10) La Coka Nostra - A Brand You Can Trust
"I had never been a very big fan of La Coka Nostra. Actually, before this album I'd never liked anything they'd done as a group, but because I loved Everlast's 2008 solo album I gave this a spin. Boy am I glad I did because A Brand You Can Trust is a great album. With song titles like "Bloody Sunday," "Bang Bang," and "Gun In Your Mouth," it should be obvious they have plenty of material for their hardcore fans, but they also show influences of Everlast's other career as a blues singer and guitarist throughout the record, which makes for a great listening experience. Even if you didn't like La Coka Nostra before, give them another shot with A Brand You Can Trust, you might be surprised."
3. Cage: Depart From Me
"I'll always hold my Nighthawks vinyl close to my chest but I can't say I don't like this version of Cage better. Teaming up with a former guitar player for the hardcore punk band Hatebreed gave "Depart From Me" a decidedly strong Suicidal Tendencies vibe for the punks to skate too but lyrically Cage's pitch black sense of humor was still the star of the show. "Fat Kids Need an Anthem" somehow makes you laugh while the guy pretty much cuts open a vein to pour his pain out on wax. How many of your favorite rappers talked about a shoot out in a club this year? Now how many of them did it wishing the violence would give them a good reason to get out of an awkward social situation? No longer content to just talk about how awesome he is Cage truly put his heart out for all to see, sickness and depression be damned."
Steve 'Flash' Juon
"For the record this is the same "Best Of" list I compiled for the annual Pazz and Jop feature of New York's critically acclaimed Village Voice magazine. Do me a solid and pick up the 2009 edition on newstands when it drops. The only thing I've removed is the actual scores - you have to assign a total of 100 points to your 10 choices with none getting less than 5. You'll just have to guess how much weight I gave to what as you scan the list, and then read the magazine to see which albums from my top ten were also chosen by music critics as a whole."
6) Dizzee Rascal – "Tongue N' Cheek"
"I would love for every American hip hop fan to listen to this album for a week, and see what they thought. First of all, you won't get all the UK references. Dizzee's voice may annoy you. He isn't a traditionally great lyricist/rapper. But TRUST that this is his well-deserved party album, with eleven songs that kick the ass of most US commercial hip hop from the last three years. Songs like "Dance Wiv Me" and "Bonkers" and "Holiday" and "Dirtee Cash" and "Can't Tek No More" and… Well, pretty much every song is brilliant and whilst he isn't a great rapper, he is a brilliant MC. There is a difference, and you would spin this continuously, believe me."
"Del and Tame One, "Parallel Uni-Verses" This is an underachieving record that's basically Del and Tame One trading old man raps. It works because they both have unique and complimentary flows, and they are backed by solid beats by Parallel Thoughts. It has a loose, stoned charm, and I haven't been able to stop listening to it.
DOOM, "Born Like This" After falling off of the face of the planet for the past few years, DOOM comes back, minus the MF, for some of his darkest, most curmudgeonly rhymes yet. Any hip hop album that features Charles Bukowski reciting poetry is worth your time. DOOM is nobody's fool, and there is a lot going on behind the metal face."
7. Method Man & Redman: Blackout! 2
"After ten years and probably thousands of blunts since their last release as a duo, hip-hop's own version of Cheech & Chong picked up right where they left off. The natural charisma of the two emcees remains intact. Joints (pun intended) like the Bun B (and Pimp C via sample) featuring "City Lights" and "Diz Iz 4 All My Smokers" are guaranteed to keep long time fans satisfied and convert newbies with virgin lungs, or uh...ears."
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