Monday, September 14, 2009

Hip Hop Summer

When I first heard that Mos Def was coming to ACL this year I felt conflicted as I always do when I hear about his shows. His shows are usually pretty fun, especially that one I went at the House of Blues and Talib showed up and it was a just a Black Star bash. But that is just it. The hits are old. Don't get me wrong, I love some Speed Law and Miss Fat Booty but why have all the albums since been so bad? You can't imagine how, well, ecstatic, I was when I first heard his new album Ecstatic at the beginning of this summer. The whole thing is full of hits. "Auditorium" with Slick Rick or "Quiet Dog" are probably my favorites but it's so hard to pick. That was just the first of several amazing hip hop albums I came upon this summer.

Searching around on AmazonMP3 after getting that Mos Def, I found that Zion I had a new album. I haven't listened to any of his stuff since the "Mind Over Matter" album from way back. This new one, "The Takeover" is way different but also great. So many "underground emcees" from back in the day seem to keep putting out albums with that same sound. They're good but usually they sound like slightly weaker versions of their first album which was probably sick. Zion I's new one is not like that. The beats cover so many different styles. The first one starts with a tight djembe intro and then completely unexpectedly he drops the bottom right off the track and krunks it out. The next one, DJ DJ, has the whole breakbeat thing going. And on and on. It's a great album.

I think the next album I found by just noticing somewhere that Myka 9 had a new album comin out. Well I bought that immediatly and wow. Best hip hop album in who knows how long. Absolutly amazing. If you don't know him just buy the album 1969 and listen. He's one of the orginators and surely one of the best ever. He (arguably) invented the fast melodic rap style. He had another album come out recently which is also quite good under the name Magic Heart Genies. It's him and J the Sarge. The vibe is all positive but thankfully not corny. True artist.

Browsing Myka's myspace page I saw his link for the documentary flick "This is the Life: How the West was One". Got it on Netflix shortly there after. Great great documentary if you like hip hop. It's all about the Good Life Cafe which was a health food store in south central LA. In '89 I think it was, they started having an open mic night on Thursdays from 8-10pm with the rule that you can't curse as well as some others to ensure that the art of lyricsicsm and creativity with the spoken word was preserved. What came out of that place was just pure genius. A couple examples, Freestyle Fellowship (Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, Myka9, another guy), Jurassic 5 (Chali 2na, Cut Chemist and three other guys).

So now that we've brought of the Good Life, which has since become a label run by Aceyalone called Project Blowed, we can get all the other albums those OGs put out this summer. Aceyalone is one of my favorite rappers. I don't know what it is because so many of his albums are not stuffed with great tracks. You always know though that some are just gonna be mind blowing. Something about his style is just so cool. Lately he's been trying new stuff. This summer's release was a concept album with a whole bebop r&b soul from 1950's feel. The beats show it as do the G rated lyrics. That doesn't make it bad though. While only about 3 of the beats really do it for me, thats just me. For the most part I'm not really into that whole style but some of them work: Put in on 1, Can't Hold Me Back, and Workin Man's Blues are spectacular. His album from a couple years ago, Lightning Strikes, which had a whole dancehall theme and again, some stellar tracks on that one. The first three are great. The songs I don't like are usually just because the beat is not what I like but the lyrics always have the opportunity to impress. Also, his album RJD2 is of course damn good.

Acey did a song on Lightning Strikes with Chali 2na which is great. Chali 2na is another favorite. How could you not love "your friendly neighborhood baritone". I've been fortunate enough to see him perform with Galactic a couple times and man they tear the roof off. His new album "Fish Outta Water" was another spectacular find.

The best album to listen to all the way through though has to be by my boy Aaron, otherwise known as Abstract Rude. Just get it and listen. Rejuvination should be on my list of top 5 hip hop albums ever. Right up there with Heiro's Full Circle, Eminem's Slim Shady Lp, Myka 9's 1969 and the other ten albums in my top 5.

If you've never heard of Myka, Ab, or Acey, well check them out performing together as a trio, Haiku d'Etat here with their song Mike Aaron and Eddie. The verbal pyrotecnics here were my first introduction to Myka and Ab. They are truly astounding. When you're ready, pick your jaw up off your desk and buy "1969" and "Rejuvination"

Not to be left out, I have to metion the show I saw the other day with another of the masters, Gift of Gab of Blackalicious fame. Mr. Lif opened for him. They were both virtuosic. Really hip hop lyricism and creativity personified. Honeable mention of course goes to some of the other cats on Gift of Gab's label, Lifesavas, Lateef tha Truthspeaker, who is half of Latyrx. The other half being the always astounding ever energetic Lyrics Born.

Mr. Lif, who I have also seen tear it up with Galactic, had a homey performing with him and I bought his album after the show. Willie Evans Jr. The guy is good. Think Slick Rick mixed with MF Doom. Keep an eye on him.

Now one last thing I thought I should include. I recently made a mix cd for my dad to try and show him that hip hop is more that poppin caps and slappin hoes. Here's the tracklist. While by no means an exhaustive list I think all of these songs are essential for anyone that enjoys hip hop.

Or even more importantly, some one that doesn't enjoy hip hop yet and just needs to be shown what they're missing.

Song Artist Album
Get By Talib Kweli Quality (Real Advance) Africa Dream [Explicit] Talib Kweli Reflection Eternal [Train Of Thought] [Explicit] Let It Roll [Explicit] Hieroglyphics Full Circle [Explicit] Mike, Aaron and Eddie Haiku D'Etat Coup de Theatre (1 of 2) The Guidelines Aceyalone A Book Of Human Knowledge Makebalillia Live Aceyalone All Balls Don't Bounce Revisited On The 1 Aceyalone The Lonely Ones Snake Bite Myka 9 1969 Hand Bone Myka 9 1969 Tomorry Abstract Rude Rejuvenation [Explicit] Thynk Eye Can (Haiku D'Etat Mix) Abstract Rude Rejuvenation [Explicit] Auditorium Mos Def The Ecstatic Comin' Thru Chali 2Na Fish Outta Water Swan Lake Blackalicious Solesides Greatest Bumps (1 of 2) ...And I''m Out (Cd) Galactic From the Corner To the Block I Got It ( What You Need) (Cd) Galactic From the Corner To the Block At the Helm [Explicit] Hieroglyphics 3rd Eye Vision [Explicit] Poet Laureate II Canibus Rip The Jacker

Editor's Note: There is no editor. There is no proof reading. I understand a blog to be an unpolished work completed in the most expedient manner possible that still gets the message across. Comments and recommendations are greatly appreciated.

No comments: