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 album, the singles, the time. Great time for hip-hop. Glad that I had the opportunity to see them perform before they blew up. You want to talk about classics? Regardless of what you may feel about them individually, they worked as a group. This week’s Re-Release is Fugees “Ready Or Not“.
“The Fugees translated an intriguing blend of jazz-rap, R&B, and reggae into huge success during the mid-’90s, when the trio’s sophomore album The Score hit number one on the pop charts and sold over five million copies. The trio formed in the late ’80s in the New Jersey area, where Lauryn Hill andPrakazrel Michel (“Pras“) attended a local high school and began working together. Michel‘s cousin Wyclef Jean (“Clef“) joined the group (then calledthe Tranzlator Crew), and the trio signed to Ruffhouse/Columbia in 1993. After renaming themselves The Fugees (a term of derision, short for refugees, which was usually used to describe Haitian immigrants). Though the group’s debut album, Blunted on Reality, was quite solid, it reflected a prevailing gangsta stance that may have been forced by the record label. ” – Allmusic.com
Gangstarr had a song that spoke about how the uniqueness in your voice is one of the things that got you attention in hip-hop. A distinct voice is just as important as a distinct style (i.e. Q-Tip, B-Real, Kendrick). Sure there have been rappers with similar vocal tones but, in 2013/2014, I feel like there are waaay too many.
Each rapper brings something to the table that separates him or herself from the other. It’s just hard to tell when they sound so much a like. They target the same audience. Somebody’s not going to eat. It doesn’t matter who came first, they all came up together.
I was listening to Childish Gambino’s new album when this became ever so clear. Nothing against him but he sound/feels like Drake, Big Sean, & Lupe Fiasco all rolled in one. Maybe that’s the hook? IDK. It becomes increasingly hard to tell the difference for the uninformed.
Nobody has bass in their voice? Only in interviews? I don’t understand. Unfortunately, it all comes down to the marketing of this style. Everybody wants what is charting. Once upon a time artist would get signed because they had a unique sound. Now they get deals because they sound the same.
I will always remember Russell Simmons saying he didn’t sign Nas back in the day because he sound too much like Kool G. Rap. If that were today, not only would he have signed him, he probably would have a roster full of them.
It all just sends a uninspired message to the up and coming hip-hop artist. “Why be you when you can be them?”
Here is that Gangstarr song I talked about (side bar- I didn’t like it but it’s the truth. Lol!):
It’s snowing here on the east coast and I couldn’t think of anything better for this Tuesday. Basically, I thought the snow scene in this video was dope back in the day. It also helps that this is the lead single off of iLLmatic. Nothing more to be said. This week’s Re-Release is Nas’s “It Ain’t Hard To Tell“.
“Often cited as one of the best hip-hop albums of the ’90s, Illmatic is the undisputed classic upon which Nas’ reputation rests. It helped spearhead the artistic renaissance of New York hip-hop in the post-Chronic era, leading a return to street aesthetics. Yet even if Illmatic marks the beginning of a shift away from Native Tongues-inspired alternative rap, it’s strongly rooted in that sensibility. For one, Nas employs some of the most sophisticated jazz-rap producers around: Q-Tip, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and Large Professor, who underpin their intricate loops with appropriately tough beats… ” – Allmusic.com
2013 will soon come to a close, and I will post my annual top projects of the year. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and I have covered a lot of hot music. Out of all of my “Top” albums from year to year, what has survived the test of time so far? Here are 5 albums/mixtapes that I still rock like they are new:
Raekwon feat. Ghostface Killah- “Only Built for Cuban Linx II” (2009)
“I may not listen as much as I used to but it still gets a lot of run throughout the year. This album, much like his debut, came at a important moment in hip-hop history. The debate around whether or not Hip-Hop was dead. Not at all my friend. If you go back and play this album right now…it will take you there. All the signs of a modern day classic. ”
Nas “Life Is Good” (2012)
“Life is good. Word. This album felt like the embodiment of that term. Not only for Nas personally, but for anyone who has ever stressed over the current state of their life. It was the perfect Nas album for this point in his career. The legends have timing, and THIS…is just that. Still sounds great.”
Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” (2010)
“I knew this album would be hard to top. The production, the lyrical awareness (whatever), the abstract nature at which this album comes together. From the cover, to the guest, to the videos… This is Picasso Baby! And Kanye didn’t even have to say it. Kanye has classics in the game. This album might be the highest his ceiling goes. Only time will tell…”
Kendrick Lamar “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City” (2012)
“Why wouldn’t this be in my rotation?! What makes this debut album so special is the fact that it came from the new generation. Let me say it for you…. This is a hip-hop classic…already. All of the things that people complain about in hip-hop as it relates to the younger generation, K. Dot destroyed it. There are young emcees who get it. Dope conceptual debut that introduces you to Kendrick Lamar on so many levels. I’ll tell you like this, this spot will be filled for a while. Steady rotation fo sho.”
Elzhi & Will Sessions “Elmatic“(2011)
“Hard to front on this one…still. I was just blown away by the execution of this project. It was like getting Illmatic all over again but updated. Will Sessions is the future. Elzhi was always a nice emcee to me but he got loose on this one. If you’ve never heard this project, do yourself a favor. You will not be disappointed.”
Watch us chop it up every week….LIVE… at 9pm right here on HipHoPolitic.com:
This week… “Eric B. & Rakim, Drake’s album cover, Golden Era”
Watch us chop it up every week….LIVE… at 9pm right here on HipHoPolitic.com:
This week… “What does this Kendrick Lamar Verse do for Hip-Hop in 2013?”
This week I decided to put up a tribute mix to Nas & AZ collabos. Get em while it’s hot! Cause it is…
1. Nas & AZ (DJ Clue)- Serious
2. Nas feat. AZ- Life’s Bitch
3. The Firm- Firm Biz
4. The Firm feat. Canibus- Desparados
5. AZ feat. Nas- How ya Livin’
6. AZ feat. Nas- The Essence
7. The Firm- Affirmative Action
8. The Firm- Affirmative Action (remix)
9. Nas feat. AZ- The Flyest
10. AZ feat. Nas- Mo Money, Mo Murder, More Homicide
11. The Firm- Phone Tap
12. Nas feat. AZ & Biz Markie(Demo)- Understanding
13. The Firm- La Familia
14. The Firm- Executive Decision
Ah, Snoop…I don’t know what the hell to make of you at this point. Has he run out of sh*t to rap about? Is this a gimmick to gain attention? Is this just a reason to continue to smoke weed (I thought he quit)? Or was he truly inspired by the Rastafarian Religion? I have no idea.
Part of me was skeptical because Snoop has proved in the past that in order to continue as a viable rap artist, he had to expand his horizons. He couldn’t just be the “Gin & Juice” Snoop, he had to also be the “Beautiful” Snoop. Then he became the “Sexual Seduction” Snoop. Sh*t, he even did a record with Willie Nelson of all people. I’m not mad though.
He is here. He’s not on a “What Ever Happened to…?” show. He has survived a lot. He really shouldn’t be as visible as he is today. There are rappers who debuted last year that don’t have as much buzz. I mean, his career is one hell of a roller-coaster ride when you think about it. Somehow I feel like this could be his last ride.
I’m saying, what kind of insensitive dude would adopt a religion as another means to sell records (Ma$e?). If Snoop Lion was to return as Snoop Dogg, he would be forever scrutinized. Not only would the Rastafarian community sh*t on him (They already have in some circles), but his fans wouldn’t respect him. Do they respect him now? Are Snoop Dogg fans now Snoop Lion fans?
Has his fan base evolved with him? The messages contradict one another. The music/lyrics are about peace and spirituality now. Not “B*tchez ain’t Sh*t”. Honestly, more people should be happy for him. More fans should applaud his music. Is this not the kind of music people say is lacking in today’s hip-hop? Is it hip-hop?
Honestly, I still don’t know what to feel about the whole situation. I am not a die hard Snoop fan, but I have a couple of albums. This Snoop Lion isn’t my cup of tea. Why? I just don’t think he is any good at Reggae. Whatever makes the man happy though… Salute Bruhda.
THE EVOLUTION THAT IS SNOOP DOGGY DOGG -> SNOOP LION: