I think that I'm one of the few people who didn't like Atmosphere's 2008 album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. I liked most of the songs on the album and loved "Yesterday," "In Her Music Box," and "Guarantees," but I felt that the album lacked a lot of the introspection and humor that elevated Seven's Travels and You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having to classic status. Instead of the fun-loving, honest, self-depricating songs like "Shoes" and "Reflections," it seemed as though the Minneapolis duo tried to replicate the "Little Man" and "Always Coming Back Home to You" formula on each and every track on Lemons.
Back in 2006, Zion I got together with Living Legends emcee/producer, The Grouch, for one of the better most complete albums of either collaborators' esteemed careers. Heroes in the City of Dope still gets rotation on my iPod, so you can imagine my pleasant surprise, when I heard that the Bay Area trio have teamed up for a sequel, Heroes in the Healing of the Nation, scheduled to be released on March 22. Zion I's latest offering, Atomic Clock, was dissapointing considering the group's reputation for consistantly putting out great albums, but here is to hoping it was an anomaly.
In the meantime, here are two of the better tracks the trio have produced over the years. The first, "Silly Puddy," is an otherworldly cut off Mind Over Matter. It was the first Zion I track that I ever heard and I've been hooked ever since. The Mistah F.A.B.-assisted "Hit 'Em" is the hard-hitting opening track off HITCOD and remains among AmpLive and Zumbi's best.
Zion I - "Silly Puddy" (feat. The Grouch)
We'll stay in the ATL for this next post. The self-proclaimed "King of the South," T.I. has never quite lived up to his title. While other Southern rappers such as OutKast, Scarface, and Wayne (pre-CIII) all offer better claims to the title, Clifford Harris's reign only occurred for a short period of 2006. While King was a monumental album and one of the best, non-OutKast, projects to come out of Atlanta, the rest to T.I.'s career has been marked predominantly by popular singles rather than critically-acclaimed albums.
I don't know why, but I woke up this morning and really just wanted to listen to this Stankonia classic. It's going to be a good day.
Don't everybody like the smell of gasoline, well burn motherf***er, burn American Dreams!
OutKast - "Gasoline Dreams"
Previous: Big Boi - "Daddy Fat Sax" x "Last Call"
I apologize that it has taken me this long to release the latest incarnation in the series, but I did not wish to attach my name to an inferior product and this is the first time I've felt truly good about every aspect of the mixtape. What you hear now is the eleventh and final version of this particular installment. As always, it combines the classics along with what I consider to be some of the best new new songs of today. It's taken three months in the making, but on the plus side, I have the starting and concluding tracks for the next three tapes lined up. I consider this to be one of the best tapes yet and I hope you enjoy it. Without further ado, hit the jump for the tracklist/download link.
Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
P.S. Props to Marask for the incredible background image.
One of the more underrated emcees of all time, Wu-Tang-affiliate Killah Priest isn't even given credit for his best song. Because his solo track "B.I.B.L.E." was included as a bonus song on the re-issue of GZA's Liquid Swords, many mistakenly attribute it to the Genius. This song, along with the album as a whole is a CLASSIC. GZA's magnum opus stands the test of time and still ranks among my top-10 albums of all time.
Peace, Love, & Wu,
Killah Priest - "B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)"
For those of you who missed it, Chiddy Bang's nine-track EP, The Preview, took 2010 by force. Highlighted by the MGMT-sampling "Opposite of Adults," the project provided heads with twenty-nine minutes of clever lyricism paired with crisp productions that will leave fans hungry for the duo's debut album, The Swelly Express, which is set to drop later in the year.
While all nine tracks are excellent in their own right, "Opposite of Adults," "Here We Go," and "All Things Go," tracks 3, 4, and 5 respectively, top the class. "Opposite of Adults" may well be better than the MGMT original version and, while it's disappointed that they didn't give ATCQ legend Q-Tip an actual verse, the energy of "Here We Go" more than makes up for it. Though Chiddy doesn't deliver his best verses on "All Things Go," Xaphoon's synth-based production coupled with the children's chorus helps the track transcend from above-average to extraordinary. A pop-sound with solid lyricism is always a solid combination which is why you should expect big things from Chiddy Bang in 2011.
Previous: Kanye West - "We Can Make It Better" (feat. Common, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli & Rhymefest)
Update: Fixed the link for the "Flashing Lights (Remix)." If you haven't downloaded it yet, I highly recommend adding it to your music library. I also added a longer version with Kanye on it (even though I prefer the shorter version).
I've been a huge fan of the Virginia Beach duo, the Clipse, since first hearing their monumental sophomore album, Hell Hath No Fury back in '06. I consider HHNF and Til the Casket Drops to be near classic status, but I typically find that one has to be in a particular mood to listen to brothers Malice and Pusha T. While the crisp Neptunes production marks nearly every Clipse song, most tracks prove too slow to play while working out or at a party. Conversely, Malice and Pusha T often deliver hard-hitting, wordplay that makes them difficult to listen to while relaxing. This seemingly converse energy works well when paired with other Clipse songs, but also makes them difficult to place into a flowing playlist. For me, I'll typically find myself listening to them when I need a quick Clipse-fix or among fellow fans.
Couldn't get to sleep, so one more post tonight... Back before he became a drug-addled parody of himself, Dwayne Michael Carter was one of the most promising young rhymesayers in hip hop. It's not the best example, but it still elicits a laugh hearing a 17-year-old Wayne on Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up" (am I the only one who notices that the only words that rhyme in Juve's bars are the "yeah"'s at the end of each bar?), but by the time he was 21, Carter had dropped Tha Carter, one of the best hip hop albums of the previous decade.
I've been meaning to post this video from Seattle's Scribes for a while, but I wanted to have the track to accompany it first. It was a pain to track down (selling by consignment=fail), but over winter break I was able to find his two albums (which you can find on iTunes if not in the Seattle Area). A third, What Was Lost, is on its way and is set to be released on February 4th. Scribes is one of the better up and coming 206 emcees and listeners should definitely pay close attention to his budding career. On a side note, I find it really weird that I went to high school (and in some cases elementary school) with half-a-dozen people in this video.
"Roll My Way"
The spoken word version of this song remains the best I've ever heard. I tend to lean towards it over this rendition, but maybe it's just because I heard that one first (and then over and over and over again). But I'll let you be the judge on this rather atypical kicks-oriented track with a message. Props to Shake.
Peace, Love, & Macklemore,
Next Level Noah
We raise our glass to the sky and lift up,
And live tonight 'cause you can't take it with ya.
So raise a pint for the people that aren't with us,
And live tonight 'cause you can't take it with ya.
I've been waiting eagerly for this video for a few months and it doesn't disappoint on this track off of The VS. EP.