Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Top 60 Hip Hop Songs of 2009: #60 - #41

Why 60? Well, you see, I started at 50 and then got a bit generous… That and I realized that forgetfulness is my greatest weakness. Right next to Kryptonite. Though I’ve assisted Rizoh in compiling and ranking his HipHopCritic poll in the past few years, I’ve never done one of these lists of my own before because my procrastinating self usually ended up spazzing out at the last minute. That and in the past, term papers and finals held me back; but not this year! The fact that year-end lists seem to be a must-have for ALL music websites makes it feel kind of forced (not to mention the fact that this list is far from perfect because I suck at ranking stuff). Whatever. I’ve been asked to do these in the past and never followed through. Again, not this year! So here it is: a personal list of my favorite tracks from 2009.

60. Gift of Gab - Dreamin' (feat. Del tha Funkee Homosapien & Brother Ali)

What happens when you put a trio of well-respected underground heads in a cipher? Heat! Gab’s multi-syllabic rhyme patterns and Ali’s insistent flow shine brilliantly, but it’s Sir DZL’s West coast veteran slapstick raps that takes the cake here. Overall, if you’re not bopping your head to this track, you should set up an appointment with an orthopedist, stat.

59. Slum Village – Da Night

This frenetic heat rock by the Slumdog Villionaires (fuck you, I just coined that shit) is my favorite cut off their recently released Manifesto EP. Expect big things from SV in 2010.

58. Obie Trice - Can't 4eva

Over a strung-out glam-rock sample, Trice reflects on the crooked lifestyle of drug dealing. Reminiscent of his 2004 single “Don’t Come Down”, “Can’t 4eva” sees Obie going in on the retrospective tip – his strongest suit in my book.

57. Lupe Fiasco – Fire

Not too many people kick flows to Jimi Hendrix’s insane guitar plucks or Mitch Mitchell’s frantic drum breaks. Yet again, Lupe Fiasco is the exception to the rule. Released as a response to MTV’s “Hot List”, Fiasco digs deep. Of course he’s not merely “hot.” Lupe Fiasco’s beyond that – he’s on fire!

56. Warren G - 100 Miles & Runnin' (feat. Raekwon & Nate Dogg)

When I heard that there’d be a Nate Dogg collabo in 2009, I almost lost it… in a good way. I later came to find out that this track wasn’t even recorded this year though. We all hope that Nate Dogg recovers because we miss his music so much. Just take a glance at some of the biggest hits from the first half of this decade and the second half. Nate’s absence is felt, no question about it.

55. DJ Quik & Kurupt - Cream N Ya Panties

Mix a boppable beat with a g-funk twist in the ’09 and you’ve got yourself a record! Quik and Kurupt spit their smooth operator raps over this lush concoction. What else can you call this but a pimp anthem.

54. Big Boi - Fo Yo Sorrows (feat. George Clinton, Too $hort & Sam Chris)

If you played a 45 of OutKast’s “B.O.B.” as a 33 1/3, it’d sound a little something like this. The masters of funk dominate this slinky brew, but it’s Sam Chris’ sticky hook vocals that steal the show.

53. Souls of Mischief – Postal

Though their new album’s production was mostly handled by Prince Paul, this has got to be my pick of the litter. Produced by the Souls’ own Opio, “Postal” is a fun track that I can’t seem to drop from my rotation.

52. J. Cole – Lights Please

The melody of this track strikes me as a minimalistic interpretation of OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson”; the content isn’t too far off either (kinda, sorta). It’s tough to say whether J. Cole is A. better than, and B. as commercially-viable as Drake. We soon shall see. As I see it, the bets are off. But 2010 is his chance to change that.

51. Brother Ali – Good Lord

Rakim knows he’s got soul. Hip hop’s preacher man returns with this memorable cut off the Truth is Here EP. Best line of them all: “Chappelle busts funnies, Mos Def busts rhymes/ Muhammad Ali is the greatest of all time/.”

50. M.O.P. – Blow the Horns (feat. Busta Rhymes)

The Mash Out Posse returns with some more of their Brownsville “fiyaaaah”, bringing along BK brethren Busta Rhymes to spit sizzling bars over Fizzy Wo’s brass production.

49. KiD CuDi - Heart of a Lion (KiD CuDi Theme Music)

Free School’s intergalactic soundscape takes Mr. Cudder out of this world – literally – but it’s CuDi’s own catchiness that latches on. This fast-paced, light-hearted “fuck you” to haters is a get up stand up anthem of its own: Revenge of the nerds meets hip hop.

48. Game – Bang Along

Quite possibly the most creative manipulation of a Curtis Mayfield sample right next to D12’s “That How”, Game’s West-centric childhood reflections are sincere as can be. Tracks like these lead me to believe that he’s is the second coming of ‘Pac, but then he goes around and screws it up by working with Gucci Mane… Fuck!

47. La Coka Nostra - Choose Your Side (feat. Bun B)

Whether he was influenced by Slumdog Millionaire or not, Alchemist really went in on this Bollywood-sampling frenzy of a beat. Easily better than anything on Beat Konducta in India. Sorry Madlib.

46. B-Real - Don't Ya Dare Laugh (feat. Xzibit & Young De)

When I close my eyes listening to this track, I think of low riders, wide lanes, palm trees and the ocean breeze – and that’s got nothing to do the fact that I live in L.A. at all. Underrated beatsmith Scoop DeVille really captured the essence of the West coast sound on this anthem which thematically fits the beach and streets alike.

45. I.V.A.N. – What She Said

Don’t let my bias for fellow Ivans get in the way of my bias for Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” which was featured on the second season finale of my guilty pleasure (yeah, I said it) The O.C. and later parodied and further popularized by Adam Samberg and his ilk on Saturday Night Live. In the same year when Jason DeRulo’s “Whatcha Say” sampled this indie/alt. hit, Infra Red of The Aviators’ interpretation is much, much better in my opinion. The engrossing soundscape mixed with I.V.A.N.’s smooth-talking (it’s what we do) go together like gin and tonic.

44. DJ Quik & Kurupt – 9x’s Outta 10

Kurupt’s fluid flow makes it all seem effortless. But most noteworthy on this joint is straight-retarded Quik production; I’d advise you to turn this up and shut the fuck up.

43. Uncle Murda – Murdera

This relatively obscure throwaway track landed onto The Tape Deck early in the year, and I still can’t get it out of my head. I love the fact that two ridiculously catchy party-starters morphed as one, all beneath Uncle M’s murderous raps. Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper” and Taana Gardner’s uncontrollable head-bopper “Heartbeat” help to build a match made in hip hop heaven. Too bad not enough people heard this track. I’m here to change that!

42. Snoop Dogg - I Wanna Rock

So let me get this straight: Snoop Dogg flipped some of the best portions of Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two” and made it a dark and subversive club banger? Props to Tha Doggfather for that! The best track on Malice N Wonderland, hands down.

41. Rick Ross - Mafia Music

Ever since I realized that Jadakiss and 50 Cent were signed to the same record label (Interscope) when they were “beefing”, it dawned on me that even the most lyrically legit of rap rivalries are purely manufactured to sell records. The same can be said for Ross and Fif’s little spat in ’09. I didn’t really take a side in this one because quite frankly I didn’t give a shit, but I was impressed by this cinematic street single. Ross mock raps feel careless and cocky over the deep organ keystrokes and ethereal strings. Overall, an engulfing aural experience. A Deeper Than Rap instrumental LP would be a good look…. Pirates, lemme know…

#40 - #21 & #20 - #1 are coming soon...

Any predictions on what my top 10 will look like?