Posted tagged ‘big boi’

The TOP TEN RAP SONGS OF 2010 (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

January 19, 2011

What will YOU even remember about this year?

Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza begins with probably my favorite thing to talk about: rap music. I’m sure you have plenty of websites telling you how great their lists are who really just want to invite their readers to a “pat yourself on the back”-fest. Not here.

My credentials are that I listen to a lot of rap music and have for some time. I evaluated each song on a scale of how much I liked it. I didn’t factor in social significance or success. I also didn’t factor in songs with great moments that suffered from the rest of the song. As great as that one Nicki Minaj verse was, let’s not forget it came from a song that suffered from Jay-Z saying “loooooooove.” No sex with a pharaoh can change that.

My favorite year end lists have always been the honest ones. I don’t read them to see how much my favorite writers agree with me, rather I hope to catch any of the great music that came out last year that I may have missed. That in mind, following my top ten I included a list of unranked ten songs that I still think are pretty incredible and worth a listen. Check them out. They’re great. Now, this was the best year for rap since the 90s, so let’s talk about rap music…

Music is a lot like love, it's all a feeling...

10 ) Bun-B “Press Play”

Now Bun-B’s 2010 album Trill…O.G. was pretty terrible and easily the worst album he’s ever been involved with. With its watered-down production and underwhelming performance it was basically a UGK album for people who hate UGK. What was most disappointing about it was that his mixtape featured a song like “Press Play.” Produced by Statik Selektah, it was Bun reminding us he was still one of the best rappers in the world in a new, refreshing soundscape. 32 bars of greatness, exactly how to build a bridge between Port Arthur and Brooklyn.

9 ) Homeboy Sandman – “Mean Mug”

The crown jewel of Homeboy Sandman’s fantastic The Good Sun album, “Mean Mug” was the best deconstruction of a sourpuss and reasoning for why they’re not in style in 2010. Catchy, well-written and not heavy-handed in the slightest, it’s a shining example of why Boysand is one of New York’s favorite sons.

8 ) Sage Francis – “The Best of Times”

The final song on what may be his final album, Sage Francis’ “The Best of Times” is not only the perfect bookend to a great body of work, but an enjoyable exploration of self-examination. It’s Francis at his most vulnerable and confident and stands perhaps the definitive statement of his career.

7 ) E-40 f/ Too $hort – “Bitch”

The only thing better than hearing the fire reignited beneath Too $hort is having him alongside one of the most dependable rappers in the game. On “Bitch,” 40 Water and Short Dog explain that not all bitches are women. In this new decade, this is the type of “music with a message” I can get behind.

6) Lil B – “New York Subway”

What a year for the #based one. Along with being the best rapper on Twitter, Lil B knocked his highly anticipated Red Flame mixtape out of the park with “New York Subway.” While he’s perhaps most known for being shocking, the subtle detail of “New York Subway” perfectly captures what being in New York in December is like. Lil B is for real, and the power of this song cannot be denied.

5 ) Dez and Nobs f/ P.O.S. – “Underbelly”

The closer of the duo’s analog modern classic Rocky Dennis, “Underbelly” sees them joined by Doomtree member P.O.S. for a pill fueled lament that also boasts some of the best technical rapping today. As heartbreaking as it is, Nobs’ warm MPC-based production gives it a classic New York feel.

4 ) Domo Genesis f/ Tyler, the Creator – “Super Market”

2010 was undoubtably the year of Odd Future, and this song is a shining example why. Producer/rapper Tyler and Domo exchange absurd barbs between two angry teenagers in a super market that acts as a series of trump cards over a swaggering bulldozer of a production. Amazing.

3 ) Danny Brown – “Guitar Solo”

If you’ve never heard of Danny Brown before, start with his song “Exotic” and then come back to this, his masterpiece. Best described by rapper Despot as “all the members of the Outsidaz rolled into one,” What I love about Detroit’s Danny Brown is that his music has a genuine unpredictability that’s been missing from rap music. He keeps me guessing with his verses, even on repeat listens, without sacrificing any of his soul. This is best heard on “Guitar Solo,” one of his album The Hybrid‘s more serious moments, it quickly dips into poverty stricken Detroit character studies before cliffhanger endings, as if the people discussed are trapped within the self-awareness of the song.

2 ) Beeda Weeda – “Baserock Babies”

DJ Fresh is picking up where the Hyphy Movement in the Bay Area left off, and he’s ready to explode. Not since Rick Rock’s production on Turf Talk’s West Coast Vaccine has the Yay given such a progressive slap to rap production. Riding the beat like a coin-operated carousel is Beeda Weeda, who you remember from last year’s “No Hoe” remix. Here, instead, he breaks down exactly what it was like being a product of the 80s. But this isn’t another “back in the day” song, rather a stripped down this-is-how-it-really-was fact-check that shows no matter what the scene is, things aren’t that different.

1 ) Earl Sweatshirt – “Stapleton”

We’ve all see the “EARL” video with the teenagers who kill themselves and yes, it is great. As brash and in-your-face as that is, Earl is an outstanding technical rapper and it’s what he hides in his songs that make him incredible. The last verse here speaks not only to his persona being the product of a deadbeat father, but parallels the ageist Hip-Hop generation predating him of boom-bap dinosaurs that raised the post-Rawkus “real Hip-Hop” sect to sound like soulless 40-year-olds. An amazing performance from one of rap’s most compelling new voices and the best rap song of 2010.

Almost...

Honorable Mentions:

Atmosphere – “To All My Friends”
Big Boi f/ Andre 3000 – “Lookin For Ya”
Curren$y – “Life Under the Scope”
Mac Lethal – “Cover My Tracks”
Mike G. – “Crazh”
Rick Ross f/ Jay-Z “Free Mason”
Roc Marciano – “Ridin Around”
Shad – “Rose Garden”
Soulja Boy – “First Day of School”
Waka Flocka Flame – “Hard in the Paint”
Young L – “Drop Top Swag”

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

B.O.B. “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” – Album Review

May 4, 2010

WARNING: album will turn your iPod into a house of lies.

What is it about rap music that strikes fear into the hearts of music fans and record labels right now? While there seems to be a steady flow of rap releases every year, it seems the actual time spent “rapping” on them has been declining. It’s not a matter of guest appearances from R&B singers like the over-collaborative late-90s, rather rappers seem to be doing everything but rapping in order to help their rap record find an audience. Is the market for a straight-forward rap album just not there, or in this apocalyptic age of an everything-has-to-sell mentality are rap labels not comfortable enough with the rap audience being won over by a rap sheet of just rapping? Case in point, The Adventures of Bobby Ray the depressingly disappointing debut from Atlanta rapper B.O.B.

B.O.B. rose to prominence in summer 2007 off a string of mixtapes that made it seem like he was the rightful heir to the Outkast throne. For all the love Andre3000 gets (and rightfully so) for being one of the best rappers on the planet right now, it’s easy to forget that from 2004-2006 his “I-think-I’m-Prince” output was irredeemably awful*. So at a time when most of us were “kinda sour cause our favorite group ain’t comin’ with it,” B.O.B. appeared not as a poor imitation, but rather a heavily influenced artist who was now carving his own niche with songs like “Daddy” and “Sing My Song” that not only were great rap songs, but packed enough personality and seemed catchy enough to crossover to any audience. Then, he signed to Atlantic**. While early releases like “Grip Your Body” and others still showed tremendous promise, they were not an accurate indication of The Adventures of Bobby Ray’s 2010 release.

No relation.

The album is 48 minutes of “hey everybody, please like me.” While B.O.B. has shown an interest and talent in branching out from just rapping in the past, such as his B.O.B. vs. Bobby Ray mixtape that split the tracklisting evenly between rapping and singing, the presentation here just sounds contrived. The soundscape is heavily over-produced, the spaced-out singy-songy delivery is redundant and the guest list is one of the most blatant attempts at pandering I’ve ever seen. Joining B.O.B. are people who haven’t been interesting in a decade (Eminem, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer) and the people who are “interesting” in the most uninteresting ways (Lupe Fiasco, Janelle Monet). Many cite B.O.B.’s own musical fandom as the excuse reasoning, but if he were a real fan wouldn’t he know that not since 1996 has even Rivers Cuomo sounded interested in Rivers Cuomo?

The main reason why The Adventures of Bobby Ray fails as a rap album is how little rapping there is on it. Granted, the response to this is the same as Kid Cudi’s contingent who claim his is “not a rap album” as if there’s some sort of critic-proof forcefield that surfaces the second a rapper decides he knows how to sing. B.O.B. made a name for himself as a rapper, promoted this release as a rap album and it’s catagorized in the rap section. If it doesn’t walk like a duck or quack like a duck, why would you sell me such an awful duck?

They say that he's changing, cause he's getting famous.

I’m all for experimentation in music, but what the post-Gnarls generation of rappers fail to realize is that the greatest creative achievements come from what’s done within certain limits, not what’s done with no limits***. The disarming “Lovelier Than You,” a very genuine straight-forward sing-along, is great and would have worked perfectly as an endearing breather moment surrounded by actual rap songs. The fact that the album ends with it, “5th Dimension” (with worthwhile spacey non-sequitors) and “Airplanes Part 2” (where Eminem kicks the same ‘what if I never blew up’ verse he’s kicked for six years now, but this is one of the best times he’s done it so it works), the three strongest songs on the album, heavily devalues the rest of the album with each re-listen. While The Adventures of Bobby Ray might attract some audiences looking for a spaced-out existential singing endeavor, as a rap record it’s a dubious failure that should be banished to where the Idlewild things are.

We Give The Adventures of Bobby Ray a Two Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*A vivid memory of the 2006 Tower Records liquidation sale was, on the final day, the rows and rows of unsold Idlewild CDs next to as many copies of the Held Up soundtrack. The fact that a group whose previous effort moved ten million copies couldn’t get people to buy their new record for $1.00 is a testament to how wretchedly awful that album is.

**Not unlike Jive Records, Atlantic has proven completely inept time and time again with breaking new rap talent. While they have had success with TI and others who had already debuted on other labels and had the A&R work done for them, the streets are littered with everyone from Little Brother to Apathy that they clearly had no idea what to do with.

***Except, of course, for what’s done with No Limit Records. Those results are often bout it bout it.