Posted tagged ‘doomtree’

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!

Rebelmatic “Prey For the Vuture” – Album Review

February 20, 2010

Creature of Habit

In New York City, there’s three landmarks that every tourist inadvertently has to see: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Creature. Rapper, published author and innovator of street salesmanship, Creature’s spot in Hip-Hop’s birthplace is one that every person winds up visiting. Originally one third of Beatnuts-produced 90s outfit The Triflicts, Creature rose to infamy by riding a self-propelled one man campaign picking up where New York legend Percee-P left off. After appearing everywhere from MF Doom’s album to a Tony Hawk video game, he self-released 2005’s Never Say Die, an album considered alongside Legendary Status and The Prelude as an underground hand-to-hand classic that featured collaborations with indie-rap darlings Slug (of Atmosphere), Jin (of the Ruff Ryders) and Busdriver (of Project Blowed). Despite the celebrated guest list, it was Creature himself whose East Coast Goodie Mob mentality made for a layered professional sounding release that sounded like nothing else in the independent Hip-Hop marketplace. One album, monthly concert series and critically acclaimed book (The Underdog Manifesto – a fantastic read) later Creature returns with his band Rebelmatic for the one-of-a-kind listening experience Lil Wayne’s Rebirth should have been – Prey For the Vulture.

The term “rap-rock” has become a dirty word in the average listener’s lexicon, and with good reason as the purveyor of one usually has little-to-no understanding of the other and the results are failed cash-ins at best and failed crossovers at worst. It tends to be capably adequate rock groups semi-rhythmcally rehashing “hear/fear/hate/wait/to/do/whoa/go” to the delight of frat boys and angst-y pre-teens for 45 minutes, or successful rappers having remixes over the the cockiest of cock rock or the the softest acoustic guitars as if those are the only two types of rock music to ever exist. Both sides are guilty and there was a secret tribunal sometime in the mid-2000s where a truce was reached to insure these atrocities never happened again. Prey For the Vulture works because Rebelmatic doesn’t attempt to improve upon a flawed formula, they discard it and start for scratch.

Prey For the Vulture has Creature seeming to follow an unspoken “only do it if it sounds good” rule. While he’s had a flow that has effortlessly shifted from a straight-forward rap cadence to a more melodic delivery when the moment has called for it his whole career, now that he’s backed by a band there has to be a temptation to force rapping or singing on everything. He avoids this for the most part and his flow has never sounded more at home. Along with an incredible vocal performance that finds a way to showcase everything he does best somewhere on the record, an amount of credit should also go to Fred Ones and Ken Heitmueller whose mixing and mastering find the perfect balance of boom-bap thumb and flourishing guitars to give the entire project a cohesive sound that sounds professional on a rock or rap level.

The album opens with “Get Up N Go” which, along with “Reckless Eyeballin,” is one of the two remakes of songs from his 2007 album Hustle to Be Free. I say ‘remake’ and not ‘remix’ because the songs are re-recorded from the ground up and feel as if this is how they were supposed to sound all along. It’s a proper kickoff to an album that carries a sense of epic-ness far greater than any synth-based faux-film score beat cluttering countless rap albums today. It gives an added strength to Creatures lyrics which marry the social outrage of punk with the class struggle of rap, best exemplified on “Set Myself on Fire” where he asserts “Poverty ain’t paradise in a room full of parasites.”

Genre-bending has seldom sounded so natural, and the first 2/3 of this album achieve it well. But it’s how polished the best moments are that make the lesser ones stick out. Both “Close as Strangers” and “Ballad of the Cyclops” capture the bleakness and despair of this pre-apocalyptic New York dystopia perfectly, making the call-to-arms “Silent Alarm” and the heavy-handed “Wet Baby” almost redundant. On an album that makes such a punk rock effort to deliver the bare-essentials, they tack on unnecessary fat to the tenderloin. Otherwise, the album succeeds in not being a rap album for punks or a punk album for hip-hoppers, but just being a great Rebelmatic album. That alone makes it a hard album to recommend because the thick musical roots seem strong enough to trip any potential genre converts and since the fierce unapologetic politics might prove an obstacle for Creature to win Kid Rock’s audience, a full fledged crossover seems somewhat out-of-the-question. I doubt this is what the man was aiming for in the making of Prey For the Vulture, but for the P.O.S. or Bad Brains crowd wanting their “stereotypes with a side order of rebellion,” this album will bring the nest they built in the ashes of CBGB’s together perfectly.

We give Prey For the Vulture a Four Out of Five.

Until next time Let’s Agree to Agree!