Thursday, December 11, 2008
Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2008
There's been lots of mad non hip-hop albums released this year too...including Raphael Saadiq, Solange, Jazmine Sullivan, TV on the Radio, Cut Copy and the list goes on. But here are my top 10 hip-hop joints...
1. Black Milk - Tronic
We already knew Detroit boy Black Milk was a talented producer after he gave us his debut Popular Demand last year...hell, many would claim he was the best up and coming producer in the land. But after the release of Tronic there is no question: Milk is the best producer in the land right now, and he is no longer up and coming...he is right here, in his prime. This sophomore effort came quicker than many would have expected, indicating that Milk is just a natural with the beats and can whip 'em out in no time (don't forget he also produced the bulk of Number 6 on this list...Elzhi's The Preface). Adding a more electro synth sound to his already impressive sampling skills and street drums gives this album a unique, and incredibly pleasing sound throughout. And how about his rhymes? They do their job, with a few nice lines here and there...but it is the guests who shine, most noticeably Royce da 5'9 who just sounds so at home over any Black Milk production.
2. Young Jeezy - The Recession
So a mainstream album up at number 2? Yeah...deal with it. This album has been underrated in my opinion. The beats are spectacular...this is Jeezy's best album yet beat-wise. And considering his lyricsm has improved (all be it slightly), that would make this Jeezy's best album yet period. Be it the momentous grand opening intro produced by Toomp, or Drumma Boy's awesome "Put On", the beats knock hard, and mainly feature great sample selection. Jeezy muses about life a little more here than previously, which is always welcome, as his thoughts are generally memorable. But mainly, its more of the same. This is also welcome if, like me, you just enjoy Jeezy's style on a track. The album also features the verse of the year: Kanye's on "Put On". The track is also up there for best track of the year, in my opinion.
3. Shawn Jackson - First of all
The sleeper of the year. If you haven't heard of SJ, you are not alone, but I would recommend you try and hear some of his shit. First of all (pun intended) the dude straight up has "swagger like a dagger" and rips tracks up. Secondly, he works with this mad producer named Mekalek who produces straight masterpieces. 5 or 6 beats on here are just incredible, and never get old. And SJ does to them exactly what should be done...especially on "Feelin' Jack". Tres Records, also behind Blu (one of my favorite cats in the game), are clearly making a name for themselves.
4. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
Yeah, you know I'm all about the beats. And this shit features hit after hit...there are some real nice productions on here. And Weezy came pretty nice on this, which was surprising as his other recent shit hasn't been impressive. It really is hard to find a weak track on here...well that's not true, "La La La" is pretty easy to spot as wack, but other than that, this shit is tight. It's also great to hear Juelz on a track again...he straight rips up "You Ain't Got Nothing".
5. T.I. - Paper Trail
A huge improvement from T.I. Vs T.I.P., you gotta give mad props to T.I. for coming back strong. Sure, it's hard to stomach tracks like "Whatever you like", but you can't deny it's a hit. And there are some great tracks scattered throughout this album, including "No Matter What" where T.I. succesfully gets on his inspiring/introspective ish over a dopely-laced Danja beat. The first few tracks on the album are straight fire, especially the insanely positive "On Top of the World", while the middle lacks a little, but picks up strongly towards the end with a couple of slower jawns (including a fine production effort by Justin Timberlake). With far more good tracks than wack ones, this album deserves its spot here at number 5.
6. Elzhi - The Preface
Again, Black Milk produces the majority of this record and the end result is straight fire. The beats are not as consistently strong as Tronic but there are some straight up bangers in here. "Motown 25" is the highlight of the album, with an insane beat, Elzhi's typically expert lyriscm and a guest verse from Royce that straight flattens you.
7. Heltah Skeltah - D.I.R.T.
You may know, Sean Price is my favorite rapper. On this album he does not dissapoint, nor does his comrade Rock. They both spit that awesome hardcore humour rap that you've all grown to love...but so why is this down at number 7, and not higher? Well, the production feels a little predictable throughout. Like theres always some high pitched synth going on with some lame-ass riff it's almost trying too hard to be gangster in places. When the producers do get it right (for example "Da Beginning of Da End" by 10), the result is hard to beat.
8. The Roots - Rising Down
Mos Def begins this jawn with a stupdendously awesome verse, and shit just continues on from there. Listening to this album will really take your mind away from wherever you are, whatever you are doing. It'll suck you right in, with it's heavy synths and sound. Sometimes the darkness can get a little too much, and more tracks like the excellent closer "Rising Up" would be welcome. But I guess The Roots were probably going for that sound and did exactly what they wanted hear, and you gotta admit, it is pretty cool. And as always, the instrumentation is crazy...word em up ?uestlove.
9. The Game - L.A.X.
This album was solid, and proves an enjoyable listen. However, I was expecting much more from this: Doctor's Advocate was one of my favourite albums of recent times. I didn't mind Game's spitting much...it was more the beats. The straight up heaters from DA were just not present here, excepting "Dope Boys". That's not to say all the beats were bad, just the more laid back style I find does not suit Game as much as the bangers do. Props for the originality behind "Never Can Say Goodbye" though, where duke takes on Tupac, Biggie and Eazy-E's mindset before their respective deaths. Oh yeah, and DMX...wtf?
10. EMC - The Show
This album offers plenty of straight heat lyrics wise: you'd be hard pressed to find four iller spitters (Masta Ace, Stricklin, Punch & Words) together on a record. Unfortunately some of the ideas aren't really hittin' ("Grudge"). And some of the hooks on a couple of tracks I really ain't feelin ("Make it Better","We Alright"). But otherwise, its a solid album, with plenty of ill rhymes and production. And the Sean Price track? FIYAH!!!