1-Doom – Born Like This
MF Doom returns after a bizarre stint on the Hip Hop sidelines without the ‘MF’ but toting his signature dark, grimy beats and lyrics. Beats are concocted on the album by the late J-Dilla (check the track “Lightworks” with its nearly cosmic beat), Madlib, Jake One (“Ballskin”), and Doom himself. Old friends pop up, Raekwon on “Yessir” (a track that Doom doesn't even rap on), Ghostface, and M.I.C. partner Kurious makes an appearance on “Supervillianz” (also features Slug of Atmosphere) which pokes fun at the 2009 rap game with an autotuned chorus of “what rhymes with villain?” HIGHLIGHT:
The dreary “Cellz” perhaps sets the tone for the entire offering, as a nearly two minute diatribe is read spoken word by poet Charles Bukowski on the Earth and humanity’s destruction before Doom has a chance to spit: "...dried Paraffin, candy corn crap rappers pale by comparison.”2-Marco Polo and Torae – Double Barrel
Torae is one of the most underrated MCs in the game and when you couple him with a producer of Marco Polo’s caliber, you can really see what he is capable of. This release comes off as just a straight hard core East Coast Hip Hopper’s dream, perfectly fusing Torae’s spit and the Canadian producer’s beats. DJ Revolution makes appearances throughout, with real scratches and cuts you rarely find these days. Being a Duck Down drop, you get the usual Sean Price verse (“Hold Up” which also features Masta Ace), as well as Rock from Heltah Skeltah on “Smoke.” HIGHLIGHT:
The track “Party Crashers” takes the old Method Man “industry party crashers” sample on a catchy beat with another indictment of the 09 industry of Hip Hop.3-Super Chron Flight Brothers – Indonesia
Coming in just after 4-20, the Super Chron Flight Brothers' second album Indonesia
veers a bit off from where their stellar 2007 joint Emergency Powers
left us. Indonesia features Billy Woods and Privilege rapping over mellower, drawn out beats, many in the Cool Kids or El-P mode or sound. Most of the CD was crafted by Backwoodz Studio affiliate Marmaduke. Lyrically, the MCs hit on everything from Cannondale bikes, top ramen, Gregg Popovich's face (they're rougher than it), and a slew of sex rhymes ("she polished the wood, now she got termites.") One curious track is "SubPop" which incorporates the old Smiths' track "How Soon is Now." HIGHLIGHT:
While the album is free, big fans can order the limited edition 2 disc set with remixes and instrumentals, and an ill freestyle.
4-C Rayz Walz – Who the F*ck Are You?
“Clap your weak jaw, and have your girl sip a milk shake through my meat straw” bellows C Rayz Walz on the track “Hot Sauce” lets the listener know this dude ain’t fucking around. But this release isn’t all hard core posturing, as he goes through drug use “Oxy Killer”, shouts out New York (with an ill verse from Vast Aire) on “I Love New York” (which employs a hook about the Big Apple having “rotten milk in her titties”)and takes an entire track to big up Gangstarr on “Family Crest.” Karniege, Swave Sevah, Poison Pen, and other lesser known MCs help complete the track listing. HIGHLIGHT:
Slug from Atmosphere joins in on the joint “In Your Soul”, which is a slow, peaceful journey through the inner being. Yeah, sounds corny, but this track is as melodic and soulful as a Hip Hop record gets.
5-Tame One – Acid Tab Vocab
Tame One of Artifacts fame (but who has been ever-present since their salad days in the mid 90s) comes with his best solo offering to date with Acid Tab Vocab
. Once you get into the work it is quite evident the album name isn't a play on words. Tame One drops the mad drug references throughout the entire piece, including some hilarious sound bites. Guest spots, mainly Aesop Rock on "Molly" and Del on "Ooops", really shine. But Tame also adds some personal introspection on his past and future on tracks like "Suede Adidas" and goes after Hip Hop fakeness on "Hip Hop Action Figure." Producers Parallel Though and Drum set forth a great blueprint for Tame to go between his different moods throughout. HIGHLIGHT:
The initial single “Anxiety Attacks” is just a crazy joint, with Tame claiming he “spit like toothpaste” and ending the track with some “stick icky gizm shit.”
6-Anti Pop Consortium – Fluorescent Black
Anti Pop Consortium returns after a long break in the game with their new release, Fluorescent Black
. What immediately grabs this hard-to-the-core-boom bapper with this release is that if you remove the lyrics the beats and music might remind you of a mid-90s rave. But that is a good thing in this case, as APC blends banging drums (the track "Timpani"), synthesizer sounds, and a multi-layered approach by beat-meister Earl Blaize. Yet, you cannot discount the lyrics from M Sayyid and High Priest on standout tracks like "Superunfrontable" and the lead off track "New Jack Exterminator" as both MCs come off with precision. HIGHLIGHT:
The track “NY to Tokyo” features a superb cameo from Roots Manuva that helps it be danceable and to get sneakers tapping to the upbeat track.
7-Slaughterhouse – Slaughterhouse
Royce Da 5-9, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, and Joe Budden form the country wide Hip Hop Voltron with their self titled album, and the lyricists contained within do not disappoint. Even the radio-ready first single “The One” was a hype, up tempo track with on-point lyrics (“Khloe on the car dash, Kourtney on the On Star”.) While Joell Ortiz in my opinion is the most talented, Joe Budden really gets his on this album. Peep “Cuckoo” and “Lyrical Murders” where he comes off. Production is served up by the likes of Alchemist and Mr Porter (Pharoah Monche comes around for a great hook on his production on “Salute”) among a host of others. HIGHLIGHT: “Microphone” is just a sick bananas track with all four MCs going all out. A sparse beat allows each to shine and has become a freestyle staple.
8-Blame One- Days Chasing Days
Producer Exile “presents” this album, but don’t think he is responsible for all the great content it offers. Days Chasing Days gives us great production, including Black Milk on “Perseverance” with its doo-woop sounding baseline, and a steady diet of the aforementioned Exile laced beats. Blame himself shines with his lyrical content ranging from the attack on wack MCs, to some deep personal introspection, to the standard “remember when” track. Great samples and cuts are throughout, with “Saturday Night”, and “Street Astrologist” using some ill scratches. Sean Price highlights the guest tracks with the bouncy “Disturbed” and Blu on the melodic “Wonder Why”. HIGHLIGHT:
“Documentarian” might damn well be my track of the year, a journey through Blame One’s life and some heartfelt bars to his daughters, that even has one of them shouting “big ups to my family” at the end.
9-Day Laborers - The Learning Process
When the Day Laborers managed to get the Marvin Berry quote from the movie "Back to the Future" on the leadoff track “Can’t Stop This War” I knew I was in for a treat. The Long Island duo of Aspect and I.N.F. brings it hard, yet fun, throughout the album. Horns, clever samples, and great cohesion mark this release. A few guest appearances from Louis Logic (the track “Confinement”, a banging track slowed down track about being locked up) and Homeboy Sandman highlight the track listing. The hottest collabo is with Mac Lethal (“I move like a walker with tennis balls on the bottom”) on “Burn One.” HIGHLIGHT: Lyrically the team really shines on the horn and piano laden “Paddling Upstream” with lines like “…victims of circumstances dancing on a shattered dreams…count my blessings share the essence that we co-exist.”
10-Sahtyre – High Saht
The West Coast underground MC is part of a Los Angeles-based crew called Swim Team whose whole vibe reminds me of some Hieroglyphics or Freestyle Fellowship from the Cali of the mid 1990s. Sahtyre is set to shine from the LA collective with this release with his comedic raps (check for his rap “Get Down With It” about busting out a deaf girl) and distinctive voice. He flips the old “Summer in the City” song on a track of the same name, weaving a disturbing tale of a young woman in the LA life. The entire crew gets theirs on the massive posse cut “Move” in which they go over seven deep on the mic. HIGHLIGHT:
The track “J-O-B” is Hip Hop 2009's version of "Take This Job and Shove It” with Saht going through the monotony, bullshit, and often under-appreciated feeling of working in the modern day world.
11-Raekwon – Only Built Cuban Linx 2Only Built For Cuban Links 2
sounds like it could've been released in 97 as a true followup to the original (although you could argue Ghostface's Ironman
was a followup to OBFCL.) The release’s hype was well deserved, as Rae and Ghost hit right off the bat with "House of Flying Daggers" which is a throwback headnodder complete with Shaolin fighting effects and features Deck and Meth. Other guests as scattered throughout- Jadakiss, Slick Rick, Cappadonna, Styles P, Beanie Sigel, and production from Marley Marl, Erick Sermon, Pete Rock, and the RZA fare (the grimey "Black Mozart".) Lyrically, you're get the coke/crack inspired rhymes that litter the original on tracks like "Pyrex Vision" and an ODB tribute on "Ason Jones." HIGHLIGHT:
The leadoff single “Wu Oooh” has that throwback appeal in 09, with a Meth hook and predictable Wu Lyrics, and that’s a good thing.
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES:
Rapper Big Pooh – The Delightful Bars
Production from Jake One, Khrysis, and 9th Wonder highlight the North American Pie
version of half of Little Brother’s release. Pooh flows all over the album, with a couple party/radio rhymes and a slew of underground gems.
KRS One and Buckshot – Survival Skills
The Teacher and Duck Down hook up on this solid work, with most of the Duck Down crew repping throughout. The single “Robot” was an anti-autotune anthem before Jay-Z went massive with his own version/
Fresh Daily – The Gorgeous Killer
“Untucked Nunchuks” is one of the grittiest singles of the year, with the Brooklyn MC all over the board lyrically, no hook needed. Perhaps the cleverest single in some time is “Two in the Shirt” which is Fresh Daily’s tribute to boobs.
Tash – Control Freak
The formula hasn’t changed much: drinking, fun party rhymes, King Tee guest appearances, and overall smooth production work. The Alkaholik “reunion” might be coming and a taste is given on “Liquor Store Run”
Labels: Hip Hop, Yearly wrap up