Saturday, December 29, 2018

Team 2018: Top Rap Albums




1- Evidence - Weather or Not – On his third solo album, Evidence once again comes with the weather theme and it rains or reigns as tops this year.  Production from Alchemist, Premier, Babu and others including Ev himself.  Guest spots abound, including a stellar appearance from Mach Hommey on “Sell Me This Pen”. Others include Jonwayne, fellow Dilated Peoples member Rakaa, and Slug on the standout track “Powder Cocaine.”


2- Royce Da 5’9 – The Book of Ryan – Autobiographical rhymes have long permeated rap music, but Royce takes it next level on this release.  The album delves into his family life growing up, him and his father’s struggles with addiction, and his brother’s own struggles (the powerful “Protecting Ryan”.) Of course he still comes with his usual bar play on joints like “Caterpillar” with Eminem, and “Summer on Lock” with Pusha T, Fabolous, and Jadakiss.



3- Quelle Chris and Jean Grae – Everything’s Fine – The overriding theme of the “everything’s fine” mantra is that truly in life, rap music, politics, whatever, it’s not fine. The cohesiveness of the two MCs shines throughout, as well as cameos by Your Old Droog (“Scoop of Dirt”), Denmark Vessey, and Big Tone, as well as comics like Michael Che and Hannibal Buress.  An array of dope beats throughout, including the West Coast flavored “House Call.”


4- Armand Hammer – Paraffin – Building on previous releases from Backwoodz, Paraffin continues with raw raps, dense and abstract sounds, and listener thoughts being provoked. As usual billy woods is on his grind, rapping about everything and anything under the sun, shit even things not under the sun.  As always, Elucid comes through particularly on the incredible "Fuhrman Tapes". Production from a handful of beatmasters who vividly bond the duo’s rhymes to the tracks.


5- Homeboy Sandman & Edan – Humble Pi – Two of the more creative characters in the genre do the Wonder Twins activate thing and we are the beneficiaries.  Edan handles production on all seven tracks, and we get his normal near-psychedelic meets Boom Bap beats.  Conversely Homeboy Sandman handles most of the MC duties.  His effortless flow shines through on the campy “Never Use the Internet Again” and the EP highlight of “The Gut.”


6- Crimeapple + Big Ghost Ltd – Aguardiente – A one producer and one MC project can be so aligned that it literally feeds off itself track after track.  That’s this joint.  Throughout this album, the pair make you feel that Tri-State spirit with a dark, almost mafia like vibe.  Crimeapple raps with that edgy attitude on the latter part of the album on the highlight "Five Chechnyans - Hammers & Swords" and the banging “Gorillas” with Benny and Milano Constantine.



7- Blueprint – Two Headed Monster – Rhyming and producing?  Doesn’t happen much in the game anymore, so when Blueprint pulls it off flawlessly on Two Headed Monster, notice is taken.  From the jump-off “Set it Off” to the soulful “Masterpiece” Blueprint is in full control.  Guest spots from some of the underground’s vets lend to the overall vibe: “Health is Wealth” with Supastition and Mr. Lif and the stand out “Night Writers” with Slug and Wordsworth.


8- Westside Gunn – Supreme Blientele – Griselda has become a fixture on these lists, a fixture attached with rusty nails dipped in embalming oils.  Cue the grimey beats, the story telling and wordplay, as Westside along with a legit all-star team of producers checks all the damn boxes.  Statik Selektah takes a turn on the upbeat “Westside”, while Daringer handles throughout with the lead off “Gods Don’t Bleed” featuring Benny and Jadakiss. 


9- Sean Price & Illa Ghee – Metal Detectors – Sometimes brevity isn’t good, but sometimes it’s great, in this EP’s case it’s eight rapid fire Brownsville slaps to the face…definitely good.  Sean lives on through his music and this effort keeps his light shining.  We find Sean’s frequent target still being served: wack rappers. “I’m Hannibal Lecter, you Hannibal Buress, worthless piece of shit rapper, pop the piece at you” he simply states on the raw “2Pac by the Locker”.


10- Cypress Hill – Elephants on Acid – Legends in Hip-Hop come back with their first album in nearly a decade and it affirms said legendary status.  DJ Muggs, coming off a blazing year, completely burns these beats down with a hallucinogenic blend of rock, drums, record static, sitars, and blunts.  Of course, B-Real and Sen Dog are ever present as well, tracks like “Band of Gypisies” and “Warlord” seamlessly joining with signature interludes and instrumentals.


11- Czarface Meets Metal Face – Our favorite rap super hero Czarface (Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric) meet up with MF Doom in their ongoing quest to save underground Hip-Hop.  They’ve achieved their stated mission on this album, a mix of comic book segues, Boom Bap, and of course potent punch lines. The lead single “Nautical Depth” stands out (“Flow like DiCaprio, wolf of all beats”) as well as guest appearances from Vinnie Paz and Open Mike Eagle.


12- Daniel Son & Futurewave – Pressure Cooker – Hailing from Toronto, the pair come through with an album of rugged and raw no frills rap.  Futurewave handles production throughout, which perfectly melds with Daniel Son’s unique flow and wordplay.  A high point is the grimey collab with Saipher Soze on “Stained Lo” (“pour a cup of Henny and sit down, my only mission kill the king and get crowned”) and the heavy finale “Grace Slick” with Raspy.

Others receiving votes:

Zilla Rocca – Future Former Rapper

Rapper Big Pooh - RPM

PRhyme – PRhyme 2

Action Bronson – White Bronco

Conway – Everybody is F.O.O.D 

Meyhem Lauren – Glass


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Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 CREAM: Top Rap Albums

1 - billy woods – Known Unknowns – All billy woods releases brutally engage the listener with a varied and frenzied worldview, supreme wordplay, geopolitical invectives, and off kilter subject matter.  But Known Unknowns takes it to the proverbial next level with astonishing Blockhead production, picking up where 2013’s Dour Candy last left us frothing.  CHECK OUT: “Police Came to My Show”




2 - Meyhem Lauren and DJ MuggsGems from the Equinox – When this was released there was some consternation this record was labeled a “throwback.”  If dirty, grimey raps with likewise hard hitting beats are “throwback” then let’s all embrace this here “throwback.” Both Hologram and Action Bronson tremendously lend some spitfire lyrics to the record throughout.  CHECK OUT: “Szechuan Peppercorns”




3 - Wiki – No Mountains in Manhattan – Wiki has managed to capture New York City’s living essence, coupling them with some complimentary beats and give us a de facto tour guide for the Big Apple.  Bagels and lox, gazing from the subway trains, the skyscrapers, blunts (lots of blunts), Chinese food, his crew, his love, partying, it all oozes from this record.  CHECK OUT: “Pretty Bull” and “Stick Ball”



4 - Your Old Droog – Packs – Coney Island’s Droog comes hard again with his punchline heavy raps and stellar, crisp production from the likes of Alchemist, Edan, and RTNC.  Comedian Anthony Jeselnik laces together the lucid song collection with humorous skits throughout (shouting out Gangstarr’s “The Mall.”)  Wiki, Danny Brown, and Heems come through on guest shots.  CHECK OUT: “You Can Do It (Give Up!)”



5 - Sean Price – Imperius Rex – Posthumous records sometimes sound hurried and clunky, not so with Imperius Rex.  It's as if Sean is still here threatening rappers, boasting and big upping Brownsville.  Collabs are a rugged and rough strong point;“Negus” with MF DOOM and Ike Eyez will smack the smile from your face.  CHECK OUT: “The 3 Lyrical Ps” f/ Prodigy and Styles P



6 - Mach Hommy – Haitian Body Odor – The mercurial Newark MC finally released an album for less than big dollars this year and HBO is big bank.  With August Fanon on most of the beats, the former Griselda rapper weaves his bars and tales interspersed with old news and show snippets.  The collab with Conway, “ Midnight Xpress” is a worthy highlight banger.  CHECK OUT: “Ti Geralde”




7 - Action Bronson – Blue Chips 7000 – Bam Bam, fresh off Vice fame and notoriety comes back with more fire on the latest Blue Chips installment.  “You don’t even know me,” he bellows on the “The Chairmen’s Intent” but we do know this Bronson music.  Funny (he raps over on-hold music) and at times hard (Durag v Headband) Bronson gives us on-point bars throughout.  CHECK OUT: "Chop Chop Chop"




8 - Armand Hammer - ROME - The forces known as Elucid and billy woods join forces again on an album that sees them casting aspersions on the masses. "Carnies" featuring Mach Hommy will make even the most seasoned listener freeze and deadpan into space. Stellar production work and perfectly placed collabos with Quelle Chris and others make this one of the year's deeper records.  CHECK OUT: "Shammgod" f/ Denmark Vessey.




9 - Wu-Tang - The Saga Continues - Mixtape or album?  Official Wu release or not?  The answer is who the fuck cares because this goes hard.  Longtime contributor Mathematics heads up the all the songs, with strong guest appearances from Sean Price and Chris Rivers. The biggest assists come from Redman, who is featured on three tracks including the savvy "Hood Go Bang" with Method Man.  CHECK OUT: "Pearl Harbor" f/ Sean Price




10 - Conway - G.O.A.T - This arrived in mid December and checked in at 10 tracks; but that's all it took to serve notice that The Machine is in fact the grimiest.  Griselda beatmeister Daringer does nine joints (the exception is Alchmeist laced "Trump") with the hallmark gritty stripped down boom bap.  A standout verse from Royce Da 5-9 on "Mandatory," with Benny, Raekwon and Styles P making appearances too. CHECK OUT: "Rodney Little" f/ Prodigy




11 - Jonwayne - Rap Album Number Two - The Cali-based MC and producer returns after a brief hiatus to give us this record, a complex tale of his downfall and ultimate redemption. He's not afraid to explore addiction on songs like "City Lights."  Lending to the overall vibe is his own produced beats, a slower, less is more instrumentals, and a seamless transition of the candid tracks.  CHECK OUT: "Live From Fuck You"



12 - Career Crooks - Good Luck With That - The duo, Zilla Rocca and Small Professor, give us a vivid journey through their Philadelphia life.  Storytelling abound about aging ("Clock's Ticking") and relationships ("Lipstick Itch") and more life situations adorn the record.  For those fiending for the throwback aspect can live it on a legit posse cut, "Mike Milligan," which goes five MCs deep. CHECK OUT: "Corrupt Novelist"


Others Receiving Votes:

Big Ghost Ltd and Hus Kingpin - Cocaine Beach

DopeKnife - NineteenEightyFour

KRS One - The World is Mind

Kendrick Lamar - Damn 

M-Dot - Ego and the Enemy

OC and Apathy- Perestroika

Onry Ozzborn - C V P II D

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Come Clean in 2016: Best Hip Hop Albums

1- Westside Gunn- Flygod  – The Buffalo MC delivers the Griselda family opus with this mostly Daringer produced album, a gritty, flawless collection of heavy, crisp beats about street life and much needed New York rap braggadocio. Throughout is Conway (including “Dunks” which includes a ’16 favorite: “A lot of these rappers is weird, they wearing leggings and dying their fuckin hair”) holding it down for his brother.  Also ill features from Benny, Your Old Droog (the melodic “Vivian at the Art Basel”), Roc Marciano, Action Bronson, and Meyhem Lauren.

2- A Tribe Called Quest- We Got It from Here...Thank You 4 Your Service  This final Tribe album delivers an emotional musical journey without relying too heavy on nostalgic kitsch.  From the jump off “The Space Program” through the first single “We the People” we know this isn’t a standard boring comeback album. Q-Tip and Phife are still the main attraction, and surprisingly Jarobi has got some lyrics to go too.  Busta Rhymes is peppered throughout, rhyming with vigor (“The Donald”) we haven’t heard since the early 2000s.  The guest list is impressive: Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, Consequence, guitars by Jack White and an Elton John hook.

3- Meyhem Lauren – Piatto d’ Oro  This plate of gold is the Queens’ MC’s golden ticket with boom bap beats and precise lyrics throughout.  Don’t call Laurenovich Action Bronson’s ‘Fuck That’s Delicious’ hype man, this album stands alone over a vintage NYC 90’s sound.  Standout tracks like “Badmon Ting” and “Money in my Pocket” are just what the titles suggest, no pretentious bullshit, just straight lyrics.  Production wise it’s a damn all-star lineup: DJ Muggs, The Alchemist, and Large Professor among others.

4- Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition It’s probably cliché to say this album is a psychedelic journey through Hip-Hop while on copious amounts of dust and your hair on fire.  But alas, the description fits.  The Detroit MC got lyrics, beats, delivery and cameos all straight bananas.  Main producer Paul White meshes perfectly with Brown’s off/no-kilter style highlighting sex, drugs, and craziness.  Posse cut of the year on “Really Doe” with Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, and a fire closing verse from Earl Sweatshirt.

5- Onry Ozzborn – Duo While an album with a guest appearance on each track might seem clunky, Onry Ozzborn and his producers pull it off with precision.  The Seattle based rapper assembles such luminaries as Aesop Rock, Kimya Dawson on the melodious “Neonerd”, Rob Sonic on the hard “Not Really,” Eligh, Homeboy Sandman, and Pigeon John on the closer “Firefly.”  Worth checking out is the pre-Lemonade released 15 minute duofilm incorporating each track and each guest.

6- MarQ Spekt & Blockhead – Keep Playin MarQ Spekt and NYC producer Blo9ckhead return with an ill followup to their 2014 release JustPlayWitIt.  Grilchy, as Spekt is apt to say, is the operative word here, as thick layered beats are laid out for our MC to do work.  The patois tinged “Insomnia” featuring C-Shotta got that cruising feel, Conway pops up on “Point Break,” while Karniege makes his usual ill-spitting appearance on “Caratrax.”

7- Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid Aes steps through in 2016 with his now-standard album of cascading rhymes after rhymes that would make the thesaurus blush.  Impossible Kid lives up to its declarative title with such diverse-as-an-understatement topics as his forlorn art career (“Rings”) to grief (“Get Out of the Car”) to his brothers (“Blood Sandwich”) his cat (on “Hey Kirby”, which is understandably my kids’ favorite song and best puppet video of the year.)

8- Pyscho Les – Dank God The Beatnuts / Corona Queens vet comes hard on this throwback joint, picking where he last left off: lots of smoking, lots of women, tough beats and lyrics.  Who’s on this album?  Who isn’t?  Inspectah Deck, Jeru Da Damaja and Pete Rock on the NYC big-ups “Hip Hop Neva Left," the EPMD sampled “Danger Zone”,  "Dope Addict" with the effusive Kool Keith, and perhaps the year’s illest joint “Baba Barz” with RA The Rugged Man.

 9- Czarface – A Fistful of PerilTheir trio’s third release picks up on the heel’s of last year’s #1 SG Album with much of the same formula: hard hitting beats with Inspectah Deck’s and Esoteric’s fierce word play. The formula works again.  Clocking in at a smooth 35 plus minutes, there’s no time for fuckery over the 13 tracks, including cameos from Pyscho Les on “Dust” (“my turf, you just here on a field trip,) Conway on the grimey “Machine, Man & Monster” and Meyhem Lauren and Rast RFC on “Steranko”.

10- Dillon & Paten Locke – Food Chain The moment the first track “Sound the Alarm” blasts from the speakers it’s apparent Dillon and beat maker Paten Locke know exactly how to make the connoisseured  rap fan nod their head.  It doesn’t stop there, as throughout the album the same formula permeates; the laid back vibe of “Thirsty Loops,” to “Humdinger” which features Supa Dave West and Dres (yes that Dres), then “Hamsammich” with two crazy verses from Homeboy Sandman and Tone Tank.

11- Elucid – Save Yourself  The Backwoodz Studioz lyricist brings his solo LP and shines throughout with a underground narrative and an honest look through a complex lens.  This is one of those albums that must be digested, a couple listens won’t suffice.  It takes multiple listens with songs like “Obama Incense” and the penetrating “Jealous God” before the listener can truly “get it.”  Armand Hammer cohort Billy Woods appears on tracks “Lest They Forget” and the eerie yet invoking“Bleachwater.”

12- Homeboy Sandman – Kindness for Weakness “I don’t make the same jam or record twice… I am way too nice” Home Sand says to his fans on “Taking (Bleep)” and that is 100% accurate.  The vibe on this record is tremendous, highlighting the MC’s lyrical dexterity with a consistent beat selection. Backed by a few producers, including Jon Wayne and RJD2, the former putting in work on “Heart Sings”, and even Large Professor on “It’s Cold,” Homeboy Sandman offers a concise, easy listen, but yet thought-provoking.

Others Receiving Votes:
Masta Ace – The Falling Season
Apathy – Handshakes with Snakes
Ab-Soul – Do What Thou Wilt
Ka – Honor Killed the Samurai
Vinnie Paz – Cornerstone of the Corner Store
Ryu – Tanks for the Memories
Timeless Truth – Cold Wave

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Slushy Gutter at 10


Two years ago, a friend of mine...

Today is the 10 year anniversary of the Slushy Gutter Summer.  Please no congratulations or "salute" but rather it should be "I'm sorry" or "bruh?"

Take some solace that it's been whittled down from posts 4-5 times a week to just one post a year.

(party horn)

RELATED: Redman - "I Bee Dat"

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Reigns Supreme: Top Hip Hop Albums



1- Czarface- Every Hero Needs a Villian- 7L, Esoteric and Inspectah Deck have perfectly crafted the Czarface persona to reclaim the top spot (also #1 in 2013) with a brilliant sophomore album.  7L creates the perfect backdrop for the two MCs and crazy pop culture references (Star Wars, wrestling, complete randomness) abound.  Even wilder guest appearances from the likes of Large Professor (the standout “World Premier”), RA The Rugged Man, GZA Doom, Method Man, and Juju from The Beatnuts.

2- Billy Woods- Today I Wrote Nothing- Some call it “grown up rap.”  If being a grown up means thought provoking, intellectual, expressive lyrics, then the description sounds good.  Woods switches it up with 24 tracks over just less than an hour, each its own story or conceptual work that mesh together perfectly.  the stalwart Elucid makes several appearances throughout including the standout track “African Dodger.”  Once again, Woods reminds us he is one of Hip-Hop’s thoughtful voices.

3- Action Bronson- Mr Wonderful- Bronsolino steps out of the mixtape and EP game to give us his first full length offering and arguably the year’s most fun filled album.  Whether it’s him and Meyhem Lauren’s wordplay on “Falconry,” or flipping a Billy Joel sample on “Brand New Car”, or the crazy three part “Thug Love Story 2017,” culminating with “Easy Rider” (“rocking very loose pants”) and perhaps the year's best feature verse "Baby Blue" with Chance The Rapper, Mr. Wonderful is a vibrant album throughout all 13 tracks.

4- Malik B & Mr Green- Unpredictable- The MC of Legendary Roots Crew fame and the “Live From the Streets” beatsmith team up for a short (clocking in at a neat 36 minutes) banger of Boom Bap beats and precise lyrics.  From the first track “Dolla Bill” and throughout Malik prowls on each offering, sounding hungry and fervent (like “Definition”: “had you cart wheeling doing tricks Vietnam shit for your Vietcong clique.”)

5- Tone Tank- One Offs & One Upsmanships- Brooklyn’s own gave a late gift this year with this album.  Superb production from the likes of J Howells Weatherman, Scott Thorough, and Harry Fraud complements Tone’s sometimes hyperactive, sometimes lucid but always on-point lyrics.  He takes on gentrification, off the wall old school references, and frankly some very unexpectedness.  Features with Kool AD and Snafu and a Bazooka Rap mix from Edan make this a December to remember.

6- Gangrene- You Disgust Me- “Heart is cold, froze from the ice and a whole Arctic Pole, bang my old art out of a Bose” Oh No raps on the track “Driving Gloves” (Watch the video with Action Bronson in all its awesomeness.)  The entire album takes a similar weed infused turn, with crazy news/reality show samples frequently about disgusting events.  If ever there was a track to peep it’s Sean Price’s verse on “Sheet Music" also featuring Mobb Deep's Havoc.

7- Dr Yen Lo- Days With Dr Yen Lo- Ka teams up with Preservation under the alias from The Manchurian Candidate for this brief albeit cold journey.  Like the Chinese doctor and hypnotist namesake, Ka’s rhymes draw you in; listen too closely and you might be transported to Brownsville or beyond.  At first glance the tracks, all named “Day” might scare the uninitiated, but listen to “Day 81” with Roc Marciano and you’ll get right on board.

8- Joey Badass- B4.DA.$$- Don’t crown Joey Badass as the savior of NYC rap or that "he’s bringing New York back", what he’s doing is putting out dope music.  Yep, there’s head nods to an era be gone on “Paper Trails” and the ill “No 99” (sounding like it could be straight from a Black Moon joint.)   Joey’s Caribbean influence shines throughout, especially on the track “Belly of the Beast.”  As NYers always remind us, NY never left, and now it’s in good hands.

9- Shirt- Nike Adidas Records- Queens cat Shirt charts for the second straight year with another release of 12 strong tracks, a few loosies from the past year and some new material.  Unlike many projects, Shirt is the lone MC on every track and gives us lyrics about reality. Producers United Crates, DJ Dahi, Steel Tipped Dove, and others highlight the free tape.  The last song, the San Holo produced “Top of the Whitney” is certifiable bananas and may be the year’s best track.

10- Earl Sweatshirt- I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside- An era where rappers search out producers for the quintessential “hot beat” Earl Sweatshirt didn’t have to go far to find someone for his debut follow-up, he produced every track except one.  The result is a driven, raw, stripped down sound of just 10 tracks in half a hour with Earl as an MC commanding each track with sometimes cocky, sometimes introspective lyrics.  Collabos include Vince Staples, Dash, and Wiki on the standout “AM // Radio.”

11- Michael Christmas- What A Weird Day- The Boston MC follows up a whirlwind year with his second release, pondering where he’s been and looking at how things have or haven’t changed.  It's no more evident than in the top track “Look Up / Save The Day” (produced by Qreamybeats) where the perspective reaches the hook and asks “there ain’t no stars in the hood, but I bet that we would leave if we could.”  Current rap heavyweights Logic and Mac Miller pop up, the latter on the nice “Grab Her Hand.”

12- Your Old Droog- Kinison The Nicest- With the is-he or isn’t-he Nas narrative in the rear view mirror, Coney Island’s Your Old Droog can focus on delivering dope music.  On Kinison, which opens with the namesake robust comedian bellowing against rappers, Droog laces tracks over a theme of 90's rock music, titles like the Marco Polo produced “Sonic Youth” and “Porno For Pyros.”  Followed by the DJ Skizz produced The Nicest, it finds a bit more refined sound with the highlight track “We Don’t Know You.”

13- Wiki- Lil Me- The Ratking (also with a strong EP release this year 700 Fill) front man drops his first solo project, a clean and crisp record with Madlib, Black Milk, Harry Fraud and others manning the boards.  The Nasty Nigel collab “Living With My Moms” and the other tracks (both Hak and Sporting Life drop by, the former on the exceptional  “Sunday School Dropout”) give the listener a true NY feel, not a throwback big beat sound, but an eccentric, intoxicating journey throw Wiki’s hometown.

Others receiving votes:

-Fashwan - The Ecology

-Pusha T- King Push-Darkest Before Dawn

-Cannibal Ox- Blade of Ronin

-Junk Science- And the $100 Sandwich

-Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman- Lice EP

-Marq Spekt- The Grilchy Era

FINAL NOTE: Sean Price's Songs In The Key Of Price isn't on here, but not because it didn't chart. Sean Price has long been and will be an SG favorite, all of his work is spectacular.  This release is being held out and honored in a special place.  RIP SEAN.

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