Thursday, September 17, 2009

... you can feel the realness... The Best 5 Rap Albums of 2009... so far...

I start off virtually every post on hip-hop by explaining how I used to be into hip-hop, but then, for whatever reason, I stopped listening... I made a slow move to pop, rock, country, folk, roots, and virtually everything else. If you peruse through my best albums lists ('05 (3/10), '06 (1/15), '07 (3/20), '08 (6/28)) there's some hip-hop, and certainly more as a percentage at the margins in '05 and '08, but after the run of rap albums I've heard lately, I feel like I'm back. I'm getting into hip-hop again... I've got my tickets for Jay-Z at the ACC (thanks Allan), so, hip-hop, I'm ready... unless, of course, you let me down again...

Anyways, here are, in my opinion, the 5 best hip-hop albums of the year (so far, obvi), and the albums that are making me think the I may be leaving the hologram on the next fitted baseball cap that I buy (I'm thinking an argyle patterned Yankees hat)...

Mantis (Toronto) Still Life

I think I may have exhausted everything I had to say about Mantis' debut, Still Life, when I wrote about it last month (Pick of the Week #34), but every nice thing I said about it remains true. I think as an Emcee he may still need to find his voice, and what he has to say about the world, but I feel like his floor - that is, the least we can expect from him - is for him to be one of the best hip-hop producers to come out of Canada.
[mp3] Mantis - You Don't Know

Jay-Z (Brooklyn) The Blueprint 3

Reflecting on last week's post on the third installment of the Blueprint series, I feel exactly the same way - and a few friends have said they agreed with my analysis - but, if I was underselling how good some of the singles were, I shouldn't have. Without going on and on, this album is chalk full of great singles and songs that are bound to be up in da klub, and they're awesome. At least 3/4/5 of these are going to make the wedding (mine - yeah, ladies, you're out of luck, sorry) playlist. So, I guess if you were looking for an album, its not really that, but its an awesome collection of songs that probably would've been more suited to show up as guest appearances on other albums...
Video: "Run this Town" on Youtube.

Asher Roth (Morrisville, PN) Asleep in the Bread Aisle

Mad props, respekt, etc. to my buddy Special K for throwing Asher Roth's "College" rmx ft. Ludacris on a mix CD for me. While my initial reaction was to cast him as an Eminem knock-off, which, given his flow, wouldn't necessarily be far off; after listening to Asleep in the Bread Aisle a pile of times in the last week, he has the self-awareness (and a substantially different, much more suburban upbringing) that pretty clearly differentiates him from Em. I'm not going to tread too much on what is sure to be a pick of the week soon, so, suffice to say that its awesome, and you should really, really, watch the "Lark On My Go-Kart" (yes, that is a Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) reference) video.
Video: "Lark On My Go-Kart"

Mos Def (Brooklyn) The Ecstatic

Again, this album deserves more than a paragraph, and it'll get it (I hope), but I may remind you all that the Mighty Mos released BlackStar 11 years ago, Black on Both Sides ten years ago, and then proceeded to do nothing of note (as far as I'm concerned) except for performing "Close Edge" in Dave Chappelle's car... until now. I may be way off, but The Ecstatic feels like it might be a Quintin Tarentino movie in musical form...

Tor (MTL) & Sufjan Stevens Illinoize

When I wrote about this album back in March (March!) I said it might well end up being the best album of the year, and despite a littany of hyperbolic posts proclaiming the awesomeness of other albums, Illinoize, I think, is still the album of the year. Not to take anything away from the others, because over the last month or so I feel like I've come across a dozen 'list worthy' albums, but Illinoize, for me, strikes a great balance between being creative, something that gets me doing the white-boy-bob, while still being "musical" (not beats made by robots). Is it a little un-fair that its a mash-up album? Yeah, probably, but I don't really care. Illinoize is right in my wheel house (lush orchestral pop music meets thoughtful hip-hop), and its spectacular. The 7 song EP is also a free download at, which is insane. Truly, truly, awesome.

[mp3] Tor/Sufjan Stevens - The Dress Looks Nice On You/Make Me Feel That Way (ft. Gift of Gab)
[mp3] Tor/Sufjan Stevens - Night Zombies/Talkin' My Shit (ft. Brother Ali)


Anonymous said...

Awesome Sufjan Stevens remix with feel that way!

Anonymous said...

Awesome Sufjan Stevens remix with feel that way!