Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2007 Hit-Lists Part IV - Best and Worst Mixtapes

Street hip-hop's stage of all stages, the mixtape game, has become an integral part of building buzz before an album drops for veteran and novice MCs. Some are spankin' new verses over old beats, some are blends of old rhymes and original production, and others are just cold garbage. Here's [dom corleone]'s person picks for those with their ears to the streets last year:

Thumbs Up - Best Mixtapes:

DJ Mathematics presents – Return of the Wu-Tang

Wu-Tang's behind-the-scenes producer/DJ extraordinaire released this tape as a prelude to 8 Diagrams. Featuring album tracks, remixes and unreleased jams, Allah Mathematics' compilation held heads over until the official LP.

Essential Listening:

The "W" Remix (Unreleased)

John 3:16

State of Grace (Raekwon Exclusive)

DJ Skee & Jay-Z – American Godfather

American Godfather stands out from the hundreds of American Gangster remixes not just because of the concept but also its delivery. The Left Coast's DJ Skee gathered a group of producers to reinterpret The Godfather's score, effectively remixing AG for a truly gangster sound.

Essential Listening:

American Dreamin' produced by THX

No Hook produced by Rome

Ignorant Shit produced by Ervin "EP" Pope & THX

Guilty Simpson – Stray Bullets Mixed by DJ Rhettmatic

Indie imprint Stones Throw Records' hardest MC Guilty Simpson built up massive hype for his debut with this mixtape. Teaming up with DJ Rhettmatic, the Detroit-raised Simpson shows off a raw flow and in-your-face lyrics on Stray Bullets.

Essential Listening:

For The D produced by Eric Lau

Sound The Alarm Remix ft. Black Milk & Royce Da 5'9

Man's World produced by J Dilla

Joe Budden & DJ On Point – Mood Muzik 3 (For Better Or For Worse)

The much-anticipated MM3 from Jersey City's Joe Budden almost lived up to the hype, which is a feat in itself. Budden's heartfelt content shines throughout, especially on inspirational songs like "Thou Shalt Not Fall" and "5th Gear," but his meandering 30-plus bar verses might cause unfamiliar listeners to skip tracks quickly and the production is so-so. All in all, Jumpoff Joey's passionate and uplifting intent is reason enough to check out MM3.

Essential Listening:

Long Way To Go ft. Mr. Probz produced by SoulSearchin'

5th Gear produced by WMS Sultan

Thou Shalt Not Fall produced by The Klasix

Lil’ Wayne – Da Drought 3

Yup, here it is - the tape everyone was talking about and some critics even labeled as the best "album" of the year. My opinion is that the critics are only part right. While Da Drought 3 is undoubtedly Wayne's best mixtape of last year, the beats are not originals and the songs need to be tightened up a bit to warrant the number one spot. Still, the verses on "Seat Down Low" and "We Takin' Over (Remix)" are examples of why Wayne seems justified claiming the "best alive." Major props for addressing the haters and admitting he puckered up with his Daddy, now who's game to place a bet that Carter 3 will drop this year?

Essential Listening:

Seat Down Low

Black Republicans ft. Juelz Santana

We Takin' Over Remix

Mick Boogie & Little Brother - …And Justus For All

Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte, the duo known as Little Brother, put it down for underground collective Justus League on this early '07 tape with Mick Boogie. This disc's intelligent rhymes, humorous wit and industry commentary make it enjoyable from play to stop.

Essential Listening:

Can't Stop Us ft. Chaundon

A Word From Our Sponsors ft. Von Pea

Let It Go ft. Mos Def & Talib Kweli

Mick Boogie & Busta Rhymes – Dillagence

Boogie and Busta gave fans a treat last year, as this tape contains unreleased beats from the late great J Dilla that Busta had stored away for the perfect opportunity - and the time is now. Props to both for this collection with guest appearances from Talib Kweli, Raekwon, and Q-Tip among others.

Essential Listening:

Psycho ft. Cassidy & Papoose

Step Up

Lightworks ft. Q-Tip & Talib Kweli

Nicky Catchdubs & Wale – 100 Miles and Running

Washington D.C. newcomer Wale showcased his lyrical dexterity and clever wordplay on this tape mixed by Nicky Catchdubs. Whether he's paying respect to hip-hop's forefathers or spittin' lines about fresh gear, Wale proves he's on a serious mission here.

Essential Listening:


Daytona Squared produced by Judah


Tapemasters Inc. Presents Kanye West & Andre 3000 – You’re All Welcome

The good people over at Tapemasters Inc. released this prior to Graduation and after Idlewild so a lot of tracks overlap, meaning the real treats here are the blends and unreleased tracks. It also brings to light an idea that would make for a very interesting collaboration LP.

Essential Listening:

You're All Welcome

Skew It On The Bar-B 2007 produced by DJ Mills & Hasan Insane

Kanye West ft. John Mayer - Bittersweet

Andre 3000 ft. Lloyd - You Remix

Saigon – The Moral of the Story

Just Blaze's Brooklyn protege MC Saigon continues his push to hype his debut LP Greatest Story Never Told with this tape and an appearance on the next season of Entourage. Here, Saigiddy keeps it gritty kickin' street knowledge, gets insightful on real-life 'hood tales, and even stands toe-to-toe with Jay-Z on their collab (gasp!).

Essential Listening:

Come On Baby (Remix) ft. Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz

South, The West, The East Coast

Wake Up

Other Notable Mixtapes:

Big Mike & The Empire ft. Lil’ Wayne & Jadakiss – The Drought is Over Pt. 3 (Who Is The Predator)

DJ Green Lantern – Sirius Invasion

DJ Premier – Outside Lookin’ In

DJ Trigga – Fantastic Four ft. Fabolous, Cassidy, Lil’ Wayne & Juelz Santana

DJ Whiteowl - The Come Up Lil’ Wayne Meets Jay-Z (The Carter Files)

Joell Ortiz – The Brick: Bodega Chronicles

Mick Boogie presents - Jay-Z & Marvin Gaye Produced by Shuko & The Gunna

Sean Price – Master P

Thumbs Done - Most Disappointing Mixtapes:

DJ Clue – The Storm Ultimatum

Cam’ron – Public Enemy #1

DJ Enyce And Dipset - Byrds Of A Feather 2007

DJ White Owl – Can’t Knock The Hustle Vol. 5

Whew, now that's why I call a blog post. Now that I've recapped last year's albums and mixtapes, I'll move on to the individual songs that everyone should have on their playlists for '07... Until then, peace!

[paid in full]

No comments:

Post a Comment