November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks--Hip Hop Style

It's November 24, 2010.  A time for thanks.  I give thanks every day for many things--a job, my health (kind of) and my family and the few friends I have.  However, since the world is feeling very thankful at this time, I wanted to share with you the top ten things I'm thankful for in hip hop. 
#10 - No One Man Should Have All This Power
 10.  "Power", Kanye West:  Kanye's triumphant return from the Taylor Swift incident provides hip hop heads some of the most powerful wordplay of the decade.  The first time I heard the track, I was sitting in a McDonald's using the free Wi-Fi.  Right now I am writing this while sitting in a McDonald's using their Wi-Fi.  No one fast food chain should have all that power.....
#9 - This is the ONE pic where she had clothes on!
 9. Nicki Minaj: I remember hearing about this female game spitter at the close of 2009, but as with all things fresh, I didn't embrace her at first.  Oh how she changed my mind.  I first realized I was missing out when listening to Drake's album and hearing her spit the verse on the track right after the Kanye produced "Show Me a Good Time."   
 8. Thank Me Later Drake: I don't like Drake, but there is one thing I should give him credit for: having an album full of great production.  The production on this album was incredible.  Other than that it was a C- at best.
#7 -Rosewood, G.O.O.D Music and the best clique since the Golden Girls
 7. Pusha T & Mos Def Sign to G.O.O.D Music:  If you know hip hop at all and have any idea who the greats are through the years, you know that these two signings only strengthen the Kanye West segment of the hip hop world.  Mos is a great, Pusha made "Runaway" a hit!
#6 - I envy the kid, I really do
 6. Raekwon x Kanye x Justin Bieber:  What a trio.  People read this and laugh but the track wasn't half bad.  It's funny how Raekwon can make even the most pop sounding music hood status. 
#5 - The Ruler's Back
 5. Jay-Z Decoded: The book to end all books.  I call it the hustler's Bible and the rappers Q'uran.  If you don't know why Jay-Z has blown up into one of the world's greatest businessmen, please read.  Warren Buffet, Bill have nothing on Shawn Carter.  It's truly the rags to riches story from the ghetto perspective.  At least check it out at your local library (if you have one). 
#4- You spoiled little L.A. just an L.A. girl
 4. VH1 Storytellers, Kanye West:  Not too many stories told on this one, but it's incredible how the performance went.  Imagine, Kanye in a suit with a heart on it talking to himself while 100 people watch.  I love the soundtrack more than the video to be honest.  The best song "Touch the Sky."  It's my fave anyway but this version really brings together the Curtis Mayfield-like harmony of "Move on Up."  Classic.
#3 - I coulda just put the pic of the album but this one humanizes Rozay
 3. Teflon Don, Rick Ross:  If it wasn't for the classic album from Ye, Ross' Teflon Don would definitely have been number one.  The album is captivating from beginning to end. "Free Mason" took controversy and squashed with one of Jay's most lucrative verses in years.  "Live Fast, Die Young" reminded us that Kanye West is a producer first...although the verse was SICK.  Finally "Aston Martin Music" made me wish I had me a Chrissete Michelle down chick and a Maybach so that we could cruise to that ish all summer.  Great album, great production, and Ross solidified himself as a top five artist hands down.
#2 - GREAT music
 2. Authenticity, The Foreign Exchange:  Some people really think that rappers are only rappers and have no other abilities other than spittin lyrics that rhyme.  In 2008 I was introduced to the FX and was blown away by their Leave it all Behind album.  It was a classic, in my mind better than Ye's 808s & Heartbreaks.  The smooth R&B sounds of Little Brother's Phonte make me appreciate that good music still exists, even if in a small form.  I never understood why people choose Eminem and Nicki Minaj over music like FX's, but I guess the taste of the world isn't quite the taste of yours truly.  If you haven't listen to the FX, please take the opportunity to introduce yourself to good music...wait, GREAT music.
#1 - The album to end all albums, this pixilated cover is one of six total (if you count the pixilated and un-pixilated separately).  The other five are awesome too but not as awesome as the edited cover. Haha
 1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West:  Oh yes, the man who makes great music finally releases his fifth album...TWO years after his last.  As you might recall, the last album was filled with love songs, depressed lyrics, and heartbreak for sure.  People were livid over the fact that he was singing in 85% of the album.  However, after a couple of months, people began to respect and enjoy the album.  Well, flash forward to 2010, and the album to end all albums was made.  Released this past Monday, there is no doubt in the minds of music critics that Kanye West is back and ready to make people feel stupid once again.  Couple that with the controversial Taylor Swift and George W. Bush issues and you have yourself a marketing machine.  It's funny that the more people that dislike Kanye, the more albums he sells.  We'll see next week how the album sells.  One thing is for sure, though: Kanye is king of music, king of pop in our day.  You can call him an asshole, a douchebag, a scum bag...he doesn't care.  His motivation is making music from the soul.  As Russell Simmons put it, Kanye West is the most passionate artist alive.  NOBODY even comes close.  The passion is sometimes taken to the extreme but nobody can deny the output exceeds the input for sure.  Classic albums aren't made with catchy hooks and sex appeal.  Classic albums are made when artists reach deep down into their soul and remind people that we are all f*cked up as we may be, we are ALL human and that the world is a dark, twisted place.  No one man should have all that power, but he does.  This is the one thing I'm most thankful for in hip hop....

Honorable Mention: G.O.O.D Fridays; Wale; Black and Yellow; Lupe Fiasco Rally; Illuminati Talk; Swizz Beatz at NYU

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