In less than a week I’ll be on my way to Soundset 2012. Soundset is a giant hip hop festival outside of Minneapolis. For 9½ hours, there will be no less than 30 acts; ranging from underground stars, such as Atmosphere, to members of the Wu-Tang Clan. And that doesn’t even include the afterparty over at Fifth Element. If you cannot tell, I am brimming with excitement, so let’s cut the crap. In honor of Soundset, here is a short list of hip hop albums that I love. It is not all-inclusive, there isn’t much reasoning, and it’s likely that I will have a totally new list of Five Awesome Albums in the future. Each album will be linked to the Amazon MP3 page, so you can give them a sample listen!
This was the album that got me into this mellow, thoughtful type of hip hop. The beats are catchy and haunting, employing a number of classic, bluesy samples. Slug’s lyrics move between boisterous b-boy posturing, heart-broken ballads, and layered metaphorical tales. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to get into a more conscious kind of hip hop.
When I was younger, I listened to a lot of horrorcore rap, which had an emotional spectrum ranging from “murder” to “kill.” Eventually, I found that I needed a little more to my music. Gift of Gab delivers that with tongue-twisting accuracy. Blazing Arrow is full of songs bolstering Gab’s lyrical abilities, peppered with inspiration rap tunes that encourage you to embrace the day. 4000 Miles is my rap jam and Make You Feel That Way is my go-to feel good song.
Brother Ali has a voice that carries such conviction that I think he could convince the sun to rise at midnight; and his flow ain’t half-bad either. This album is about the downtrodden, a subject Ali knows like the back of his hand. While it gets a little heavy handed towards the end – dealing with Ali’s failed marriage and the cold actions of the US government – the bluesy beats will keep you hooked.
I’ve had a friend describe this as a “choose your own genre” album. I’m not sure I could put it any better. Busdriver is an MC who likes to experiment, and I think this album is the pinnacle of his efforts. Numerous genres inspire the album; tracks jump between reggae beats and electronica, with indie-rock inspired hooks, syllable heavy verses, laced with acoustic guitar accompanied with drum beats. What keeps me coming back is the variety and Busdriver’s overly-political, cynical rhymes.
Dark Time Sunshine
This is my “art-fag” hip hop album. As far as I am concerned, the lyrics are secondary to the bizarre, almost ethereal beats. That isn’t to say that Onry Ozzborn’s methodical rap style doesn’t pull its weight. Ozzborn’s flow is simple, but it can get down right ghoulish at times as he ends his lines with a distorted echo. Many of the songs feature a number of artists, from underground hip hop legends like Aesop Rock to soul singer Revo DeVito, so there is a little bit for everyone here.
I barely even scratched the alphabet here! There are a number more albums I just need to talk about, so it is really likely that I’ll be doing this again in the future.
Anyone else out there have a few hip hop albums they listen to regularly? Something I should give a listen to? Let me know!