Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums of 2006

(This was originally posted last week at catfish and also at MP's Xanga. Here it is again for list week. Also I uploaded all these pics but for some reason only the clipse one works. But I'm too lazy to upload them all again. so sorry. If you really need to see them while you read you can read this at MP's Xanga)

This is the Best Hip-Hop of 2006 as decided by resident scholars, Paco Michelson and Matt Plett. If you don't like these choices, then you are must realize you are either a) a whack mc, b) a weak-ass cracker, or c) frontin'

Now Behold!

1. J Dilla - Donuts (Stones Throw)/The Shining (BBE)

(MP) My favorite producer EVER passed away this year. Jay Dee aka J Dilla put out two albums in 2006, deserving the #1 spot. I "grew up" listening to his music, actually. His songs made me love hip hop. Seems like he made music for ALL my favorite artists. Probably not a coincidence. Anyway, "Donuts" is the main reason he is #1 on my list. 31 amazing tracks of soul and funk samples, drum beats and the best, richest Dilla album ever. It makes you feel damn good the whole way through.
P.S. The album totally seems like his goodbye to the world. Strange actually that he died less than a week after it was release. In "Stop" the Dionne Warwick sample repeatedly moans,
"You're gonna want me back...you're gonna need me."
That's for damn sure.

(PM) We were just becoming friends and dude croaks off. I didn't like Hip-Hop in high school like Plett, so J Dilla has only been an enormous shadow over my life for a few years. But this year was his year for real. Donuts was the best album of the year and maybe the best album of his life. Perfect in length, perfect in everything. An instant classic as the oxymoron goes. This album is a beautiful mess of beats and noises and samples and all kinds of knowledge. This is one of best beats albums in Hip-hop history. Sucks that he died in his prime, but I guess his prime has lasted for more than 10 years. But I wonder where he was headed, and what kind of sweet new beat frontiers he would explore, spilling mad science all over the place. But what a way to go out. Goodbye Dilla, the producer's producer. We are gonna miss you bad. And How you gonna put this at number 38? What kind whack business is that? 38? WTF?

2. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Def Jam)/More Fish (Def Jam)

(MP) Everyone loves Ghost, right? I mean the eagle arm cuff, the robe, the goofyness, the Ironman references, the voice. Fishscale is awesome! This album has songs from MF Doom, J Dilla, and Pete Rock. No other rapper can still set a scene and tell a story like Ghost. So good, I actually paid for this album.

(PM) While I would never be so insane as to pay for this album like Matt, I would pay big money for that eagle arm cuff. If you guys haven't seen that in action, you better get with it. Ghostface is the only member of Wu-tang that never fell off. He has never taken a misstep, unless you consider being amazing a misstep. If he has one fault, it would be his crew (now, not Wu Tang) are a little weak, but that just serves to make him seem more sweet. And damn if More Fish isn't just as good as Fishscale, Eat that Sufjan!

3. CunninLynguists - A Piece of Strange (The LA Underground, QN5 Music)

(MP) This was forgotten by too many people because it came out in January. This Kentucky group has always had some of the best beats in the whole world. Production and lyrics are amazing. Plus Cee-Lo was on this album too. Everybody loves Cee-Lo too, right?

(PM) At first, we couldn't remember if this really came out this year. If I was a music writer I would say that this was the most slept on album this year. But CunninLynguists have always been ignored. Their newest album is as hot as ever, although I personally think not as clever or good as Will Rap for Food. There is really no reason why these guys aren't bigger (is it their name?). The Words, tha beats, and tha flows, are all tight as hell's bells every album. This is one is no different. And Cee-Lo!

4. Oh No - Exodus into Unheard Rhythms (Stones Throw)

(MP) Yeah, he's MadLib's little brother. Yeah, this album solely works from samples of Galt MacDermot (HAIR the musical) who I can honestly say I don't know much about. Some of the music is familiar, but man! Who cares. This is amazing! If it hadn't just come out, it might be higher (see Nas as well). Anyone who loves hip-hop has to pay attention to Stones Throw right now.

(PM) FIrst of all, Matt is correct. Stones Throw is "the" label right now. Heads everywhere better recognize. If you like amazing rare and lost reissues of rap, funk, and soul, or if you like amazing new hip-hop artists. Stones Throw invites you to their house for dinner. And this new deal from Oh No is incredible! I listened to it straight through twice when i got it. Man it's good. Trust me. Most fun album all year, except Dilla's. Get on it!

5. J. Rawls - Presents The Liquid Crystal Project (Hum Drums)

(MP) J. Rawls is from Columbus and I totally want to meet him. This instrumental album is soft and beautiful and jazzy and as smooth as 2% in the summer. I literally got this because of the album cover and it turned out to be the biggest surprise of the year for me. Dude is jazzy jazzy soul beats king and amazing. He has three tribute songs on the tracklist. One to "T.R.O.Y." by Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, one to Bobby Hutcherson's Montara, one to Dilla...you know...cause it's friggin' Dilla.

(PM) Matt told me to get this one, and I thought he had just made up the name as a joke. Then I thought maybe it was another Madlib alias. But its neither and J. Rawls is awesome. This album gets you right from the beginning. You know it is incredible right away, and it just gets better and better. I knew this would be up there on albums of the year during the first time I listened to the first track. Booyah!!! It's totally a jazzy dons donis! Put this fire into your brains!

6. Rhymefest - Blue Collar (Sony BMG)

(MP) The funniest rapper of the year and also has Kanye for the beats. Not a bad combo. "Brand New" was the best rap single of the year. I think. Here's some lines from Blue Collar:
"I listen to that weak shit - all of it - I can't follow it
[Barf] Excuse me - I'm "whack"tose intolerant."
and this one for the ladies,
"I'm the man to see, livin the fantasy
Pocket full of Stones like Sly and the Family
Lift your shirt girl, show me the mammaries
Next week I'll still have good memories."
......come on that's funny.

(PM) This came out while i was in Afghanistan, so I missed the boat a bit, but I am now happily on board. He has a lot of funny raps, and sometimes I like him better than Kanye. Maybe that is because he doesn't ink deals with Ford like Kanye. This album is great, and I think he will make even greater stuff in the future.

7. Aceyalone (w/RJD2) - Magnificent City (Decon)

(MP) It's got RJ on it so Paco and I love it. Seriously I had a tough time not putting this higher. Needless to say, dope beats dope rhymes.

(PM) Seriously, Aceyalone is sick. Even if some people think he is stuck in 1992, he's the damn best rapper stuck in '92 there is. The flow man, the flow! Shit is hot. Aceyalone is to Freestyle Fellowship what Ghostface is to Wu-tang. Plus RJD2 is always a sweet ass fellow.

8. Strange Fruit Project - The Healing (Om Records)

(MP) On the positive rap front, Strange Fruit Project have been around just maybe not heard too much. Spiritual, soulful, clever, this album was my #1 for a large part of the summer.

(PM) Matt is pleased that this year I seem to be inching my way more and more towards the r&b abyss. But I have always been into Jazzy (ha) rap, and while this is more souly, I can dig it.These a guys are darn soulful. They some really tight, solid, uplifting dudes. Really, its really nice. really really nice, and pleasant. This one is gonna get overlooked and slide under the carpet, but you should get it back and dust it off on put it on the table. The listening table

9. Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (Star Trak, Zomba)

(MP) Most overrated album of the year but still really really good. Started out at like 15 on the list but got better with every listen. "Mr. Me Too" and "Trill" are sssoooooo gooood.
If you want the feel of the radio joints with better everything, here's where to start. Pharell can't ruin everything, as long as he's not performing live. Ugh. Pitchfork sucks.

(PM) It does get better with each listen. But I am not convinced yet, and its definitely overrated. But Clipse's logo is awesome and looks kinda like the K records logo. Also I like that hat and that stove. And are those maps on the wall there? Anyway, the Neptunes are good when they don't open their mouths. and The Re-up gang is the best-worst name for a crew ever. Its a good deal. Listen to it.

10. The Coup - Pick a Bigger Weapon (Epitaph)

(MP) This is Paco's choice mostly, but The Coup are always awesome and cool, I mean look at Boots' do. The single with Black Thought was awesome. I felt like I heard more about them and the album than I heard the album, though.

(PM) Everyone's favorite commie rappers are back! I love The Coup. Boots Riley is a funny name. When Matt says, he heard more about them, he was probably talking about from me. Plus how many female producers are there out there? Pam the Funkstress is a good name too and she brings the funk. Political rap without being dry, self important, or just pissed off all the time. Bush and Saddam sex jokes. Rapping with a fake british accent but not making a track that sucks like that NaS one. Being smart and funny at the same time, but still representing. Coming correct. When most rappers would just say suck it, biatch, Boots says,
"But economically i would propose that you go eat a dick as employment"
and make it not break the rhyme or sound awkward. Other good lines:
"If I can't change the world, I ain't leavin'
Baby,that's the same reason you should call me this evening"
and also:
"All that fight for freedom shit; we know that shit is phoney
Free to work at Shoney's 'bout one hour for six boneys"
Haha, Shoneys!

11. The Roots - Game Theory (Def Jam)

(MP) Paco doesn't agree but I thought this album was pretty dang tight. Their first release on the big Def, sounded great at times and soft at times. But it's the frickin' Roots, man. The Roots Crew.

(PM) Matt and I made this deal where I could chose the Coup's new album which he didn't really love that much, I he could chose this album which I didn't really love much. So yeah. The Roots are sweet though. No doubt about it. They are consistantly solid. This was decent.

12. Madlib (The Beat Konducta) - Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes (Stones Throw)

(MP) Yeah, another instrumental. Madlib is totally an iconic genius in hip hop at this point so whatever he touches turns to ice. (Rap Joke) Anyway these beats are things not of this earth. Once again the Man comes through without the need for Quas, thank God. "Pyramids" makes me want to be a musician more than any other song this year. And he probably made it in 5 minutes. I wish.

(PM) For those of you that don't know Madlib, he has about 10,000 aliases, and churns out billions of releases all the time. and the thing is that they almost always rule. Some rule more than others (Madvillian, Jaylib, Yesterday's New Quintet), but he has to have some kind of disease or disorder that makes him continously crank out the hits. It's not unusual for a sweet new artist to make their debut only for it to be found out later that it was just Madlib doing his thing in disguise. Another sweet disc of jams. Nuff said. Man, I need some weed.

13. Nas - Hip Hop is Dead (Def Jam)

(MP) Comes out tomorrow, I guess so it's hard to place in the list for longevity but in one week has moved up two spots so who knows what we'll say in 2007. I looked forward to this album almost as much as OutKast this year. And I feel like he came through. The most talked about album all year without even being out yet. The album title says it all. Everyone had a view of what NaS was saying with the album title before they even heard it. Did not disappoint, except for the song where he uses that dumb mafia voice over a really good beat. At least he and Jigga hugged it out, bitch.

(PM) I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to this, and I only downloaded it for the sake of the list. But It's definitely a solid album. Like Matt said, short term its getting better and better, by next year who knows. NaS is not an eccentric genius, he's a real normal solid genius. Sometimes that makes me get bored with him. But NaS is one of the best story tellers in the game, and this is one of his best albums in years.

14. OutKast - Idlewild (LaFace)

(MP) OutKast. This is OutKast. I mean the best hip hop duo EVER is doing a movie? I gotta see that, man. I mean Andre was nails in that Four Brothers movie and Big Boi was in that ATL movie wasn't he? It should be good. Plus Speakerboxxx was awesome even if Andre don't rap no mo. Well, months after the album and movie have been released I still haven't seen it. Which pisses me off. The album is obviously a bit of a letdown (it's not #1). But it's got good songs and is very creative and probably is better if you've seen the movie. I will, and I will love it I'm absolutely sure. Big Boi is still crazy ass rediculous good on his rhymes and Andre does some decent stuff but I still long for the days of "Elevators" and "B.O.B." but even this their worst album yet is better than most people's best ever.

(PM) Dammit. It's OutKast. This album sucks. Bad. I mean what the hell? There is no way around it. It sucks bad and I want to die. But its OutKast! Even a bad OutKast album is a good album for somebody else. And its a soundtrack. Soundtracks always suck a little bit outside of the movie. But man. OutKast is the best group ever. How can the two best rappers in the history of hip-hop, make the 14th best album of the year? That's like Jesus dying before he gets to the cross. While carrying it he gets a little too tired and just gives up the ghost. Passes out for our sins. ATLiens, Aquemini, Stankonia, Love Below/Speakerboxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx were all incredible groundbreaking albums. But this? Let's face it, they aren't two dope boys riding around in a caddy anymore. They are rich and they are making movies and all kinds of things that will probably turn out to be whack. I just hope they don't turn into Busta Rhymes. But whatever, these songs are okay, or yeah...fine, decent, even when they are half-assing it they still sound better than most people, like, I don't know, The Game. Yeah, at least it's better than that.

15. Murs & 9th Wonder - Murray's Revenge (Record Collection)

(PM) Both Murs and 9th wonder are talented nice young gentlemen. Murs frequently represents with dope rhymes and 9th wonder is a friendly beat magician. Might be both of their best releases. But the good part is that they both have a way to go. Neither of them feel like they have reached their pinnacle or run out of ideas. Murs was never really at home at Def Jux and seems to be hooking up with similar minded dudes. Good things may be in store for us. But for now they left us with a darn fine album.

(MP) Kept having to push this down, was at 11 originally. Murs continues to put out good stuff and this time with good ol' 9th wonder on the boards. 9th's best album yet? I think so. Anyway, Murs lines are a mix of smart and smartass. "We all chase money cause we scared to chase dreams." "For if a soul is avenged through the deeds of a friend/Then success has always been the best form of revenge". I really liked this album and it was too short I wanted more, that's probably why it dropped on the list. I'll leave you with lyrics from "Yesterday & Tomorrow," I can take some advice here too.
"...Shake that attitude and do what you can
Set a couple goals follow through with your plans
Time waits for no man and tomorrows not promised
So if shes still alive shoot a call to your momma
Cause the fighting and the drama, its just not worth it
Nobodys perfect, ain't none of us worthless
We all got a place, and we all got a purpose
Now I'm not taking y'all to sunday service
But ya clap your hands as you stand up and work it
Like your grandmama used to do that fan down at worship
Spread it, pop it, and wave it in my face
Put your hands around your waist, let me ride to the bass like..."
Honorable Mention:
"Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Chrome Children", Jay-Z "Kingdom Come", Collective Efforts "Medicine", Jedi Mind Tricks "Servants in Heaven Kings In Hell" , Pigeon John "Pigeon John and The Summertime Pool Party", Cut Chemist "The Audience Is Listening", Lupe Fiasco "Food & Liquor", and Cadence Weapon "Breaking Kayfabe"


At 12/27/2006 2:40 AM, Anonymous Ryan L. said...

As stated at Catfish Haven...what a list. I don't know if I can follow it up, but here's a shot.


1. The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd

I know what you're thinking. Didn't Boyd just take the thoughts of Hauerwas, Yoder, Wink, and others (mostly anabaptists) and make them more accessible to lay-people? Hell yes. This is why it's number one. I know from personal experience that lending Yoder or Wink to people does not work. People don't care about serious biblical and theological scholarship. Here Boyd provides snappy answers and application based on incredible biblical and theological scholarship. Hell, throw Horsley in there as an influence as well. This is a one-stop accessible shop for everything we should believe and recognize about what it really means to live in the kingdom of God vs. the kingdoms of the world. I can't praise this book enough. Number one quote (concerning people who say pacifism isn't practical): "God calls us to be obedient, not practical." Ouch.

2. Matthew (Brazos Theological Commentary Series) by Stanley Hauerwas.

Obviously the chapter on the Sermon on the Mount alone makes this the book of the year. What a guy. What a commentary. This makes a great segway into giving credit to this entire series. Theologians doing commentaries. Huzah. Of course there are excellent Stan highlights throughout, but of special notice is his comment in the introduction that he usually doesn't owe anybody any thanks for the stuff he writes and that he usually doesn't learn anything from his students. Hilarious and true.

3. Old Testament Theology: Israel's Faith by John Goldingay

I have to admit that I have not been able to read all of this yet. Give me a break. It came out less than a month ago and it's thick as hell. Notwithstanding, this much anticipated (by me) follow-up to Israel's Gospel continues Goldingay's much-scrutinized and gravely under-appreciated method of OT Theology within the framework of the nature of the relationship between Israel and Yahweh. This is not the best OT Theology out there (Brueggemann will always be number one), it makes great contributions to the study.

4. Mark (New Testament Library) by M. Eugene Boring

There are three reasons for this being number four. 1 - It is the best commentary on Mark I have read. Excellent biblical scholarship AND excellent theological directives (a rarity in commentaries). 2 - I love Eugene Boring's commentary on Revelation. Anything that provides so great a foundation for J. Denny Weaver's "The Nonviolent Atonement" is superior with me. 3 - This is the first NTL volume on a gospel. I also love the NTL. LTJ's Hebrews commentary came out in it this year also (what a blessing) but I have to limit the amount of NTL inclusion in so limited a list as 5.

5. The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne

I'm usually afraid of Zondervan, but I sometimes give them a chance since Free of Charge by Volf last year. Here we have a book on Christian living that isn't a collection of american propoganda. Instead, it's a guy who really follows Jesus and tells us about it. It also makes me feel guilty as hell for being so opulent. It's good to remember to feel guilty. However, given the humility of Claiborne's thoughts, I don't think that's his goal...but it should be.

6. Atonement and Violence: A Theological Conversation Edited by John Sanders

I have to include this on the list. Half of the lineup is amazing (Denny Weaver and Thomas Finger...especially given the limited amount of material from Finger, I know Contemporary Anabaptist Theology is huge, but there's almost nothing else aside from journal articles, sweet sweet journal articles in MQR). And I know it's good to have Boersma in there, even though I disagree with every word he says, he is kind to the other theologians. This was what struck me most about this book. Sometimes, everyone disagrees so much, but they always interact with each other like they are all children of God. Are you paying attention Piper, Grudem, and Ware?

Honorable Mentions:

Sheer volume: N.T. Wright and Ben Witherington. If I had read all the crap they churned out this year, maybe I would have put them on the list. But there was too damn much of it. I read some here and there, and here's what I think. SLOW DOWN. Wright has written more than a journal article in years, but he's the hot rats, so they double space it, make the print big, and slap it in hardback so they can charge 20 bucks. And Witherington came out with 3 commentaries and a book on the historical Jesus in one year. I read through some of these a little and there are typos all over. Stop, breathe, and edit.

Miscellany (mostly down here because I've only been able to read little parts, not because they are not deserving):
Hebrews by LTJ, Romans (Hermeneia) by Robert Jewett, Mission of God by Christopher Wright, The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, Acts by Jaroslav Pelikan, Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, Jesus by Marcus Borg, The Secrets of Judas by James Robinson, Rethinking Human Nature by Kevin Corcoran, Saved From Sacrifice by S. Mark Heim, and Cross Examinations edited by Marit Trelstad (includes a chapter by God's favorite theologian Jurgen Moltmann).

At 12/27/2006 3:36 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

before reposting my hip hop thoughts on here, i just want to say that ryan, your list is top 6 THEOLOGY books, and non-fiction honorable mention, which is ok, just unnecessarily broad...and weren't you at one point a member? you should be and you should be able to post these things on the main page. Otherwise, it's good to see what you're reading. now, for me setting the hip-hop world straight.

i hate j-dilla. let me explain here, which i didn't before. good producers are important. having everyone think you're the best producer on the mike is cool. but since i didn't know j-dee i don't feel compelled to think that these albums are particularly interesting. i listen to hip hop to hear fat beats and sweet raps. donuts offers some good beats but nothing that makes up for little to know good raps. on the other hand, the rhymefest album is the most overrated, not the clipse. and the jay-z record only belongs on an anti-list. it is that bad.

clipse is NOT over rated and should be higher, perhaps you both need to listen to it more. and where is the GAME brothers? come ON! the beats are super fat, even without dre, and there are some great tunes, especially wouldn't get far, it's okay, ol' english, and scream on' em. but i like it all. anyway, i want an explination why he wasn't even mentioned, even if you hated it. i mean, it was probably the second biggest commercial release behind jay-z and worth talking about even if you don't like it.

where did you intend to put people under the stairs? and where is panacea? you have left them off and i am sad because i guess this means that you haven't heard them and people under the stairs are dropping the best old school beats.

for what it's worth, here's my personal hip hop top 7 of this year.

1. ghostface, fishscale
2. people under the stairs, stepfather
3. clipse, hell hath no fury
4. the roots, game theory
5. the game, dr.'s advocate (for real, i like it)
6. lupe fiasco, food and liquor
7. panacea, ink is my drink

idlewild does not even make an honorable mention. it's barely worth 4 listens.

At 12/27/2006 8:43 AM, Blogger Jeff BBz said...

hey! Some people are actually doing list week! awesome! Ryan lee has never been a member here, Ryan Hansen is. If it were up to me Ryan I would make you a member, but I'm not in charge of that stuff. I think it is Jonny or Jake.

Ryan, most of the books you mentioned sound good but since stealing books is still pretty hard, I don't have money, or access to a english library, I don't have them. I am especially interested in some of commentaries you mentioned as commentaries in my experience suck bad (except maybe OT ones by Brueggemann)

Jake, hey man, long time, no see.

First, I guess you can hate Dilla, despite the pure insanity of it all. However, even disregarding your weird disliking of Instrumental Beats (That's how it all began, man!)Dilla is responsible for lots and lots of fat beats underneath countless influential Hip-hop superstar/heros. Plett is the Dilla scholar so he could better tell you what's up. Anyway, I guess you can do what you like.

I do have that Panacea and it does sound pretty good but I got it about 1 day before we posted the list so, I haven't had time to listen to it enough.

I don't have the people under the stairs new album, but if it is similar to thier others then I expect it to be mildly likable, safe, and boring. How you could like them and not Dilla is unbelievable to me. Next thing I know you will be saying you love Jurassic 5.

Lastly, I did mention the Game when I said the terrible shitty Outkast album was at least still better than the Game. I CANNOT believe you actually like that. It is one of the worst release of the year. I would rather listen to the new Jay-Z, Snoop, T.I. anything than that. The song with Nate Dogg is kinda good only because Nate Dogg is sort of funny. The whole album seemed like a parody of itself. It was seriously one of my least favorite albums of the year, and I kinda thought that his last album was okay. SICK! Which fat beats? The ones by Will.i.am? Man, I would rather listen to that lame NaS song for the full duration of the game album.

anyway decent list otherwise. Good to see you loving Ghostface as we all should.

At 12/27/2006 9:56 AM, Blogger jonny said...

ryan lee, what's your email, so's that we can send you a "join now!" button. they're pretty sweet. mine has spiro t agnew on it. i'm pretty much the bossest hog around when i wear it bowling. my last high score was sick.

as for jake being a philistine, i guess he just needs words to tell how to feel. which explains his hatred of the dilla man, all glitchy pop, and john coltrane. okay, i made that last one up. but it's probably true.

At 12/27/2006 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My email is sandwichexplosion@gmail.com.

As for my list being all theology, that's pretty much the totality of non-fiction I read (theology does fall into the non-fiction category, well, except for people like Grudem and Piper, that is clearly fiction). I'm probably blurring some categories here, but I'm okay with that. And I can't believe you hate Dilla, Jake, but I guess your reason is fine because it is a matter of personal tastes and not an indictment on his insane genious.

At 12/27/2006 11:24 PM, Anonymous Ryan L. said...

The previous comment is from me, Ryan, your old boy. And I can't believe I left out so glaring an omission as the drastically reworked and added-on Voices From the Margins ed. R.S. Sugirtharajah.


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