Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quarterly Rap Up: Q3 2010

Like we always do about this time...

25. Black Milk - Deadly Medley (feat. Royce Da 5'9 & eLZhi)

The first single from Black Milk's Album of the Year finds three of Detroit's finest playing three card molly over a hypnotic banger. The trio's flows mesh well together, leading me to imagine a scenario in which Royce ditches the Slaughterhouse ship and keeps it local with his fellow Motown emcees.

24. Mark Ronson - Lose It (In the End) (feat. Ghostface Killah)

Since the moment when Ghostface erroneously shouted out "Mark Bronson" on "Ooh Wee", I figured we'd witness an interesting rapport continue to form between these two. Together, Ghost and Ronson have released some soulful and enjoyable cuts, and "Lost It (In the End)" is no exception. It's a bit of a stretch for a hip hop track, but Mr. Starks, chameleon of this rap shit, pulls it off effectively.

23. Kanye West - Power (Remix) (feat. Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz)

Remember when I suggested that Just Blaze should bring back "The Power" by Snap!? Well, it seems like Swizzy and Yeezy were paying attention... or not. In any regards, as much of a throwaway track as this remix is, I can't deny the greatness of a Jay-Z/Kanye collabo. Honestly, the portion of the song that stuck with me is Jay's lyrics which include: "To be continued.../ We on that Norman Mailer shit/..." That's a literary reference, alluding to Mailer's longest and arguably greatest novel, Harlot's Ghost.

22. Raekwon - Rockstars (feat. Inspectah Deck & GZA)

This is my favorite track from Rae's throwaway, er, I mean bonus joints from the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...II re-release/gold edition. The beat is mellow and jazzy with gleaming instrumentation. The heft of this track though is the lyrical content, as is often the case with the Clan. Rae, Deck and the Genius provide three different narratives, interweaved by nothing at all. It's like a Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode. Rae and GZA offer two cautionary tales (GZA's is my favorite) while the Rebel INS will surprise you with his effective double-speed flow.

21. Rick Ross - Free Mason (feat. Jay-Z & John Legend)

Not nearly as "controversial" as I'd expected it to be, "Free Mason" is hardly different from Ross' typical arsenal of rags to riches boasts and chants. It's one of the better ones though. Jay-Z provides a symbolism-fueled verse worth multiple listens and the overall atmosphere provided by The Inkredibles and John Legend's crooning is simply marvelous. Ross and Legend are two for two thus far.

20. Xzibit - Highest Form of Understanding (H.F.O.U.) (feat. Trick Trick)

Xzibit is an emcee that I've been rooting for for many years. I'm a fan. After dropping the ball in '08 (he previously maintained a habit of dropping an album every year ending with an even number since '96), the door's almost closing for him to serve up MMX in 2010. On "H.F.O.U." he sounds hungry and focused, waxing nostalgic with a forceful delivery. I'm hoping he can wrap that album up once and for all.

19. Bun B - Let 'Em Know

Premier and Bun B were bound to hit the booth one of these days. After all, they both hail from Houston, Texas and have both earned a reputation all across the map, heralded as rap veterans. It's regrettable that they had to collab under these conditions though. Pimp C passed away in 2007, as did Guru just a few months ago, leaving Bun B and Premier as the flag bearers for two of hip hop's best duos. Is a possible UGK/Gang Starr remaining members union in the stars? Tracks like "Let 'Em Know" are appropriately titled for us to keep wondering.

18. Joell Ortiz - Sing Like Bilal

Funk Flex originally premiered this banger, finding Joell going in on a Premo heat rock. It's absolute fire, on some late 90s quality shit. Joell continues to impress with his durable flow.

17. MED - Classic (feat. Talib Kweli)

Producer Karriem Riggins' soulful sound bed fits Medaphoar and Kweli's back pack bars like a glove. The guitar pluckings and ethereal vocal loops are hypnotizing.

16. Redman - Fly

This track's gotten its fair share of hate and dismissal, but #iFuxwitit heavy. When Reggie kicked some auto-tune on "City Lights" last year, I noticed some grunts and groans from critics. Personally, my problem with auto-tune has never been the sound itself. It's been the fact that I despise a talentless person using a vocoder to compensate for shitty vocals. That's not the case here as Redman is more than capable to spit any which way he so chooses, this time opting for an exuberant flow. The auto-tune suits him on this production and he handles it well. Most importantly, it doesn't sound forced. He holds his own. And boy does it knock ridiculously with a booming sound system.

15. Black Milk - Black & Brown (feat. Danny Brown)

Nearly every blogger I know of has vouched for Danny Brown in some shape, form or fashion. I'm still not sold. His lyrics are dope - especially on this track - but I'm not feeling his voice or unpolished flow. Maybe it'll grow on me. That said, this track is vicious and easily my favorite from Album of the Year.

14. Kool G. Rap - Sad

This song makes me happy. Word to Haylie Duff. Produced by Supa Dave, "Sad" is the first single from G. Rap's upcoming LP Riches Royalty Respect. Coming soon...

13. Big K.R.I.T. - Hometown Hero (Remix) (feat. Yelawolf)

Adele's "Hometown Glory" has been chopped up more than the French ruling class in the late 1700s, but Big K.R.I.T.'s rendition may be the nicest of them all. Originally released on his K.R.I.T. Wuz Here mixtape (which I slept on when it originally dropped), this version features "small town boy" Yelawolf, showing love to his home of Alabama.

12. Kanye West - So Appalled (feat. RZA, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Swizz Beatz & CyHi Da Prynce)

There are so many problems with this G.O.O.D. Friday release, I'll just name a few: 1) Swizz Beatz intro portion is poorly mixed, as you'll notice at around the 00:16 mark, 2) RZA's contribution was lackluster, 3) "ri-dick-a-liss" is re-taw-dead. But the sheer magnitude of the track itself supersedes any minor qualms. The beat is simultaneously gorgeous and haunting - powerful in spades. Unsurprisingly, Jay-Z towers above all.

11. DJ Muggs vs. Ill Bill - Chase Manhattan (feat. Raekwon)

Bill and Rae have proven great partners in the past. Back again, they spit mastermind heist bars on some "not fucking around crew" type steez, word to The Town (go see that shit). Providing a frenetic theme song-like beat, Muggs has gotta be the crew's reliable getaway driver.

10. Z-Ro - These Days

Tupac ranked pretty high in hip hop's unscientific "realness" scale. 'Face is up there too, and Z-Ro continues to prove that he isn't too far away either. "These Days" finds Z-Ro dropping gangsta rap scriptures from the pulpit. Fuck Eddie Long, nhjic.

9. Hell Razah - Cinematic

From Ant of Atmosphere to Proof to posthumous Biggie Smalls, add Hell Razah to the list of emcees who spit over this classic "Black Bach" sample by Lamont Dozier. The touching instrumental is the perfect backdrop for Hell Razah's intricate storytelling, which is peppered with a bevy of Blaxploitation film title references.

8. Paul Wall - Live It (feat. Yelawolf, Raekwon & Jay Electronica)

Though his album bricked harder than a mic to the grill (shots!), "Live It" was a surprisingly pleasant effort off Paul Wall's Heart of a Champion LP. The features list reads like a who's who of rap blog royalty, with each emcee providing a solid contribution. An ensemble cast that works well together, finally.

7. John Legend & The Roots - Our Generation (J.Period Remix) (feat. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth)

Providing their own rendition of this Ernie Hines classic, John Legend and The Roots wisely enlisted Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth to revisit their 1992 joint from the duo's brilliant Mecca and Soul Brother LP. Man, I wish these brothers would cut the bullshit and head back into the 'udio once and for all.

6. Nas - Power, Paper & Pussy (a.k.a. Last Real Nigga Alive, Pt. 2)

With The Lost Tapes: Part 2 somewhere along the pipeline and tracks like these popping up every once in a blue moon, I continue to have hope in Nas, my favorite living emcee. I can listen to this track on repeat for a half hour, no problem - and admittedly, I have.

5. Lupe Fiasco - Go to Sleep

What's to come of Lupe Fiasco's eagerly anticipated upcoming album? Is it gonna be called Lasers or Food & Liquor 2 or something else? Will we get a fan-approved LP or Atlantic Records' faulty vision of a commercially viable product? I can only judge from what I hear, and with "Go to Sleep", I give Wasalu two thumbs way up. 1500 or Nothin's production is brilliant, but it's Lupe's lyrics that steal the show. With his use of double entendres, it's clear he graduated with flying colors from S. Carter Academy. Do the right thing, Atlantic!

4. Kanye West - Runaway (Noise Vocal Sample Edit) (feat. Pusha T)

Kanye West's singing skills may be a sacrilege to humanity, but he's arguably second to none when it comes to unique and honest artistry and production creativity. The moment you first heard those oscillating piano keys at the VMAs you knew you were witnessing a "moment", right? I don't approve of douchebags and assholes, but "Runaway" is alright with me. My skepticism barometer will be in full swing when 'Ye's new album drops, but that doesn't mean I'm not anxiously awaiting its arrival.

3. Freddie Gibbs - National Anthem (Fuck The World)

Gangsta Gibbs does it again! "National Anthem", the best song on the Str8 Killa EP, further solidifies Freddie Gibbs' 'Pac pedigree on the mic with his "fuck the world" attitude. Now, when's that LP dropping? Ha!

2. Bishop Lamont - Hollow Eyes (feat. Anjulie)

Label frustrations are a motherfucker. Bishop Lamont's seen it all, after having been dicked around by Aftermath Records for years with little to show for all his waiting (rumors indicate he's recorded approximately 700 songs during this time). On "Hollow Eyes", he unloads on the 'math and other facets of the industry with little regard. Bishop's reflective barbs hit home effectively alongside the company of Anjulie and her sultry lilts, combined with Soul Nana's sentimental backdrop. This is divine music (music, music...). The Shawshank Redemption/Angola 3 is coming soon.

1. Cee-Lo - Fuck You! (Smu Mix) (feat. 50 Cent & Joell Ortiz)

In all honesty, I've only included 50 and Joell's tacked-on vocals as an excuse for having this song fill up my #1 spot. "Fuck You" was gonna be here anyways, but I didn't want any of you complaining that the #1 hip hop song of quarter three isn't technically a hip hop song. So there's my excuse. Props to DJ Smu! I've easily played this song over seventy times already and it doesn't get old. The one thing I'm tired of, though, is people calling this a viral hit. Why? 'Cause most people first heard/saw it on YouTube? This ain't a J.J. Abrams film trailer. Good music is good music, and that's all. The Lady Killer can't come sooner enough if the whole record is packed with enjoyable ditties like this.

25 More:

26. 1982 - Goin Back (feat. Cassidy & Xzibit)
27. Slum Village - Where Do We Go from Here (feat. Little Brother)
28. Atmosphere - Freefallin'
29. J. Cole - Villematic
30. Dirty Money - Loving You No More (feat. Drake)
31. Justin Bieber - Baby (El-P Death Mix)
32. Capone-N-Noreaga - With Me (feat. Nas)
33. Kanye West - Lord Lord Lord (feat. Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon & Charlie Wilson)
34. Sean Price - Let Me Tell You
35. Game - Street Riders (feat. Akon & Nas)
36. Chaundon - Y'all Don't Want It (feat. Carlitta Durand)
37. Apollo Brown - Balance (feat. Kenn Starr & John Robinson)
38. Game - Cold Blood (feat. Busta Rhymes & Dre)
39. Freddie Gibbs - Something New (feat. YP)
40. Kanye West - Monster (feat. Bon Iver, Jay-Z, Rick Ross & Nicki Minaj)
41. Big K.R.I.T. - If I Should Die
42. Cam'ron - Wanna Get
43. Trae - The Radio Won't Play This
44. Lil Cease - Outsiderz (feat. Sheek Louch, Styles P, Raekwon & Papoose)
45. Amanda Diva - Brand New
46. Ice Cube - Nothing Like L.A.
47. Gangrene (The Alchemist & Oh No) - Chain Swinging
48. Von Pea - The Yorker
49. Crooked I - Mass Appeal
50. J. Cole - Blow Up