First off, I think a lot of you out there are gonna throw your hands in the air and give a quizzical look when you see how short the HipHop list is. At least, you would if you knew me and how much I dig HipHop. BUT!! This is due to the fact that much of the beat scene (LA in particular) has moved away from a strict HipHop formula and manifestation. Therefor, I have tried to limit the HipHop section to records I think are straight up HipHop. You can argue with me in the comments section of the remaining articles, but you’ll be wrong, because I am the fuckin’ expert.
Decibel Festival 2009 was my real introduction to The Mothafuckin’ Gaslamp Killer. In the last few years, he has gifted us with a number of amazingly dope mixes, but in 2010 he finally dropped his first solo production. Yes, he produced the beats for Gonjasufi’s album this year as well, but that dude’s vocals (and ultimately, his over-reliance on effects on his vocals) bug the shit out of me. He makes an appearance on The Gaslamp Killer’s Death Gate EP and sullies the finest, funk-induced beat with his stupid fuzzbox vocals. The melody he sings on “When I’m In Awe” is fabulous and parallels the also fuzzy guitar, but he’s gonna have to learn to sing un-effected at some point. Can’t wait for the instrumental of that one. “Fun Over 100” is a nifty little skittery Tron beat, showing off Gaslamp’s many skills and styles. And “Carpool Dummy” rocks some ill break beats.
From the master of the mix to a man mastering the mix, albeit mixes of all his own material. EL-P brings us the third installment of Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixx. A fuckin mouthful for sure. What you get is exactly what you’d expect. The soundtrack to the apocalyptic war between machines and humans. Menacing synths and crushing drum pads run you off the battlefield if you ain’t got big enough gonads. The real beauty is in how EL-Producto has streamlined the concept in Megamixx3. No track breaks filled to the brim with those silly ass announcements that this is Megamixx3 and a whole bevvy of lovely beats noir from the master of HipHop darkness. “Meanstreak (In 3 Parts)” might be my favorite track; all three movements show classic EL-P styles and just roll on through with barely a break to breathe. And then “Drunk With A Loaded Pistol” just goes into the weirdest depths of Jamie Meline’s felon MC mind. The greatest thing about this piece of wax is that it made me wanna make beats again. Good thing my synth-drum machine is on long-term loan.
Okay, this next one is one of those records where you’ll argue the validity of its inclusion, seeing as the guy who made the music died in 2006. However, J Dilla’s Jay Stay Paid is a gorgeous collection of J Dilla rarities. All respect due and credit for getting this thing out there to Pete Rock; apparently this record wouldn’t exist without his efforts. “CaDILLAc” is 121 seconds of pure HipHop ecstasy. Twenty eight tracks in all and you’ve got a classic Dilla release. Well done!
The man in the picture above, Madlib, is simply off the charts with his rate of release and quality control combination. This year he went off. First of all, he endeavored to release one installment of the Medicine Show series every month. He almost made it. Looks like 11 is where we sit. But hey, he also dropped the lovely Strong Arm Steady In Search of Stoney Jackson. Seriously?!? For realz!!! Some of his finest Funk ‘n’ Jazz beats production in some time (every month, I guess…shit this dude is amazing) and a smorgasboard of MC’s, none of whom disappoint when they step to the mic. Be headstrong and listen to the entire album before you pick your favorite track, cuz mine is “Bark Like a Dog” all the way towards the end of the album. Filthy!!!
Many of you may wonder where the Pop music guilty pleasures are for me. I don’t have many, but M.I.A. is certainly one of ’em. Her newest LP, MAYA, is the weirdest, most experimental thing she’s done yet, but still somehow has that mass appeal. The ‘fuck Arizona and their racist legislation’ video that accompanies the song “Born Free” is stunning and was quickly pulled from YouTube. Does she prove the point immediately or what?
Jedi Mind Tricks has long been one of my favorite underground HipHop groups and Vinnie Paz may be that group’s dopest MC. As far as the fire he spits, he never fails. Unfortunately, most of the beats aren’t on the level of dopeness we’re used to with Jedi Mind Tricks. Also, there’s some really frustrating autotune vocals to sing some of the hooks (see “End of Days”). I gotta say that, of all the MC’s who play hard, Vinnie Paz might be the most naturally intimidating to me. Certainly someone I wouldn’t wanna tussle with. Get sent home in a bag.
Alright, the envelope please…The winner of 2010’s Best HipHop Album is Strong Arm Steady In Search of Stoney Jackson. Congrats to Madlib, I’m sure he’s building a new mantle just to make room for this award.