Total Pageviews

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Top 12 LPs of 2014: #12 - #07

The Lost Tapes is probably the only blog to give you the 10 best albums of 2014 in March 2015, but as I often say better late than never. It actually has a few pros doing it this way - for albums released in December that you want to include because they are so slamming on first listen, 10 spins later they might no be all that hot anymore. Prime example - Ghostface's "36 Seasons", had i done this list on December 20 say, that could possibly have been number #10. Today I've realized it has zero replay value, and while it has it's moments it's probably Ghost's weakest album at 2.5/5.

Anyway, long overdue, and some of these albums have been reviewed more in depth before but I was really on a roll when writing these first five yesterday (DAMN, it all disapppeared so I had to start over)! I'm gonna try to give you the remaining five tomorrow, and perhaps i'm also gonna give you the best Soul/R&B albums, jazz LP:s and the most dissapointing. We'll see, but fuck it, here goes.. Better late than never! Some of these will be more in depth, som will be just a few paragraphs. But I hope you enjoy this my trusted reader!

12. D.I.T.C. - "The Remix Project"
Well, "The Remix Project" is something completely different than all those "Rare & Unreleased" compilarion sthat have been floating around. Hooking up with the well-respected Su´kuce-Of-Spice to create something truly unique tat everybody in the crew as on board with, almost seems as close we're gonna get to a new D.I.T.C. album at this point. And as long as it is this dope,I aint fucing omplaining! Like I said it's a new Crates album but there's not many unreleased verses on here but The Crates was always just as much as the beats as they were about  their rhymes. And it shows great promises for a future official Crates full-lngth. And if you like me you know every single word on this album by heart by now, so it's a pretty fat feeling haring these vocals over equally fat beats as the original. If there one thing I hate is these amateour producers who remixes the true hip-hop masterpieces and  add their little tinker-toy Casio. Here we have the best of the best, Diamond D, Showbiz, Buckwild, Lord Finesse, DJ Premier, Marco Polo, DJ O.Gee, my man Bink! who still to this day is underrated for some reason, and Apollo Brown. The latter is thhe albums only sliip-up in my honet opion. Don't get me wrong, I dig Brown,but he sure as hell ain't on the level of these BX veterans who's been doing it for 25+ years by now. The warm, fake vinyl pops and female vocals doesn't add anything to the striped original so if you ask me it should either be left all altogether, preferarbly by a Amed remix, or given away as a flexi disc when you purchased the 2xLP or something. Ok, it's not horrible, but it's easily the worst track on the LP. Nuff said.

I was also lying a bit when I said thatw already had heard all the vocals on this, which isn't entirely true. "We All", the Alchmiest remix, i actually did hear in 2009 in its original Showbz incarnaton but for most I guess this is a brand new OC and AG track, at least it's its first original rellease. What's damn more interesting though is the Lord Finesse remix of "Thick", i've tried posting this on various forums before but people don't seem too interested. To me, this  is mindblowing shit, the first time I heard it I always chocked on mt coffe once Big L started kicking - and it's well-known that Finesse has vaults of unreleased L and DITC verses. In fact I'm not sure if the "Thick Remix" on The Remix Proect is aremix of "Thick" or an earlier demo/alternative ersion version of the song. It sounds gilly mastered, AG spits his first verse, but you can tell it's not the exact same take as on the album, and the Big L and OC come on. "Got cheddar to blow, chicken swaet me whenever go/ Me and AG be in then you got OC, who for me was pretty much the shining star of "Worldwide". And he sure as hell doesn't disapoint either, but i could possibly be this verse that made the record label have them re-record it (Tommy ain't my fucking boy) - "We're coming dumbing out, for sure, setting the recipe for Fugees when they created The Score/ We all bessed,soon the kidnapp's a success/ tie her up and torture her then force her to suck me, Finesse and Big L. Just to make sure shit's secure, we're holding the broad for ransom/ Make all the grands we can plus Showbiz.  Fat Joe, Diamond D can have some". I mean wow, I could hear that from Big L but this is by far one of the most rugged verses I've heard, and from OC, often somewhat of the voice of reason within the gruoup). I have strong feeling that this is the orginal version of the song, and the Finesse beat sound like his late '90s sound all the way. I could see the record label getting cold feet with this being the first single at all and probablt even OC thought it was too much.. Oh well, I'm just glad I'm finally getting to hear it now, MASTERPIECE!

There's plenty of incredible trackks i could dwell on, but what's the point, just listen ot the tfucking abum. But "DJ Premier's remix of "Diggin' in the Crates", Buckwild's remixes of "Drop it Heavy" and "Casualties of a Dice Game" are sand outs, and so is Marco Polo's remix of "Wau Of Life" that uses vocal parts of both previous remixes o create a real boom bsp treat. It's almost a year since this first dropped and it's still getting regular spins. BUT A WARNING - YOU NEED THE VINYL VERSION OF THS all the way...I don't know what they weree thinking then they made the CD. The 2xLP gets everything right as far as sequencing goes, , it's obvious the LP should start with the fabolous DJ Premier remix of the song that set it all off - "Diggin' in the Crates' - rather than "We All" which is a weak opener but sounds good once you got to wam up to the album a bit..But most important of all is the choice for bonus cuts. The CD version features a second Showbiz remix of "Best Behavior" as well as a 9th Wonder remix of "Casualties of a Dice Game", two songs we have aöready been aquainted with previously on the disc, thus diminishing their lyrical value. The wax version on the other hand features that real Diggin' shit that rounds out on of the best remix albums of our time. First out is the Showbiz remix of "Da Enemy" that was previousy only available on the "All Love" CD. wromgy credted to DJ Premier due to the extreme likeness of the original mix. Closing the album is another Showbiz remix from '97 that has never appeared on an official CD. Slice-Of-Spice keeps on winning; I bought this and Lord Finesse's excellent "Sp1200 Project" 2xCD when they dropped and they sare still in rotation - especially the DITC tape. In fact this only lands at number 10 because it would feel a little foul putting it in a high spot considering it a remix album, but it most def belongs on such a list. Can we get an official DITC album now please?

11. Fashawn & Alchemist - "FASH-ionably Late"
When I first became aware of Fashawn during the promotional campaign for 2009:s debut "Boy Meets World", produced by Exile, and it's Alchemist produced prequel tape "The Antidote" I was absolutely convinced that Fashawn and the equally hard promoted Skyzoo was the next big hope for young, authentic hip-hop. Sure "Boy Meets World" and "The Salvation" are fucking unbelivable albums, but since then, and especially in Fashawn's case something happened. The great young hope started releasing mediocre mixtapes and features and kind of lost all my interest, But then he signed to Nas Mass Appeal Records, started recording "The Ecology" and things really started to look bright again.

The formula is quite the same from 2009, the Exile laced album features more serious and personal topics over a mixture of smoother underground West Coast flavor styles and a few tracks of more typicical East Coast boom bap. However with the prequel tapes that Alchemist handles, it's the other way around and Fash and ALC has one hell of a chemistry together. From the slow-moving but powerful, bass heavy opening "Po For President" it's clear that the one MC/one DJ formula is being used as an homage to the classic hip-hop that ALC and Fash grew up on. The music is 100% sample based - and there's no question these guys had a lot of fun recording this which is evident to hear,The loops, chops and filtered bsaslines, and powerhouse breakbeats is as strong as one could hope for. "Dreams" with Evidence might even be one of the years best songs, with its concept of how dreams can become reality if you truly strive for them to be so. break or make you, all accentuated by a beautiful, dreamt vocal sample being looped throughout. Faashawn is letting loose on here in a way that he doesn't quite do on "The Ecology" - just take "Professor F" as an example, where Fash goes haywire with lines like "Ashes to ashes/ you're as(s)h is finnished, you never crlash with a master of massive writtens/ matter of fact, are you bad since you asked permission for operat' in the classic shields ad tradition// Staff gets toe tagged when we enter the building/ I'm bad like Mike Jackson's dad, Joe Jackson nigga..." All delivered with a flow that is simply out of this world. It just keeps going like this, with both artists puttng in their best work in quite some time. That this isn't pressed up on vinyl is a good damn shame, they could at least give away a limited run to the first 500 peple wgo pre-ordered "The Ecology" directly from Mass Appeal. Last but not least, I gotta give a big shout out my homie Antoine Peltier as I only listened to this onece and forgot about (theere's so much music out there right now), but he really made made me revisit it again and GOD DAMN you were right A! Thanks bro!

10. Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild - "Silk Pyramids"
This was by far one of my most anticipated albums of '14, and the first time I heard it I was simply flabbergasted by its dopeness! Had it been released December 14 and I did this list on January 14 this would probablty be in the top three. The good folks over at Chopped Herring know what the hell we want to hear, and although they are releasing pricey rare, limited releases, at least they was nice enough to release a full arrtwork CD for us regular workers.

Meyhem Lauren and Buckwild is undoubtedly an excellent combination; I always thought post-2000 Buck beats sounded at their best with some thugged out emcee with a ruff, rugged and raw voice and gangster lyrics. What better emcee then than Meyhem Lauren to get to spin his gritty NYC stories over an LP produce by D.I.T.C. most commercially viable producer. And the result is a straight hardcore affair all the way through with Lorenovich doing what he does best and Buckwild providing banger after banger. "Q.U. Cartilage", "Salmon Crocquettes", "Street Hop", "100 MPH" ("I'ma put a gerbil in your mom - haha, only Bronson would come up with that line), "Been Official" is the real street shit and also when the album works best. But it's also a good thing that not the entire album is on some gangster shit (how fucking boring was Kool G Rap's Necro collaboration?). "Can't Fuck 'Em All" is a hilarious song for all the players in the world, and as an old drug addict the darkness of both the beat and vocals on "Narcotics Anonymous" really speaks to me on my personal level. "Aztec Blues" is a beautiful track, where Buck's haunting vocal sample and percussion becomes the perfect backdrop for Meyhem and Aztec to go motivational. And the list goes on...

What I do find iteresting is the many versions that's floating around of this baby. The LP version has some different titltes, like "Love & Loyalty" is called "Friendship is Rare", and a few others. But it also includes two sngs not found on the CD that I still haven't gotten my hands on (so plesae if anyone is sitting on these, please hook me up, as much music I have given y'all over the years) - they are "French 75" and "Rep The Streets". I'm not sure whether or not like this or the Celph Titlted album Buck did better - I absolutely love Buck's 90 beats, and the guests were ridiciolous, but on the other hand this is completely new beats and Meyhem is such a better emcee than Celph Titled. Either way they are both quality LP:s.

09. Audessey & A Kat Called Fritz - "Beats Per Minute"
This list is really the 11 best albums of 2014 because when I sketched up the top 10 I totally forgot to include Soundsci/Mass Influence members Audessey's first solo endevaour. Oh wait, it's not quite a solo album in the senese that its one MC/One DJ getting busy for ten unbelivably smooth tracks. The proucer is is a Dutch beat maestro that goes by the name of A Cat Called Fritz. Released on Slice-Of-Spice records, who like to take chances on records like this, hit the jackpot on this one. Audessey's chill voice and soothing cadence is a perfect match for Fritz jazz-fusion dynamics. There's no question that Fritz #1 love in this world is his extensive jazz collection and he uses it like a real pro, taking the energy and turntablisim of hip-hop and augmentation it with the relaxing sounds of the bop. A sounds like a true pro rhyming over low-key Fender Rhodes, melodic stand up basses,

Or how about the combination of sax and acoustic piano that crates a feeling of longing on one of the album's true stand outs "Impressions", as A waxes knowledge about learning lfe lessons through new impressionns. Grown man rap gets thrown around a lot these days but this is definitely a term that fits this project like hand in glove.  Once you reaches the somber, yet throughly beutiful "Travelling Thoughts" where Audessey, Fritz and the uncredited guest singer all bring their A+ game you know you have wittnessed something really special. A heed of warning though, bcause I believe you need to have a true in-depth appreciation for true jazz music to be able to truly grasp and enjoy his album to the fullestt. But if you already do you are not likely to put it down any time soon. 

08. OC & Ray West - "Ray's Café"
This is a brilliant project right here. OC is one of my all time favorite emcees who can hold it down with the best of them at any given topic. Ray West, I was a bit skeptical about at first, my first acquiantance was the album he did together with AG called "Got Berries?" that I viewed as quite the dissapointment after A's work with Showbiz, Lord Finesse, J Dilla, Madlib, Jake One, and so on. But for each release  since I've grown to release what an amazing, truly original producer West is, truly tailor suiting his records for the emcees he's working with and the thematic concepts they are working on for the particular project.

Friends and The Lost Tapes followers know very well that OC is in my top 5 emcees and the Brooklyn emcee is just as interesting today as he was in 1994 when he dropped "Word... Life". Of course he's a grown man, which makes me appreciate his thoughts even more as I can relate on another level. The loose concept of the album is a small jazz club with O and Ray on  the scene, and the backdrops all have a loose jazz vibe to them with typical instrumentals, like stand-up bass accoustic piano or Fenders, female backing vocals (on the wonderful "Soul Kitchen"). OC leaves the mic to AG and Milano on "Go Back" over an addictive electric piano sample and a hush-hush vocal sample that really works. The only question is why OC didn't kick a verse as well considering it's not even 2:30 in length - it's not a big deal though, it's DITC all the way. Next up is one of my favorite joints "Lovers"; OC tells the story that I think any guy can relate too, seeing that wonderful girl on the subway/train that you just got to have. OC's flow on this is just ridicilous, and if you want something in life you need to get it which is why he strikes up a conversation and gives her her number.

Damn, maybe this EP should have been higher, because I feel I want to talk about every single song on here, especially the second half of it are absolutely bonkers. "Breaking Rules", the single "YMI" (man what an uplifting song), and the official CD/cassette closer, the somber "Gotta Luv It" are all masterpieces that brings out the best in both the MC and his producer; the latter also reminisces over Roc Raida and Party Arty. It's a great closer to an terrific record, but it bugs me that only iTunes afficionandos and digital purchasers went without the bonus track "Just Cause". An almost perfet tack that almost has O rhyming in a double time flow, and especially as it closes on the attendans in Ray's Café clapping at the performance. Now that was a mistake... Of coure there's now the expanded CD which features all 10 tracks plus 4 more, including the brilliant "After Hours" and "My Heart in the Streets" (let's forget about "Learn Lessons").

07. PRhyme - DJ Premier, Royce Da 5'9" & A. Younge are PRhyme

This is an interesting album to say the least, not only on the musical level but also its whole execcution. Royce is releasing albums and mixtapes left and right, while DJ Premier have promised album and EP after another for years (NYGz where ya at?!) only to nothing more happening than pissing fans off. Maybe that was the collest thing about "PRhyme"; I mean there's been talks about a Royce/Preem album for years, but from the official announcement to the first singles was like a week. Inititally it was just a five track EP that was expanded into a nine track album due  to the chemistry and I'm very thank ful for that.

I'm not the biggest Royce fan, I mean he's obviously the most interesting member of Slaughterhouse if that really is saying anything, but ever since "Boom" in 12" ever since he worked in D&D with Preem he turns in a top 10 rapper. "PRhyme" is a classic hip-hop album, filled with beauifully chopped soul samples, just the right loops, mad turntable action,  and plenty of hilarious lines from Royce clowning on sucker emcees and every  one else in his ways. It's a vintage hip-hop album to say  the least. And as big fan I am of Adrian Younge's catalouge I can't actually make out too many of the samples, which is a huge testament of how ill Premier is at chopping and manipulating samples. The one I especially recognize is the one he fucked with the least, and is also one of my favorites, "You Should Know", a super soulful thing of beauty fittingly featuring the sugar coated voice of Dwele over a sample of The Delphonics.

Another thing that makes "PRhyme" such a slamming album is how the duo is never letting things get boring - one of the best songs on the album ("U Looz") is not even two minutes long, "Wishin'" keeps switching back and forth betweenn two equually ill beats, and the guest emcees are kept to a minimum. But those rhyme cameos are all KILLING shit, Jay Electronica on "To Me, To You" should get a quotable of the month for his second verse if The Source was still a respectable mag; Killer Mike and Schoolboy Q helps out 5'9" over a powerhouse DJ Premier banger that's sure to have head s nodding, and then the final track is a Slauthgerhouse reunion - the first Preemo prodiuced such and it sure as hell sounds good, Premier can basically make anyone sound good but when your crew include lyrical machine guns like 5'9", Crooked I and Joell Ortiz all he got to do is add some thick drums, a stripped down beat these lyrical machine guns to go off. A short but very sweet album. Don't sleep!


No comments:

Post a Comment