Tuesday June 18, 2019

The (W)rap Up for 2010 by Emanuel Wallace
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

2010 Well here we are, at the end of the year that was 2010 and as expected, everyone and their great grandmother has a "Best Of" list. I suppose I'm no different since you're reading mine right now. Lots of things went on, where do I even start? Let's see...well, there were some earthquakes in Haiti and Chile that seemingly had the world at a standstill, there was a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Mel Gibson went nuts (again). What else? For some reason, Tiger Woods came out of hiding and owned up to his extramarital affair(s). Lots of notable folk passed away including George Steinbrenner, Leslie Nielsen (I am serious, Shirley) and Gary Coleman (without ever knowing what Willis was talkin' 'bout). There were plenty of other names, but our society has become some fast-paced that people are forgotten about within a matter of days.

What else? Some of the biggest films at the box office were "Inception" and "The Social Network," yeah, the Facebook movie. Speaking of Facebook, that along with Twitter continued to become staples in our daily lives for work and play purposes (mostly play though). If you haven't learned by now, RapReviews does in fact have a page on Facebook , feel free to head on over there and show us some support by clicking on "Like," it'd mean a lot to us here. Facebook not your thing? Well, we've got Twitter for that ass as well , feel free to follow us and stay up to date on all of our news updates and latest reviews, @RapReviews . Sorry for the advertisement in the middle of my (W)rap Up for the year (well, not really). Where was I? Let's see, the Democrats lost control of the House and LeBron James instantly became the NBA's newest villain when he decided to flip the city of Cleveland the bird and take his talents to South Beach. Yeah, I'm still bitter.

Anyway, I know you didn't come here for any of that. So what's left? Plenty, if you ask me. The biggest story of the year for most hip-hop heads was more than likely the death of Guru and the shady details surrounding the story of how sick Guru was and the relationship between Solar and the Elam family. In the weeks following Guru's death, the character and credibility of Solar was put through the wringer and Solar has been relatively quiet since, even after his email and subsequently his social networking profiles had been compromised. Aside from that, we had the typical rapper-goes-to-jail stories. Lil Wayne did a bid and was recently released, just as T.I. (or T.I.P. perhaps) was headed back for another go around. Too Short got arrested for something resembling assault and Lil Boosie was indicted on federal first degree murder charges while already serving time on gun and drug charges. Dark Man X found himself in trouble again, adding to my theory that he needs to get the hell out of Arizona. Gucci was released and held a late-night press conference as if he were Mumia Abu-Jamal. I'm not sure if it's really newsworthy, but Fabolous and Soulja Boy had a brief Twitter beef along with Slim Thug and Rick Ros--er, uh Rozay. The latter turned out to be manufactured promo that was more entertaining than the song the two did together.

Hammer made a comeback of sorts. He had a song named after him and after being referenced to by Jay-Z on Ye's "So Appalled," he felt it was necessary to come back with a record and video going at the Jiggaman. What else happened? Uh, Drake finally dropped an album and Eminem scrapped the "Relapse" sequel in favor of "Recovery" (a good move in my opinion). Jay-Z signed two of the most buzzed about emcees to his Roc Nation imprint, J. Cole and Jay Electronica. Uh oh, there's three J's there. You know what that means, right? Hip hop fans' newly found fascination with freemasonry and the Illuminati continued in 2010, leading to a 25% increase in references to the all seeing eye and even Rozay and Hov teamed up for a double-entendre track called "Free Mason." Lastly, in addition to Guru, the hip hop community also bid a fond farewell to Huddy Combs (of Harlem World fame), Nujabes (who passed following an automobile accident) and Eyedea (who accidentally overdosed). I know I'm missing a lot here, but I'm getting older and I can only retain so much nowadays, it seems.

On many "Best Of" lists this year, you'll find entries from the aforementioned Drake and Eminem or Kanye West near the top. I never really made an effort to listen to that "Thank Me Later," but I do think that Kanye released an awesome album. It's something that you listen to up until the point of ad nauseum and then you step away from it for awhile. I had an "Eminem is finally back attitude" when approaching "Recovery" and for the most part I was pleased.  I didn't get the chance to check out most hype beasts though, so I decided to limit my top ten to albums I'd actually written reviews on over the past year. So there's no J. Cole's "Friday Night Lights" or Curren$y's "Pilot Talk" or Freddie Gibbs' "Str8 Killa" on my list, but I'm confident that I've done a decent job of selecting the best albums of the year that went toe to toe with me and my sometimes discriminating ear. 

10.  Pimp C :: The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones :: Fontana/Rap-A-Lot Records

[The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones]This first selection is perhaps slightly due to the fanboy in me, but when I caught wind of the fact that the long promised final album of Tony Snow material was set to be released. I volunteered to do a write up on it. I was interested to see how the line up of producers would approach the album, I didn't know if they would just take his verses and splice them up between an A-list line up and send him off that way, or keep things to a minimum. I'd say that they met somewhere in the middle ground, enlisting the services of mostly those who had worked with Tony Snow previously or had his stamp of approval...save for a few artists. It's always refreshing to hear Pimp C talk his shit on a record, even though it would've been nice to have one of those uplifting Tony Snow joints that no one ever talks about. Since Pimp's not around to oversee things, we were stuck with what we got, and it turned out to be rather entertaining if nothing else.




9. Baron Von Alias + MistaBreeze :: The Great & The Magnificent :: {self-released}

[The Great & The Magnificent]

Newcastle Upon Tyne's Baron Von Alias has been quite busy since arriving here from the year 1830. This past year, he teamed up with Arhat and released the concept album "GMT+1: Timezones & Loopholes" and then turned right back around and joined forces with MistaBreeze to hit us with "The Great & The Magnificent." Even more, him and Arhat have another album, "Out-Of-Body Experience" set to drop at the top of the year. Prior to coming aboard the RapReviews staff, I hadn't been exposed to much hip-hop from the other side of the pond, but for some reason BVA appealed to me. It may be the accent or it may be the gall that he has to rock a top hat, fake mustache and a monocle...all while daring to be lyrical. It's a gamble that pays off, and it doesn't hurt that BVA's got production from the likes of Steesh and Arhat providing the heat on the tracks.  



8. Ceschi :: The One Man Band Broke Up :: Equinox Records

[The One Man Band Broke Up]
Ceschi Ramos' "The One Man Broke Up" is easily the most alternative album on this little list of mine. Honestly, I think I may have underscored it slightly when I originally reviewed it. The album goes back and forth between an indie-folk rock sound and more traditional hip-hop. Determined to create a melodic, dark and unabashedly progressive hip-hop concept album, Ceschi presents the story of the rise and fall of a musician haunted by the demons of his past. In the end, all signs point to the demise of our embattled protagonist, Julius. It was an interesting listen, but it may take a few spins for some people to get into it, while others may be turned away completely.  There are a few shorter songs on the album that have a sound that seems akin to the Beatles.



7. Styles P :: The Ghost Dub-Dime Mixtape :: E1 Entertainment

[The Ghost Dub-Dime Mixtape]

This past year, SP the Ghost added the title of author to his resume as he released his first novel titled "Invincible." There was also a mixtape of the same title to accompany it. Prior to that, Paniro hit us with "The Ghost Dub-Dime Mixtape." When pressed about why he chose to release a mixtape instead of an album, SP replied to the tune of wanting to keep it street this time around. He certainly accomplished that here. On one song he makes a mention of throwing an adversary from a terrace and then pouring a cup of urine on him just to add insult to injury. I suppose that's what's hot in the streets now. As always, SP takes the role of the street conscious dude and appoints himself as the voice of the poor and voiceless. In my review, the only major gripe I had with things was that it was too brief. Other than that, I was fairly satisfied with the effort. 



6. LMNZ :: Worldwide Rap :: {self-released}

[Worldwide Rap]

One of my photographer buddies from Germany put me on to this project by Berlin-based producer LMNZ. You pronounce it as "Elements." Here LMNZ took an idea that has been explored a few times, most notably by RZA on his 2003 release, "The World According to RZA" and multiplied it by what seems to be ten times over. "Worldwide Rap" features seventy-six artists and features twenty-nine different spoken languages. Some of those languages include English, Hebrew, German, Afrikaans, Greek, Bulgarian, Japanese, Russian, Wolof, Swedish and Spanish, among many more. Of course, listening to that many languages can be overwhelming, but luckily all lyrics are transcribed in English for anyone who wishes to read along. I preferred to listen to the album without the lyrics in hand, but still paying attention to the passion in the delivery of the emcees. It was a noble and bold idea that adds more fuel to the notion that rap is indeed a worldwide phenomenon.



5. Devin the Dude :: Suite #420 :: E1 Entertainment

[Suite #420]This is probably the highest profile album to make my list. I've been a fan of The Dude for quite a few years and his releases never fail to deliver on what is promised. Devin loves pussy, weed and alcohol (don't we all?) and isn't afraid to make sure that everyone else knows it as well. He often hits the topics from multiple perspectives and even though the content may wear thin from some other artists, Devin finds a way to keep them entertaining and funky. On the musical front, The Dude has a penchant for picking (and in some cases, creating) beats that work best with his flow. Overall, as expected, "Suite #420" was a smoked out room filled with weed and women, but every now and then the listener gets a dose of reality. It is that combination of elements that makes Devin's fans want to make return visits, if they even check out at all.




4. Donwill :: Don Cusack in High Fidelity :: Interdependent Media

[High Fidelity]This was another album that grew on me after I had submitted my review. Prior to my write up on "Don Cusack in High Fidelity," I had never seen the movie that Donwill's album is based around. After I reviewed the album and watched the movie, I couldn't get enough of it. Having now viewed the film, I can say that the album does an excellent job of interpreting the movie for hip hop listener's ears. In my original review, I wondered how many references to the movie I missed because I hadn't seen it, and it turned out to be a few. Armed with that information, I likely would have given the album a higher score. The press kit that came with the album insisted that you didn't have to be familiar with the film to enjoy the album, which turned out to be true...but in my opinion it certainly adds to the enjoyment and replay value. 




2 (tie). Cold Men Young :: Champagne Nights/Red Stripe Budget :: Bandcamp.com

[Champagne Nights] The four-man hip-hop/spoken word collective known as Cold Men Young takes their name from Detroit's first Black mayor, Coleman Young. Young served five mayoral terms over the course of twenty years. Members of Cold Men Young include Blaksmith, Kopelli, Young Phenom and Mic Write. Over the course of the album, the theme of the day seems to be simply "Have Fun. Live Life. Dream." The team certainly does all of the above on the album. In my review, I noted that Coleman Young had a brash, in-your-face style of politics that rubbed many people the wrong way. I also noted that some of that attitude and approach to things can be seen in Cold Men Young. The words may come down hard at times, but they make the point that needs to be made and get the job done. The album was one of the more harder ones to review because I wanted to praise it, but still leave room for improvement at the same time. 




2 (tie). JG Tha Jugganaut :: The Jugganaut's Thoughts Vol. 1 : 792 :: {self-released}

[The Jugganaut's Thoughts Vol. 1] Yes, another poetry album. So what, wanna fight about it? I've seen the man born John Gibson perform live a few times and been amazed by his prowess on the microphone. When I caught wind that he was going to be releasing an album, I had to get my hands on it and present it to the world. In my review, I made it a point to mention that Gibson has a style that can appeal to both sides of the "rapper or poet" coin. People that usually dig spoken word don't usually get down with traditional rap, and vice versa. This first collection of "Thoughts" made for a great listen and I hope that it doesn't take another three years before Gibson and his brand of expression make another appearance...poetry, rap or otherwise. As it stands now, JG is working on his next project and has tentatively titled it "RAP," you guessed it, Rhythmic American Poetry. 




1. Big K.R.I.T. :: K.R.I.T. Wuz Here :: {self-released}

[K.R.I.T. Wuz Here] It almost seems fitting that I kicked off my list with Pimp C and now I'm ending it with Big K.R.I.T., who bears a heavy resemblance to the late Tony Snow when he wraps. The main difference between the two is that K.R.I.T. is hell of a lot more lyrically inclined than C ever was. "K.R.I.T. Wuz Here" was one of those mixtapes I picked up on late after all of the hype about it had died down some. The manner in which K.R.I.T. draws the listener in is rather remarkable. Kicking things off with more or less traditional "old school. pourin' lean, candied yams and collard greens...pocket fulla stones, ridin' clean" types of lyrics but then switching things up on the "from nothing to something" tip. As things move along, the subject matter gets deeper and deeper, almost as if we were being guided on a tour of the various layers of K.R.I.T. In my review, I noted that some listeners may wonder which K.R.I.T. is the real deal, and to that I say all of them. I feel that the statement K.R.I.T. is making is one of "Don't pigeonhole me." His ability to play both sides of the coin is similar to how David Banner was able to drop "Like A Pimp" and follow it up with "Cadillac On 22's" or how T.I. dropped "24's" and then released "Rubber Band Man" and "Let's Get Away." As of now, K.R.I.T. is signed to Def Jam and reportedly working on his major label debut, and only time will tell if K.R.I.T. will truly remembered in time...but for now he's good enough to top my list of releases for the year. 


You still with me? Good. Well, that about does it for me. As always, stay glued to RapReviews as we continue to be your #1 source of hip-hop reviews in the world. With so many releases slated for the upcoming year, who knows what's in store for us. Have a blessed new year and we'll see you in 2011!

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