Friday, January 3, 2014

Best Albums/Mixtapes/EP's/Projects/Whatevers of 2013...Preview

As you can tell from the title, this is going to be a best of 2013 list of music that i was digging in these past 365 days. Now I was going to do one huge post but i decided to split it into two. This first post you could call a preview I guess. What I did was listen to as much as I could in the music world in 2013. All the projects I listened to and remembered will be on here. As I'm writing this sentence I remembered that I listened to Tyga and French Montana's albums but at the same time I have no desire to revisit them. So it's a list of the projects I want to take time out of and show some love to whether i liked it or not. This post isn't really a ranking but more so a shout out to those projects I was mehh on and the honorable mention projects of the year. The real actual Best Of list won't come until 2014 and will have rankings that have some merit in my mind but probably only mean anything to me. So for this one, tell me why i'm stupid for not liking certain projects or if you got any projects you feel were honorable mention worthy in this year of mediocre music. Here we go with the kickoff to the end.

Wasn't Really Feelins/Mehhs

Psalms of David 2 by Dee-1 and Church Clothes 2 by Lecrae

Dee-1 and Lecrae dropped their projects in lateish 2013 and i just want to give a shout out for what they're doing. Lecrae actually has a grammy for best gospel album if that means anything but i'm giving them a shoutout for making hip-hop music in a positive light. They don't swear, they don't drink or smoke, they're not preachy about how they live a clean lifestyle which is always a plus, and they try to be as uplifting as they can. To me, their stuff is just boring. Lecrae's first Church Clothes mixtape apparently was better than the sequel so i'll give that a listen when i get the chance, but these projects didn't have any replay value for me. It is refreshing to hear this kind of style in hip-hop so let's just hope there's some kids listening that could make it interesting. It's already an uphill battle for these guys but i like what they're trying to do.

Untitled 2- Hodgy Beats

Normally i don't mess with Odd Future but i saw Hodgy get interviewed by Nardwuar and thought he was hilarious so i had to check his music out. Normally i'm all about progression for the artists but when you say bukakke in a recorded interview, you're not going to drop any wisdom or say anything that hasn't been said before. And there's nothing wrong with that. Just give me a project full of tracks like Karateman (one of my favorite tracks of the year) and that would have probably would have made the real boy end of the year list. Shout out to Odd Future though. I still don't really mess with them but they're doing their thing and its paying off for them.

Nehruvia- Bishop Nehru

I remember listening to Bishop Nehru way back early in the year and kind of forgot about him until now. I haven't even gone back to listen to anything of his so its been out of sight out of mind. I did do a post on this mixtape though. I remember liking it for his flow and subject matter especially since the guy was only 16. Looking back, the problems i had with it was that he was sounding too much like Joey Badass in voice, flow, and subject matter. He is a dope rapper, don't get me wrong, but he needs to do something that differentiates himself from the pro era boys especially since this 90's enlightenment rap seems to be taking over. I know he had another project this year but i didn't check it out and supposedly he is going to do a collaboration project with MF DOOM so i think everyone is on the lookout for that. Hopefully he comes correct next year.

Old Boy John- Dumbfoundead

This Dumbfoundead project has the same issue i had with the Bishop Nehru project, it has no replay value for me. I liked it at the time, it was cool, but it was the perfect example of a MEHHH project. He is a guy i want to see do well because i've seen videos of him battle rapping and straight taking out fool in the alleyways of LA, so i know he has put in the time but the project didn't hold my interest. Only reason i remember he dropped a project was because i was looking through my posts from this year and i found his review. If he does drop something in the future, i'm definitely going to check it out just to see how he has progressed, but i'm not going to be counting down the days until its release. The most memorable line from the album was "I'm Johnny, Im Manziel, that freshman with the Heisman." Take that line however you want to take it. If you think it's clever...okay.

Innanetape- Vic Mensa

Shout out to Vic and Chance the Rapper for representing Chicago well. If you want a full in depth review of what i thought about the mixtape, click here. In short it was cool, but it didn't have enough replay value to stick in the itunes playlist. The only track i remember that i liked off the top of my head was Tweakin mainly because of Chance's verse and i played it like 30 times before going to the next track. I'm interested in seeing Vic's progression but at the same time i won't be losing any sleep if i see that i missed like 3 Vic Mensa releases in the future.

Long.Live.A$AP- A$AP Rocky

I hate myself for doing this because i really try not to compare artists with previous works but i couldn't shake the fact that Rocky's studio debut was not even close to Live.Love.A$AP. The production on Long Live was dope but other than that, nothing stood out other than 1 Train and every rapper got busy with their verses. I want Rocky to do well and i think we're all counting the days until he breaks off from ASAP Mob and really tries to build his own brand up. I'll obviously keep an eye out for Rocky but his next actual album i'll probably only check out if it gets good reviews and stuff. Shout out to Method Man for getting on that ASAP Nast track and showing some love.

The Psychic World of Walter Reed- Killah Priest

If you guys don't know who Killah Priest is, he is a Wu Tang affiliate best known for his appearance on GZA's Liquid Swords album with the solo track B.I.B.L.E. If you're a hip-hop fan and you don't know that track or that album then turn in your hip-hop card and you won't be allowed to get it back for a year at least because if you don't know that album or song, then you need at least a year to catch up just to get your card back. To the album, i'm not going to front and act like I bump this everyday because i don't. It's a double album clocking in at 2 and a half hours so you need a lot of time on your hands if you want to listen to this in one sitting. Killah Priest is a smart dude who can combine that knowledge of religion/wisdom/life lessons into his music without sounding corny. The problem is that you have to be in the mood to listen to his music. If you are in the mood, then it is perfect. If not, then it is going to be a boring listen. Also, i though the production was boring as hell. No matter how dope the lyrics are, this production can't make the biggest Killah Priests fans listen for 2 and a half hours.  

Million Dollar Afro- Iamsu and Problem/ Kilt 2- Iamsu

Going to do a double mini review here with two of Iamsu's mixtapes released during the year, one of them being a collabo with Problem. If you need something to play at a party, just pick any track pretty much off of these two mixtapes. You can't go wrong. It's scientifically impossible to listen to an Iamsu track and not wanna just say "AYYYE" over and over again. Problem got his ignorant on too. I think he might have a phd in ignorance. Best tracks were Bout Me, Return of the Mac, 100 Grand Remix feat Juvenile aka the Back That Ass Up guy for all those that don't remember, and On Citas.

While You Wait- Sir Michael Rocks

I have no idea why but one day in October or November, i think i was watching a Sir Michael Rocks (aka Mikey Rocks) interview and he was talking about how rappers stole the Cool Kids (his group with Chuck Inglish) vibe and swag without really giving them credit so you know being the history major that i am, i had to see what Mikey was talking about. I checked out Lap of Lux first and was digging the vibe. I mean i kind of new just from the his past with the Cool Kids and his affiliation with Jet Life that Mikey Rocks isn't going to be some lyrical wizard that is dropping triple entendres and having metaphors that go over listeners heads until the fifth time you hear it while reading along to the lyrics but he is a pretty boy rapper. To me, he is Big Sean except i don't want to hit him with a swanton bomb off a 20 foot ladder. While You Wait was a good listen and a solid project but it wasn't anything special. It's almost perfect that it dropped in 2013 since the year as a whole has seen "cool but ehhh" projects get dropped left and right. For someone that was talking about how other rappers stole his style i found it kind of awkward that he bit the popular Atlanta flow that seems to be the rage right now on In A Minute. Mikey has the last verse and uses the flow that has been popularized by Migos which i believe but am not too sure they got from Young Thug (let me know if i am wrong though for sure). He has a really good ear for beats and i feel like the production is the thing that carries Mikey throughout the project. I'm still a fan of the dude, don't get me wrong, and i'll still be on the lookout for his stuff especially anything with Jetlife. Speaking of that, i don't know of anything that he has done with those guys in a while so i don't even know how involved he is with them. Mikey is just one of those guys for me that i'll see he dropped a new track or whatever but it won't be a must listen. I have to be in the flossy mood to listen to his music and there's nothing wrong with that, just not my main craving. Big salute though for being an overlooked pioneer. While I wait for a Cool Kids reunion (pun intended), i'll check in on Mikey Rocks here and there.

Honorable Mentions

Special Shout Outs to these projects:
Deltron 3030- Event II                                                                                  Czarface                                   

Starlito & Don Trip- Step Brothers 2                                                     Stalley- Honest Cowboy

Black Milk- No Poison No Paradise                                                                                                   Danny Brown- Old
Foreign Exchange- Love In Flying Colors                                Flatbush Zombies- Better Off Dead                                           
Earl Sweatshirt- Doris                                            Action Bronson & Party Supplies- Blue Chips 2

Earth To Arima- Arima Ederra

This is kind of awkward because this was actually released late in December of 2012. I actually didn't know this was a 2012 release until looking for a picture of the album cover. But seeing how all the album of the year lists come out in early December for some weird reason, this project probably didn't get any love. I found out about it from HipHopFightsBack, shout out to Jake Bourey (the ultimate hip hop elitist). Onto the actual album, it really took me several listens to enjoy this project but i did. It really gives a Erykah Badu, Jhene Aiko feel to it. Its ironic that she emerged too because TDE signed a very similar artist in my opinion in SZA a few months back who i also really like. Listening to this project kind of gives you a feeling of being in a different dimension with the spacy beats, spiritual lyrics, and just overall vibe to it. I have no information about her (other than her being from Las Vegas), who she is signed with (if at all), collabs with any artists, or plans with future projects. However, doing a quick youtube search reveled she has a couple joints with Blu. Speaking of Blu, there was a Blu feature on the project which kind of reminded me of Blu's Madlib produced track, Jesus. Favorite tracks on the project were Characteristics Of An Aquarian, Lovemological, and Flow Chart. The only track i really wasn't fucking with was Lovers Lane which featured Gibby. No disrespect, i just felt the verse was boring and a lot of movements were going on but nothing was being said. All in a all a very solid project especially from someone who i never even heard of before and i will definitely be looking forward to her next stuff and see if she stays in her spirituality lane or if she mixes it up.

Handful Of Dust- ANTHM

I first heard about ANTHM on the rapgenius forum when asking about some humble rappers i should be paying attention to. Usually rapgenius sucks for this kind of stuff but i never heard of the guy before and gave it a listen. I was thoroughly impressed by him and decided to get this project. Looking into ANTHM a little bit i found out he is a Duke graduate who had a steady career working on Wall Street. He threw it all away to follow his passion of rapping so you could question the guy's sanity maybe but you can't deny he's got some balls to throw that Wall Street career away. I don't remember if this was a free download or if i had to pay for it but it's in my possession now so who cares. First off, this whole project was produced by GodLeeBarnes, which is Blu's name when he does production. I have never heard a Blu production before so this caught me off guard with how well the project was put together. It's an EP so it's only 7 tracks coming at just over 20 minutes. I like projects like this because you can listen to the entire thing just by walking to school or taking a shit. I realized when making the list that this isn't necessarily something i go back to a lot but when i do i usually give the project a good 3 lessons each time. There aren't any skip worthy tracks on the EP but at the same time there isn't exactly one i would go back to constantly if that makes sense. I'm definitely keeping my eye on him in the future and can't wait to see where he goes from here. Favorite tracks were Debbie and Low Class which uses he same sample as Masta Ace's Take A Walk.

Crenshaw- Nipsey Hussle

I already kind of gave my thoughts on Nipsey's $100 mixtape here but after giving it a few more listens i'll speak on it some more. My favorite Nip project is still The Marathon and it is going to take a lot for Nipsey to dethrone that one but Crenshaw i can honestly say is my second favorite even though that wasn't that hard to do. I like the variety of producers and artists he worked with on the project with 9th Wonder, Officer Ricky, some of Houston's finest in Z-Ro and Slim Thug, and of course the LA cats like Dom Kennedy and Futuristics. I had said my favorite track was Face the World but that has changed to Go Long. Everytime i see some stupid ass person do something i'm thinking "get the fuck out my face bitch nigga go long." This was a cool project but it doesn't have much replay value other than a few projects. If the year wasn't so mediocre for music i do not know if it would even make the list. The thing that i guess is disappointing is that Nipsey has been in the game for so long that we have kind of seen it all from him. I hope he proves me wrong but i think as listeners we know what to expect from him in the future. I still can't believe he sold all the copies of his mixtape.


S is the debut EP/mixtape from the First Lady of TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment as in the best label in the game right now for all you guys whose top 3 rappers are Eminem, Drake, and Macklemore). Although i do believe this was released before she was signed to the label. I'm not going to pretend and say I've known about SZA ever since she uploaded her first song to myspace. I found out about her when news broszake that she had signed to TDE. This was a left field choice because when you think of TDE you think of the rappers on the label: Kendrick, Schoolboy, Ab Soul, Jay Rock, Poor Man's Kendrick aka Isaiah Rashad. What these guys have in common is that they rap and rap well. SZA is not a rapper, although i thought she was about to spit during the BET cypher. Anyways, i'm going off topic. Back to the project. I liked that it was only 8 tracks which is like the perfect amount for a debut. An artist should be able to give us a taste of what they're about and leave us wanting more for their sophmore release. What we learned about SZA is that she is mysterious. She has a lot of meaning in her lyrics dealing with spirituality, never fitting in, and some other stuff that went over my head. I liked the vibe of it. Just from the sound you already knew SZA is some out of this world, thinks on a different level type artist. She probably has a third eye if you can visualize the kind of r&b she makes. Definitely looking for her on future collabs with Kendrick, Schoolboy, Ab Soul, and if Jay Rock ever does anything again. Its god for her because she will probably be the one singing on the hooks aka singing on the singles aka singing on the money makers. Favorite ones were Terror Dome and Aftermath. Everything else was cool and has left me wanting to here more from her.

The Golden Age- Dizzy Wright

I like to think I have an invested interest in Dizzy Wright since i tabbed him as one of my freshmen in the first annual Slim Samurai freshman edition which was probably the biggest flop in the history of picking the next breakout stars but I did pick Dizzy who actually has buzz. He is my favorite out of the Funk Volume crew, which isn't saying much, and he surprised me. The homie kept talking about his song Killem With Kindness so i looked it up and i was digging it. Anytime you sample Player's Club, i'm going to like it. I was surprised with how he flipped it but he did it well nonetheless. Those are the kind of songs that make you root for Dizzy to be successful. He lets his guard down and lets you into his world versus someone like Hopsin who gets buzz for taking shots at other rappers. That schtick is getting old and getting old fast. The main gripe i have with this project, and i know it is a problem for others as well, is that is is too long. It comes in around an hour and a half and i just got too much to do to be sitting around for an hour and a half listening to this. I feel like he should have put forth the best 12, 13, 14 tracks whatever and saved the others for a throwaway release like a month later or something. I understand he wanted to put out what he felt was his best material, but Dizzy has to understand quality is better than quantity, especially in this short attention span generation that we live in. I like The Prospective where it talked about why instagram girls only put pictures up for the likes and the self esteem boost while dudes just be hella thirsty on there. It's something i never understood but i don't have an instagram so i don't know. I also liked Welcome Home which sampled the Janet Jackson song. Its got my girl, Arima Ederra, on the hook and she sang it lovely. Props to Dizzy for giving his fellow Las Vegas compadres some love. All in all this felt like a coming of age project. I caught glimpses of his maturity in Smokeout Conversations, but he still had growing up to do. Now with his daughter, it seems Dizzy has a better perspective on life and it shows in his music. Like i said, he is someone you want to root for and you hope keeps getting better and better.

There are my honorable mentions of the year if you will. The real boy list is coming real soon too so keep an eye out for that.

RIP James Avery

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