Forget all those people who try to tell you that Hip-Hop is dying, or that there isn’t anything good out there to listen to anymore. When going through albums for my year end top ten list I had more than forty I felt were deserving of notoriety. Here’s who made my year end “Best Of” list. (Please note I compiled this list midway through December, so please no emails about how I left off albums that came out after the 12th)
TOP 10 RECORDS OF THE YEAR
10) Lady Sovereign – Public Warning
Some of the rhymes have a juvenile (and I don’t mean the southern rapper) quality to them, but she’s only 19 so it’s not annoying, it’s endearing. She’s acting her own age with her lyrics, but has the skills of someone years her senior. “Tango” ranks as one of my favorite songs of the year with its classic “Bitch you’re orange!” taunt in the chorus.
Vialence, which stands for Vicious Ignorance Amounts to Little Except Negative Consequences n’ Expression, is an impressive collection of songs that have some social concern in them and showcase a lot of lyrical ability, as well. The production style of Vialence is also pretty unique as it encompasses the influences of all of the places Dyanast has called home, including Toronto, Barbados, Connecticut and Texas. Overall it’s a fantastic launching pad for a talented artist.
8) Macromantics – Moments in Movement
This album will hit American stores in January of ’07, but the international release of it was in September of ’06, so it makes this list. From Macromantics’ flow, to her lyricism, to the production on this album, everything is top notch. This female MC with an Australian accent will be a force to be reckoned with in ’07 and beyond.
Philadelphia’s Jake Lefco had a huge college radio hit with “Headphones,” which is included on And You Are?, a fantastic album all about dealing with your own personal issues through being honest with yourself and, eventually, being able to laugh about it. And You Are? has a real positive vibe throughout the album and is a nice introduction to another MC we should hear more from in ’07.
6) Core Rhythm – Nat Turner Reloaded
Make no mistake, Core Rhythm has something to say and he doesn’t bite his tongue on Nat Turner Reloaded. Core considers this album a statement for our time and ideas on what he feels needs to be done to usher in a new tomorrow. Sounds intense? Don’t worry, it’s all done over flawless production and with a flow that will have you not even realizing revolution is being pumped into your eardrums.
5) Vinnie Scullo – Hollywood Menace: The Hills Have Lies / See You at the Gap
Two albums in one year, one of which, Hollywood Menace: The Hills Have Lies, being a double CD, certainly puts Cleveland’s Vinnie Scullo at the top of the list of hardest working MC’s in 2006. This former Hollywood extra rips into the façade known as fame and what it’s done to both Hip-Hop and people in general. With See You At The Gap Scullo continues his onslaught on the Hollywood lifestyle and modern society, all with a wit and charm that has you leaving with a laugh and a smile. Heck, how can you not like a guy who samples everything from The White Stripes to the He-Man theme?
In an era when southern Hip-Hop is all over radio it seems odd that Bubba Sparxxx still flies relatively under the radar. “Ms. New Booty” was big, but The Charm is filled with amazing songs that leave the listener knowing “Ms. New Booty” was done strictly for radio airplay. Don’t sleep on Bubba.
3) Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse had a lot of people going “Crazy” in 2006 and I was most certainly one of them. An album filled with wild production and Cee-Lo at his best, what more could anyone ask for? Oh yeah, a follow up! Make it happen!
2) Mickey Avalon – Mickey Avalon
Never has an MC demonstrated such an incredible detachment from such intense imagery. Mickey Avalon, the new king of glam-rap (was there an old king?), brought us tales from the gutters and red light districts of the Hollywood streets with his most intense tales being told in a monotone “I don’t really give a fuck” tone of voice. He brings it up a bit for his more fast paced songs, but his delivery on tracks like “So Rich, So Pretty” and “Friends and Lovers” is what makes his self-titled debut so amazing.
I was honestly surprised at how slept on this album was in 2006, then I realized why, it’s simply ahead of its time. With In My Mind Pharrell has created an album that both MC’s and singers will be borrowing from for years. A lot of folks don’t hear it now, but like the George Clinton albums of the past, Pharrell’s solo debut is something that people will be using for quite a while.