth' regarding Africa's standing in the world, and this is the opportunity to do so. Regardless of how you feel about the topic, one thing is certain... the music will be dope. Damian is doing most of the production, although I'm sure Salaam Remi and other past contributors will make appearances. Check out the EPK below for an exclusive peek at some new fire off the album.

Drake- Thank Me Later

I'll admit, when I first heard about Drake, I was not impressed. It wasn't that the dude was bad, he was actually decent, I just didn't understand what all the hype was about. I still think he's way over-hyped, but after hearing "Fear," "Successful," and "Forever," I'm starting to believe in him a little more. Everyone and their mother is going to be featured on this album... it's said that Jay-Z, Eminem, Kid Cudi, Game, Pharrell, and obviously Lil Wayne are onboard. Most of the production is going to come from Drake's in-house producers Noah '40' Shebib and Boi-1da, but apparently Eminem, Dewaun Parker, and The Neptunes have made contributions as well. For more information, check out The Orlando Magic's recent post 'Thank Me Later.'

Madvillain- N/A

A few months ago, when word began to spread that Madlib and DOOM had finally hit the studio to work on the official sequel to Madvillainy, I'm pretty sure the Hip Hop world rejoiced. The first Madvillain album was nothing short of incredible, and Madlib and DOOM complement each other perfectly. Who knows when this album will get released, but representatives from Stones Throw said it's coming in 2010. If you're not familiar, you need to get familiar...

Lil Wayne- Tha Carter IV

With most of the attention on the upcoming Young Money and Drake albums, as well as Wayne's foray into the rock world with Rebirth, it's easy to forget about what we all know is coming somewhere down the line... The Carter IV. Obviously not much has been said about it, but Wayne recently announced that it will be released late in 2010. In the meantime, check out one of the most recent (and best) leaks off of Rebirth...

Ghostface, Raekwon & Method Man- Wu Massacre

Without a doubt one of my most anticipated albums, the minute I heard about this collaboration I was in near disbelief. First of all, with Raekwon signed to EMI/Ice Water, and Ghostface and Method Man signed to Def Jam, I had no clue how they could make this happen. Although details have not been announced regarding the label situation, apparently they have it all figured out as a release date has been set for February 9th, 2010. So far, word is Allah Mathematics and RZA are doing most of the production but that could change as more information comes out. And if you missed it, make sure you check out Meth Vs. Chef Pt. II.

The LOX- New L.O.X. Order

As a collective group, the last time we heard from Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch, otherwise known as The LOX, was way back in 2000 with their album We Are the Streets. Since then, all three have released albums, some better than others, but no one has ever denied their chemistry. Not a lot is known about this album, but it's safe to assume that the usual suspects from the Ruff Ryders crew will make appearances, and Swizz Beatz will be doing a vast amount of production. Recently, Diddy announced that The LOX re-signed to Bad Boy, and the new album will be jointly released with Interscope. This is also great news, because no matter what anyone says, Diddy knows Hip Hop; the dude executive produced all of Biggie's albums. With Puffy in their corner, expect The LOX to come out swinging.

Just in case ya'll forgot...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Give It To Me

If you've never heard of Rhymefest, he's an artist from Chicago, who released his first album Blue Collar back in 2006. He is a great lyricist and is also known for co-writing Kanye's Jesus Walks.

Here is the video for the song Give It To Me of his upcoming album El Che. Not only do I think the song is dope, but this could be one of my favorite video concepts in a while.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meth Vs. Chef Pt. 2

After much anticipation, the first song from the upcoming Method Man, Raekwon & Ghostface CD has leaked online. The track, which is supposed to be a sequel to the first "Meth Vs. Chef," off of Method Man's first CD Tical, is a banger. And if this track is any indication of what's to come, then this album is going to be one of the best of 2010. Produced by Wu-Tang in-house producer, Mathematics, Meth and Rae trade bars over a grimy Wu flavored beat. However, one of the best parts is when Meth and Chef exchange 'yo momma' disses a la the song "Method Man" off of Enter the 36 Chambers... it's pure comedy, check it out.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Good Music Has Arrived

As much as every Kid Cudi fan was excited for Man on the Moon: The End of Day, I could probably say I'm anticipating the Cudder LP ten times more. I'm about as excited for this as I originally was for The Clipse's 'Til The Casket Drops. In an interview he did with MTV News, Cudi talks about the album, saying "It's gonna be the complete opposite of what Man on the Moon was. Man on the Moon was so serious. This one is gonna be more playful and fun. It's about having a good time."

This makes me especially optimistic because I'm hoping for Cudi to take what originally attracted me to him, his impressive mixtape catalog, and use that same upbeat and progressively flow he has to the next level. According to Cud, he has already lined up Snoop Dogg, Travis Barker, The Clipse, and Pharrell for the album, and I'm sure we can expect some involvement from Kanye - be it with a featured verse or production. He also mentions that he was looking to involve Green Day and Kings of Leon, as well.

Until then, we can only hope that he continues to release freestyles and features for all of us to enjoy alongside his mixtapes and album. A few days ago, he put out this freestyle over Vampire Weekend's Ottoman. The name Cudderisback is misleading though, because the creative Cudi never left.

Kid Cudi - Cudderisback

Cudi was also recently featured on the G.O.O.D Music remix of Consequence's Whatever U Want. The remix features a line-up of artists from Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, and they all showcase their individual skills on the track.

Cosequence ft. Kid Cudi, John Legend, Kanye West, Big Sean, Common - Whatever U Want Remix

Expect the Cudder LP to be released by summertime, 2010.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Thank Me Later

Drake is argueably the rapper with the biggest buzz in the hip-hop industry right now. His talent and rise to popularity with the help of Lil' Wayne has made him quite successful very quickly. But with several mixtapes out to date, everyone is waiting on his freshman album, Thank Me Later.

The album is expected to release in March of 2010, so we will have to wait a few months before you can "buy two and claim you got it for your sister." According to Drake, in the below interview, his debut album is set to feature the likes of Lil' Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Young Jeezy, as well as a "mystery guest" who I hear is rumored to be Kings of Leon. With a line-up like that, this album has the potential to set the bar high early in the year for other hip-hop albums.

With at least four months until the albums release, I'll leave you with some real early Drake until we next hear from the kid. Not quite sure where this track is coming from, but it is circa 2006, around the time he released his first mixtape, Room For Improvement. His style remains the same, maybe with a little more emotion now, but this verse he serves up is pretty tight.

Drake ft. Nickelus F - When We Come Around

Another track that he recently released, comes from a studio session with Colin Munroe, who I featured here, but it doesn't seem to be featured on Thank Me Later. This track couldn't be any different from the early track above. Personally, this track doesn't really do it for me, but it's something to hold Drake fans out there over.

Drake ft. Colin Monroe - Runaway Girl

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II

Review Scale:

1, 1.5= (Travesty, Abysmal)

2, 2.5= (Waste of Time, Below Average)

3, 3.5= (Average, Above Average)

4, 4.5= (Superior... Likely a top release of the year, Near Classic... Some minor flaws)

5= (Classic)

Much like Dr. Dre's Detox and Guns & Roses' Chinese Democracy, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II has attained a near mythical status. If you don't know the story about the first Cuban Linx..., you should. It is one of the best Hip Hop CD's of all time, and it single-handedly created the genre known as mafioso rap. Almost every Hip Hop song about hustling and drug dealing, post 1995, was most likely influenced by Cuban Linx.... Many debate whether it is the greatest album in the Wu-Tang discography, which is quite an honor considering other albums like GZA's Liquid Swords and Wu-Tang's first album, Enter the 36 Chambers, are also referenced as classics. However, Raekwon's efforts after the first Linx could be described as mediocre, at best. Immobilarity and The Lex Diamond Story lacked the fire of Rae's first album, and when word began to spread that he would attempt to make a Cuban Linx... Pt. II, fans were skeptical to say the least. Many feared he was no longer capable of making an album of that calibur, and in the process ruin the legacy of his 1995 classic. Well, I'm happy to say that those fears can be put to bed. Cuban Linx II is the best album of 2009, and one of the best of the decade. That may seem like a BOLD proclamation, but trust me, it is certainly worthy of that praise.

For this sequel, Rae enlisted some of Hip Hop's finest producers including, RZA, The Alchemist, J Dilla, Pete Rock, and Dr. Dre. Everyone does their part, especially Dilla who provides the rousing "House of Flying Daggers," and the head-nodder "10 Bricks." However, the most important contribution comes from Rae's partner in crime, Ghostface Killah. Just like the first Linx, Ghostface 'guest stars' as the slick talking Tony Starks. Once again, he does not disappoint. Making appearances on six tracks, he steals the show a few times, most notably on the wildly entertaining track, "Gihad." After one of Rae's standard crime stories, Ghost goes on one the most bizarre rants I've heard in some time. Long story short, he gets 'a little something' from his son's girl, his son walks in on them, and all kinds of fisticuffs ensue. I don't want to spoil it, so you'll just have to listen to it for yourself, but trust me- it is hilarious.

One notable part of Cuban Linx II is the number of non-Wu-Tang affiliated features. Jadakiss and Styles P show up on the raucous "Broken Safety," which is as vicious as it sounds. Jada spits some memorable lines including, "niggas in the yard got this on repeat, black, fuck saving Hip Hop we bringin' the streets back." Not to be outdone, Styles comes out swinging, "I used to move brown rectangles, roll you a blunt, then smoke you with death's angel." Another one of the finer moments comes when Beanie Sigel comes through on "Have Mercy." Beanie's voice, along with his lyrics, describe a man who has been beaten down and battered. You can feel his pain as he rhymes, "my days getting shorter, my nights getting longer, my cell getting smaller, my son getting taller. I exercise my mind, my body getting stronger, but my blood getting colder, heart getting harder." Even Lyfe Jennings comes through with a great hook on the Dr. Dre produced banger, "Catalina." Surprisingly, Dre's clean and glossy mixes work well with the rest of the album, which is quite grimy to say the least.

As I said before, there are very few flaws on this album, but I do have some minor gripes. It is a little disappointing to hear so many familiar beats and/or samples. If you listen to a lot of Hip Hop, you may have heard all of the Dilla tracks already ("10 Bricks"= "The Red" by Jaylib, and "Ason Jones" and "House of Flying Daggers" are on other Dilla beat tapes), "Sonny's Missing" is the beat used for one of Pete Rock's songs "Questions," and there are a couple other examples that aren't worth mentioning. That said, Raekwon adds such a great flavor to these songs, that it almost doesn't matter if you've heard these tracks used elsewhere.

Verdict: 4.5/5

This is what every Wu-Tang and Hip Hop fan hoped for- raw, uncut music. Raekwon does not disappoint and delivers one of the best albums in recent memory. Is it as good as the original? Not quite, but it is unfair to compare the two. Cuban Linx II more than holds its own, and only adds to Rae's (and Wu-Tang's) legacy. This album is not for the faint of heart, and must be heard from start to finish to truly appreciate.

Highlights: "Gihad," "Broken Safety," "10 Bricks"

Skip These: "Baggin' Crack" (which isn't even that bad, it just doesn't stack up to the rest of the album)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One of the Diddy types, da D-D-Dame Dash dudes

As big a fan as I am of Jay-Z, I gotta say I'm a bigger fan of the brains behind the former dynasty known as Roc-A-Fella... Dame Dash. Although, Dame has recently gone through some financial troubles, it's great to see him back in the lime-light. Currently he is executive producing the Blak Roc project, and working with other artists like Curren$y, Mos Def, Jim Jones, and Jay Electronica. Recently, Dame has done a lot of interviews which I found pretty interesting, not just because I'm a Dame stan, but he has some introspective thoughts regarding various projects and business ventures. Ch-Ch-Check it out...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Put Em On Up

A lot of great hip-hop artists seem to be releasing their newest albums soon, but one I haven't heard too much buzz about is Snoop Dogg's tenth studio album, Malice N Wonderland. I have to admit, I haven't heard an outstanding Snoop verse in a while so I came in skeptical, and a lot of this doubt probably stems from the train wreck that is Sexual Seduction.

But I digress. I was played a couple leaked tracks off Snoop's new album, and like I have been experiencing a lot lately, I just needed more. None of the tracks were real stand outs and I have come to expect more from an industry veteran like Snoop.

Then I heard Upside Down. The beat and concept might be a little radio, but he really goes in. This goes back to some vintage Snoop. He changes up his flow a couple times throughout and it adds to the changes you hear in the production, done by Terrace Martin. Although I haven't heard much Nipsey Hussle or Problem, they are featured on the song and don't do much to take away from the Doggfather's success on the track. When you think the track is over after three solid minutes of straight hip-hop, Nipsey comes in and provides us with one more final verse. Here's to a new party anthem.

Snoop Dogg ft. Nipsey Hussle, Problem - Upside Down

Going In Hard

Travis Barker has been releasing "remixes" on popular tracks where he goes in on the drums over the original track. With all that talent, it's not surprising that he takes many of these tracks to whole other levels. The first release I heard was Travis drumming over Crank That back in the day and I was even impressed with that one.

He recently went over Slaughterhouse's The One, and I was hoping for the toughness of the track and the strength of his drumming to come together, but was left wanting more. That was until he released his remix of Drake's Forever. The added percussion track does something for the track that I thought had lost a lot of it's buzz because of being over-played.

This remix definitely made me appreciate the track one more time around and gave the song a renewed life. And the video below really let's you see the effort he puts in to make his touch on the track successful.

Drake ft. Travis Barker, Kanye West, Lil' Wayne, Eminem - Forever Remix

Everybody Know Me

The internet is going nuts over Beanie Sigel's signing with 50 Cent after Rocafella and Jay-Z dropped him, but on the topic of G-Unit, we cannot forget those who left the clique to try and do bigger, better things.

I have a lot of respect for both Young Buck and The Game. They are both talented artists and lyricists in their own right and have been doing a lot of work post-G-Unit. The Game is coming out with his next studio album The R.E.D. Album - I've heard some leaks and am hoping that the album turns out better than what has been released so far. Althought I don't know of any upcoming Buck releases, he has been releasing tracks regularly.

The Game's Big Money is supposedly the first single off his next album. I recently heard the song and with such strong production from Cool and Dre, I was hoping he would do more with it. I hadn't heard much from Buck in a while, but he just released a track called Homecoming, a slower track depicting street life.

The Game - Big Money [Edit: Had it up, but had to remove the link due to copyright issues. It probably wasn't worth posting in the first place, anyways.]

Young Buck - Homecoming

Just The Underdog Barking

Joell Ortiz, one-quarter of the group Slaughterhouse has been putting releasing freestyle after freestyle on the internet, presumably trying to create some buzz. I'm a big fan of the Brooklyn lyricist and these freestyles only continue to show the work he was putting in. My favorite one so far is over The Clipse's Popular Demand, off Til' The Casket Drops, and even though Joell doesn't have popularity the Thornton brother's have, he still goes in on the beat. The second freestyle is over the beat for Fifty and Beanie's new release, I Go Off, that Mr. Evans just posted on. Keeping with the hard delivery that Beanie takes on the track, Joell goes bar for bar with a refreshing flow telling us how things are real for him.

Popular Demand Freestyle

I Go Off Freestyle

Friday, November 13, 2009

You Don't Want the Shooter? I'll Take Him...

So, as you may or may not know, Beanie Sigel recently released a diss track announcing his displeasure with how Jay-Z has managed his career. Essentially, as I see it, his relationship with Jay and "the R.O.C." is over. Quite honestly, it's kinda sad... it really is the end of an era. Roc-A-Fella's glory days were by far my favorite times in Hip Hop, and Beanie played a major part in that. Anyways, word is that Beanie is going to sign to G-Unit, which is a good look for him considering I'm pretty sure he was currently unsigned. All week long, the hype has been building for "I Go Off" which is the first, and most likely not the last, collabo between 50 Cent and Beanie. On some of the other blogs, the consensus seems to be split due to the enormous amount of 50 Cent haters. But all bias aside, the song bangs and it's good to hear Sigel spittin' fire.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Got My Degree From Professor X

Ninjasonik, reppin' Brooklyn, NY, is a group that recently caught my attention. They've been making noise on the independent music scene for about two years, but recently, Kanye West posted a video by these guys on his blog called, "Hold the Line (Darth BaƱo Remix)." Taking the beat from the song "Hold the Line" by Major Lazer, the front man from Ninjasonik goes on a 2 minute lyrical onslaught spittin' straight bars, with no hook. I was immediately drawn to it and bumped it multiple times in a row. Be sure to check out some of their other releases including the Tight Pants EP and Art School Girls. I gotta say the reason I'm really feelin' them is the message they send: be yourself. As corny as it may sound, there's way too much "following trends" these days in music, but these guys are completely original.

The Massacre...

On December 22nd (although I'll believe it when I see it), what is likely to be one of the best albums of the year will be release. Raekwon, Ghostface, and Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan, are releasing a collaboration album and you know it's going to be FIRE. There was speculation that such a project would never come to fruition due to the fact that Meth and Ghost are signed to Def Jam, and Raekwon is signed to his own independent label, Ice Water H20. Apparently, it is happening, and Wu-Tang stans can rejoice that such a monumental album will be released.

In anticipation of the album, two trailers have been released detailing what is dubbed as "The Wu Massacre." Based on the movie Se7en, the vids are entertaining and definitely help to build excitement for the collabo.

"The Wu Massacre Pt. 1"

"The Wu Massacre Pt. 2"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Ain't Seen Paper Like This...

As December 8th approaches, my anticipation continues to build for the new Clipse album Till the Casket Drops. Recently, XXL Magazine reviewed the album, and according to the review it was very close to getting the coveted XXL rating. Today, another Neptunes-produced track called "Doorman" leaked online, and it's a banger. I've been bumpin' it all day and I'm still not sick of it. Granted, I am a Clipse stan, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could really hate on this track.

Earlier today the Clipse released a video for the aforementioned song, so check it...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top 13 Hip Hop Albums of the Decade

Today, well known radio personality Peter Rosenberg released a list of his "Top 13 Hip Hop Albums of the Decade." As soon as I read his list, I immediately started thinking about what my 'top 13' would be. For the most part, I'd say Pete was spot on with most of his choices, but there are a few I was skeptical of (The Carter III? Come on now...). It's tough to put them in order, so I decided to just list them in no particular order. Check out both of the lists, and let us know what you think. Feel free to post your 'top 13' in the comment section...

Clipse- Hell Hath No Fury (2006)

Although Ludacris' Release Therapy won an award for 'best rap album' at the 2006 Grammy Awards, there's no question that the honor should have gone to the Clipse for their ferocious effort on Hell Hath No Fury. With the sonic duties left entirely to Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, the production duo known as 'The Neptunes' provided the perfect stripped-down, yet vicious backdrop for Malice and Pusha T to spit their coke-fueled stories. More than just 'cocaine-rap,' this album showcased a despair and frustration that could only have been generated by 4 to 5 years of label politics.

Jay-Z- The Blueprint (2001)

Jay-Z's second best album to date, The Blueprint was significant for a variety of reasons. First, it served as the coming-out party for Kanye West, who produced "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," "Takeover," "Heart of the City," and "Never Change." With the exception of Timbaland and The Trackmasters, Jay-Z enlisted Just Blaze, Kanye, and Bink! to create the backbone of his album- leaving it in the hands of three barely proven up-and-comers. The result was a soul-driven classic which has stood the test of time.

Madvillain- Madvillainy (2004)

When I first heard about this album, I was more than skeptical about taking a listen to it. One look at the cover, and all I could think was this must be the craziest sounding album ever. And I didn't mean that in a good way. After reading the review for it on pitchfork.com, I decided to check it out. What I heard was one of the most creative and wild albums I've ever had the privilege to listen to. Madlib's beats are some of the finest of his career and DOOM kills it. Much like DJ Premier worked perfectly with Guru, Madlib and DOOM are perfect for each other. To this day I still bump it, and I can't wait for the sequel to come out sometime in 2010...

Kanye West- The College Dropout (2004)

Kanye's first and best album. I don't care what anyone says, from top-to-bottom College Dropout is his best effort to date. With CLASSIC cuts like "Two Words," "Through the Wire," "Last Call," "Jesus Walks," and "Slow Jams," it is without a doubt one of the best albums of the decade. Sure, the skits along with a couple unnecessary tracks disrupt the flow of the album, but as a collective body of songs it is phenomenal.

Common- Be (2005)

Once again, Kanye adds some of his signature flavor to another great album. Be was the best Hip Hop album of 2005 (though The Documentary was close) and it resurrected (get it?) Common's career. Four years later, "The Corner" is still my jam. Kanye's production along with Dilla's two contributions ("Love Is" and "It's Your World") were the perfect palette for Common to spit his knowledge.

The Game- The Documentary (2005)

One of the best Dr. Dre executive-produced albums ever, from a production stand-point The Documentary is nearly flawless. Don't believe me? First track... "Westside Story"... second track... "Dreams"... third track... "Hate It Or Love It... fourth track... "Higher"... fifth track... "How We Do"... and I could keep going. Not to mention bangers like the Timbaland-produced "Put You on the Game" and heartfelt songs like "Start from Scratch" and "Don't Worry." If Game could have cut back on his "name dropping" and had shown a little more lyrical prowess, this is without a doubt a 4.5 star album.

Raekwon- Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II... (2009)

Is it too early to call this album a classic? Perhaps... but it is definitely the best Hip Hop album of the last few years (yeah, I said it) and the best East Coast album since The Black Album. Too many dope songs to mention, but without thinking too hard "Gihad," "Broken Safety," "10 Bricks," "New Wu," and "House of Flying Daggers" come to mind. Only mentioning these songs does not do this album justice, as there are very few flaws. It is a Hip Hop head's perfect album; a gritty, new-school Wu-Tang album with production from greats such as J Dilla, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, RZA, The Alchemist, and Scram Jones among others.

Jay- Z- The Black Album (2004)

Speaking of The Black Album... what was supposed to be Jay-Z's last album, is also one of his best. With a slew of top-notch producers including DJ Quik, Just Blaze, Kanye West, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Eminem, and Rick Rubin (!), this would have been the perfect album to go out to. "What More Can I Say" is one of the greatest lyrical onslaughts I've ever heard... "with so many different flows, this one's for this song, the next one I'll switch up, this one will get bit up." There are so many heaters on this album, it's pretty ridiculous... "Public Service Announcement" and "Dirt Off You Shoulder" are the two that I always find myself going back to, but this album is one that you can listen to without ever having to press the 'fast-forward' button.

Ghostface Killah- Fishscale (2006)

Before Fishscale was released, Ghostface managed to create an incredible buzz by announcing that he would be teaming up with DOOM for production on his upcoming album. In addition to this revelation, he added that Pete Rock, J Dilla, and Just Blaze would be contributing as well. What followed was one of the best Wu-Tang albums of this decade, and what I believe resurrected Wu-Tang. With bangers like "R.A.G.U.," "Kilo," and "9 Milli Bros.," this was one of the best albums of 2006, and is one of my all-time favorites.

50 Cent- Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003)

Get Rich or Die Tryin'... talk about a memorable debut album. "What Up Gangsta" has gotta be one of the best intro songs in Hip Hop, and what unfolds after it is nothing short of incredible. "Patiently Waiting," "Many Men," "In Da Club," "High All the Time"... If a few songs had been cut out, this would be a near-perfect album. One of my favorite lines will always be "you don't want me to be your kid's role model, I'll teach him how to buck them 380's and load up them hollows, have shorty fresh off the stoop, ready to shoot, big blunt in his mouth, deuce deuce in his boot." It's a testament to 50's brash, rebellious nature, and man is it entertaining...

Eminem- The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

One of the greatest Hip Hop albums EVER... The Marshall Mathers LP, in Dr. Dre's words, is his most complete album as an executive producer. This album is a showcase of lyrics, top-notch production, and provocative stories. Everyone remembers the controversy surrounding it... I even remember my mom hesitant to buy it for me due to the firestorm of negative publicity it was getting in the media. Eventually she gave in and I'm happy she did because it quickly became one of my favorite albums. Cuts like "Stan," "The Real Slim Shady," "The Way I Am," and "Drug Ballad" are just a few of the classic songs on this album. Through and through, this album in fire...

Little Brother- The Minstrel Show (2005)

When Little Brother dropped "The Minstrel Show," it was surrounded with controversy. First of all, a title like "The Minstrel Show" is bound to rile up some feelings (even though what they have to say regarding the title is absolutely true), but what followed between the group and TV-network B.E.T. was unreal. When the group released their lead single, "Lovin' It," B.E.T. would not play it because they claimed it was 'too intelligent.' When I heard this, I was shocked and offended. Talk about dumbing down for your audience... B.E.T. admitted to doing just that. It created waves within Hip Hop, with people discussing the topic left and right. "The Minstrel Show" wasn't significant just due to the controversy it created, it was and still is an excellent album. 9th Wonder cooked up some of his best beats, and MC's Phonte and Big Pooh crafted memorable lyrics to create one of the all-time great 'underground' albums.

Scarface- The Fix (2002)

I remember the first time I heard a Scarface song. It was the year 2002, and I was a young lad that happened to stumble across a cut called "On My Block." It became my favorite song for a couple months then I forgot about it. Fast-forward a few years later and somehow (I believe I read a similar "all-time Hip Hop albums list) I managed to hear about Scarface's The Fix. I had heard about him and his former group The Geto Boys, but hadn't listened to anything they'd done. The Fix is more than a collection of songs that accompany "On My Block," it is an unbelievable album. "Guess Who's Back," with Jay-Z (and produced by Mr. West), is an all time classic, and the entire package is one of the best Southern Hip Hop albums ever.

Honorable Mention: DJ Muggs & GZA- Grandmasters, De La Soul- The Grind Date, Jay-Z- American Gangster, OutKast- Stankonia

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Review: The Blueprint 3

Review Scale:

1, 1.5= (Travesty, Abysmal)

2, 2.5= (Waste of Time, Below Average)

3, 3.5= (Average, Above Average)

4, 4.5= (Superior... Likely a top release of the year, Near Classic... Some minor flaws)

5= (Classic)

Finally, the long awaited album that every Hip Hop fan has been waiting for... Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 is upon us. Many questions have come up with few answers leading up to its release, "will is live up to the first Blueprint?", "how will it fare with no production from Just Blaze?", and so on. Well, there is good news and bad news... The good news is Jay can still rap around 95% of mainstream artists, and he's made an album that is accessible to both Hip Hop heads and casual listeners. The bad news is it fails to live up to the immense hype. Jay's lyrical prowess, while still superior, is clearly not what it once was. It could be due to the fact that he chooses to show how he's "grown" musically, or quite simply he's lost a little bit of his God-given ability with age. While there are plenty of elder statesmen that prove the latter theory wrong (Ghostface, Raekwon, NaS, Common...), you never know. That said, fans of Jigga will be happy to hear that there is plenty of heat on this album to go around.

The album starts off with a rousing intro, "What We Talkin' About," where Hov raps about how he's moved on from certain beefs, "I ain't talkin bout gossip, I ain't talkin' bout Game, I ain't talkin' bout Jimmy, I ain't talkin' bout Dame," and how he's transcended rap music, "I don't run rap no more, I run the map." The opening stretch of the album sets the tone for what should be a smooth ride. No I.D.'s triumphant horns on "Thank You" are the exact instruments you would expect for Jay to boast over, with lines like, "I was gonna kill a couple rapper's but they did it to themselves, I was gonna do it with the flow, but they did it with the sales."

The strong showing continues with "D.O.A." and "Run This Town," and things get real interesting with "Empire State of Mind." Absolutely one of Jay's all-time great songs (and that's saying something), it isn't because of his lyrics so much as the epic beat along with Alicia Keys KILLING the hook. However, things quickly take an unfortunate turn for the worst.

With the exception of "A Star Is Born," the middle-to-end of the album is filled with mediocre songs. Never in my life would I have thought that Timbaland, the man behind classic Jay-Z collaborations like "Big Pimpin," "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," "Is That Your Chick," and "Snoopy Track" would have provided such lackluster, uninspired beats. While Jay's metaphors on "Venus Vs. Mars" are on point, the beat will bore you to death. "Off That" seems like a forced attempt to make a hit, and "Reminder" is ruined by a terrible hook.

Another gripe I have is with the Swizz Beatz produced "On to the Next One" which has one of the worst, grating beats I've heard in some time. I've attempted to listen to this song at least ten times, and still can't get through it all the way. It's hard to believe that Just Blaze (who doesn't make one appearance on this album) didn't have any heaters locked away somewhere to replace this garbage. "Already Home" and "Hate," while not terrible by any means, lack the replay value needed to make these tracks anything more than just mediocre.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Is it worth checking out? Certainly. But unfortunately, it simply doesn't live up to the hype. Timbaland's beats are incredibly generic, and the production is surprisingly lackluster compared to the polished bangers one would expect from a Jay-Z album. That said, I applaud the direction that Jay tried to go in, but it could have been executed much better. There are absolutely some great songs, (Empire State of Mind, A Star Is Born), but there are far more mediocre/filler songs than there should be.

Highlights: D.O.A. (Death of Autotune), Empire State of Mind, Thank You

Skip These: Off That, On to the Next One, Hate

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Last 24 Hours...

I cannot remember a 24hr period in Hip Hop that has been this absurd. For those who are unaware of what I'm talking about, I'm going to break this up into 3 parts...

1) Last night, Lil Wayne dropped a brand new official mixtape called No Ceilings. I haven't listened to it all the way through yet, but I will say this... it is nice to hear Wayne really spittin' again. He sounds especially great on the D.O.A. and Run This Town beats. I'm gonna be bumpin' this for a while...

2) Just Blaze, my favorite producer, dropped an absolute bomb on everyone last night during Tony Touch's radio show on Shade45 radio. He premiered the song "Exhibit C" by Jay Electronica, as well as an unreleased NaS joint, and a cut off of Saigon's as-of-yet unreleased album, The Greatest Story Never Told. "Exhibit C" is insane. Period. I really have no other words to describe how hot it is, just check it out. The unreleased NaS song has one of the hardest/craziest beats I've heard in a while. How dare NaS not put this on whatever album it was meant for. Finally, the Saigon song, entiled "Friends & Enemies," is exactly the tight, introspective track you would expect from the former Entourage star. And as if these three gems weren't enough... just wait, there's more...

"Exhibit C" ... "Eatin' wack rappers alive, shittin' out chains"... Jay kills this track

3) After last night, I thought things couldn't get any better. Then I woke up this morning only to see that Saigon leaked another song off of The Greatest Story Never Told called, "It's Alright." Produced by Kanye West & Just Blaze (!), and with Marsha Ambrosius on the hook, it's a beautiful song off of what has long been one of my most anticipated albums. Sai also released a song called "Say Yes Pt. 2 (The Art of Storyrhymin'), although I'm pretty sure it's not on TGSNT. Finally, Jay Electronica decided to drop another unreleased song called "2 Step." Not as hot as "Exhibit C," but worth checking out nonetheless.

For more Jay Electronica, make sure you check out "Who's Next? Part 1," if you haven't already. "Who's Next? Pt. 6" coming soon...

Monday, October 26, 2009


Not necessarily a throwback, but this parody video came out back in August. It features the likes of Lil' Wayne, Drake, Birdman, Young Jeezy, and Rick Ross. Brought to you by the guys at itsthereal.com. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Big Pimpin'

One of my friends recently showed me a vintage video of Jay-Z in the studio with Timbaland. Timbo is showing Jay some tracks he made, and when he first gets to listen to what would be the Brush Your Shoulders Off beat, he knows it's gonna bump. He goes to work in the studio and the end result is what we know today. You see the work that an artist puts in to create a successful track.

Soon after seeing this video, I had my iPod on shuffle and came across Bun B's The Story. In part of the song, he raps about working with Jay on Big Pimpin' and what it was like to get a taste of the industry. This song was on Bun's debut album Trill. He talks about the ups and the downs of the industry, and how UGK went about it their own way - keeping their fan base happy.

Bun B - The Story

Back By Popular Demand

I don't think I have been this excited for something in a long time. (Maybe besides Modern Warfare 2). One of my all time favorite rap groups, The Clipse, are finally releasing their third studio album Till The Casket Drops. The date is December 8th, so mark your calendars.

This album is complete with usual release date push-backs and leaked tracks as any Clipse album would be. This honestly makes me want the album more. Kinda Like A Big Deal was dope, All Eyes On Me got me moving, I'm Good added a some more buzz, but this newest leak seems to bring me back to the old, gritty Clipse that I fell in love with. Like Mr. Evans, Hell Hath No Fury was my favorite album of 2006 - one of the few albums I purchased that year.

I'm looking for a little of the same from the Thornton brothers, and I hope we hear some real quality material released. With production from the Neptunes, the Hitmen, and DJ Khalil, as well as numerous features, I can see this album as hopefully nothing short of a success so those who doubt The Clipse can be silenced.

Hopefully Popeye's can do it's best to hold listeners over until it's released. Cam's verse sort of left me wanting more, but the Neptune's beat as well as Pharrell on the hook keep this song is constant rotation. And I think it goes without saying that Pusha T and Malice go in hard on every verse.

The Clipse ft. Pharrell, Cam'ron - Popular Demand (Popeye's)

For the three earlier leaked track's, check out Mr. Evan's post Still Got It 4 Cheap. Definitely worth the second look.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Way of the Wu

Last week, the 'abbot' of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, released his introspective semi-biographical book, The Tao of Wu. For those who don't know, RZA is more than just a hip hop producer (one of the greatest producers of all time, for that matter). He is nearly a chess master, as well as a deep philosophical thinker who has studied Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. As a member of the Nation Of Islam, and a self-proclaimed 5 percenter, RZA has amassed a vast amount of knowledge over the years which he reveals in The Tao of Wu. I bought it last saturday evening, and decided to stay home that night just because I could not put it down. A collection of past experiences, as well as philosophical beliefs, The Tao of Wu is truly an enriching experience that I can't recommend enough.

Who's Next? Pt. 5: Big Sean

Big Sean brings to the game, a charisma and energy that is completely unique. Born in Santa Monica, CA but repping Detroit, 'Sean' got his big break when he had a chance meeting with Kanye West. As the story goes, Big Sean worked hard on establishing a relationship with local Detroit hip hop station 102.7 FM. One day 'Sean' heard that Mr. West was at the station for an interview, so he made his way over there to see if he could pass his demo off to him. Due to his relationship with the station, they let him in to speak to Kanye, and he freestyled for him. Kanye left impressed, and in 2007 he signed with West's G.O.O.D. music record label. Big Sean has since signed with Island Def Jam, which needless to say, is pretty official.

Earlier this year, Big Sean graced us with his Mick Boogie hosted mixtape, U Know Big Sean- Finally Famous Vol. 2. It's a dope mixtape, and was hot enough to earn himself a spot in the "Who's Next" series. He is incredibly talented and has the lyrics and personality to become of the brightest stars in Hip Hop.

Also, check out the Hype Williams directed video for "Getcha Some," here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Return of the Ultimate Hustler

Dame Dash, the mastermind behind Roc-A-Fella records, has been gone for too long. After a pricey divorce, and some poor business decisions, Dame seemingly disappeared from the music industry. Now, however, he is making his triumphant return. Teaming up with the Blues/Rock group The Black Keys, he is producing a compilation album called Blac Roc. With an impressive internet marketing ploy, it has quickly become my most anticipated album for the remainder of the '09 year. The CD will be eleven songs, featuring eleven different artists including Mos Def, RZA, Ludacris, Billy Danze of M.O.P., Jim Jones, Q-Tip, Pharoahe Monch, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Raekwon among others. The album is due for release on 'Black Friday,' which is generally the Friday after Thanksgiving. The first single off the album is called "Hoochie Coo" and features Mos Def & Jim Jones. I've had it in constant rotation, and it's probably my current favorite song so be sure to check it out.

You can view the trailer for the project here, and also watch various web-episodes on their website.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Big Boi, He Put Us On

I recently heard a track that brought up more than a blip on my rap radar. Big Boi came tough with his next leaked track, giving us a taste of his new album with the song For Your Sorrows. His album Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty is something many have been anticipating a while, but sadly there is no word on its release date yet. Unlike Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Big Boi and Andre 3000's solo albums will be released separately instead of as a two disk set.

The song itself is everything that an alternative hip-hop song should be. Captivating and progressive are just a few of the words that come to mind when I hear this track. There's just something different about it that screams OutKast. Not only does Big Boi go all in on the track, but he has a strong, unique supporting cast behind him made up of the legendary George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic and pimp himself, Too $hort.

"Just to let you know that everything is straight, I say stank you very much 'cause we appreciate the hate."

Before They Were Stars

One of my favorite new artists is without a doubt Atlanta's very own B.o.B. It's like I can't get enough of him, and everything he comes out with seems to be more innovative and straight fire. I'm not the only one that feels this way either - even my fellow blogger Mr. Evans is featuring B.o.B in his Who's Next feature as artist number seven.

Not to steal any thunder from his upcoming post, but I felt the need to share with you some unreleased Bobby Ray circa 2007. Even before the new mixtapes and all the hype he was doing it big. The song, Paper Chase, is everything that B.o.B is now but three years ago. He was ahead of his time even back then and that's why he is one of the industry's hottest new artists.

B.o.B - Paper Chase

"I just create poems, and throw on some instrumentals."

I Might Be A Million To One

For any of you that caught the VMA's a couple weeks ago, you may have noticed one of the hottest newer emcees ripping up the set during commercials. Freshly dressed and lyrically inclined, Wale has been peaking the attention of many, and had his first national recognition with the song Chillin' with Lady GaGa. Soon enough, he will be gracing us with his first studio album, Attention Deficit, on November 3rd, which I am definitely looking forward to.

His music just always has a flare to it and the beats just get listeners lifted. I recently just heard one of the newest songs to be released, entitled Bittersweet.

Wale ft. Colin Muroe - Bittersweet

The song has a pretty dope sample of he Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, and I think it works because Wale goes hard over slower beats, like in Ice and Rain.
The track features Colin Munroe on the chorus, a talented producer and singer making his way out of Canada. The first I heard from him was a remix he did to Kanye's Flashing Lights. The video made a splash a while back on the internet.

Colin Munroe - I Want Those Flashing Lights

Another amazing track that Colin is featured on is a collaboration with Joell Ortiz, an amazing lyricist and one quarter of the hip-hop supergroup Slaughterhouse, which is off his Colin Munroe is an Unsung Hero Mixtape. Each artist individually does his thing - Colin brings out his story through his words and Piano playing while Joell goes in on the beat and doesn't leave much more to be wanted.

Colin Munroe ft. Joell Ortiz - Piano Lessons

Each of these tracks are bomb in their own respect. Enjoy them until there's more to come.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Just Blaze on Relapse 2 & Detox?! Whoa...

Words cannot describe how excited I am right now. It was recently announced that Just Blaze, who in my opinion is the craziest Hip Hop producer on the planet, has five tracks on Relapse 2, as well as a joint on Detox that features The Game. The picture above was taken yesterday, and posted up on Game's twitter. I was pretty disappointed by Dre's beats on Relapse, so I'm pleased to hear that other producers are handling the bulk of the production. Eminem recently talked to Shade45 radio to discuss a variety of topics, and announced that Denaun Porter and The Alchemist have tracks on his new album as well. Check out the interview below...