I'm not sure this is exactly blog material or not... However, for the one or two people on here who actually listen to hip-hop this might actually be interesting. Let me preface this by saying - my brother called last night and asked for music recommendations and I was completely unprepared. Unprepared? My life centers around the dream that somebody asks me for music recommendations, and it never happens. Finally, the dream becomes a reality and I'm unprepared - what kind of shit is that?
1) Murs - 3:16 The Ninth Edition
An absolute favorite from last year, Murs finally comes through with an album that doesn't just show his potential. 9th Wonder of Little Brother fame, representing NC, comes through with his best beats and Murs absolutely kills it with an EP that touches on love & sex, lost friends & revenge, race issues in hip-hop, and a funny story of a local stick-up gone bad. That's a lot to cover in 10 tracks. For those that are unfamiliar with 9th - he looks, acts, and makes beats just like Pete Rock. Upcoming projects for 9th include: his first solo album featuring everybody and their mama, Big Pooh (just released), another Murs, new Little Brother, a Buckshot (of Black Moon) album, and a Jean Grae album (which has already been leaked - supposed to be stellar). There is a reason this producer has become the busiest in the business...
2) Madvillain (MF Doom and Madlib) - Madvillainy
It took me six months to warm up to this album, but I'm on fire now. The best (yes, best) Madlib production ever, and Doom comes with the crazy, hip vocal stylings. If those marbles are ever surgically removed from Doom's mouth, he might have to look for a new career. Many music magazines have picked this as album of the year and while I would like to agree with that assessment, Murs and Masta Ace would disagree. For those that are a fan of Doom, he has a lot of projects coming up including an album with Danger Mouse called Danger Doom, a new KMD album, Lil Sci and MF Doom project, and a rumored Ghostface Killah/Doom project. Madlib has a busy year planned as well - two new mix cds just dropped (one hip-hop and one funk) called Mind Fusion Volumes 1 & 2, the highly anticipated Medaphor (highly anticipated by me anyway) project, and the most talked about project of the year - Percee P's triumphant return on Stones Throw.
3)Masta Ace - A Long Hot Summer
I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't listened to or bought this album yet... One of the oldest rappers in the game is also one of the most creative - the album is one continuous story. He begins this story as a prequel to his Disposable Arts album from last year, which was also one continuous story. Really nice to see the former Juice Crew emcee dropping quality material. Practically every hip-hop fan I know has this album in the top 3 from last year. Masta Ace is re-releasing Disposable Arts in a couple of months, but after that - he's done. He might do some guest appearances here and there, but this is his curtain call. And unlike Jay-Z, I actually believe this might be the end of a great career.
4)De La Soul - Grind Date
The veterans make a triumphant return, finally. There are still a few cuts that need to be cut and some R&B vocals that are straight wack, but this is still top 10 material for those kids from Long Island (oops, I mean adults). Plus, it's hard to bitch and complain when they put out the song of the year with Rock.Co.Kane Flow (w/Doom). Now, when are we going to get that promised Art Official Intelligence V.3?
5)Lyrics Born - Later That Day
This isn't making anybody's list, but it's making mine... Besides a three or four track lapse in the middle, this album buries everything I've listened to this year. He sings, he raps, he gets funky, and he puts out an album that redefines funk in hip-hop. Quannum continues to release quality and people continue to ignore them... I don't get it. Now can we get another Poets Of Rhythm album from you, because Amy Sue needs something new to dance to...
6)Oh No - Disrupt
Stones Throw misses sometimes (like that unlistenable trash, Jaylib), but it's not often. Madlib's younger brother drops one of the best albums this year... I'm not going to argue that Oh No is the next Nas on the mic, but he has a good flow, better than average lyrics, and the best beats of the year (excluding his brother's Madvillainy project). If you like his production on here - also check the Kazi album and his mix cd The Disrupt Chronicles, which has most (if not all) the songs he has produced for other groups during the last couple of years.
7)Haiku D'Tat - Coup De Theatre
Nobody would argue that this is Acey, Abby, or Mikah's best material, but it's solid and completely different than everything else that is being dropped. To me, this is a more accessible Freestyle Fellowship project - think Temptations, only much better.
8)Roots - The Tipping Point
This is another album that took a couple of months to grow on me. As long as you aren't expecting another Illadelph, Do You Want More, or Things Fall Apart - this will be a welcomed edition to your headphones.
Other stuff that I have been listening to and would recommend:
Danger Mouse & Jemini - Ghetto Pop Life (stellar beats/mediocre raps)
DJ Shadow - In Tune And On Time (live album from a date in the UK - fabulous)
Nas - Stillmatic (best album since his return to dominance)
MF Doom - MM...Food (absolutely hypnotic...)
Little Brother - The Listening (if you liked Tribe back in '92, it's hard for me to imagine you disliking this...)
Edan - Primitive Plus (I slept on this for so long - late 80's beats coupled with an updated style of rhyme)
New stuff to keep an eye out for:
Perceptionist - Black Dialogue (Akrobatik is mediocre, but hey, the other emcee is Mr. Lif - automatically dope)
Aesop Rock - Fast Cars, Danger, Fire, And Knives EP (complete 5 album lyric book for the obsessive fan)
Sir Menelik - Cyclops 4000: The Einstein Rosen Bridge (all the old material from his Rawkus days - I've been waiting for this album since '96 when he dropped So Intelligent w/Kool Keith)
Edan - Beauty And The Beat