[#2] PETE ROCK / S-N-W - "MONUMENTAL"
Since the late '90s two of my absolute favorite producers of the hip-hop game has been Pete Phillips better known as Pete Rock and Kevin Hansford, better known as K-Def. Whenever a single had a remix or an original made by either of them, or even better when they laced entire albums, you'd know that this was something out of the ordinary. And while many people claim that producers like the ones mentioned above have slacked off through the years, don't you dare me lump me in with that mindless crowd as both K-Def and Pete Rock has produced two of the three best albums of the year, respectively so I thought it was only fair they get to share the #2 spot on this countdown.
I reviewed both records around their release date, so this will be two rather short reviews and if you want to hear more then check out the original reviews ("Nightshift" here and "Monumental" here). Let's start with this years Smif-N-Wessun, Pete Rock produced album,"Monumental". My favorite album of the year at the time it dropped altough that would change about a month or two later (hint, hint). Pete hadn't produced an LP in full since "Soul Survivor II" (which wasn't really up to par) and the underrated "New York's Finest" featured all but one beat from Pete. On here he does it all; he produces, mixes, the cuts, and I don't have my copy here right now but I trhink he was even part of the engineering, And it does sound great, there's a few beats that's not's up to par but the vast majority of the tracks are absolute bangers and the best tracks ("Roses", "Time to Say", "Do It", etc.) might evne be too hot for Ray's Boom Boom Room.
You can tell that Pete was an actual part in the record studio when the tracks went down which gives the album a sound of authenticity. I know he said in an interview that he wanted to create an album that was their best joint since Smif-N-Wessun's classic "Dah Shinin'" (1995) and despite other dope releases from the Brownsville duo, I think they actually pulled it off. Unlike their debut though, there's alot of guest artists that I guess Pete had the biggest hand in getting together; but for the most part these collaborations are fantastic and the few joints with just Tek N Steele like the "instant classics" "Go Off" and the beautiful album closer "Time to Say". Pete Rock himself appear on two joints himself and it's evident that he's a much better emcee than he has been since at least the "Soul Survivor" LP more than a decade ago. Other suprcharged guest features that add to the overall product is the BCC features; Rock on "Feel Me" that also features a killer verse from Bun B; Buckshot on the grimey "Night Life" that features both one of the albums hottest beats and one of those classic Pete Rock interludes that helpe make him his name from day #1.
Not all the songs are fantastic and it's not a masterpiece but it's a damn shame that hot records like this don't sell jack anymore. This should be in any serious collector's crates or shelf but people not only buy records but they also wouldn't know hot music if it fucking hit them in the face. It's definitely one that grew alot too over the months so for y'all who might've heard the songs a couple of times, do yourself a favor and listen to it front-to-back at least 7 times during a maximum periiod of a month. I've said it before, and I'll say it agian - DON'T SLEEP!
[#2] K-DEF - "THE NIGHTSHIFT"
K-Def has come along way from the '94 days; back then he was creating classic hip-hop tunes with Marley Marl @ The House of Hits using an all analog set-up. These days he's a respected, but misunderstood, super creative and original artists with an almost all all digital set-up that enables him to totally rearrange and recompose classic tracks K-Def style without even using samples. He's clearly the master at that and I doubt anyone will come along that's better pr even on the same level. He recently hooked up with very respectable underground label Redefinition Records; a label that treat the artists with 100% respect, giving them full creative control over their own projects.
K-Def - "Escapizm" (Ft. Rob O)
"The Night Shift" is either an EP or a mini-album depending on what fornat you choosed to pick up (and fuck a downloader as far as small indie records like this goes); the vinyl version is a typical EP with 8 songs and 20 minutes in time while the CD and Cassette versions features five additional bonus tracks (inclúding the three mindblowing tracks from the previously released tracks from the 7" single he released through Reddefintion this summer; a mega fat hardcore but still atmospheric remake of Jay Dee's instrumental to De La's classic "Stakes is High"and at the end is an unlisted track that happened to be the classic but just to this year previously unreleased monster K-Def collaboration with LL Cool J that was recorded for "14 Shots to the Dome" along with some uncredited goodies such as "Funkadelic Relic" and probably other unknown heaters from that LP.
K-Def / LL Cool J - "Year Of The Hip-Hop"
All in all it's a super dope record that I strongly recommend that you pick up before it's out of print. It's new year's eve and although I've written these reviews beforehand and just finetuned them, I'm out to celebrate the new year so check out my original, more extensive, review of the EP if you're interested), Tomorrow I will reveal my #1 favorite album of 2011, any guess or thoughts on my list so far?
Happy new year to you all!