Songs That Defined My Year (Hip Hop)
January 8, 2009, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Lists

So here’s part two of the songs that will forever be entrenched in my mind when reflecting on the year 2008.  Although I specifically chose not to make this a ‘best of the year’ selection, I guess it’s pretty inevitable that a lot of these cuts dropped within the last twelve months, particularly because I enjoyed a hell of a lot of the hip hop that dropped this year.  Who said this thing was dead?!


P Brothers – ‘Outta Control’

Almost impossible for me to choose a single song from the P Brothers’ truly magnificent The Gas LP, but ‘Outta Control’ takes it on the grounds of bass and drums alone.  Absolutely brutal and completely uncompromising this beat is jaw-droppingly good, and Roc Marcy turns in a belter of a vocal performance to boot.  More of the same this year please fellas.


Freddie Foxxx – ‘So Tough’

Interviewing Freddie Foxxx easily constitutes one of my blogging highlights of the year, as was the long-awaited release of his Crazy Like A Foxxx LP that finally allowed me to ditch that hissy tape rip I’d cherished for so long on my hard drive.  I was concerned that this mix of ‘So Tough’ wouldn’t make the cut in favour of the version featuring Queen Latifah, so I was amped when the CD finally landed and it was on there as for me it trounces the officially released version that dropped on 12” all the way back in 1994.  Pure, gritty boom bap: you gotta love it.


Elzhi – ‘Motown 25′ ft. Royce Da 5′9”

One of two Black Milk produced cuts to make this list, ‘Motown 25′ was the choice cut from one of the choice albums of the year.  Both Elzhi and Royce spit venomous and impassioned fire, but in all honesty the beat is just so good that I wouldn’t care if it was Homer Simpson spittin’ over it.  Now there’s a thought.  Check my vaguely more eloquent write-up for this track over at The Passion.


Damu The Fudgemunk – ‘Colorful Storms’ (full instrumental)

As much as I loved Damu’s Spare Time, I was always a little salty that we didn’t get a full length instrumental version of the beautiful ‘Colorful Storms’, and then as if by magic it cropped up on Overtime… thank you Mr Fudgemunk.  I’m genuinely excited about what we are gonna see from D.C.’s finest in 2009 as my sources tell me that we’re in for some of the same goodness but with an added twist. Bring it.


Jazz Liberatorz – ‘I Am Hip Hop’ ft. Asheru

The Jazz Liberatorz’ overlooked gem from the very early stages of the year had plenty of treats in store for heads into the less thuggish side of rap music, but for me this was its clowning glory.  Featuring a wonderful Hubert Laws’s sample and understated drums this was one of those cuts that begged you to sink into it, and I duly complied on many an occasion.  Funnily enough, it made me think about how dope hip hop is.


Black Milk – ‘Give The Drummer Sum’

Although Tronic wasn’t entirely to my taste, I appreciated the step away that Black Milk took out of the towering shadows of Dilla’s influence into more electronic territory.  However, it’s almost inevitable that ‘Give The Drummer Sum’ was my choice selection from the album, with bangin’ drums bringing that old school flava by the shedload.  Producer of the year methinks.  That is unless you fall down on the Kanye side of things… weirdo.


Pete Rock – ‘Comprehend’ ft. Papoose

As much as I’d love to say that NY’s Finest was everthing I’d hoped it would be, I can’t.  Inconsistent – and at times downright odd – vocal performances clearly let the whole package down and it even felt like Pete had lost a little fire whilst crouched over his sixteen pads.  Still, diehard that I am there was no way that a few of the songs wouldn’t grab me, and for me this was easily one of the best beats on the album.  Shame about Papoose though.


Q-Tip – ‘Gettin’ Up’

Tip came back with an unquestionably dope return to form in the shape of The Renaissance this year, an album that I’ve pushed on pretty much everyone I know since it dropped in November.  As with picking something fromThe Gas this selection is somewhat arbitrary because the whole album was so good, but ‘Gettin’ Up’ has endured as a firm favourite with its soulful keys and Greg Nice-esque touches on the mic.  Tip for hip hop president!


K-Def – ‘For Tha Family’

I always loved the version that cropped up on Mic Geronimo’s otherwise dire Vendetta LP, but with the Milt Jackson sample in place this mix wins hands down.  Deeply soulful and perfect for those lazy Sunday afternoons, ‘For Tha Family’ is everything I love about that mid 90’s sound.  Can’t wait to hear what K-Def has in store for us this year.


Madlib – ‘Two For Pay Jay’

If I’m totally honest I’ve always felt a little indifferent about Madlib’s production over the last couple of years, butthe Dil Cosby Suite changed all that.  A brilliantly executed collection of beat ditties, ‘Two For Pay Jay’ became a firm favourite from the very beginning of my appreciation for the most recent installments of the Beat Konducta series.  Now if someone can just tell me the sample source/what other hip hop song has sampled the same song I can finally sleep easy at night.


Illa J – ‘Sounds Like Love’ ft. Debi Nova

So Yancey Boys turned out to be a bit of an opinion splitter, but I stand by what I originally said about the album and can’t front on the fact that it received a decent amount of play from me.  The crackling groove of ‘Sounds Like Love’ made it immediately stand out, and being that I’m such a sucker for a little R & B style hook it was guaranteed that this would end up in pretty heavy rotation.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Illa J drifted quickly into obscurity, but perhaps with a decent production roster and marketing behind him he could make some waves in ‘09.


Jemini – ‘Brooklyn Kids’ (TV Track)

Despite loving Jemini’s style of rhyme, it was this instrumental version that I turned to more often than not when in need of a Scars & Pain hit this year.  Fantastic 70’s fusion keys sample, heavy drums, occasional vocal adlibs… right up my alley.  Countless late nights bopping to this one.


Junior MAFIA – ‘Player’s Anthem’

An oldie that came back into my life via the Beat Deconstruction treatment.  I think what originally encouraged me to revisit the Junior MAFIA LP was seeing Clark Kent talk about sneakers at some point over the year, and I was reminded of his understated yet highly efficient production technique.  Favourite moment is when Kim finishes the final verse of the song, all the various layers of the beat drop out only to come back in together at 4.12 with a heavy snare hit.  So fresh and so clean, just like Clark’s Air Force 1s.


Large Pro – ‘Maica Living’ ft. Killa Sha & Guardian Leap

I though it was a shame that more people didn’t pick up on Large Pro’s comeback album because it was a  solid release with lots of ear candy for all of us boom bap dinosaurs.  Again, it’s difficult to pick a favourite but I love the laid back, spacious vibe of ‘Maica Living’ and thinking of Killa Sha always brings a smile to my face due to Rafi’s & Dallas’s lampooning of the man at the ‘07 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.  Keep up the good work in ‘09 fellas.


Metaform – ‘Crush’

Dope instrumental work that probably passed a lot of people by.  It’s the William Bell guitar lick that seals the deal, but there’s a lot of texture on display here.  Makes it slightly incomprehensible why I haven’t delved into more of his work, but time’s short in these treacherous internets.


Statik Selektah – ‘Talkin’ Bout You (Ladies)’ ft. Kweli, Joell Ortiz & Skyzoo

Too much going on with Stick 2 The Script to engage my interest over a whole album, but dipping in and out of the selection uncovered some enjoyable cuts.  ‘Talkin’ Bout You (Ladies)’ was one of them with all the worthwhile elements of this kind of throwback in place: soulful loop; scratched chorus hook; well respected MCs doing their thang.  It’s a no brainer.


Bone Idols – ‘Keep On’ (Chris Read Remix)

Despite DJ Chris Read not considering himself a producer, this particular unreleased remix of his received heavy rotation from me throughout the year (although it felt particularly sweet in the summer months).  I covered Chris’s The Diary mix all the way back in December ‘07, and since then I’m always on the lookout for anything that bears his name.  You should be too.


Mood – ‘Karma’

The Doom album is one of those kind of slept on releases that for whatever reason I hadn’t gotten around to checking before this year, but I was glad that I did because some of the early Hi-Tek production is excellent.  ‘Karma’ is a case in point, bringing that classic late 90’s indie feel with an almost Queensbridge edge, and as such it ran tings for me in November.


GZA – ‘7 Pounds’

If it’s possible, I think this Black Milk joint bangs even harder than ‘Motown 25′.  Granted the sheen has been taken off all things contemporary GZA for me as a result of this, but this song is too good to succumb to my own petty squabbles with Mr Grice.  GZA sounds hungry and complex, and despite this being a somewhat odd collaboration it works devastatingly well.

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