2013 has come to an end. This was an interesting year for hip-hop. The debate about that lack of lyricism in mainstream hip-hop, the identity crisis that is NY hip-hop, and Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse all resulted in an exciting year. I’m hoping for the best in 2014. I have 5 albums/mixtapes that stood above the rest in 2013. I can say without a doubt, THESE WERE THE BEST FOR THE YEAR 2013…
Here is MY top five hip-hop albums/mixtape(s) of 2013:
Run The Jewels “Run The Jewels“
“My Top 5 of the year is never in any particular order but if it was, THIS would be numero uno. All year I’ve campaigned for this album. Sonically and lyrically this album was far superior to the rest. Sure. There was no campaign with a phone company to get you excited. This album is what that album wanted to be. Most people look and say Big Mike and El-P? Huh? Shed your material massaged mind and let unfiltered hip-hop music flow in. There was no better example than these two gentlemen coming together to make dope hip-hop music. Period. It is a ride from the beginning to the end. Run The Jewels!”
Pete Rock & Camp Lo “80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Pt. 2“
“Did not expect this one at all. Some would say, oh here come that trapped in the 90s sh*t. Not at all. I almost didn’t check out this one because I thought it was a collaboration decades too late. This mixtape is surprisingly hot! No really. From the theme to the guest, to the beats, to Camp Lo’s timeless flows. It just goes to show that as long as you still have the drive to make dope hip-hop…sh*t never gets old. YOU should hear this one. “
Black Milk “No Poison No Paradise“
“My expectations were a little high on this one. On my first listen, I felt let down. I found myself losing interest as I was listening to it. Some songs just take a little time before you can soak in the dopeness. This is another well crafted project for 2013. Will Sessions is the future. The production on some rappers albums tend to feel like fast food at a rest stop. This feels like a home cooked meal for a starving slave on the Underground Railroad. Yeah, it’s that deep. Black Milk compliments everything with interesting and thought provoking lyrics. It’s a shame that projects like these fly under the radar. Not now. Now you know about it. Support.”
Talib Kweli “Prisoner of Conscious/Gravitas“
“This might as well have been a double album. Both released at different points this year, Talib came through with some of his best work since Ear Drum in my opinion. He covers almost every subject you can think of. From the dead when it began phrase “Turn Up” to the internet’s fascination with rappers and illuminati on “Worm Hole“. Just excellent work from an unsung lyricist in the game. Do yourself a favor and do the knowledge….if only for a moment. “
J. Cole “Born Sinner“
“This is the debut album we should of got from Jermaine. Lol! Sure, it’s similar in a lot of ways to the first release. The difference is that, this go round, Roc Nation allowed him to also be the emcee we know and love from his classic mixtapes. It’s all blended well. Born Sinner feels more like a triumph than a failed ploy to garner some of that Drake fan base. Sure, the singing is a little annoying. Lyrically, he is formidable and I can only hope for more in the future.”
The Revolution will be televised….again. You may not like him for one reason or another, but you have to admit…this is exciting news for music fans. The return of “Music Television”. Music programming delivered because it’s hot…not because it’s marketing campaign says so. Or so that’s what the sales pitch is to potential viewers.
Though it’s not available in every market yet, I’ve been happy with my time spent watching Revolt TV. It’s refreshing to see a return to a channel dedicated to music…created by the taste of it’s viewers. I stopped watching music videos because they became uninspired at one point. The networks that once were the source for the latest and greatest now feed off of the stale corpse of Reality Television.
Revolt Tv makes me want to discover music the “old fashion” way again. Since the channel is not available in all areas yet, there is a live stream where you can check it out…Enjoy! I have… ReVolt TV Live Stream.
If you grew up in the NYC area around the 80s and 90s, Video Music Box was king! They just weren’t a hip-hop video show like Yo MTV Raps or Rap City. Often times, you could tune in and catch a live performance at a local NY club. Raw video footage! Everybody knows the Tunnel freestyle featuring Biggie and 2Pac but some of us saw it before we heard it. Ralph McDaniels and The Vid Kid brought you unlimited coverage of some of today’s hip-hop legends. Salute…
Check out this interview with Ralph McDaniels: NYHipHopReport.com
Also check out some classic Video Music Box videos:
2012 has come to an end. The world didn’t end, and we had a stellar year(2nd half) in hip-hop releases. I have 5 albums/mixtapes that stood above the rest. It would have been easier for me to do a top 10 but top 5 is more interesting in my opinion. Plus, I like putting the pressure on myself. Lol! I can say without a doubt, THESE WERE THE BEST FOR THE YEAR 2012…
Here is MY top five hip-hop albums/mixtape(s) of 2012:
Kendrick Lamar “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City“
“What can I say about this album. It is a masterpiece from top to bottom. It’s not just about beats and rhymes. Everything is connected on this project. From the cover art to the skits, to the songs themselves. This is a lesson to young rappers on how to create a classic in a age of radio friendly bottom feeders. Kendrick has claimed this top spot 2 years in a row! Not only that, but he had pretty stiff competition. He is the future of this game and it is BRIGHT…”b*tch don’t kill my vibe…”
Nas “Life Is Good“
“Nas is classic. Period. How many lives does this dude have? People have written him off, and he comes right back like he never left. Life is Good was a perfect album for Nas. The timing and energy had the Summer of 2012 on Smash… Literally. Though the album had some flaws (I’m looking at you Mary and Anthony). This was like the best of Nas. A little Nasty, a little Esco, and some God’s Son. I don’t know what the future holds but this album has legs. Do you know how many times I’ve listened to this record. Classic!”
Lupe Fiasco “Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1“
“This is a case where my expectations were correct but yet I was surprised by the final product. I was hopeful, and somewhat confident, that Lupe could return to form on this project. I mean, if you are going to compose a sequel to one of your best albums… you better come correct. What you get on this project is a ton of conscious messages paired with vibrant beats and catchy hooks. The messages may turn some off but someone needed to say these things. Solid album from Lupe and one of the best of the year.”
Apollo Brown & O.C. “Trophies“
“I was just being a fan and checking for new sh*t when I heard this album. One of my first candidates for tops of the year, Trophies is just a dope hip-hop release. The beats are nuts! The variety gives the long track listing legs and O.C. is perfect on the mic. If you like your hip-hop straight with no chasers…Treat yourself. This album is hot!”
XV “Popular Culture“
“Every now and again I’ll miss an album or mixtape. It’s a good thing my man Paul looked out. This mixtape is fire! It is yet another example of a young artist stepping up and being creative. I love the theme, and songs like The Kick are criminally slept on. XV uses movie and television soundbites to provide the theme. If you haven’t heard this mixtape yet…you need to. APPROVED. “
So what passes as a classic these days? Is it that instant gratification you get on that first play through. Or does it depend on how often you listen to an album over time? The latter used to be the standard, but now it seems that fans toss that word around like it’s nothing. Have there been any albums you can call “classic” within the last ten years? I don’t know but I will give you my theory on it…
I think classic is a very delicate word when it comes to hip-hop music. There is a lot to live up to when you tell your man that “such and such” album is a classic. That means this album is on a level with past classics like: Raising Hell, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, Criminal Minded, Enter the 36 Chambers, The Low End Theory, The Chronic…. And so on and so forth. That in itself seems unfair. Your “new classic” shouldn’t be held to the standard of another man’s work, but that my friend…is the way of our world unfortunately.
There is a couple of key components that link these timeless gems. The level of craftsmanship dedicated to the sound and lyrics is what pulls you into the experience. You can listen to the album and instantly hear that the artist and producers genuinely cared about this project. They either had a ton of fun making the album, or were extremely focused on making an impact. I know it all sounds so serious but when you are trying to make your mark on the hip-hop map…you want to make the biggest mark.
Where I hear a classic someone else may just hear a decent album. I’ve been deeply involved with music all of my life, so I may hear things that others don’t. It doesn’t make me special. I just have a different ear than the next man or woman. If an artist can make an impression on someone who listen for craftsmanship versus a person who looks for “trendy” hip-hop; that is when I feel you have something unique.
When I first heard Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt, I didn’t like it that much. I wasn’t a fan of the production. I for damn sure didn’t consider it a hip-hop classic. It wasn’t until the following year that I found myself playing the album EVERYDAY. Religiously. Then it hit me…this shit is dope! I never really got into the lyrics because I was so focused on the production. Then I realized that the production compliments the subject matter and overall theme perfectly.
The only thing that I did different from the original play through was open my mind. I shut out any hype, and all outside praises for the album. I allowed the album to prove itself worthy of my collection. And that it did. It may have taken a while but it won me over. Now, I can do the same thing with a bullshit album, but there is no way that repetition will get me to call it a classic.
Some classics help to define an era. In some cases, it can change the way others make their music. I knew Get Rich or Die Trying was a classic when I heard it. The momentum for 50 Cent going into that album was insane! And they delivered! It met the standards of his underground success, the radio hits were bananas, and for the 1st time in a long time we felt like the whole “We miss Biggie and Pac” era was gone. There was finally “new blood” taking the game in a familiar yet fresh direction.
When you go back and listen to that album, I remember the enthusiasm that surrounded it. It’s like looking at pics from a fun night out on the town or watching a wedding video years later. It just brings back good memories. Haters will hate but some shit is just undeniable. Timing is every thing and 50/interscope struck while things were hot.
At the end of the day, the criteria for a classic can be unpredictable. Instant and unanimous praise doesn’t always mean classic. For example, the general sentiment today is that the rap game is wack. So any good album is seen as certified classic. I’ve been guilty of that. Truthfully, time will reveal what albums made an impact over the years. Debates will ensue, track for track will be thrown out there, and some people will discover them all for the first time. You will too…
Let’s just start with a couple of examples: Pete Rock vs. Lupe, Dmx vs. Drake, Common vs. Drake, Ice T. vs. Every Young Rapper, Trapped in the 90s N*ggas vs. Every Young Rapper, and now Lord Finesse vs. Mac Miller. It’s a frantic situation, yes it is!
As a fan of the culture as a whole, I’m not mad at any of it. It is basically nature taking it’s course. Some of the old dudes are down with it, while others are down right furious. Why? There isn’t one obvious reason for why the older generation (yes, you 90s ninjas are included) has such a beef with today’s hip-hop. There is just a blatant lack of tribute being paid. Period. A lot of “older” rappers/fans feel that this generation of young hip-hop stars aren’t doing anything to advance the music. They also feel, that what’s being created now can hardly be classified as “HIP-HOP”.
On the flip side, the younger generation of hip-hop feels as if they do recognize the old school. They respect skill, but this is a different time. They feel they make the music of “their” generation, and at this moment in time, skill is not necessarily a prerequisite for success/popularity. In 2012, the rules are just different from the 80s and 90s. Between low cd sales, the rise of social media, and the marketing saturation that blankets actual talent…what more can they do?
I am a “90s Dude” so to speak. I was born the year “Rapper’s Delight” came out. I came up on Kane, Slick Rick, Ice Cube, Rakim, and others. I went to High School during the Illmatic, 36 Chambers, and Ready to Die years. I partied hard in college thru the Bad Boy, Roc-a-Fella, Ruff Ryders, and Cash Money years. And I am still finding more reasons to be entertained by hip-hop music…but those old days are GONE.
Look, I agree with the arguments on both sides. I feel that there are a lot of artist (some with talent and some without) that have the spotlight now and waste it on popularity contest. I also feel, that there is a lot of young talent that doesn’t receive the credit they deserve for lyrically advancing the art form, if not helping to sustain it. Above all, I feel that my generation is beginning to turn into hypocrites as it relate to the “rules of the game”.
The Lord Finesse and Pete Rock situations are perfect examples.
I agree that artist should always reach out to those who did it first before they decide to remix or recreate anyone’s work. DMs on Twitter are NOT acceptable. Here is the curious part; that music is generally sampled from other older artist/musicians. No? Did Pete Rock or Lord Finesse reach out personally to these artist? Are they not just as important in this equation? Did they show them the same level of homage that they are now demanding of these younger kats? A lot of those old musicians created these melodies from scratch! Without them… there is no hip-hop.
I clearly understand the workings of the industry, and do realize that these situations are more about labels and money than Youth vs. Wisdom. I just feel like these types of things can be better dealt with on a more direct level. Hitting Twitter and blogs for attention doesn’t beat having a Lawyer serve a Label with papers.
Back to that hypocrite part…
I remember old soul singers being mad as hell at my generation because we would sample there music and make more money than they did. I was calling them Old Grumpy Men too. Then I realized that in most cases it was all about the money. Our generation completely respected their music, but it was a new day and we were trying to create music that spoke to our time. Yeah, all of it wasn’t good but a lot of good came out of it.
This is the same exact argument today. You are talking about producers and artist who are not making what they used to, so they have to get what they can. There is nothing wrong with that, but allow the youngins’ there time and the limelight. Hip-Hop music may be in a dry spell, as far as talent on a mainstream level, but Ibelieve things will get better…
This is old but still true. Let’s not pretend that this is a hip-hop only issue either. Most artist come from poor backgrounds and they’ve never been taught how to manage their money. They’ve also been taken advantage of by labels, accountants, managers, etc. There is no future in fronting…do your homework.
It’s painfully obvious that today’s hip-hop world has gone 100% Hollywood. There was a time where all you knew about your favorite artist was embedded in their rhymes. Not only does your favorite artist come with a chain, a crew, and a mugshot…. but now they come with a love interest. It was always known that some rappers were married. You could even catch some of them out on the town in your favorite hip-hop mag.
We’ve had front row seats for some failed unions, and even Reality Shows that are all about it. As a fan of the music, does this hurt or help how we look at these artist? Does it effect their music in a positive way. It’s hard to say.
Some artist find love and then rap all about it. As a fan, I can’t front, I hate it when it is excessive. One song is cool but 3 or more is pushing it buddy. We listen to our favorite rappers to absorb their thoughts, and if it happens to be about their marriage…so be it.
The issue is that most fans like to believe that every word that comes out of rappers mouths are truth. So when you holla pimp all the time, and we watch you get pimped….well you see my point. It never looks good. There is probably only one or two artist that I believe will do everything they say in their record. (side-bar) For example when I saw that M.O.P. and Heather B. video back in the day… any rapper(s) who choose to roll with a dude that is blatantly missing teeth? And they allow him in their video? They will definitely whoop yo ass.
Don’t get it twisted. Having a public relationship isn’t a bad thing. Some are just better at it than others (i.e. Ice Cube, L.L. Cool J.). I’m not a big reality show fan, but I will check in for a chick fight every now again. I loved watching Run’s House, I stare at T.I. and Tiny (Remind me why T.I.), and I mute the tv when Love and Hip-Hop is on.
Jay-Z and Beyonce have now taken things to a much higher “Hollywood” level. They have brought the whole “new baby exclusive” to the genre whether you like it or not. Anytime you see Twitter overrun by pictures of one baby, well you know that it has officially become a new hip-hop world. They are officially the new “Will and Jada”. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing.
Other rappers have kids, but I think people are just excited about the couple of the moment. It’s cool. I tend to think about how this will effect Jay-Z’s music. I could care less about photos or baby names. The only reason why I am blogging about it is because I’m a hip-hop fan. This topic is borderline tabloid.
Will Jay return to form, re-energized by his offspring? Will Jim Jones try to make the hardest sh*t ever because he looks like a dude who can’t keep his broad in order? Will Fabolous win the playa of the year award for his brainwashing skills? I hope it all turns out good, because when things go south…they don’t get any lower than Karrine Steffans…and that can be pretty low…I’m mean REALLY LOW.
Here is a parting gift for the, unaware, Love & Hip-Hop fans. You may need headphones ;-)
I’ve been waiting to see this film for a while now. A lot of interesting views being touched on in this trailer. A lot of younger artist will look at this and think one thing… “HATING”. Open up your vocabulary, ears & mind…and understand what this information means to your existence as a hip-hop artist or fan. Check the trailer…