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the usual roughnecks

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It's your Best of 2015 Roundup, Rappitty-Rap Rapping edition. Just the bangingest bangers and the hottest heaters and the tastiest joints.


Blacka - Blackalicious / World Premier - Czarface (feat. Large Professor) / Man Plans God Laughs - Public Enemy / Razor Blade Rhyme - A-F-R-O / The History of Atlantis - B. Dolan / Fractured - Guilty Simpson (feat. Fat Ray) / Organ Donor - SHIRT / Garbanzo Beans/4 No Reason - Sean Price / Rubble Kings (Dynamite On The Street) - Run The Jewels / Paris Texas - Jel & Odd Nosdam / Yesman Shit - Apollo Brown (feat. Sean Price & REKS) / Unlimited Metro Card - Your Old Droog & Statik Selektah / Falconry - Action Bronson (feat. Meyhem Lauren & Big Body Bes) / Bodega! - Bodega Bamz & Statik Selektah / Dooo It! (Remix) - R.A. The Rugged Man / Hell's Messenger - Jedi Mind Tricks / I'll Die For This Shit - The Cornel West Theory (feat. Queen Helene of Les Nubians) / Kirk Fuckin' Douglas - The Alchemist

The Six Best Rappitty-Rapping Records of the Year*
Guilty Simpson :: Detroit's Son
Can't get enough of the D's sharpest hattori hanzo, and don't understand why this record hasn't been on anyone else's lists this year.  It's his hardest, sharpest, meanest, illest, blessedest work to date, more on point than a box of needles.  An all-around 7th place for album of the year. 

Sean Price :: Songs In The Key of Price / About 85,000 Guest Verses
My favorite actors have always been character actors--the guys who come in as weird sidekicks, creep-ass villains, but always make their mark.  This record ain't here because we lost him, it's because it's a damn fine record.  P was one of the greats and most definitely gone too soon.  He was a rapper's rapper who never turned down a guest verse but always brought his A-game to it, endlessly quotable, with more punchlines than Nintendo's unreleased Mike Tyson: Punch Factory. He got stoopid without ever being ignorant--he slips in more political lines than he gets credit for.  P! was the illest of the usual roughnecks.

Inspectah Deck, 7L and Esoteric came back to body you on this one, bringing along Meth, DOOM, GZA, Large Pro and other thugs. Just a good, solid album for all your head-nodding, mad-face-making needs.

Action Bronson :: Mr. Wonderful 
The second most notorious Albanian in the tri-state area comes through again. Like every Bronson record, it's hit and miss on the beat choices, but also solid as his massive gut when he does hit it. Dude has cemented his career, and I now can't see any haute cuisine reference like 'scrape a ravioli envelope' or 'venison au jus reduction' without thinking 'I wonder how Action Bronson would rhyme that into a deviant sexual act?'

Jedi Mind Tricks :: The Thief & The Fallen
If you were ever down with JMT, this is their comeback from Stoupe forgetting how to make beats. Just forget the last 10 or so years happened. If you like that 'Cypress Hill, but with more beheadings' sound, this one's for you.

Your Old Droog :: Kinison EP
I kinda think I'm over this dude. He's definitely nice with the rhyming of the words, mostly picks good beats, but there's something too...technical? Something missing, I don't know if it's a narrative or sense of character or charisma. I just don't know who the droogie is somehow. I mean, content-wise Redman is not exactly Virginia Woolf,** but you feel like you know the guy, he's that cat you got high with in the parking lot that one time or whatever.  With Droog I don't get that. I like the work but I'm not catching feels from it.  OK not really selling this, but the EP is solid work.


*Fuck arbitrary round numbers and fuck long lists. Like I'm really gonna go peep out all 100 records you recommended. I have five jobs for fuck's sake.
**If Redman is now inspired to do a three-CD Mr Dalloway concept album, come back and thank me.

b-bop for b-boys (take 5)

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Don't play what's there, play what's not there.
- Miles Davis

Publicity Blues - Dysposable Heroes (feat. GZA vs. Ray Charles) / Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) (Instrumental) - Digable Planets / How Sly - DJ 2-Tone Jones (feat. Meth & Red vs. Ahmad Jamal) / Maintaining (Instrumental) - No I.D. / Miles Of Greenery - Gadget / 1,2,3, Hit It - DJ Mark The 45 King / Da Da Da Da....Da - DJ Mayonnaise Trouble Man - Juggaknots / Yikes - Scienz of Life (feat. MF Doom) Collectors Choice (Instrumental) - Autolect / Mostly Tha Voice - Gang Starr / Fakin' Jax (Dee La Kream Remix) - I.N.I & Pete Rock / Meat Grinder (Four Tet Remix) - MF Doom / Bell Tolls - Blockhead / Pot Belly (Rob Swift Cut) Lou Donaldson / Virtuosity L*Roneous / Drunk Trumpet Kid Koala / Genisis Of A Nemisis Digit Span Test / Jupiter - John Coltrane / Day 13 - Dr. Yen Lo

bad lieutenant (badges, bullets, beatings & bodies)

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Cops have been killing people, and people have been getting outraged about it, and the cops have gotten off scott free, for over 150 years.  Freddie Gray, killed by the Baltimore PD on April 19th, was the 346th person killed by a cop this year.

Some of y'all old enough to remember Eleanor Bumpurs? Amadou Diallo? Micheal Stewart? And so on. This shit ain't new. It just goes on and on.

Pigs - Homeboy Sandman / Who Protects Us From You? - Boogie Down Productions / Hands Up - Vince Staples / NYC Cops - Heems / The Headcracker - Double XX Posse / Pigs Is Over - Malcolm & Martin (feat. Bambu) / Pig Iron - billy woods / Jordan Miles - Jasiri X / Good Cop/Bad Cop - Blahzay Blahzay / Piglets - Guilty Simpson / Mr. Officer - Ka / Cop Crush - Odd Nosdam / We Living In These Dark Times - Uncommon Nasa / Made You Die - Dead Prez, Mike Flo & Mos Def / Film The Police - Toki Wright, Jasiri X, Sage Francis & B. Dolan / Fuck Officer Wahl & The SDPD #9 - Tenshun / Police Get Busy (Black Thought x Dead Kennedys) - Max Tannone / Fuck Tha Police (Live) - Rage Against The Machine

the classical

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So I went to see this Benjamin Britten opera in Berlin (because caucasity) and all I could think was: oh shit, this bit would be good to sample.  That little bit right there would be fire on a beat. Remember, hip-hop started with the breaks: looping the tightest, hardest parts of records to move the crowds. Cue the bridge. Cut the rest.  And every kind of music ever made has got those nice bits to flip.  I said all this before fam.

If you read this piece on Beethoven, dude's influence was so great that CDs were set at 75 minutes to fit the 9th Symphony.  But all that talent not only shaped all orchestra music that came after, it kinda calcified and stultified it too--an anxiety of influence classical music still hasn't broken out of.  And John Cage said: "If you listen to Beethoven, it's always the same. But if you listen to traffic, it's always different."  And sampling, flipping, looping--that's cars on the interstate kid.  By chopping it up, it's bringing something new to the table.

So some people think sampling classical is outrageous, or corny, or shitting on high culture. It's nothing new and you got your corny high school music teachers doing Tuba Tupac probably and Asian chicks fluteboxing on WorldStar.  All I care about is what they did with it: is the beat heat or not?

The real question is how is it possible the whole boom-bap '90s went by without a lotta diggin' in the Wagner crates.  He had that large-ass, giganticous sound on lock.  It is kinda funny though that most classical samples are on chest-thumping, bumpining joints, not the smooth sensitive types.  And if anything, you'd think in these sampling-lawsuit heavy days cats would be jumping for those public domain sounds. Zombie Chopin ain't finna sue you b.

Anyways get ya opera glasses ready and peep it.

Animal Rap - Jedi Mind Tricks (feat. Kool G Rap) / The DJ - DJ Revolution (feat. KRS-One) / K.I.M. - EPMD (feat. Redman) / No Joke (DJ Snyder Tchaikovsky Remix) - Apathy & Celph Titled / Habitat Of The Gasmask - La Coka Nostra (feat. Vinnie Paz) / Spaz Out - Army of the Pharoahs / War Tactics - Guru (feat. Hussein Fatal, James Gotti & New Child) / Trylogy - Kurupt / Chocolate Box - Falside / Classic - Hieroglyphics / Crystal Glass - dj BC (feat. Smif & Wessun & Talib Kweli) / General Patton - Big Boi / Regeneration - DJ Premier, Nas & The Berklee Symphony Orchestra / Change The Beat (Q-Fish Remix) - DOOM / Battle The Universe - AbcDEFiend? / Savagelands #8 - Tenshun / Pouches Of Tuna - Action Bronson (feat. Roc Marciano) / Underground Hitz - R.A. The Rugged Man / The MC - KRS-One

elephants of style

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So 2014 was supposed to be The Worst Year In Rap Ever? C'mon son. Worst year to be Syrian, maybe. Or Yazidi. Or Ukrainian. Or to get Ebola. Or to be in a cop-on-black encounter. But worst year in rap ever? Y'all just making up stupid shit to argue about on the Rap Internets. Seems to me it was the year of big-ass, dusty elephant beats and another exponential jump forwards in rap styles. 

First up we got the best-of mix for the second half (cop the first here):

Rap Stampede - Guilty Simpson / Behold The Opera - The Black Opera / "Produced By The RZA" - Stripclub Casino / Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) - Run The Jewels (feat. Zack De La Rocha) / Jonathan - Hail Mary Mallon / Everything Bagel - Rob Sonic / Re-Escape - The Hinderance (feat. L.I.F.E.Long) / Shoot The Piano Player - Zilla Rocca & The Shadowboxers (feat. Has-Lo) / Worlds Apart - J-Live / Loosie In The Store With Pennies - Your Old Droog / Sands - ATOMS / Criminal Childish - PremRock (feat. Curly Castro) / War Drum - Loop Minded Individuals (feat. Moe Pope, Roc Doogie, Elucid) / Here We Go - Diabolic (feat. Coast) / Binary Thinking - Skipp Coon / Fck - Chester Watson / This Bodega (Is Trying To Kill Me) - Uncommon Nasa (feat. Elucid) / B.E.T. - Armand Hammer / Mood Swings - Henry Canyons (feat. billy woods) / Stop Growing - L'Orange (feat. Meyhem Lauren & billy woods) / Stolen Norman Rockwells - SHIRT / In Gaol - milo (feat. Kool AD) / Big Pretty Bridges (3 Days Off In Abuquerque) - Open Mike Eagle / So It Goes - Ratking / Lost Prophet Report - Ka / Sleepwalk - SleepwalkERS / Ishmael - Shabazz Palaces

Albums of the Year :: 14 for '14
Top 5

1) Ratking :: So It Goes Been a long time since I heard a record that took me back to eating purple mescaline at the downtown Halloween parade. Every time rap seems to be starting to be divided between dumb teenage shit and grown man stuff, some kids come along and jumpstart it all again. Just like the first Cypress Hill LP threw rap forwards ten steps (and similarly introduced the joy of high-pitched nasal rapping), I felt the same kinda excitement about So It Goes. It's anthemic, generation-defining without setting out to do that. Somehow it crosses way into the past and way into the future, it's the cast of Wild Style in Kids, it's an episode of Welcome Back Kotter where Special Guest Star Rammellzee on some Kazoo shit time-jumps them into a 2039 of poplocking robots. It's The Basketball Diaries via Jamel Shabazz Vines. It's smoking hash on an autumn afternoon and watching Herculoids with a girl you can't quite figure out. It's one of those records that distills and jumps off from the last NYC trio's zetigeist LP, in rap tradition--Run-DMC begat License to Ill begat Funcrusher Plus begat Cold Vein begat So It Goes. It's not a revival or a resurrection. It's new blood, flowing.

2) Skipp Coon :: Miles Garvey I been checking on the regular for new from Skipp Coon since the one-two of 2010's women revolution tennis shoes and Sophmore Slump. Was worth the wait. Political rap can be polemic, didactic, oversimplistic and reductive; more than anything, it can be all rage and no soul, all political and no personal.  Skipp Coon overstands and overcomes all that. He's a prophet of rage, sure, with coals in the belly but also an ox-sized heart. It's a father's anger, not a collegiate rebellion, closer to late The Coup LPs than early P.E. Rebellion Assemble! superheroes.

The thing that struck me about Bobby Shmurda's video wasn't the dumb dance. It was the kid's thousand yard stare, soulless, empty eyes staring out as he mumbled lyrics about three kinds of death. This was a young black man we'd all failed, who just happened to go from viral video/novelty dance/dancing on record exec's conference table on some Invisible Man shit/indictment and tearful perp walk in less than a year. It's a good song. It's everything that went wrong with hip hop. Skipp Coon is reparations. I wish more cats would hear this record when they bitch about the lack of rap addressing the year's police shootings. We don't need knee-jerk singles from Jay and Kanye hashtagging #icantbreathe, we need the depth in this record.

3) Shabazz Palaces :: Lese Majesty On the real, at first I really thought this wasn't as good as the earlier records, but once I cut out the songs I don't like I couldn't stop listening to this. It's like wearing intergalactic plushpluvial Dapper Dan underpants. It tastes like purple. But it still has street weight, still has depth, still transcendent. It's exactly the record we should've expected 20 years after Reachin', here in the future where we have talking computers in our pockets and flying killer robots fighting wars.

4) Ka & Preservation :: 1200BC Just a 5 track taste, but better than most anyone's long player. Ka's narrative compression as always rewards multiple replay, and while maybe I prefer his own beats to Preservation's, it's another brick in Ka's discography cementing his legend. I spoke at length on this cat last year and the year before. He's still standing.

5) Armand Hammer :: Furtive Movements Once again Elucid & woods give us the dark, bitter political fruit for a year where we needed it most. If shit seems to be getting refracted through The Purge: Anarchy into a locked cycle of oppression and death, woods & Elucid are the sidekicks on the sidelines growling discourse and commentary like a Statler & Waldorf duo merged with Chomsky & Fanon.

Next 9 In Semi-Alphamabetical Order
The Black Opera :: The Great Year When Sister Souljah met Mother Courage.  That time Biggie starred in the kabuki play Yotsuya Kaidan.  Great beats on this one, interesting range.  This one definitely got slept on.

Dday One :: Dialogue With Life After a three year hiatus since Mood Algorithms, Dday One returns with another LP of his finely crafted, superbly arranged instrumental beats.

I said most of what I gots to say about these cats previously, but these new records see them pushing the antelope of what we define as 'rap,' taking their styles into more introspective, more personal territory. Playing Teju Cole to Mike's Paul Beatty, milo explores his hopes and griefs over ever-more ethereal beats, and M. Eagle whittles his wit to a sharp point and pokes us with it.

These three cats are keeping the underground alive, the heavy gritty shit. Lazy bitches might say it's the post-Def Jux sound, survivors of the backpacker purge sneaking around the ruins. True maybe but these records take it forwards, evolve the style and develop it.  The word density is there. The crunch of beats and Wall of Nails sound is still there. But there's a sense of forward direction, a sense of playfulness that was absent from the multisyllabic seriousness of the late '90s.  This ain't throwback, it's pass forwards.

SHIRT gave himself an un-SEOable name and a record title that's...is it supposed to be all-encompassing, braggadocio omnipotent, or fuck you punk rock generic like the supermarket in Repo Man? I don't know. He pulled a publicity stunt where he faked the entire NY Times site. I thought it was kinda funny. Took balls. Doesn't matter. The kid can rap. He raps the fuck out of the rapping. You slept. Cop it.

Like SHIRT, Droog is a young kid from NY who raps. And kills it dead.  Difference being this kid blew the fuck up off the back of some dumbass Illuminati Youtube conspiracy mindedness that he was Nas in disguise (recap for my four readers who get all their rappity-rap news here.)  This created a Scooby Doo level mystery and not-suspenseful reveal.  I said it from the start: Droog can't be Nas, because Nas has never read A Clockwork Orange, and the one time he tried to watch the movie he got too high and fell asleep on the couch. Case closed. Anyways. The kid can flow and comes out the box assured, game tight and measured. I expect some heavyweight belts in the next couple years.


So a lotta usual suspects here maybe, but worst year in rap? Fuck outta here. Get you some of these records and a nice bowl of cereal or a cream soda or something. Stay positive like the copper top side of a battery fam.

for a few stacks more

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Back in the saddle son.  It's the Return of the Two-Gun Western Mixtape.

Exposition - Nym / NYC Crack - Wu-Tang Clan / Gunfight - Mighty Underdogs (feat. DOOM) / Which Side You On? - B. Dolan / Trap Door - Jake One & DOOM / Hardest From The Underground - Kyo Itachi & Ruste Juxx / Antique Revolver - Dr. Quandary / Anakim Dreams Killah Priest / Circle - Graves / Wandering Gun - Mr. Moods (feat. Jenova 7) / The Baddest Man Alive - The Black Keys (feat. The RZA) / New Vs. Old - IV The Polymath / Dead Wrong - The Notorious B.I.G. vs. RZA / The Way - Vast Aire & G. Green / Hoarse - Earl Sweatshirt / Natural Born Trouble - B. Dolan / Warm Up - KRS-One / Tango Ronin - DJ Bootsie / When the Guns Come Out - Christbearer, WC & E-40 / The Good, The Bad, The Weird - Dr. Quandary / Rise Of The Ghostface Killah - Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge / Absolut Alive - Odd Nosdam Desperados - The Firm / They Said - Mr. Dibbs / They Die By Dawn - The Bullitts (feat. Jay Electronica, Mos Def & Lucy Liu) / The Good, The Bad & The Gypsy - Crookram



beef & brolic

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Your 2014 half-time roundup of banging shit. Rappity-ass-rapping shit. Make you say 'GodDAMN' shit. Laying on the quadruple-guest-verse steez like a Dagwood sandwich to max out the word count.  Got beef?  Get brolic.

Nutty Bars - Your Old Droog / Oh Word? - Blueprint / $100 Taper - Rozewood (feat. Hus Kingpin) / Street Hop - Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild (feat. Troy Ave & Retch) / Anytime - Prodigy / Life's A Bitch - Timeless Truth / Take Off - SHIRT / God Particle - Army of the Pharaohs (Vinnie Paz, Planetary, Esoteric, Apathy & Celph Titled) / Thick Lord (Lord Finesse Remix) - D.I.T.C. / Truth Be Told - Gensu Dean & Guilty Simpson / Destroyer - The White Shadow of Norway (feat. Kool G Rap, Caustic Logic & KRS-One) / Ain't Nothing - Willie The Kid & Bronze Nazareth (feat. Boldy James) / Six Degrees - Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD (feat. Danny Brown) / Dirt - Mobb Deep / Silent Murder - Innocent? (feat. Ruste Juxx & Sean Price) / Bug Fights - Ratking


on the mix as it is in heaven (book ii)

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It's the New Testament mixtape. That's right.

Hosted by Johnny Cash.

God Made Me Funky - The Headhunters / Soul To Rock & Roll - Run-DMC / Jesus Walks - Kanye West / What You Need Is Jesus - Public Enemy / Black Jesus (Instrumental) - RZA / Black Jesus - Schoolly D / He's A Superstar - Roy Ayers / Hallelujah - Bishop Lamont (feat. Xzibit) / The Cross - Nas / In Heaven's Home - The Alchemist (feat. Prodigy & Roc Marciano) / When I Get To Heaven - Ice Cube / The Power of God - LL Cool J / John 3:16 - Wyclef & DJ Muggs / The Last Supper - Killah Priest / Apostle's Warning (Instrumental) - Mobb Deep / 30 Pieces of Silver - Ka / INRI / B.I.B.L.E. - Killah Priest / On Earth As It Is In Heaven - Ras Kass / The Real Holy Place - Boogie Down Productions / Personal Jesus - Johnny Cash