“I’m Just A Few Albums From Filling Your Disc Changer…


Hip-Hop has been really good to me this month.

As I said in my last post, hardcore and/or old school hip-hop heads are always saying that hip-hop is in bad shape nowadays. I beg to differ: I have several new albums in heavy rotation right now (everybody’s on the iPod “playlist” craze, but I’m an album junkie), to the point where I’m actually getting upset that I’m losing listening time on other albums by bumping one. I want to bump one all the way through so I can further appreciate it for what it’s worth, but I just can’t ignore the other ones ya know?

Anyway, since my tastes in hip-hop are all that matters, and I need to spruce up on my critic hustle, I figured I’d write short reviews of what I’m bumpin, complete with star ratings.

-Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (5 Stars *Y’all know y’all wanna give it more than 4.5, stop second-guessing yourselves!): Bringing back the Marvel cartoon “Ironman” samples, the “Killah” surname, and the grittiness that was noticeably absent from his last two releases, Ghost sounds comfortable at Def Jam – and apparently, Def Jam looks comfortable with him. Ghost also displays long range unseen in his previous releases: while tracks like “Shakey Dog” and “Back Like That” feature the street narratives and relationship chronicles fans know him for, he emphasizes the importance of parental ass whuppins on “Whip You With A Strap,” weaves an aquatic storyline on “Underwater,” and delivers an unexpected ode to women with “Momma.” Add soundscapes from real production heavyweights (J Dilla, MF DOOM, Madlib, Just Blaze) and a track with the entire Wu-Tang Clan (“9 Milli Brothers), and you have an early candidate for Album of the Year.

-Apathy, Eastern Philosophy (4 Stars): He’s been signed to Atlantic Records (home of T.I., Fabolous, and others) forever, but they’re stalling with him, so he remains one of the best indie rappers in the scene with this debut. Over solid, nostalgic production, Apathy doesn’t do a bad job of paying homage to the mid-90s hip-hop icons that he listened to while making the album. He’s got a distinctive voice/character, lyrics galore and an incredibly technical flow, and they’re all showcased here. (Check out: “The Winter,” “9 to 5,” “Chemical”)

-Rhymefest, Blue Collar (4 Stars): Primarily known for his writing contributions to Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” Rhymefest should make a name for himself with his debut LP, Blue Collar. He displays songwriting versaility, easily shifting gears from the cocky flow of “Brand New” and “Dynomite” to the Carl Thomas-assisted Chicago ode “LSD,” to the touching trio of vignettes about women on “Sister.” Producers like Kanye West and No ID contribute heaters as well, but Rhymefest’s charisma fuels this album past his competition.

-Murs & 9th Wonder, Murray’s Revenge (4 Stars): While noticeably lighter than their first offering, Murray’s Revenge shows that L.A.-based MC Murs and North Carolina production wunderkind 9th Wonder still stand as one of the most consistent duos in hip-hop today. Combine Murs’ skilled coverage of everyday topics – such as the daily grind (“Yesterday”), “Dark Skinned White Girls” (just check the song), and the love of his hometown (“L.A.”) – with 9th’s Fruity Loops lovemaking, and you’ve got the theme music for average joes everywhere.

-Army of the Pharaohs, The Torture Papers (3.5 Stars): This 13-member supergroup consists of some of indie hip-hop’s biggest names: the Jedi Mind Tricks’ Vinnie Paz, Demigodz (Apathy and Celph Titled), 7L & Esoteric, Reef The Lost Cauze, and Outerspace (Planetary and Crypt The Warchild), among others. Over the dark, haunting production that has served as a trademark for Jedi Mind Tricks, each of the MCs go at each other with the best battle raps they can muster. Limited versatility comes from the artists’ different personalities (Celph Titled outsines the whole crew), but they’re all on the same page; as Vinnie Paz says on the album’s first track, “It’s fuckin’ raw rap!” Personally, a capable equalizer for the other thoughtful hip-hop that permeates my mp3 player. (Check out: “Battle Cry,” “Feast of the Wolves,” “Gorillas,” “Henry The 8th”)

-MF DOOM, Special Herbs Vol. 1-9 (Box Set); Madlib, Beat Conductor Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes; J. Dilla, Donuts; Ayatollah, Now Playing (4 Stars each, except for Now Playing, which receives 3.5): On cue with my previous blog suggestion for more instrumental albums, I stumble across some gems. J. Dilla leaves us wondering how much more music he could’ve churned out if he wouldn’t have died, Madlib continues his reign with off-kilter hip-hop that still makes sense, Ayatollah further solidifies his place in hip-hop beatsmiths’ history, and MF DOOM justifies his work with Ghostface, showing that he’s the best producer known for his raps (sorry, Kanye).

Anything y’all are listening to that you’re really feeling? Agree/disagree with my choices or my reviews? Sound off!

  • Anonymous

    good read man

  • Crunchy Smack

    Fishcale is an option for Album of the Year but I have to wait for the other big anticipated albums to drop to decide. And for Eastern Philosophy being Ap’s first solo record it’s pretty dope. Damn same it won’t get any shine. 106 & Park kids won’t know the difference between Apathy and Arithmetic lol. But yeah, I heard some the rest but I can’t think right now. Adios.

    ~!unO!~

  • ::*L*a*U*r*E*n*:::

    Your reviews always make me wanna go out and buy albums for real dude…But then I realize that I’m lazy and broke and end up not buying them…But very intriguing nonetheless…Two thumbs up cuzzin…

  • Anonymous

    Love your shit on ballerstatus, keep it up!

  • MJG

    Yo son, you had me rolling with your “equalizer for the other thoughtful hip-hop that permeates my mp3 player” comment, lol! As usual, you deliever dope, insightful reviews on albums and make me wanna go out and spend money that I don’t really have on more music. Oh by the way, that Murray’s Revenge is a definite 4 star album in my opinion. Murs is just so honest and spits about real stuff that cats be going through everyday, that I can’t help but feel a special connection with all of his projects. I can’t tell you how many times I listen to his albums and think to myself “yo, I feel him on that” or “dude’s right on with that point.” Murs may not be the most skilled lyricist out there, but he’s definitely one of my personal favorites. That “Yesterday & Today” is that joint!!

  • GhanaianSneakerHead

    well for me, since I vowed not to listen to radio anymore, I rely on post/discussions like this for the albums I buy, because I don’t want to just buy music, I want those albums, that no matter who you ask, they’re like “yo, that joint was a classic” or artists you just know were ill [pete rock & c.l. smooth, they got a best of album that i’m in love with]…but i’m starting to ramble…what i was getting at is…as for ghost’s new album, i’m not gonna front, a lot of the recent wu albums haven’t lived up to the standards originally set, there have only been a handful that followed with success, but some i can think of off the top of my head are raekwons couple albums (immobilarity+only built for cuban linx), inspectah deck’s solo was hard (uncontrollable substances) and that gza was fire, (I have yet to get liquid swords) and i need to catch up on the other member’s albums…so with all that said, i almost have doubt ghost’s latest can even contend with his previous…but it does say a lot that you put it in contention with supreme clientele and the fact that he has a track with all 9 members can only mean greatness. as you can see, i’m somewhat of a wu-head, i can’t help it, that’s some of the shit that i heard first that got me in love with hip hop. i guess my favorite hip hop is still in the 90’s cuz i feel like a lot the music doesn’t hold a candle. but yeah this is a long ass comment. and i have yet to make a post.