I Contributed To The Blogger Album Project.

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I’ve been tagged by the homie Gangstarr Girl to list my Top Seven Albums of All Time. I’ve honestly just really stuck to my same one or two albums whenever it came to lists, but I figure I’ll adhere to Starr’s wishes and come up with seven. As a disclaimer, though, this list isn’t my “best” albums of all time – these are just the ones that are highest in significance for Ketchums.

Rules:

RULES:

  1. 1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven blogs you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
  2. 2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post in the comment section here.
  3. 3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
  4. 4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.

The bloggers I’m tagging:

 

  1. Cliff Skighwalker
  2. MOSologist @ Hater’s Central (That is, if he can find seven albums he actually likes)
  3. PHILTHY
  4. Smack!
  5. JP of Identical Variant
  6. Princess of the Page
  7. Oddisee

 

Follow the jump for, in no particular order, my Top Seven.

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Mos Def’s Black On Both Sides, as I’ve said before, is the album that literally showed me what hip-hop could be. Fresh off of my discovery of commercial (read: Puff Daddy and co.) hip-hop, this album was a flawless display of dexterous rhymes, moving and appropriate soundbeds, and relatable subject matter. When I went on an overseas trip with some classmates of mine and felt overwhelmed, I put on my headphones and bumped “Habitat” until I felt better. When I was at the airport in New York City (my first time being there), the first segment of “Brooklyn” played in my head.  The beat to “Ms. Fat Booty” – and the song title – give me an ear-to-ear grin any time I’m exposed to them. And, of course, this web site is titled after Mos’ opening line from the song “Hip Hop” on this album.


On Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem’s angst-ridden rhymes didn’t relate to me the way that they did to leagues of other teenangers around the world. I was amazed by the way that he was able to fit in his flawless technique. The delivery, the punchlines, the metaphors, the imagery, everything was perfect. And this time around, Dr. Dre had put together a sound that was the perfect combination of his own trademark thump and Em’s quirkiness, making the backdrops just as memorable as Eminem’s lyrics. But the quotables on this album are countless. “Window tinted on my ride, when I drive in  it/go out and rob a bank, run out, and just dive in it/and I’ll be disguised in it/and if anybody identifies the guy in it, I’ll hide for five minutes/come back, shoot the eyewitness, and fire at the private eye hired to pry in my business!” Crazy.


Anyone who listens to The Neptunes contributions to other artists can attest to their eccentricity, but their first album as N.E.R.D. took it to a new level. As a kid who had only copped rap albums or R&B albums, the way that N.E.R.D. incorporated elements from so many different genres – hip-hop/rap, rock n’ roll, electronic – but still kept the integrity of those forms of music on In Search Of… was amazing to me. Some of the lyrics were simple (“Brain”), and some were profound (“Run To The Sun”), but the musical element was consistently incredible. And there were so many memorable songs: the mesmerizing mellowness of “Run To The Sun” takes me to another world every time I hear it, I still have melancholy nightmares about “Bobby James” and “Provider” (seriously.), and “Tape You” and “Stay Together” are still favs of mine. Plus, the album is a lean, flawless listen in general – 13 tracks of perfection.


Honestly, “Dead Presidents II” justifies this album’s inclusion on the list alone. That song is one of the few songs, to this date, to literally send chills up my back. The beat is simple and lingering. The imagery when he’s telling the story of him and his man on the run is vivid. Jay’s delivery and rhyme schemes are all on point…and the lone time that he abandons his tightly crafted rhyme schemes -“Murder is a tough thing to digest, it’s a slow process…and I ain’t got nothin’ but time” – you can tell that it’s more than music. We already know about the other classics on this album: the back-and-forth brilliance between him and mentor Notorious B.I.G. on “Brooklyn’s Finest,” the conceptual flyness of “22 Two’s,” the sneaky street tales of “D’Evils,” the universality of “Can’t Knock The Hustle.” But “Dead Presidents II” is what does it for me.


When I got my first car as an 18-year-old, I drove to the mall and copped two cassette tapes – Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Nas’ Illmatic. Albeit years late, I popped in Illmatic and drove on the highway, feeling like I could do anything I wanted to. His Pete Rock-laced song “The World Is Yours” was literally the soundtrack to my life. As anyone can attest, though, this is a very cinematic album. Getting caught up in the vivid lyrics and the nostalgic production is easy to do, and that’s exactly what I did – I zoned out, woke up to find myself off of the fast lane, and whipped my car right, crashing it into the rail on the right side of the road. And, fittingly, Nas’ “Life’s A Bitch” was playing when I came to my senses.  Illmatic covers a lot of emotional spectrums, and it’s a flawless album from one of hip-hop’s most storied vanguards.


The fact that I liked this album just as much in 2000, when I had no idea what any of what Ghost was saying meant, as I do to nearly a decade later when it actually makes sense to me, still boggles my mind. Ghostface’s fluid wordplay, abstract punchlines and vivid storytelling over top of the vintage Wu-Tang production by RZA, Mathematics and others make this album, in my opinion, the best solo album to come from any of the nine chambers. An example, from “One”: “Ayo! We at the weedgate, waitin’ for jake/they want eight ravioli bags, two thirsty villians yellin’ bellyaches!” = “We’re at the weedgate, lookin’ out for cops/they want eight bags, cuz two fiends are here sayin’ that they their fix.” And despite the presence of Wu-Tang failure U-God, you’re trippin if “Cher Chez La Ghost” doesn’t make you jig a little bit.


I know I’m going to get some flack for including an album from as recent as 2008 on this list, but I don’t care. Black Milk’s Tronic is the definition of production perfection: refusing to rely on the sped-up soul and funk samples that helped him establish such a name for himself before, Black updated his sound by mixing some synthy, electronic elements with the spunky, off-kilter melodies he had already specialized in. He got much better as an emcee, too – “let’s talk about they makin’ masses attracted to the wack, like a magnet, it’s a sad mission/let’s talk about how I mastered these massive lyrics, advanced like you in a class with a mathematician” – but he’s still got incredible cameos from superior lyricists like Royce Da 5’9″, Pharaohe Monch and Sean Price to keep things interesting. But it’s the beats that really move me here: the way that the drums drop in on “Long Story Short” have literally made my neck hurt from me bobbing my head so much, the off-kilter bounce of “Give The Drummer Sum” moves me just as much as it did when I first heard it when Black was adding horns to it in the studio, and the piano interludes between tracks are smooth as butter. Instant classic.

  • Snakes

    I always wanted to be asked this question. If I had more time I would elaborate. This list is in no way definitive or set in stone.

    Off the top of my head…

    A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
    Love – Forever Changes
    Minor Threat Discography
    Curtis Mayfield – Curtis
    Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin On
    Jay Dilla – Donuts
    The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

  • man, thats a ill list