Two things stand out in my personal year in music. Where I live the last independent record store of note called it quits. Just within a radius of a few kilometers I have, since I first started curiously flipping through rows of records as a teenager, seen eight stores close down that used to have a faithful customer in me. Curiously, there are still a couple of hip-hop shops left in my town, but they offer a much smaller range of rap music than I’m used to from the non-specialized stores. I owe a large part of my growth as a rap fan to good old fashioned brick-and-mortar vendors who stacked the most obscure records just for me, it seemed. I would be more or less ignorant to anything from hometown releases to the Bay Area scene if it wasn’t for them. Here’s hoping that the ongoing changes in the music business will still enable artists to make a living with their music and listeners to find access to the music of their personal choice.

The second, more uplifting memory I have of 2007 is attached to a CD that was offered to me for free but for which I still shelled out a bill because if there has been a recording that deserved my support this year it was this compilation. It is called “Jugend! Arbeit! Los!” and features 20 tracks that deal with youth unemployment in Switzerland, largely provided by young people who know the issue first hand. The non-commercial, federally funded project was handed out to representatives of business, politics and the media to raise awareness, but it was the rap fan in me who was touched by the degree of honest and mature self-reflection on this CD. This truly essential release full of real talk is easily my Album of the Year and a very strong argument for the fact that the generations in charge could learn quite a few things from listening to rap music. Bearing that in mind, the staff gives you…

The 2007 Virtual Year End Compilation

“Another Chance @ Life” – Wise Intelligent – from “The Talented Timothy Taylor
“The Zoom Zip” – Sankofa – from “The Tortoise Hustle
“High As You Wanna” – Soulstice – from “Dead Letter Perfect
“Supreme Product” – Menacide – from “Street Symphony
“Crush the Rainbow” – Sontiago – from “Steel Yourself
“Pay Attention” – Madd Kapp f. Ace, Swigz – from “Less Than Zero
“Georgia” – CunninLynguists – from “Dirty Acres
“Cold Steel” – Phat Kat – from “Carte Blanche
“The World Is (Below the Heavens)” – Blu & Exile – from “Below the Heavens
“The Adventures of…” – Aztext – from “The Sacred Document
“3lbs. Grey” – Silentarmy – from “The Effects of Self EP
“Satisfied” – Himalayan Project – from “Broken World
“Paper Planes” – M.I.A. – from “Kala
“Marquee” – Marco Polo f. O.C. – from “Port Authority
“Beatin’ It” – Classified – from “Hitch Hikin’ Music
“Two Type of Bitches” – UGK – from “Underground Kingz