Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Weighs A Ton: Top Rap Albums

 

Boulder County Fire relief fund donations: 

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1- Namir Blade & L’Orange – Imaginary Everything

Nashville’s Namir Blade teams up with producer L’Orange on a masterful album, a subtle boom bap offering with southern undertones.  The head nodder “Nihilism” starts the listener on a enticing listen.

 

2 - Westside Gunn – HWH8 Side B

Griselda’s front man gives us the last of the HWH series with the part 8 b-side and it might be the coup de grace of the lot.  The lead off track Hell On Earth Pt. 2 with Benny and Conway sets off the album.

 

3 - Armand Hammer – Haram

Song of the year is “Stonefruit”, where Alchemist laces a harmonious track while Elucid takes to singing “I don’t want to lost control…”  billy woods completes the trifecta with precise bars about love and expression.

 

4 - Mach Hommy – Pray For Haiti

Unlike his last album this one dropped without a huge price tag, but still with the requisite hard beats and Haitian heritage woven in.  Curated by Westside Gunn, who appears on three tracks.

 

5 - Evidence – Unlearning Volume One

A skillful producer on his own, Ev linked up on this album with the likes of Alchemist, Nottz, Mr. Green, Khrysis, Daringer and others.  The result is one of Ev’s most complete and introspective albums to date.

 

6 -King Micah The Infamous and MIGHTYHEALTHY – KingMighty2

Detroit meets Miami in perhaps the grimiest, frown on ya face release of the year.  After an ill intro the album starts inferno-like on “Indigenous Gems”.  Guilty Simpson blesses the track “Hot Out Here”.

 

7 - Homeboy Sandman – Angelitu

The always contemplative Homeboy Sandman said half this album is a reflection of his energy headed in the wrong way.  The result is a solid inward facing album but yet it includes bangers like “Go Hard”.

 

8 - Your Old Droog & Tha God Fahim – Tha YOD Fahim

The frequent collaborators link up on a full album ripe with basketball references throughout.  Pharoah Monch drops by on “Slam Dunk Contest” while “Reign Man” goes hard with a piercing bassline.

 

9 - Pseudo Intellectuals – Only Built For Food And Drink

This trio from Buffalo gave us just a fun, make you laugh album, full of fun boom bap beats, samples and cuts.  Tracks like “Reclining Pleather Seats” give way later in the album to tracks like “White Ppl”.

 

10 - Aesop Rock & Blockhead – Garbology

Garbology sees the collaborators join for surprisingly the first Aes album completely produced by Blockhead.  Trademark complex lyrics throughout the album, the standout track “Jazz Hands” included.

 

11 - Dark Time Sunshine – Lore

Their first album in nine years, Onry Ozzbourne and Zavala bring a melodic offering with a variety of guests like Hail Mary Mallon, RAP Ferriera and Homeboy Sandman on the standout “The Rite Kids”.

 

12 - Nems – Congo

Yes he has us in stiches with his “don’t you ever disrespect me” all over the internets, but Nems follows up the incredible Gorilla Monsoon with this solid offering.  NYC Coney Island Boom Bap, bing bong.


Others receiving votes:

Atmosphere - WORD?

Boldy James & The Alchemist - Bo Jackson

Czarface & MF Doom - Super What?

Melly Mel - New People

On Tilt - The 5th Album

Planet Asia - Rule Of Thirds

Shamon Cassette & Jaz Infinite - Blades of Steel

Solemn Brigham - Southside Sinner

Wiki - Half God

Your Old Droog - Space Bar

Zilla Rocca - Vegas Vic

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 Plenty: Top Rap Albums


1. Run The Jewels - RTJ4

On their fourth and crispest RTJ installment Killer Mike and El-P offer up the definitive party (on your own) starter single of the year in "Ooh La La" with Greg Nice and DJ Premier.  "Yankee and the Brave" could be the year's top jump off track.  Perhaps the duo's most cohesive, end to end project to date.  



2. Homeboy Sandman - Don't Feed The Monster

The Queens rapper is on his grown man rap on this dope project.  Production from Quelle Chris keeps the album consistent.  Bangers like "Monument" and funny joints like "Waiting on my Girl" as well as introspective tracks like "Don't Look Down" highlight throughout.


3. Marlowe - Marlowe2

Producer L'Orange and rapper Solemn Brigham are following up their original with another collection of boom bap but yet some broader musical beats.  Stand out tracks include "OG Funk Rock" with A-F-R-O and "Future Power Sources" with DJ Trackstar.


4. Aesop Rock - Spirit World Field Guide

Aes blesses us again with his array, and I mean array of vocabulary, and even more of random references (Chaka Kahn, Paddington Bear, etc.) "The Gates" kicks off the album, which is in fact, a guidebook.  "Sleeper Car" hits hard at the guidebook's midway point.


5. King Magnetic and Tone Spliff - Nobody's Safe

A gritty, 90s centric boom bap album akin to a 2 x 4 to the dome, sees producer Tone Spliff lacing the tracks for former AOTP member King Magnetic.  "Ice Cream Sandwiches" is a stand out track as it jumps between the styles of KM, Tug McRaw, and the legendary Kool Keith.

6.  The Professionals - The Professionals

Producer Madlib and his brother, rapper Oh No's debut is full of the producer's trademark soul and clean beats.  The last track, "Dishonored Valor" is a poignant track as Oh No highlights military reintegration. "Superhumans" is a banger built around a Too Short sample and features Chino XL and Elzhi.

7. Your Old Droog - Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition

Like Jewelry, on this offering Droog turns inward to his Eastern European self, even delivering some lyrics in Russian. Perhaps the year's strongest guests: Mach Hommy, Tha God Fahim, billy woods, Phonte, El-P, and Black Thought, with the latter two on the posse cut "Pravda".

8. Armand Hammer - Shrines

billy woods and Elucid's fourth LP is a bit brighter than their previous work, but don't think it's all fun and unicorns now.  The album cover is the first aspect to suck you in, then tracks of incredible beats and current lyrical content.  "Leopards" and "Dean Cars", the latter with RAP Ferreira are play again worthy tracks.

9. ShrapKnel - ShrapKnel

Curly Castro and PremRock unite to form the follow up to the EP Cobalt and it doesn't disappoint.  With the beats and production mined by Elucid and Willie Green, the duo shines over tracks like "Ghostface Targaryean" and "Dumile High."  Guest spots from Zilla Rocca, Castle, and billy woods help set it apart.

10.  clipping. - Visions of Bodies Being Burned

The trio's fondness for crafting horror-core leaning Hip-Hop continues on their well received abrasive record.  Taking the name from the Geto Boy's Scarface's verse on "Mind Paying Tricks On Me," we see rapper Daveed Diggs in his ominous lane on tracks like "Say The Name" and "96 Neve Campbell."  

11. Westside Gunn - Who Made The Sunshine

Without question the year belonged to Griselda and Westside Gunn. From his three project drops, to his fashion promotions, and even the Griselda tour early in the year.  The Buffalo MC and curator followed up Pray For Paris with his Shady records debut.  Guest appearances from Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes, and the rest of the Griselda camp on the ill posse cut "98 Sabres."

12. Busta Rhymes - Extinction Level Event 2

As we've seen far too many times, Golden Era MCs don't usually fare well with comebacks, however Busta bucks that trend with his first album in nearly a decade.  He brings in big names in the rap game  with Rakim, Chris Rock, MOP, Rapsody (a rare he vs she on "Best I Can," Kendrick Lamar, and a tremendous verse from Q-Tip on "Don't Go."

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES, 13-25

-DJ Chong Wizard and Zilla Rocca - Midnight Sons
-Big Ghost Ltd and Conway - No One Mourns The Wicked
-RA The Rugged Man - All Of My Heroes Are Dead
-Eleven and Jason D - Strike Back
-Jay Electronica - A Written Testimony
-Third Root - Passion Of The Poets
-Boldy James - Real Bad Boldy
-UFO Fev and Big Ghost Ltd - The Ghost Of Albizu
-Westside Gunn - Pray For Paris
-Blu and Exile - Miles
-Moor Mother And billy woods - Brass
-Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist - Alfredo
-Kid Abstrakt and Emapea - Jazzy Vibes

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

2019 Step On The Scene: Top Rap Albums


1- Nems - Gorilla Monsoon

Coney Island, Brooklyn is represented to the Timberland boot fullest in this grimy, gritty, and whatever else "g" stands for in this boom bap offering.  "200" featuring Spit Gemz is a album standout with the two going back and forth over a nasty beat.



2- Billy Woods and Kenny Segal - Hiding Places

woods, who never met a subject he won't broach, laces up the dark foreboding Segal beats to his standard fullest. In the highlight "Checkpoints" we hear woods "quit my job to kick raps instead, so family meeting everyone got start bring in bread."



3- Your Old Droog - It Wasn't Even Close

Droog came through with three hot albums this year and this first offering set it off.  With Mach Hommy serving as executive producer and also jumping on tracks ("RST" w/ MF Doom) we are treated to guest spots from Wiki and Roc Marciano among others.



4- billy woods - Terror Management

"The world's getting warmer we going the other way" woods bellows on the opening salvo "Marlow." Beats from Preservation, Blockhead, Small Pro and more give us an irreproachable meshing of themes and guests from Elucid, Mach Hommy, and Fielded.



5- Griselda - WWCD

The Shady debut of the Buffalo trio uses the formula that got them the rabid following they enjoy: hard beats and precise lyrics.  Westside Gunn, Benny, and Conway with production from Daringer and Beat Butcha shine with interplay on tracks like "Dr Bird's".



6- Danny Brown - uknowhatimsayin?

The Q-Tip executive produced album slows down a bit from previous efforts on songs like "Best Life" and the title track.  "3 Tearz" featuring Killer Mike and El-P is a highlight with Danny rapping gems ("It was written, but not legible").



7- Gang Starr - One Of The Best Yet

Old schoolers understandably got a bit sentimental when this dropped.  It flows from the opener highlighting their older hits to first hearing Guru's voice on the raw energy, MOP driven "Lights Out".  DJ Premier brings in old cohorts Big Shug, Jeru da Damaja, Q-Tip, and Royce to add extra flavor...and nostalgia.



8- Quelle Chris - Guns

Quelle Chris delves into our nation's conscious with a portrait of one of our trigger points. Mach Hommy, Jean Grae, and Denmark Vessey drop in with collabs. "Obamacare" is a hard as nails track ("make a rapper freeze up like I was Zach in Bayside").



9- Wiki - Oofie

Oofie still sees Wiki having a good time ("shave my unibrow, I'd rather shave my balls") but also has some welcome introspective moments ("Way That I Am" featuring Your Old Droog).  Lil Ugly Mane and Denzel Curry stop in on the exceptional track "Grim".



10- Sean Price and Small Professor - 86 Witness

Sean lives on with this collab with producer Small Professor.  In the classic one MC one producer vein, he shines on tracks like "Refrigerator P" and "LaToya Jackson" ("if Kane battled Ra, Kool G Rap would win"), the latter with Quelle Chris and DJ Revolution.



11- The Good People - Good For Nuthin

Emskee and The Saint come with their fourth album: a feel good, no pretenses, throwback, bring a smile type vibe.  The guest list is impressive with DJ Red Alert, Sadat X, Large Professor, and Lil Fame ("Higher") all dropping in.



12- Black Moon - Rise of Da Moon

Bucktown is back for the first time in 16 years with a comeback suggesting they never left.  Buckshot and 5 Ft go with Evil Dee beats on, dare we say, back packer beats.  The second single "Black Moon Rise" catches the Black Moon vibe of the past 25 years.



Others receiving votes:

Sean Price and Lil Fame - The Price of Fame
Your Old Droog - Jewelry
Homeboy Sandman - Dusty
Nigel - Tantrum
Czarface Meets Ghostface - Double Dose of Danger
Westside Gunn - HWH7
Epic Beardmen - This Was Supposed To Be Fun
DopeKnife - Things Got Worse
Zilla Rocca - 96 Mentality
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Bandana
Rapsody - Eve
Benny - Plugs I Met

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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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