*Slick Rick voice* And heeeeeeere we go..
1. Nas - Untitled
From the first piano chord of Jay Electronica's beat on "Queens Get The Money" and Nas' phenomonal verse ending with "Bring back Arsenio/ Hip-hop was aborted so Nas breathes life back into the embryo/ Let us make men in our image/ Spit it, I'm Huey P in Louis V at the funeral throwin' molotovs for Emmitt... I'm the shaky hand that touched George Foreman in Zaire/ The same hand that punched down devils that brought down the towers," I knew Untitled was one for the ages.
Beyond all the uproar about the title, Nasir focused on speaking his mind without a damn care in the world for the haters. He addressed politics, the industry, the media, Obama, and still had time to holla to the streets. From the amped-up revival anthem of "Hero," the venemous attack on U.S. media of "Sly Fox," and the uplifting tone of "Black President," Nasir did his damn thing to resuscitate the very music that he deemed lifeless just years ago.
2. Q-Tip - The Renaissance
Amidst all the golden era acts trying so damn hard to become relevant once again (Marley Marl, EPMD, etc), Q-Tip returned effortlessly with his second solo disc. The Abstract flows smoothly over the LP's 14 tracks (self-produced except for one, I might add), gliding through the female-friendly "Gettin' Up" and feel-good-yet-still-raw "Official."
The best part comes during the J Dilla-produced "Move/ Renaissance Rap," as the late producer reinterpreted a
Though I doubt it will cause any true change in hip-hop's tendencies, the disc plays as a modern-day throwback to an era gone but not soon forgotten.
3. The Roots - Rising Down
Adopting a darker sound that emerged on Game Theory, the hardest-working group in hip-hop delivered a politically-charged, conscious record with Rising Down. Drummer ?uestlove admitted that they branched off from their standard live sound by using more synths and exotic instruments, and it worked.
Lead MC Black Thought is one of the most underrated lyricists of our generation, ripping through various tracks like the lyrical onslaught of "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)" and "Rising Up" featuring Wale & Chrisette Michele.
The stand-out joint here comes early in the disc with "Rising Down," as Mos Def and Styles P aid Thought over a synthy-bass sonic backdrop. Thought expresses his anguish with today's bullshit, spitting furiously, "Yo I don't wanna floss, I done lost my passion/ And I don't wanna climb, I done lost my traction/ They makin' me break, my contents under pressure, do not shake/ I'm workin' while the boss relaxin'."
Yet another quality release from the Philly pioneers.
Talk about a repeat.
Tronic is just a raw album from the jump with in-your-face heater “Bounce” and multi-layered single “Give The Drummer Sum.” The rest of the disc follows in a similar vein, with Black Milk at his best on “Hold It Down” and “The Matrix” alongside Pharaoh Monch, Sean Price & DJ Premier.
Thankfully, Black stepped up the only aspect lacking previously – his ability on the mic – for arguably the most solid all-around self-produced effort of ’08, save Q-Tip’s aforementioned album.
5. Common - Universal Mind Control
Longevity - it’s what an artist strives for yet seldom achieves. But Common isn’t your ordinary MC. Though many complain that Universal Mind Control resembles Electric Circus too much, I gotta disagree.
Yeah, Common went a little outside of the box for UMC – especially with the Planet Rock-influenced title track and bouncing pop tune “What A World” with
The experimentation is well-intended here as Comm pushed past conventional hip-hop, a daring move that always seems to bring along its fair share of haters.
And rounding out my Ten Favorite Albums of ’08 are..
6. Murs - Murs For President
Best Tracks: “Everything,” “Lookin’ Fly”
7. Jake One - White Van Music
Best Tracks: “Bless The Child” ft. Little Brother, “The Truth” ft. Freeway & Brother Ali
8. Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
Best Tracks: “A Milli,” “Mr. Carter” ft. Jay-Z
9. Pete Rock - NY's Finest
Best Tracks: “Till I Retire,” “Best Believe”
10. Kanye West - 808's & HeartBreak
Best Tracks: “Heartless,” “Welcome 2 HeartBreak” ft. KiD CuDi
Elzhi - The Preface
Best Tracks: "The Preface," "Motown 25" ft. Royce Da 5'9
Tanya Morgan - The Bridge EP
Best Tracks: "The Bridge" ft. Elucid, "Got 2 Get Done"
T.I. - Paper Trail
Best Tracks: "Whatever You Like," "I'm Illy"
Statik Selektah - Stick 2 The Script
Best Tracks: "To The Top (Stick 2 The Script)" ft. Cassidy, Saigon & Termanology, "So Good (Live From The Bar)" ft. Naledge, Reks & CL Smooth
EMC - The Show
Best Tracks: "EMC (What It Stand For)," "Traffic" ft. Little Brother
Cool Kids - Bake Sale EP
Best Tracks: "88," "Mikey Rocks"
The Game - L.A.X.
Best Tracks: "Big Dreams," "My Life" ft. Lil' Wayne
Little Vic - Each Dawn I Die
Best Tracks: "The Exorcist," "The Evil That Men Do"
Jay Electronica - Style Wars EP
Best Tracks: "Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)," "I Feel Good"
Common Market - Tobacco Road
Best Tracks: "Gol'Dust," "Winter Takes All"
There you have it. I'll be back soon with my favorite mixtapes and tracks but your boy needs to go get ready to party like it's 2009..
Happy New Year!