Monday, January 19, 2009

The 2008 Hip Hop Rap Up My Favorite Picks

2008 Rap Up

I was gonna do a Rap Up, Skillz style.. LOL. But I decided not to go that route. I got enough unfinished rhymes & poems floating that I need to complete. lol. PLUS, I've been wanting to do this for the past few months.

This year there have been a lot of complaints about the music (many I agree with). But I want to focus on the positive music that came out. Yeah, this was the year of Lil' Wayne. But before I name my favorites I want to say for the record why Lil' Wayne is not acknowledged on my list. It's simple really. Becuz I didn't listen to his album to place it. So this list is purely based on the albums I've listened to & either enjoyed or didn't care for.

So if anyone has a qualm about my list, it's not to say your choices weren't good. But either I didn't listen to it or wasn't feeling it. And honestly, I've never (EVER) been a Weezy fan, not even during the Hot Boyz days. Not to discredit, but he just does nothing for me. But if anyone has any albums to add, feel free to acknowledge them, becuz I'm always looking for new music to embrace. Lord knows you won't find them on the radio. (sigh....)

Anyway, I have 4 different list.....

1. Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2008 (those released in 2008)
2. Top 5 Honorable Mentions (breaking them down to 5, so I can get others feedback & suggestions)
3. Top 5 Georgie-Come-Lately (albums I discovered this year, but dropped in 2007)
4. Top 5 Disappointments (albums I wasn't too fond of)

no particular order

1. Ludacris: Theaters of the Mind
I will say this has to be my favorite Luda album of them all. Although he caught flack for it, I even like the T- Pain joint. My only 2 gripes is that he didn't have one particular song, "Let's Stay Together" from his mixtape which talked about rappers coming together & squashing beefs. Another gripe, I like the T.I. collabo on T.I.'s album better than the one on his. & wish that was on this album also. But I have both, so that don't matter.

2. Nas - Ni66er (Untitled... but we know the deal. lol)
I'm not surprise this album didn't get the buzz it should've got, although I'm still mad he lost "Best Lyricist Award" to Lil' Wayne at the BET Hip Hop Awards. But I'll leave that alone. I had the same gripe when he lost to Biggie in 95, so it's no diss to Wayne. Conceptual wise, this has to be Nas' best body of work or close to it. Production-wise would be my only complaint. That has been his achiles heal for the past 3 albums (this, Street's Disciples & Hip Hop Is Dead). But this is the stronger of the past 3. Either way, I hope he drop another Lost Tape, cuz it seems his best production works are the ones he DON'T release. lol

3. Jean Grae - The Evil Jeanius/Jeanius
To be honest, I didn't want to acknowledge "The Evil Jeanius" album since it was done by her old label without her consent & she's not collecting any funds off of it. This is sad, b/c the production of Blue Sky Black Death did an excellent job. The dark sinister beats & dope production fits her delivery to a tee. This is probably the best body of work I've heard since her debut, "Attack of the Attacking Things." But I can't take nothing away from the "original" Jeanius either, which is why I included it (although I much prefer the original 2004 bootlegged version becuz it sounds more raw & organic), but the Evil Jeanius is definitely worth a listen. (But I'd bootleg that particular one, since she won't see a dime of it.)

4. Elzhi - The Preface
This was one accident I'm glad I discovered. I've liked this cat since I heard him on Slum Village's Trinity album. Although he was a replacement to Jay Dilla in the group, I saw the dope lyricist in him right away. And ever since he ripped with Phonte on "Hiding Place" off the LB's Minstrel Show album, I'd been looking for him to drop something. I was already sold after coping the "Out of Focus" EP, but when he dropped this jewel, he immediately became my favorite emcee out of the "D". Although it's a tough call b/w he & Royce... (& maybe One Be Lo.)

5. Tanya Morgan - The Bridge
A co-worker discovered them on myspace & turned me on to them. At the time, they had (still have) a free download of their mixtape called "Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group", which I thought was clever since I originally thought it was a female singer. lol. The mixtape was actually pretty good & honestly felt more like an album to me. It was so good, before this album came out, I decided to peep their debut, "Moonlighting" which is also a tight album, & actually made me more anxious to get this. And it was definitely not disappointing in the least. My only gripe is that it's an EP with 10 songs. But at the same time, every joint on there is a banger. So I'm definitely not too mad.

6. Torae - Daily Conversations:
He has to be one of the nicest to come out of NY in a minute. But even the birthplace of hip hop has a tendency to sleep on their own talent. Why else would he go under the radar, yet 50 Cent, Maino (50 junior.... 25 Cent. LOL), & Dipset remain to be relevant? this brutha has major skills, then on top have some of the best producers on here (Marco Polo, Premo, 9th, Black Milk, Khrysis). And this was actually his debut album.

7. Q-Tip - The Renaissance
I was totally caught off guard by how dope this album was. I'm a be honest, I expected it to be okay. I purchased it off the strength that it was a Q-Tip & ATCQ fan. But although it's number 7 on here, this would have to be in my top 5 if this list was in order. I think this one of, if not, the best comeback in hip hop history. He definitely reminded me of what he could do not only as an emcee, but as a producer/beatmaker as well. I can't wait for the next album with he & Common together.

8. J-Live - Then What Happened
This one almost escaped me, since it came out earlier in the year. I had to go back & replay it to remember how dope it was. I've been a fan of J-Live since I got first introduced to him by another friend around 2002 or 2003. I still want to go back & listen to this again.

9. EMC - The Show
This was another album I read about from a friend. As soon as I did the research & saw it was Masta Ace's group along with Wordsworth, it was a no-brainer. I had to have it. And been enjoying it ever since.

10. Black Milk - Tronic
I really didn't expect to like this since I was late checking the "Sound of the City" CD & still feeling the "Popular Demand" joint. Some ppl can't do albums back to back, & I didn't think he could after 2 hot albums plus producing other albums (see Elzhi's "The Preface"). But brutha is definitely one of the best producer to come out of Detroit since Dilla. And he's pretty good on the mic, too.


1. Illa J - The Yancey Boys: J Dilla's younger brother who looks just like him in pictures. There'll never be another Dilla, but homey's not bad at all. Plus he sings & raps pretty good (not as good as Black Milk.. but he's decent & it compliments the beats). I think he used some of Dilla's beats though, as well as his own... So it's definitely a dope tribute to one brother & an intro to another. We'll see.... but he's got some BIG shoes to fill.
2. Supastition - Leave of Absence: He is at the top of my HM, cuz I really wanted to add him to my top 10. He has to one of my favorites, b/c he's definitely the blue collar emcee that speaks things anyone can relate to. I was torn b/w this EP or his other as Kam Moye "Self Centered" (Black Enough joint posted on my "Who's Blacker" blog), but their both hot & the later is available on his site for FREE download.
3. Invincible - Shapeshifter: Between her & Jean Grae, it should be a crime that femcees don't get the credit they deserve. And she's a white girl, so you'd think they'd be all over her trying to make her more Feminem. (not a mispelling) LOL. But this girl has crazy skills. I discovered her on my Pandora radio, & didn't know she was white until I peep the album cover. But you wouldn't think it if you heard her lyrically content. Very deep & positive.
4. Black Sheep: I think this came out the very end of 2007 (Dec.), but this was actually a dope album. I wasn't surprised after peeping one of their videos on The Spitkickers page. Unfortunately, Mista Lawnge left after the album was released so Dres is solo carrying the Black Sheep name (like it mattered, since Dres was the true star of the group anyway). But it's definitely worth checking.
5. Hezekiah - I Predict A Riot: This was an album I had to get reacquainted with cuz I hadn't heard it in awhile. It was a toss up b/w this & Large Pro's "Main Source" & also Heltah Skeltah's "D.I.R.T." and a few others. BUt overall, I liked this one better.


1. Kanye West - 808 & Heartbreak: FTR, I think it's a pretty good album for what he was going for. But from a hip hop standpoint, it's disappointing b/c he's always been like the saving grace for the past 4 years. When everybody was on some trend or coming lame, you could always count on Kanye to bring that love back. But this year, he brought us heartbreak on autotune. LOL. I ain't mad, cuz I got his other 3 to keep my ears warm. lol
2. Common - Universal Mind Control: I respect his experimentation & I actually like the title track, cuz it takes me back to the "Planet Rock" days. But over all, I can't see myself playing it as much as I did "Be" or "Finding Forever". On a good note, I can tolerate it better than I could "Electric Circus." But I know he'll redeem himself with his album with Q-Tip. I just hope the Neptunes are not involved. (Sorry, I like them... but judging from UMC & Electric Circus.... Common needs a restraining order from them.)
3. The Roots - Rising Down: I know I'm gonna catch some heat for this. But, I wasn't feeling it. Whenever I hear this, I just want to go back to their old archives. I think it's too much emphasis on showing their a live band instrumentation that Black Thought is over drowned by the music. To me, it's too crowded. Less is more, especially in hip hop. Not knocking them as a band, but it just makes me fiend for a Black Thought solo album. and what sucks, this is the 2nd album from Def Jam & it got more buzz than Game Theory, when that one was a much tighter album.
4. Immortal Technique - 3rd World: I got turned on to him on a satellite radio station with a joint from his 2nd album (Revolutionary vol. 2). Definitely on some deadprez meets KRS shit. I loved the album so much I went back & retrieved his 1st (which was decent)... then later this album. One word..... GARBAGE. Total disappointment. I skimmed through it & haven't been back to play it since.
5. Sheek Louch - Silverback Gorilla: I was torn b/w this & LL's Exit 13. I figured since LL hasn't dropped an album I liked in 8 years then it's not truly a disappointment, but expected. LOL. (Sorry Keia. the mixtape was okay.. somewhat, but the album was a let down....) But Sheek from the Lox in my opinion, although not the sharpest rhymer in the group, I always thought put out better songs than Jada & Styles. But he definitely got contaminated by the mainstream bug this time & left this album with nothing but crap.

1. Blu & Exile: Below the Heavens - Dope album, & everybody should be on the lookout for Blu out of Cali
2. NY Oil: HoodTreason - he's an arrogant pompous in interviews, but a deep brutha.
3. Mos Def : Mos Definite - actually an import that should've been released in the states.
4. One Be Lo : R.E.B.I.R.T.H. - just discovered him through someone's debate on who's better, him or Elzhi & I've been playing his whole catalog for the past week. (The answer, Elzhi still the winner.... but One Be Lo ain't no joke.)
5. Marco Polo - Port Authority - this album is amazing. Marco Polo has to be one of the best beatmakers I've heard in years, & he has a lot of nice emcees on here spitting to his beats.

Over all, in spite of the oversaturation of autotunes & stripper music, all I gotta say is... thank God for the internet, youtube & the Spitkickers for providing an alternative. And also thank God for my high speed internet. (Can you believe it's been a year since I got rid of dial-up. LOL)


Jay_fever said...

-One Be Lo got my vote
-Still playing catch up on Blu...I slept on him all of 08
-That Black Milk kinda crept up on me. I wouldn't say the album is a classic, because I definitely skip over some joints...but those joints are very few in number. Dude is slowly getting in the running with Kanye and Q-tip for best rapper/producer

Phellah G said...

I got hooked on One Be Lo late, & I think I played all 3 of his albums back to back for a whole week. That Black Milk did come out of nowhere, cuz I was still vibing to his album prior to that "Sound of the City". His first is still my favorite, "By Popular Demand." Compared to those 2, Tronic is definitely not his best. But still tight for a guy that's only been in the game for short time.

Phellah G said...

Oh yeah, Jay. ANd that Blu is a beast on the mic. I just got turned on to another album he did with another producer where they collectively call themselves, Johnson & Jonson. Their album is hot also.