Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2007 Hit-Lists Part I - Best Albums

[pop bottles]

I know I'm a little late, but Happy New Year to all. I needed a day to recover, relax, and formulate the lists I will be presenting over the next couple of days. Plus, my wireless router was actin' a fool for the past couple of days, but anyway. 2007 definitely had its ups and downs, for both my personal life and the music biz, which is why it's refreshing to start fresh in '08! Now, on to the real festivities...

Before saying peace and good riddance to the year that was, [dom corleone] needs some closure. Hits from the Blog proudly presents the first ever Hit Lists for your reading pleasure:

Top 10 Albums

1. Kanye West – Graduation

‘Ye put out his best all-around LP during an eventful, humbling year for the Chi-town native which included being named the GQ Man of the Year and and the untimely death of his mother Donda. Graduation is the ideal finale for West’s educational trilogy, boasting finely-tuned production and crossover appeal while maintaining his hip-hop edge. Grabbing eight Grammy nominations and including arguably the most-recognizable global anthem in “Stronger,” ‘Ye’s third solo release is the most consistent and fulfilling in his catalog.

Favorite Songs:

Can’t Tell Me Nothing prod. Kanye West & DJ Toomp

Homecoming ft. Chris Martin prod. Kanye West & Warryn Campbell

Everything I Am prod. Kanye West, scratches by DJ Premier

2. Common – Finding Forever

Common deserves the silver medal of ’07 for Finding Forever, where he packages an eclectic track-list that attracts a variety of listeners and solidifies his position as a compelling entertainer. The disc contains raw joints (“The Game,” “Southside”) alongside estrogen-friendly jams (“Drivin’ Me Wild,” “I Want You,”) combined with touching deep tracks (“Forever Begins,” “Misunderstood”) – the result: Common’s first ever debut atop the Billboard 200 and three Grammy nominations.

Favorite Songs:

I Want You ft. prod.

Forever Begins ft. Lonnie "Pops" Linn prod. Kanye West

The People ft. Dwele prod. Kanye West

3. Talib Kweli – Eardrum

Kweli broke free of the designation as a strictly “conscious rapper” on Eardrum, his most commercially-acclaimed album to date released on his Blacksmith Entertainment imprint. Though the rapid-fire lyrical complexity is still present, Kweli experiments and excels with radio-ready songs “In The Mood” and “Hot Thing” in addition to the contemplative “More or Less” and the thought-provoking mastery of “Hostile Gospel Pt. 1 (Deliver Us)” and “The Nature” featuring pop sensation Justin Timberlake.

Favorite Songs:

Hostile Gospel Pt. 1 (Deliver Us) prod. Just Blaze

More or Less ft. Dion prod. Hi-Tek

Say Something ft. Jean Grae prod.

4. Redman – Red Gone Wild… Thee Album

Redman gains respect for doing his own thing amid a hip-hop community tarnished by ring-tone rap and dumbed-down, one-hit wonders. The Newark, NJ veteran quietly released Red Gone Wild, one of the year’s most entertaining, humorous and rambunctious albums. Lead single “Put It Down,” produced by Timbaland, and the Scott Storch-assisted “Freestyle Freestyle” showcase Red’s unique, no-frills approach to his art. Blend that with odes to THC (“Blow Treez,” “Merry Jane”) and carefree concoctions (“Gilla House Check,” “Gimmie One”), and Red Gone Wild is ‘07’s street selection.

Favorite Songs:

Put It Down ft. DJ Kool prod. Timbaland

Freestyle Freestyle prod. Scott Storch

Blow Treez ft. Roc Ready & Method Man prod. Watts

5. Jay-Z – American Gangster

Jay-Z receives props for returning to his hustling ambitions on American Gangster but it’s a shame it took a Denzel film to inspire this rapper-turned-executive to finally do so. Jigga sounds the best since his premature "retirement" over dramatic sonic backdrops fit for rap's kingpin.

Favorite Songs:

Success ft. Nas prod. No I.D. & Jermaine Dupri

Fallin’ prod. Jermaine Dupri

Ignorant Shit ft. Beanie Sigel prod. Just Blaze

6. Lupe Fiasco – The Cool

Dubbed as a concept album, The Cool is actually a well-rounded sophomore effort from the Windy City’s golden boy in terms of beats, hooks, and content. Though the conceptual framework is frustratingly abstract, Lupe only dedicates five songs to his tales of assorted interacting characters and uses the rest of the disc to tell intriguing stories (“Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” “Little Weapon”) and comment on the industry (“Dumb It Down,” “Put You On Game”). Though the sound is more pop and R&B than his debut Food & Liquor, The Cool is a thought-provoking display of Lupe’s microphone mechanics.

Favorite Songs:

Hip-Hop Saved My Life ft. Nikki Jean prod. Soundtrakk

Go Go Gadget Flow prod. Soundtrakk

Dumb It Down ft. GemStones & Graham Burris prod. Soundtrakk

7. Wu-Tang Clan – 8 Diagrams

The super-group recombined in ’07 after a long hiatus for 8 Diagrams, a musically experimental disc that proves refreshing for hardcore fans. Despite internal creative differences within the Wu, the album delivers verbal onslaughts ("Gun Will Go," "Rushing Elephants") and intriguing stories ("The Heart Gently Weeps," O.D.B. tribute "Life Changes"). Rounded out with a lil' somethin' for the ladies in "Starter" and the stealthy hit-and-run of "Wolves" featuring an off-tune George Clinton chorus, 8 Diagrams is not as gritty as 36 Chambers but rather represents a new musical direction for the Clan.

Favorite Songs:

Gun Will Go ft. Sunny Valentine prod. RZA

The Heart Gently Weeps ft. Erykah Badu, Dhani Harrison &-John Frusciante prod. RZA & George Drakoulias

Wolves ft. George Clinton prod. RZA

8. Little Brother – Getback

In the absence of producer 9th Wonder on all but one song, North Carolina’s throwback duo of Phonte and Big Pooh put out Getback with the help of Illmind, Hi-Tek and Khrysis on the boards. A concise disc describing the angst of elevating in hip-hop while keepin’ it real (“Can’t Win For Losing,” “Dreams”) and the do-it-yourself stick-to-itiveness that defines the duo’s career (“Extra Hard,” “When Everything Is New”), Getback embodies LB’s rise to underground stardom.

Favorite Songs:

Can’t Win For Losing prod. Illmind

Extra Hard prod. Mr. Porter

Breakin' My Heart ft. Lil' Wayne prod. 9th Wonder

9. Ghostface Killah – The Big Doe Rehab

The Wu-Tang Clan’s hardest working lyricist (3 albums in 2 years!) released The Big Doe Rehab one week before his crew’s latest 8 Diagrams, successfully outshining the latter with his hyper, story-telling mystique. Though the album's sales don't reflect the quality here, Pretty Toney is unrelenting in his quest to continue pleasing Wu heads and gain new fans along the way.

Favorite Songs:

We Celebrate ft. Kid Capri prod. LV & Sean C

Supa GFK prod. Ghostface & Anthony Acid

White Linen Affair (Toney Awards) ft. Shawn Wigs prod. Frequency & Scram Jones

10. Collie Buddz – Collie Buddz

Bermuda’s suave reggae sensation Collie Buddz took the world by storm with his summer anthem “Come Around.” This self-titled debut is a rhythmic stroll along sandy beaches, displaying his multifaceted style equipped with a pleasant singing voice perfect for bouncy island melodies and dance-inducing riddims.

Favorite Songs:

Come Around prod. Crown N Kah-So Real

Blind To You

Sensimillia ft. Roache

Honorable Mention:

Blu & Exile – Below The Heavens

This debut album from West Coast newcomer Blu and producer Exile is the hidden treasure of ’07. With Blu’s creative, inspirational rhymes and golden era samples provided by Exile, Below The Heavens is truly satisfying for the hip-hop enthusiast.

Favorite Songs:

The World Is (Below The Heavens) prod. Exile

So(Ul) Amazin’ (Steel Blazin) prod. Exile

Dance In The Rain prod. Exile

Also Worth Checking Out (Alphabetical):

Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass

Atmosphere – Sad Clown Bad Winter 11

Beanie Sigel – The Solution

Black Milk – Popular Demand

Bone Thugs & Harmony – Strength & Loyalty

Bone Thugs & Harmony – T.H.U.G.S. (Rare & Unreleased)

Cassidy – B.A.R.S.

CunninLynguists – Dirty Acres

Dalek – Abandoned Language

El-P – I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

Fabolous – From Nothin’ To Somethin’

Freeway – Free At Last

Guru – Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger: Back To The Future

Havoc – The Kush

Hell Razah – Renaissance Child

J Dilla – Ruff Draft

Jedi Mind Tricks presents Army of the Pharaohs – Ritual of Battle

Mims – Music Is My Savior

Nicolay Presents – The Dutch Masters Volume 1

One Be Lo – R.E.B.I.R.T.H.

Peanut Butter Wolf Presents - 2K8 B-Ball Zombie War

Peanut Butter Wolf Presents - Stones Throw Ten Years

Pharaohe Monch – Desire

Prodigy – Return of the Mac

Scarface – MADE

Sean Price – Jesus Price Supastar

Styles P – Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentlemen)

Swizz Beatz – One Man Band Man

The Cool Kids – Totally Flossed Out EP

Timbaland – Shock Value

UGK – Underground Kingz

Wyclef Jean – Carnival Vol. II Memoirs of an Immigrant

There you have it, let the hate begin!

Coming up next will be Most Disappointing Albums of '07..... Peace for now

[simply amazin']

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