Ludacris - "Runaway Love" feat. Mary J. Blige

I've never quite been sure where to place Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.  While the man brings an undeniable and presence that makes him immediately recognizable every time he steps to the microphone, for most of his career, his association with crunk and output of less than thought-provoking material ("Move Bitch," "Stand Up," "Area Codes" among others), has prevented him from being put in the same level of the Scarfaces, Jays, and Nasir Jones'.  I've always held that, for the first half of his career, Luda was consistently better on other people's material than his own.  Like nearly everyone else on The College Dropout, he dominated Kanye on his own debut album, but there are a number of songs he has been featured on that managed to slip under the radar, but he also makes Field Mob's "Georgia" and even managed to turn Asher Roth's "I Love College" into a tolerable song.

J. Cole - "Knock On Wood" X "Gladiators" w/ B.o.B

J. Cole is going to be a star.  The Fayetteville, North Carolina native and ROC Nation artist is the most talented up and coming emcee and one of the brightest new faces hip hop has seen in years.  Above is J-Dot's freestyle for XXL's Freshman Class of 2010 list and attached is his latest freestyle, the song he blessed for B.o.B's May 25th mixtape, and one of my favorite tracks off of The Warm Up (which you absolutely need to download if you have yet to).  I don't know where you've been if you're still sleeping on this future next best thing.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

"Knock On Wood"
B.o.B - "Gladiators" (feat. J. Cole) [NoDJ]
"Dollar and a Dream II"

Previous - What's In Rotation, Vol. VI

Brother Ali - "Room A View" (Prod. Ant)

I'll be the first to admit that when I think of Minnesota, crime, drug use, and poverty isn't the first thing that comes to mind (I blame Fargo).  Brother Ali paints an entirely different, disparate picture of southside Minneapolis in the first hard hitting track off his underground classic, Shadows On The Sun.  There's not much more I can say about the Brother that I didn't say in my previous post, but I wanted to give some shine to one of my favorite songs (and albums) of the past decade.  There's no argueing with the fact that Ali is a legend of the genre and there are few that are on his level in the game today.

I see all this from the desk that I write my rhymes from,
Pen starts to scribble on its own, my mind's numb,
But you can call me modern, urban Norman Rockwell,
I paint a picture of the spot well.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Crooked I - "Fireflies Freestyle"

This isn't exactly a direction I expected from Slaughterhouse rapper, Crooked I.  Yet I find my self pleasantly surprised by the results of the Long Beach emcee rhyming over Owl City's number one hit.  "My Story" was one of my favorite songs of 2009 and I definitely recommend this download.

Previous: Crooked I, K-Young, Ya Boy, & One-2 - "My Story"

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - "Rebirth"

New music off of the legendary Cleveland group's first album in three years, Uni-5: The World's Enemy (dropping April 27th).  Seven minutes long, but I'm not complaining.  Hit the jump for the music video/download link.

Group Home - "Supa Star" (prod. DJ Premier)

[Had to take a study break for my sanity.]
As good as Dr. Dre was in his prime and as innovative as Kanye is now, it's hard to form an argument against DJ Premier's place as the greatest producer of all time.  Premier, who samples primarily jazz, soul and funk songs, is known for his scratches that include samples of some of the best (and most obscure) lyrics from hip hop lore.  He has production credits on many of the holy texts of the genre.  From Nasty Nas' Illmatic and Jay's Reasonable Doubt to recent album such as Royce Da 5'9"'s Street Hop, Premier has consistently been the producer that the best lyricists (who can afford it) go to when they need a classic sound.

Eminem - "Role Model" x "If I Had"

Love him.  Despise him.  There's no in between with Eminem.  Marshall Mather's Slim Shady persona polarizes people like no other artist.  Some see him as a problem, a man who explicitly glorifies drug use, murder, and rape in his songs.  Others see him as a preacher to a fed up generation looking for a purpose, a satire mocking American culture in general.

Dyme Def - "Do Something" [Music Video]

It's not my favorite Dyme Def material, but here are the visuals for the first single off of Sextape.

Previous: Fearce Villain feat. Louis V - "Ransom Freestyle"

XV - "Bad News" Pt. I & 2

Last year, Vizzy released the original version of this song, "Bad News (Nobody's Somebody)," on his critically acclaimed mixtape, Everybody's Nobody.  The song, which samples Kanye's 808s & Heartbreak track of the same name, was an honest confession of his frustration at, among other things, being overlooked by the larger hip hop community because he comes from a non-traditional hip hop city (Wichita, Kansas).  The result was a powerful song that proved to be one of the best songs of '09.

What's In Rotation, Vol. VI

It'll hard to top the last tape, but I stand behind it when I say that the latest installment is right up there with the prior.  A lot of the songs on this month's version haven't been featured on the blog yet.  As always, I'd appreciate positive/negative feedback on the tape.  Hit the jump for the track list and download link:

B.o.B aka Bobby Ray - "Generation Lost"

One of the many freshman from the class of '09 not to drop an album over the course of the past year, 2010 is looking up for ATLien Bobby Ray.  B.o.B is set to drop his debut album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, on May 25th, which looks to be one of the most anticipated albums of the year.  Ray is superb lyrically as displayed on this song.  For those of you who want to catch up with B.o.B, I suggest downloading Should Have Been the First Album (basically a greatest hits collection).  I've also linked the first single leaked off the album, "Nothin' On You," featuring singer Bruno Mars.

"Generation Lost"

"Nothin' On You"

Zion I vs. Muse - "Fight For Your Right RMX"

One of my favorite groups remixes one of my favorite non-hip hop songs?  I see no problems here as the Bay Area duo gives their rendition of Muse's "Knights of Cydonia."  You can download an additional six Zion I tracks for free at their bandcamp.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Previous: Zion I - "Bird's Eye View" x "Caged Bird Part 1" f. Brother Ali

Kanye West - "We Don't Care" X "About an Angel (Unreleased)"

Remember when it was cool to like Kanye West.  When you didn't have to clarify the statement, saying you don't like what he's done with autotune and the general trend towards songs with more spectacle than speculation.  There was a time when Ye was known more as an artist than as a crazed celebrity (Well, Fuck Your Coloring Book!).

There was a time when we viewed Kanye as one of the new up and coming artists with the potential to do something great with hip hop.  He's certainly changed it for better or worse, but where has it left him?  A sad parody of his former self more concerned with celebrity and money than providing us some of the deeper content he has to offer.  I hope that Kanye gets his life back on track and regains that hunger he once had to be one of the greatest of all time.  These are two of my favorite old school Ye tracks.  "We Don't Care" is the first track after the intro on his debut and is simply an anthem celebrating black life while illuminating many socioeconomic problems.  "About An Angel" is an unreleased track from Late Registration.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

"We Don't Care"

"About An Angel"

Previous - "All Falls Down"

Spaid - Clarity (Prod. Vitamin D)

I first heard Spaid a couple months ago on 2DBZ and wasn't blown away by the Tacoma by way of Jamaica Queens emcee.  This song completely changed my image of the new 800LB (Dyme Def's label) member.  Great beats by a Seattle legend, great flow, and decent lyrics.  Do yourself a favor and dl the song.  Spaid is to be featured prominently on DD's upcoming Sextape if the tracklist remains the same.