It is easy to glorify the past, and for many Rap fans, myself included, that often means drooling over the early 90s – early 2000s era like Uncle Rico with a high school fuckin’ pigskin.
“Bet I can throw it over them mountains!!”
Has Rap music plummeted down the toilet bowl faster than a 10 Couric dump from Big Pun? Nas’ “Hip Hop is Dead” is a thought-provoking album title that we’ve all pondered.
Well? Is it?
The innovative and raw Rap sound that we all know and love has certainly spawned some ugly bastard children… there is no denying it. From Pop radio “hits”… to paint-by-number album structures… to Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss Mother Goose “space shit that don’t even make no sense…”
Regardless of Rap’s pulse at this particular juncture (we’ll leave that discussion for another day), now is a time to think optimistically and positively reflect on the year we have left behind.
Without further ado, in no particular order:
Citizen McGee’s Top Ten Rap Albums of 2010
The Left – Gas Mask
The Left came out of left field with this masterpiece which turned back the clock to the golden era of Rap. This three man group, consisting of emcee Journalist 103, up and coming producer Apollo Brown and DJ Soko, uses the prototypical nineties mid-tempo, gritty Hip-Hop sound to craft one of the most consistent albums of the year. Hopefully this album is a catalyst for artists to make true hip-hop albums so we can shed the gas masks protecting us from all the toxic bullshit on the radio. *Cough* DRAKE *Cough*
Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids
The Wallabee Champ is back with his best album since Fishscale. Ghost shows off an array of darts by conspiratorially murking beats orchestrated by a cast of mainly rookie producers. GFK also lets notable killer accomplices get their shots in too, inviting the likes of GZA, Raekwon, Method Man, U-God, Redman, Game, Busta Rhymes, Black Thought, Killah Priest, Trife and Cappadonna (among others) to the lyrical gangbang. Apollo Kids is bookended by the indisputable bangers “Purified Thoughts” and “Troublemakers”, and is littered with notable gems along the way (like the Supreme Clientele-esque diamond in the rough ”How You Like Me Baby”). Unfortunately, the lackluster tracks ”Superstar” and “Handcuffin Them Hoes” are both absolutely fucking horrible (putting it nicely), but all things considered, this album serves as a delicious appetizer to Ghost’s upcoming and highly anticipated sequel, Supreme Clientele II.
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Fuck you. Fuck me. And most importantly… Fuck Kanye West. I know, I know… the last thing I wanted to do was add any more praise to that asshole’s enormous ego (Stewie Griffin’s head comes to mind… sometimes I wish his mouth was still wired shut!), but what can I say? You give me 2 and 2 and I can’t do anything with that but 4. The production is so polished I can see my gorgeous reflection in the wake of MBDTF sound waves. This collection of musical perfection is the first of its caliber since nipple-firing fembots. Dark Fantasy. Stronger. Monster. So Appalled. All Of The Lights. Runaway. Devil In A New Dress. Are you fucking serious? Shit is like a greatest hits album. I hate to do it, but glasses up. Get the fish sticks out your lips… and toast the Douchebag.
Freeway & Jake One – Stimulus Package
Remember when Freeway was just one of many minions in Jay-Z’s Roc-a-fella stable? Well, times they are a changin’. At one time, High-Speed-Limited-Access-Divided-Highway couldn’t dream of being featured on The Blueprint. Now he’s made a blueprint of his own with The Stimulus Package. And the award for “Most Improved Rapper” goes to…!!! Teamed with producer Jake One and his crisp, soulful sound, Freeway’s distinctive voice, flow, and beard (!! Watch out Brian Wilson !!) gives listeners that “Oooooooh-eee this shit is sick!” feeling (like that first high… I’ll get back to it! I will! Watch me! I just need more!). Stimulus Package is an unexpected, and well appreciated, jaw dropper of 2010.
Celph Titled & Buckwild – Nineteen Ninety Now
Even though Nineteen Ninety Now is the official debut album for both Celph Titled and Buckwild, these two have actually been around since it was literally Ninety Ninety Now. This album’s production consists of nothing but 1990s Buckwild beats that were just lying around unused like a Joe Budden album. The “land mine lieutenant” delivers heavy metaphor-riddled lyrics throughout, spewing his Cuban/White boy flavored bars with humor and precision. The vocals mold to the complementary rugged beats like Chris Brown’s fist to Rihanna’s face. The features, including the legendary RA the Rugged Man (can’t wait to see what he blesses us with in 2011!!!), all come correct, making this album an easy pick for Citizen McGee’s Top 10 List (not to mention the award for most slept on).
Nas & Damian Marley – Distant Relatives
For the most part, collaboration albums involving a rapper and an artist from another genre are doomed for failure. Case in point: The Best of Both Worlds albums… I’d rather pee in my mouth. Oh. No, R., I wasn’t being serious. Back the fuck up before I mace you. 2010’s effort by legendary rapper Nas and son of legendary Bob Marley, Damian, isn’t perfect (it can be remarkably corny), but there is something that works about the combination of Damian’s feel-good sound and Nas’ lyrical return to glory (I hope he drops his next solo rap album in this vein). Distant Relatives has a unique sound that is part “don’t worry, be happy” and part ”I don’t sleep because sleep is the cousin of death.” It is a genre all its own. With notable standout songs “As We Enter” and “Nah Mean,” and straight nasty Nas verses throughout (e.g. “Land of Promise”… damn), these cousins to the 843rd degree, or whatever the fuck they are, provide us with a smooth and much needed breath of fresh music.
Eminem – Recovery
Eminem is Rap royalty. And in 2002-2003, he was at the top of a 5 year climb that seemed to be endless. Then, as it often does, reality hit. Encore dropped. Eminem showed that even he could take a step backwards. But with Relapse last year (which is much better than Eminem himself gives it credit for) and Recovery this year, Eminem is aiming at shooting the crown off someone’s fucking head… Could it be Weezy? Not now. Not only has Eminem murdered LW on his own shit (“Drop The World”) but he brought the dead body back to his own planet just to piss on and then fuck the dead corpse (“No Love”). Eminem saw guys like Weezy and Yeezy getting big off witty wordplay while he was taking a timeout, and he took up the challenge to show that he can be the best at that too. From “Calm Batman” to the opposite of Eminem (“Mini-Me”), Em’s lyrical output is brilliant. He’s dropped the shitty accents for good, he’s executed great concept songs, he’s come aggressive but not violently overdone, and he’s shown that he may still be the king (or at least head jester) more than a decade after his big label debut.
Canibus – C of Tranquility
C of Tranquility delivers exactly what you expect from everything that Canibus drops – insane, mind-blowing lyrics delivered in his patented militant style. While this album has no features, it is far from boring as Canibus proves that he hasn’t lost a step over all these years. Besides, who in his right mind would want to get murdered by appearing on the same track as ‘Bus? The opening track, “CPTN Cold Crush”, sets an immediate tone with a vicious double-shot of Canibus with no chaser (hook). The only downside is that the production is hit or miss, but the hits are out of the park.
Vinnie Paz – Season of the Assassin
Vinnie Paz finally released his first solo album after over a decade of making albums as a member of the highly regarded Jedi Mind Tricks. While Vinnie has a voice that could easily be confused with some sort of mutant gargoyle, this guy has some serious skills. Season of The Assassin plays like its title, getting high marks for consistency and accuracy, dropping nothing but dome shots on the rest of the rap game. The beats are polished and feed well off each other (like food fetish hookers). Vinnie also chose a great cast of features including The Clipse, Freeway, Beanie Sigel, RA the Rugged Man and Ill Bill. What’s up with all the legit white rappers these days?!?!? Does this have something to do with 2012 fast approaching? FUCKIN’ MAYANS!!!
Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
The Dirty Souf is oft-criticized for being two steps behind society (see George W. Bush & the Dallas Cowboys), but OutKast has always been 6 giant leaps ahead of Rapkind. Innovative, ridiculously entertaining AND content substantive, and always unnervingly solid. Kinda like my dick… Big Boi – the somewhat unfairly labeled shadow to King Andre 3000 – and his new solo joint are no different. Lead by the banger “General Patton” and the instant collaborative classic “For Yo Sorrows” with George Clinton and Too $hort, Sir Lucious Left Foot is a fun and funky journey into the more grounded half of Stankonia. Do I want a new OutKast album? WHAT?!? FUCK YES I DO, YA BIG DUMMY! But I’m not going to turn down a great handjob just because it’s not a blowjob. Thanks for the handjob, Big Boi.
Please check out my Top Lyricists post.