Brother Ali – Shadows on the Sun (2003)
I think everyone visiting this blog knows me as a brutally honest old man with his own weird opinions. So I’ll come right out and say honestly, that I didn’t hear this album until the end of May/beginning of June when I saw an old review written on someone else’s blog. I decided to find this and give it a listen and surprise, surprise, this album isn’t bad at all. While Ali doesn’t have the greatest rhyme style or voice for that matter, he makes up for that with heaps and heaps of honesty, which is exactly what’s missing in most hip-hop today. On this album, I hear a man (not a fantasizing little boy) who looks himself in the mirror and tells the world who he is; take it or leave it. For that alone, this album is worth a listen. FYI – ‘Forest Whitaker’ is dope and so is the album cover.
Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)http://www.zshare.net/download/14921540c93fa625/
While most of my praise goes to the greatest hip-hop album of all time, It Takes a Nation of Millions…, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, was initially the album that was played over and over again when me and my friends were just hanging out in my basement in ’87 while looking at record covers or playing Monopoly . Twenty one years later, I can still hear one of them saying, “play Side E first” when putting the cassette tape in the boom box. I’m amazed that we were listening to this album as 13 and 14 year olds in ’87 (as opposed to being 13 or 14 today and listening to the junk out there). Chuck had my mind going a mile a minute, which is the reason why I ran to King James’ record store and bought the cassette. The production was crazy, in a good way, to say the least and while I didn’t like the sequencing as a teenager, I see the method to the madness as an adult. As youngsters, we just couldn’t figure it out and that added to the PE mystique for us. Today, I absolutely love blasting the first three songs (‘You’re Gonna Get Yours’, ‘Sophisticated B**ch’, and ‘Miuzi Weighs a Ton’) as I drive around and people look at me like “What the eff is that?” If you don’t have this in your collection, download it and then buy it used on Amazon.com.
The Coup – Genocide and Juice (1994)
I’ve always had this curiosity thing with hip-hop from Oakland and the Bay area. I think it stems from the images I have in my head of Black Panthers standing alongside pimps and Asian DJ’s. In college, I thought of people in that area as being either very socially and politically conscious or apathetic and apolitical with no one in between. I don’t understand that statement either. Anyway, The Coup have always seemed to speak to me and of course, I find them curious. Kill My Landlord (1993) was an interesting album as well but they really stepped it up on this one. The beats are very funky and lead lyricist, Boots Riley, is in a word, clever with his rhyme style like Masta Ace. Dude clearly has a brain and everyone knows I support clever MC’s with brains (alongside a fair share of ignorant ish, too). But even curious-er is that they have a female DJ (Pam the Funkstress) who looks just like the lady cooking scrambled eggs at the greasy spoon restaurant I used to eat at on 60Th & Market under the El stop back in the late 80’s. Just the fact that they have a clever message, funky beats and a good DJ (gender matters not) should be enough for you to listen to this. Did I mention that they have a DJ? Who has DJ’s in their groups today? And then there’s the guy who reminds me of Vinnie from Naughty by Nature, E-Roc, with an unusual voice. It’s not bad or even irritating, it’s just different in a curious way. And for all of you boom bap golden-agers who haven’t heard this album yet, it’s from 1994. Trust me, it’s good. And did they quietly dis liquor manufacturers and/or Snoop with their album title?
ED OG Featuring Pete Rock – My Own Worst Enemy (2004)
Boston STAND UP!!! I just can’t stop playing this in the car these days. Ed has always been one of my favorite MC’s on the mic and he and Masta Ace seem to have an unlimited life span in hip-hop. They’ve definitely aged well. Pete Rock, for the most part, has crafted some gems that fit Ed’s style and flow. I really felt his hunger (and honesty) on this one and it sort of makes me angry with commercial hip-hop. This is the kind of music that should be played on the radio and get more exposure.
FYI – Make sure you get that ‘Wishing’ (remix) at this link: http://www.zshare.net/download/15052936e45733db/. It’s much better than the album version.