Thursday, January 31, 2008

Momma, Can You Hear These?

Got some new tracks.. the Kweli is unreleased, Jay-Z is off the new DJ Clue and (supposedly) from the Blueprint 3, the Re-Up Gang is from their new mixtape We Got It For Cheap Vol. 3, and the new Gnarls Barkley song I'm actually really feelin'... Enjoy

Talib Kweli - Momma Can You Hear Me prod. Kanye West

Jay-Z - Ain't I prod. Timbaland

Re-Up Gang - 20k Brothers on the Corner

[Gnarls Barkley]
Gnarls Barkley - Run

[momma, your son don't go down without a fight]

Monday, January 28, 2008

Interview with Nicolay...

That's correct, your boy talked to Dutch hip-hop producer and record label owner Nicolay for an interview for the Inside Beat, Rutgers University's weekly entertainment magazine... Check it out here in a slightly edited form and this Thursday in print:

Kay & Nicolay courtesy of Nicolay Music Group

As the world goes global in the 21st century, gifted musician and producer Nicolay overlooks cultural borders and pushes sonic boundaries with his astute blend of live instrumentation and soul-hop drum patterns. Hailing from the Netherlands, this Dutch wunderkind is one half of the critically-acclaimed group Foreign Exchange with Phonte of Little Brother and his self-produced debut Here. [dom corleone] kicked it recently with Nicolay to discuss the overseas hip-hop environment, his upcoming work, his newly-founded record label and his diverse wish list for future collaborations.

[dom corleone]: What was it like growing up in the Netherlands?

Nicolay: Well I come from a real loving household and I think as far as growing up in the Netherlands, I feel like I have always been very international. I definitely have a European perspective of things when it comes to political things but, in the Netherlands, people look to the U.S. when it comes to most movies and music.

dc: And how did you originally get into hip-hop?

N: It was a series of events, kind of. It was either the first Beastie Boys record or the first De La [Soul]. And after that, I started watching Yo! MTV Raps pretty much everyday in the early nineties. It must have been ’92, I started getting into it at the most perfect moment.

dc: Got to love the mid-90s hip-hop scene. Since you live in the States now, can you compare the hip-hop scene in Europe to that of America?

N: They are totally different yet somehow still the same. For instance, on a major level you’ll pretty much find the same artists in Europe outside of the European big sellers. A lot of Kanye, a lot of 50 Cent; Even a little bit of [Lil’] Wayne here and there. But there’s a thriving underground scene too, where there’s a love for the art form. So a lot of American artists in the so-called “underground” have a reasonable amount of success in Europe.

dc: Unlike a lot of hip-hop producers, you come from a musical background and can play multiple instruments. How has this helped your beats?

N: I think it mainly helps my beats to not be just beats. For me starting out, hip-hop was just the perfect platform because I could do what I wanted to do without being in the concept of a group or having to share decisions. So, hip-hop was a natural outlet for me to created tracks that are a complete musical story even without the lyrics. I have always used instruments to be able to take the track somewhere else rather than be defined and limited by the sample.

dc: Well when you do let an MC get on a song, I notice you have a special talent for choosing original, fresh lyricists like Phonte, Black Spade, and Wiz Khalifa. Who else do you want to work with?

N: I have a wish list that’s very eclectic. It ranges from people like Imogen Heap to someone like Common, or Daft Punk to Zero 7. It almost varies daily.

dc: Now, there are rumors floating around about a Foreign Exchange reunion album with Phonte of Little Brother for next year, is that true?

N: Yes, we are hoping to release the second [Foreign Exchange] album by the spring. It’s called Leaving It All Behind and really, it’s really different from what’s out there including Connected. We felt like it didn’t make sense to try and repeat Connected so we really set to branch out.

dc: So tell me a little about the new album with Texas rapper Kay of the Federation. How did you meet him and what is the disc’s sound?

N: I met him on the Okayplayer online message boards way back in the same circle with Phonte and the first thing we did together was a track called “My Story” which came out on HERE. For the bonus disc for the Japanese market, I reached out to Kay to see about recording some extra tracks. We recorded two and kept it going, we started thinking about a concept. The concept of “time” is something that has always fascinated him as well as me. All the tracks deal with a specific timeframe or phase in someone’s life.

dc: That’s a pretty deep concept, I’m looking forward to hearing the finished product. How do you balance your artistic interests with your responsibility to run a profitable business in your new venture Nicolay Music Group?

N: I switch between the two without effort. Working in the music industry really is a learning curve and you learn along the way. Really, the reality is that your innocence and naivete get taken from you fast and you learn by toughening up.

dc: What else do fans get to expect from the new label and yourself in 2008?

N: I plan to release a lot of great projects and music that gives people more bang for their buck than the shit they’re hearing on the radio, music with a lot of dedication and attention to the craft.

Open Up The Trunk, Bass Bass Crazy Kickin'..

Man this school stuff takes up a lot of time. Note to self, never slack and take 18 credits your final college semester when you want to live it up to the fullest potential. Oh well, no more complaining and it's about that time that I bless you with some new songs... Enjoy:

Kidz in the Hall - Drivin' Down The Block (Low End Theory)

Jay Electronica - Extra Extra produced by Madlib

Termanology ft. Royce Da 5'9, Crooked I, Consequence & Akrobatik - The Music Industry Remix
Wale - Flashing Lights Freestyle

Pete Rock ft. Redman - Best Believe (Snippet)

Torae ft. Chaundon, Skyzoo & Kil Ripkin - Fantaztik 4 (Clean)

Gotta get to Dunkin Donuts then my Journalism in American Film class, I have some original writing I'm posting later so stay tuned!

[drivin' down the block]

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hard-Hitters of '08

Now that I'm done reminiscing on the ghosts of hip-hop's past, it's time to get my Nostradamus on and make some predictions for this year in my first ever Hard-Hitters awards. I know there's always great expectations with a clean slate to work with, so first I'll discuss some of the people and projects I'm looking forward to... Don't sleep!

Hard-Hitters of '08 (In order of expected release dates, sort of):

Katt Williams' rap debut

The pint-size pimp of the comedy world is branching out to rap with his debut album It's Pimpin' Pimpin', set for a January 28 release on Diplomat Records. What Money Mike lacks in lyrical complexity he makes up for with consistent humor and well-chosen collaborations (minus Da Brat, please stay in the 90's). Pimpin' ain't easy, but it sure is funny for Katt.

Sneak Peak:


One of the most overlooked MCs of our time, Nas' right-hand man AZ will put out his 7th solo album in the first quarter entitled Undeniable. Expect the Brooklyn native's sure-fire delivery and illustrious verses to flow heavily on the East Coast.

Sneak Peak:

Pete Rock

The legendary producer that helped define the Big Apple's sound during the 90s will drop NY's Finest next month on Nature Sounds, and the expectations are huge. Known for his excellent selection for guests over his soul-laced sampling not to mention his own microphone mathematics, Pete enlisted the help of Styles P, Ghostface, Redman, Slum Village, and Phonte among others for what should be a bona fide treat.

Sneak Peak:

Nicolay & Kay

Straight out the Netherlands and now reppin' NC, Nicolay began as an eclectic producer and now runs his own record label. For his next effort, Nic teamed up with Texas rapper Kay in an intriguing intersection of hip-hop flavors. The LP, Time:Line, will drop next month and I'm expecting live instrumentation and neck-snapping drum sequencing from Holland's top-notch hip-hop export.

Sneak Peak:


This one is an obvious pick. When Queensbridge vet Nas stirred up controversy by naming his newest solo LP Nigger, I deduced that this album will either prove he is a brilliant contemporary mind or bite him right in the ass for thinking the masses could possibly embrace the idea behind the title. Either way, all eyes will be on him in February.

Sneak Peak:

Lil’ Wayne

Has anyone else noticed the self-proclaimed "best rapper alive" hasn't released an actual CD since '05? Wayne's overexposure in the media, mix-tape circuit and gossip circles is borderline sickening to the point where he should be dubbed the "guest rapper alive" instead. But, between all the nonsense, the boy from 'Nawlins does put out enough quality product to keep real heads interested. Tha Carter III is the most severly hyped disc next to Detox but the difference is that Dre's won't see the light of day this year (we'll get to that later).

Sneak Peak:

Snoop Dogg

If there existed an award for best timing for implementation of the Vocoder voice, the Doggfather would take the cake; plus, Snoop is so damn likable and downright entertaining that only he could pull off a video like "Sexual Eruption." The Long Beach, Cali superstar has been honing his skills behind the production boards for his 9th LP Ego Trippin', which is slated for a March release and rumored to feature collabs with Madonna and the Rolling Stones' lead-man Mick Jagger. Please Mr. Broadus, show these young'ns how it's done!

Sneak Peak:

Guilty Simpson

It was J Dilla's wish to put fellow Motor City brethren Guilty Simpson on the map. Though he can't be here to witness it, Dilla would be proud that March 2008 marks his homeboy's first LP Ode to the Ghetto on underground imprint Stones Throw Records. Boasting a solid production line-up of Madlib, Black Milk, Mr. Porter, DJ Babu and Dilla himself, expect raw content and boom-bap ballistics on Guilty's debut.

Sneak Peak:

Kidz in the Hall

Naledge and Double-O met at UPenn, graduated, and now have full-time jobs. Though it's not your traditional 9-5, the rappers known as Kidz in the Hall work just as hard as any cubicle clone. 2006's School Was My Hustle gained recognition as critics compared their style to MCs in the conscious rap circle. Their sound has changed slightly since then, adapting to commercial interests but clinging to the lyrical intelligence and golden era appreciation that separates the Kidz in the Hall from the boys on the block. The duo's new disc, The In Crowd, will drop in April. Here's one more reason to stay in school, junior.

Sneak Peak:

The Roots

The group that originated the hip-hop organic jazz band sound should release their 10th studio album Rising Down sometime this year, most likely in the first half. Drummer ?uestlove is pumped, telling, "I’m amped that not many groups get ten opportunities to make a statement. Not even Hip-Hop, just period. You can’t even count ten records from the same group, that much, maybe on a few fingers. We’re very fortunate, and happy, and we are definitely pushing our envelope again.” Expect more synth and keyboard experimentation but I predict the foundation of ?uest's drums, Black Thought's vocal onslaught, Kamal's ivory tickling and Hub's bass grooves to drive this one.

Sneak Peak (from Superbad's soundtrack since no tracks have leaked yet):


After witnessing Matisyahu's live show, I gained a newfound respect for his music and message. The Deadhead-turned-Chassidic Jew reggae star combines spiritual concepts with island-type riddims and enthralling guitar riffs for a unique fusion of reggae, rock and hip-hop influences. Not much is known about his 3rd disc, except that it is untitled and should come out this year on JDub/Or Music/ Epic. The sneak peak here is a 2006 Swisha House remix to Matis' hit "Jerusalem," a personal favorite of mine.

Sneak Peak:


2007 brought an end to the label troubles plaguing brothers Gene "Malice" Thornton and Terrence "Pusha T" Thornton, collectively called the Clipse, as the dynamic duo landed a deal with Columbia last October. Since then, the complex coke-rap connoisseurs have been promoting their upcoming mixtape with partners-in-rhyme Ab-Liva and Sandman, altogether known as the Re-Up Gang, called We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 3 The Spirit of Competition (We Just Think We're Better). After that, the Thornton Bros are set to drop their Columbia debut later in the year sans the assistance of long-time collaborators The Neptunes - it will be interesting, indeed.

Sneak Peaks:


ATLiens Big Boi and Andre 3000 have been grinding heavily since the mid-90s, experimenting with untraditional topics and branching out for crossover appeal, but 2008 could be their busiest year to date. Big Boi confirmed in December his intent to put out his first truly solo disc (Speakerboxxx & Love Below were released together, technically) tentatively titled Sir Luscious Left Foot and wanted to release his first single on News Year's Eve but as far as I know that didn't happen. Still, Big Boi claims that the album is almost completed so fans will most likely have a taste quite soon. As far as Andre, he too expressed intentions to drop a solo album this year but has yet to reveal any details. As a grand finale, the two want to make an Outkast LP before the year is up. Personally, I doubt that all three projects will come to fruition but if there's any two dudes in the industry that could pull it off, it'd be these two. Still, I wouldn't bet your hard-earned paper on it.

Sneak Peak:


Though Jadakiss embarrassed himself on stage by forgetting his lyrics after Jay-Z announced his Roc-A-Fella signing , the expectations are high for his debut on the new label due out later this year. The slick-talking Yonkers representative hasn't released a solo effort since 2004's platinum Kiss of Death, so this year may be a make-or-break for Kiss' career.

Sneak Peak:

Al Green & ?uestlove

Two great modern music minds in soul legend Al Green and Roots rhythm man ?uestlove have been in the studio for about 2 years working on an upcoming album on Blue Note Records. ?uestlove is the primary producer, hoping to give Green the sonic counterpart to break the mold of "adult contemporary" old-and-young collaboration albums and make soulful crooning and old school R&B relevant for today's youth that might not have heard of Al Green.

Sneak Peak:

Child Rebel Soldier (Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, & Lupe Fiasco)

Though collectively they've only released one song, Child Rebel Soldier (CRS) has great potential if the three parties can find the time to record an album. Kanye, Pharrell & Lupe compliment each other well but this project is up in the air to say the least.

Sneak Peak:


Talk about unsigned hype. Cosigned by super-producer Mark Ronson, the D.C.-bred Wale (pronounced Wah-lay for the lames out there) is a brand new look for a supposedly dead genre. Picture a dude harder than Lupe or Common, clever like Lil' Wayne or Cam'ron, and conscious like Kweli or Kanye and you have the game's freshest face that effectively combines hip-hop with the Capital City's go-go energy. Now all he needs is a record contract, then it's off to the races.

Sneak Peak:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fresh New Look for '08...

After days of painstaking Photoshop work, Hits from the Blog has a new look for the new year. How do you like it? Leave a comment and let me know how I can improve your viewing pleasure.

Anyways, coming soon is the Hard-Hitters of '08 awards - where [dom corleone] gives his take on who and what in hip-hop will make headlines this year. Stay tuned!

p.s. got that new Katt Williams album, hilariously ridiculous

[it's pimpin' pimpin']

Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 Hit-Lists Part V - Essential Playlist/ Guilty Pleasures

There's nothing like a song that fits your mood perfectly. For [dom corleone] in '07, these two playlists sport tracks for all emotions in various environments - the car, the club, the chill-out session, the streets and between the sheets. Fire up your iPod and make sure you didn't miss out on these last year (In alphabetical order):

Real Heads Recognize:

9th Wonder ft. Little Brother - No Time To Chill

Aesop Rock – Bring Back Pluto prod. Blockhead

Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass prod. Blockhead

Army Of The Pharaohs - Dump The Clip

Bone Thugs & Harmony ft. Akon – I Tried

Black Milk ft. Guilty Simpson – Sound The Alarm prod. Black Milk

Blu & Exile – So(Ul) Amazin’ (Steel Blazin’) prod. Exile

Blu & Exile - The World Is (Below The Heavens) prod. Exile

Beanie Sigel ft. Jay-Z – Gutted

Beanie Sigel ft. Ozzy Osbourne – Judgment Day

Busta Rhymes & Mick Boogie – Step Back prod. J Dilla

Collie Buddz – Blind To You

Collie Buddz – Come Around

Common – The Game

Common – The People

Common – Forever Begins

Common ft. - A Dream

David Banner ft. Akon, Lil' Wayne & Snoop Dogg - Speaker

Drama ft Outkast & Marsha Ambrosious – The Art of Storytellin’ Pt. 4

Fabolous ft. Junior Reid – Gangsta Don’t Play

Fabolous – Yep, I’m Back

Freeway – Spit That Shit

Freeway ft. Jay-Z – Roc-A-Fella Billionaires (Big Spender)

Ghostface & Prodigy – Trials of Life prod. Green Lantern

Ghostface ft. Kid Capri – We Celebrate

Guilty Simpson – Make It Fast

Havoc ft. Prodigy & NYCE – Set Me Free

Hell Razah, Talib Kweli & MF Doom – Project Jazz

Hi-Tek ft. Raekwon, Ghostface & Dion – My Piano

J Dilla – The $

J Dilla ft. Guilty Simpson - Take Notice

Jay-Z – Fallin’

Jay-Z ft. Beanie Sigel – Ignorant Shit

Jay-Z ft. Nas – Success

Joe Budden – 5th Gear

Joe Budden ft. Mr. Probz – Long Way To Go prod. SoulSearchin'

Joe Budden - Thou Shall Not Fall prod. The Klasix

Juelz Santa ft. Just Blaze – The Second Coming

Kanye West – Can’t Tell Me Nothing

Kanye West – Everything I Am

Kanye West ft. Lil’ Wayne – Barry Bonds

Kanye West ft. Chris Martin – Homecoming

Kanye West ft. T-Pain – Good Life

Lil’ Wayne – Gossip

Lil’ Wayne – Pray To The Lord

Lil’ Wayne – Love Me Or Hate Me

Lil’ Wayne – Outstanding

Lil’ Wayne – I Feel Like Dying

Little Brother – Can’t Win For Losing

Little Brother – Extra Hard

Little Brother ft. Lil’ Wayne – Breakin’ My Heart

Lupe Fiasco ft. Nikki Jean – Hip-Hop Saved My Life

Lupe Fiasco ft. GemStones & Graham Burris – Dumb It Down

Mathematics ft. GZA, Method Man, U-God, Raekwon & RZA – Da N Rmx

Mike Jones ft. Bun B & Snoop Dogg – My 6-4

Mims – Where I Belong

Nas – Surviving The Times

Nicolay and Kay ft. Oh No & The Love Bugz – Tight Eyes

Papoose ft. Snoop Dogg – Bang It Out

Pharaohe Monch – Free

Prodigy – Return of the Mac

Quasimoto – Hydrant Game (Jaylib Remix)

Redman – Put It Down

Redman – Freestyle Freestyle

Redman ft. Method Man & Roc Ready – Blow Treez

Saigon – Wake Up

Saigon ft. Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz & Just Blaze – Come On Baby Remix

Sean P ft. DJ Khaled & Dre – Everywhere We Go

Sean Price ft. Chaundon – Hearing Aid

Slim Thug – Wood Grain Wheel

Stephen Marley ft. Damian Marley & Snoop Dogg – Traffic Jam Remix

Styles P ft. Swizz Beatz – Blow Ya Mind

Styles P ft. Black Thought – Cause I’m Black

Talib Kweli – Holy Moly

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

Talib Kweli – More or Less ft. Dion prod. Hi-Tek

Talib Kweli ft. Jean Grae – Say Something

T.I. ft. Wyclef Jean – You Know What It Is

UGK ft. Outkast – International Players Anthem (I Choose You)

Wale – Nike Boots

Wu-Tang Clan – Take It Back

Wu-Tang Clan ft. George Clinton – Wolves

Wu-Tang Clan ft. Sunny Valentine - Gun Will Go

Guilty Pleasures of '07:

50 Cent ft. Diddy, Jay-Z – I Get Money (Million Dollar Remix)

50 Cent ft. Justin Timberlake – She Wants It (Ayo Technology)

Akon ft. Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Fuck You

Alex Guadino ft. Crystal Waters – Destination Calabria (Club Mix)

Cassidy ft. Lil’ Wayne & Sean P – Pop It For That Paper

Chris Brown ft. Jadakiss – Wall To Wall Remix

Chris Brown ft. T-Pain & Wale – Kiss Kiss Eli Escobar & Doug Grayson Remix

Cupid ft. DJ Unk & Fabo of D4L - Cupid Shuffle

DJ Felli Fel ft. Ludacris, Lil’ Jon, Akon & Diddy – Get Buck In Here

DJ Khaled ft. Rick Ross, T.I., Fat Joe, Birdman & Lil’ Wayne – We Takin’ Over

Enrique Iglesias ft. LilWayne – Push

Fabolous ft. Ne-Yo – Make Me Better

Fallout Boy – Thnks Fr The Mmrs

Jay-Z – Roc Boys (And The Winner Is…)

Justin Timberlake – Summer Love

Justin Timberlake – LoveStoned

Kanye West – Stronger

Lupe Fiasco ft. Matthew Santos - Superstar

Mims ft. Sha Dirty, Sean Kingston, Red Café & N.O.R.E. – Like This Remix

Nicole Scherzinger Ft. T.I. – Whatever You Like

Pitbull ft. Lil' Jon - The Anthem

Rihanna ft. Jay-Z & Chris Brown – Umbrella (Cinderella Remix)

Smashing Pumpkins – Tarantula

Snoop Dogg – Sexual Eruption

Swizz Beatz ft. R.Kelly Lil’ Wayne & Jadakiss – It’s Me Bitches

T-Pain ft. Akon – Bartender

T-Pain ft. Kanye West, UGK, & Trey Songz - Buy U A Drank Remix

Talib Kweli ft. – Hot Thing

Timbaland ft. Keri Hilson & D.O.E. - The Way I Are

Timbaland ft. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake – Give It To Me

Timbaland ft. One Republic – Apologize

The Plain White Tees – Hey Delilah

The White Stripes – Icky Thump

Twista ft. Pharrell Williams – Give It Up

UGK - Like That

Wyclef Jean ft. Akon, Lil’ Wayne & Niia – Sweetest Girl (Dolla Bill)

Ying Yang Twins - Drop

Now that's what I'm talking about, a serious list for serious listeners.. Enjoy.

[i won't stop rockin 'till i retire]

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]

Monday, January 7, 2008

2007 Hit-List Part III - Essential Non Hip-Hop Albums of '07

Despite a obsession with hip-hop culture, don't think for one second that [dom corleone] doesn't appreciate others. This Hit-List represents a variety of artists from many genres, from soulful divas to experimental rockers, proving that there are truly only 2 classifications of music - good or bad:

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

Media coverage of Winehouse's out-of-studio antics overshadowed the reality in '07 - the girl can sing her damn heart out. The British 20-something's soul-jazz voice on Back To Black resembles that of Ella Fitzgerald. Winehouse's sophomore effort has a nostalgic sound paying homage to the 50's and 60's jazz scene blended with modern-day subject matter for a revitalizing fresh feeling.

Essential Listening:



To Know Him Is To Love Him (Incredibly spiritual live acoustic song released on Napster)

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Montreal-based indie collective Arcade Fire delivered their most commercially successful album to date last year, Neon Bible. The group experimented with many instruments beyond the typical rock guitars and drums for an orchestral sound perfect for its subtle social commentary and personal revelations. Neon Bible debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 behind only Notorious B.I.G.'s greatest hits CD - these Canadians ain't too shabby, aye.

Essential Listening:

Neon Bible



Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus [30th Anniversary Edition]

A reissue of Bob Marley's timeless Exodus 30 years after the original release featuring classic songs like "Exodus," "Jamming," "Three Little Birds" and "One Love/ People Get Ready" and lesser-known but equally inspirational tracks such as "Waiting In Vain" and "Natural Mystic." Tuff Gong's quintessential album is as good as new - 'nuff said.

Essential Listening:

Three Little Birds


Natural Mystic

Bruce Springsteen – Magic

Asbury Park, New Jersey's famous rockers Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band return with Magic, a collection of upbeat rock anthems and familiar down-to-earth content. Lead single "Radio Nowhere" questions "Is there anybody alive out there?" - the answer here is an enthusiastic "Yes!"

Essential Listening:

Radio Nowhere


Terry's Song (Hidden Track) (an emotional tribute to Bruce's late assistant and long-time friend Terry Magovern)

Pressure Busspipe – Love and Affection

Hailing from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Pressure's voice is smooth and well-pronounced on his sophomore album Love and Affection. From the uplifting "Be Free" and "Touch The Sky" to the agony of "Ghetto Life" and "Why," the disc is a genuine, purifying experience.

Essential Listening:

Be Free


Touch The Sky

Radiohead – In Rainbows

These Brit alternative art-rock heroes made history by releasing In Rainbows exclusively online and allowing fans to choose the album's price themselves, later distributing a physical deluxe box set with a second disc and vinyl copies of each. The album is artsy and intriguing, blending Thom Yorke's poetry with lush, climactic instrumentals for a colorful musical concoction.

Essential Listening:

All I Need

4 Minute Warning

Weird Fishes / Arpeggi

Slightly Stoopid – Chronchitis

Chronchitis signals this SoCal band's sound shift towards reggae and bluesy rock from their previous albums of heavy ska and punk influences. The LP's bouncy rhythms plus nifty guitar work let leadmen Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald describe beach-side memories while slower love songs make the listener want to lay out a towel for two - perfect tunes for a breezy summer afternoon at the shore.

Essential Listening:



Above The Clouds

Chris Brown - Exclusive

Eagles – Long Road out of Eden

From Dubplate to Download: The Best of Greensleeves Records

Luv Fyah & Million 7 – Ethiopia We Belong

Miles Davis – The Complete on the Corner Sessions

Ne-Yo – Because Of You

Ras Shiloh – Only King Selassie

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand

Sigur Ros – Hvarf-Heim

Stephen Marley – Mind Control

Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist

This January is the last relaxing month for me since I'll be graduating in May, so I'll use it for a couple more '07 lists.. stay up!

[babylon is falling]

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2007 Hit-List Part II - Most Disappointing Albums of '07

It's inevitable, life is full of disappointments and music is no exception. You know that feeling - you pop in a fresh disc with certain expectations, listen to it through then feel like you just wasted your time. And in my world, time is money. So not only did these albums mess with my money in '07, they were at times borderline painful on my ears. Call me a hater, the feeling is mutual for these frisbees...

Hit List Part II - Most Disappointing Albums:

1. 50 Cent – Curtis

The industry's biggest pimp's last quality album was Get Rich or Die Tryin', but he could care less after this year's $100 million Vitamin Water payout. Curtis is on the wrong side of the industry divide between generic and innovative; "I Get Money" and "Straight To The Bank" quickly became the most played of the many mindless songs about green paper and "Amusement Park" is laughably simple. Timbaland and Justin Timberlake saved "Ayo Technology" from flopping and 50 just doesn't have the hunger that made GRODT a corner classic. No wonder Fitty got embarrassed by Kanye West's sales numbers in their September SoundScan scuffle - now where's that retirement he promised?

Everyone Point and Laugh Award:

Amusement Park prod. Chris Styles

Thank You Mr. Mosley and Mr. Timberlake Award:

Ayo Technology ft. Timbaland & Justin Timberlake prod. Timbaland

2. Hi-Tek – Hi-Teknology 3

This one just saddened my hip-hop soul. Hi-Tek, one of the game's most underrated producers, has been on his beat grind since the Reflection Eternal days but struggles to put together a cohesive album on his own two. The production is good but not his best by any means - the urgent strings of "Handling My Bizness" and intense guitar riffs on "My Piano" are great but the LP suffers from too much pillow-soft, sleepy R&B loops. Although appearances from Talib Kweli, Ghostface, Raekwon, and Little Brother help make certain songs on Hi-Teknology 3 somewhat tolerable, it is plagued by no-name, C-list rappers (Chip the Rippa, anyone?). I'd rather have an LP of instrumentals, por favor.

Wish I Never Heard It Award:

Ohio All Stars ft. Cross, Showtime Mann & Chip The Rippa

Loved It:

Time ft. Talib Kweli & Dion

3. T.I. – T.I. vs T.I.P.

This album was sorry - T.I.'s half-assed attempt at a conceptual album pitting one personality against another (gasp! how creative). "Big Shit Poppin'" and "You Know What It Is" are catchy enough to bump occasionally but don't push the envelope of Southern rap like "Live In The Sky" or tear the club up as much as "Bring 'Em Out." The skits are horrendous and it takes a verse from Jay-Z to keep listeners' attention. Did we really need to hear from Nelly again? Next.

Would Not Subject My Worst Enemy to the Torture of this Track Award:

Show It To Me ft. Nelly

Let it Rock:

Watch What You Say To Me ft. Jay-Z

4. 9th Wonder – Dream Merchant Vol. 2

The ex-Little Brother Fruity Loops expert compiled Dream Merchant Vol. 2 haphazardly - the beats are stale and seem forced, the rappers and singers don't flow well, and the songs are random rants on topics ranging from an enchanting quest for crack ingredients ("Baking Soda") to a corny picnic anthem ("Sunday"). The only bright spots are "No Time To Chill" where 9th's verbal counterparts Phonte and Big Pooh discuss their constant hustle and "Saved" as Saigon and Joe Scudda drop knowledge. Plus, I want to smack the person who gave 9th permission to try and resurrect Memphis Bleek from rap's metaphorical graveyard.

Worst Drug-Related Reference Ever Award:

Baking Soda ft. Big Treal

Always Grindin' Award:

No Time To Chill ft. Little Brother

5. Drama – Gangsta Grillz The Album

When Outkast & Marsha Ambrosious dropped their track off Drama's debut CD, I got excited for this one. Little did I know, that's where the creativity stopped. Gangsta Grillz is as prepackaged, commercial, and generic as can be - you know your album is in trouble when the Katt Williams interlude outshines the majority of songs.

Ignorance At Its Worst Award:

Makin' Money Smokin' ft. Willie The Kid & LA The Darkman

Great Song, Not So Great Album Award:

The Art of Storytellin' Part 4 ft. Outkast ft. Marsha Ambrosious of Floetry

Rounding Out the Top 10:

6. Young Buck – Buck The World

7. Boot Camp Clik – Casualties of War

8. Evidence – The Weatherman LP

9. DJ Khaled – We The Best

10. Caltroit - Black Milk presents Caltroit

Other Notably Agonizing Albums:

Acelayone – Lightning Strikes

Chamillionaire – Ultimate Victory

Consequence – Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Cormega – Who Am I?

Median – Median’s Relief

Percee P – Perserverence

Paul Wall – Get Money, Stay True

RJD2 – The Third Hand

Twista – Adrenaline Rush 2007