I won’t pretend like I know about music and this shouldn’t be confused with music writing. This is Just the top five album that I enjoyed, No criteria was used whatsoever. Little commentary shall be used ’cause I’m not qualified to write about music. So without further ado, I now present: AQUILOGY’s eight favourite albums for the year 2010
The Roots – “How I got over”
The Roots are such a hardworking band ( didn’t they tour non stop for like fifteen years or something?) that they have amassed a large loyal following over the years. Those fans would probably jump on my throat for stating the obvious, The Roots are hella overrated. They have two great albums (Do you want More?!??! and Illadelph Halflife), two terrible albums (Phrenology and The Tipping point)
and several near misses but because (like the BLK JKS) “They’re black (ish) and play their own instruments” the masses choose to overlook their artistic flaws. which I find condescending and a little racist (yeah I said it, y’all are racist).
Anyhoo, “How I got over” was a cohesive effort and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The album’s theme (overcoming a personal struggle) was well executed, none of the guest appearances disappointed me and Black Thought was in hard spitting mood for a change or maybe they’ve been throwing half decent works at my direct for such a long time that anything that resembles a cohesive body of work would get me all overly excited. *shrugs*
Best tracks: “Dear God 2.0”, “Radio Daze”, “The Day”
The Foreign Exchange – “Authenticity”
The legendary producer/emcee group that created a beautiful, near classic Rap album (Connected) without even meeting, sending each other beats over the internet, getting all backpackers excited only to come back four years later with an album that had minimal rapping in it. Rap fans were enraged, and failed to realize that “Leave it all behind” is probably one of the best R n B albums released in the 00’s. But how do you follow up an album that was as remarkable as “Leave it all behind”? the quick answer is, you don’t and that’s what Phonte and Nicolay did here. Unlike their previous album, which was about the (mostly) ups and downs of a relationship, this album makes no pretenses. It’s dark, depressed body of work about how damn hard it is to be in a relationship. Nicolay strips down his usual multi-layered production, to offer a perfect soundtrack for this sombre, sad album. They usual suspect, YahZarah, Darien Brockinton together with Jesse Boykins III and Median offer Phonte a helping hand. Overall, this a pretty good record.
Best Tracks: “All Roads”, “Make me a fool”, “This City ain’t the same without you”
Kno – “Death is Silent”
Kno is one of the best producers in Hip Hop right now, I mean the beats he crafted for CunninLynguist are pure genius but, he’s not really a capable MC. I approached this album with mild skepticism, there was no way he was going to be able to pull of a solo album when he’s can’t rap that well or at least that’s what I thought. But boy did this album blow me away!
The production is impeccable, he couldn’t produce a better album even if he tried. From tastefully employing vocal samples as choruses on most tracks, to the haunting guitar riffs and the subtle samples that fit well with the album solemn theme (about death, obviously) everything just fits well. Guest appearances from the usual QN5 collaborators are on point, it’s like he knew that he lacked prowess on the mic so he bought along his technically gifted MC friends to make up for it. Smart move! Definitely one of the best albums to be released this year.
Best tracks: “Rhythm of the rain”, “I wish I was dead” “Le pertite Mort(come die with me)”
YahZarah – “The Ballad of Purple Saint James”
When last did you hear honesty, intimacy, heartbreak in an R n B album? It’s been a while huh?!? ‘Cause nowadays R n B is littered with failed attempts at creating another 12 play and nobody wants to be innovative anymore but I digress.
What makes this album refreshing is it’s sincerity. YahZarah’s willingness to sing about personal and intimate things is this album strong point. And vocally, she’s unfuckwithable, the raw emotions she channels through her voice on the ballad “Last to leave” transcends the physical realms and has the ability to take you to places you didn’t think existed. The funk/Soul inspired poppy tracks are smooth like butter and the ballads are touching. An album way ahead of it’s time.
Best Tracks: “Why dontcha call me no more”, “The Lie”, “Have a heart”
Kanye West – “My Beautiful Dark twisted Fantasy”
Having thrown himself under the bus with the stunt he pulled last year at the MTV VMA awards, Kanye West retreated to Hawaii, called in legendary rap producers like Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Q-Tip and created probably the most overrated album of all time (OF ALL TIME!!). But honestly though, I can’t find fault in this album. The Prog-rock sampling, the numerous guest appearances, the surprisingly brilliant verse from Nicki Minaj, the guest appearances that pop out of nowhere, the long posse cuts, the Chris Rock outro skit on “Blame Game”, Gil Scott-Heron poem on “Who will make it in America and etcetera. Everything on MBDTF works. Not as good as everyone says it is, but good nonetheless.
Best Tracks: “Runaway”, “Monster”, “Power”, “Blame game”
Roc Marciano – “Marcberg”
You will never hear an album like this one; unconventional song structure, witty rhymes, minimalistic, gritty instrumentals that accentuates the MC’s complex flow patterns and somewhat unconventional flow. With only one guest appearance, Roc Marcy shines on an album that he entirely produced. Saying this album is futuristic would be an understatement.
Best tracks: “Raw deal”, “Thug’s Prayer”, “Pop”
Panacea – “12 Step Program”
Panacea have managed to create four consecutive great albums, each sounding different from the previous but still keeping that sound that’s theirs and theirs alone. They manage to produce their best work on this, their fifth album. The album’s theme: celebrating life and a look at mankind’s soul, each track represent a step/ lesson learned. The chick from “Midnight Marauders” introduces each step.
K-Murdock’s production is laid back and on point, accentuating Raw Poetic’s introspective rhymes. Raw Poetic rides every synth heavy beat K-Murdock throws at him. The album tracks blend together so effortlessly that you would be forgiven for thinking that you’re listening to one long track instead of an actual album. I could go on about how awesome this album is but I won’t. This is another classic from one of the most overlooked group in Hip Hop right now.
Best tracks: “Sync-in city”, “Black Coffee”, “Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, “Immortal”
Janelle Monae – “The ArchAndroid (suites II & III)”
This album is too. Fucking. Awesome. More awesome than it has any right to. the best shit I’ve listened to in years, literally. A pseudo-concept album set in a city called Metropolis about an android named Cindy Mayweather who came to save the other Androids from oppression. She uses this story to touch on themes such as freedom, liberation etc. Even if you don’t quite buy the concept, her strong performances on the numerous genres that she successfully tackles will instantly win you over. Without any warning she switches genres, does a hip hop track then a dance track, then a jazz track, then an 80’s Pop track, then an Opera track and she navigates through them so effortlessly you can’t help but be in awe at her talent. This album is way ahead of it’s time. Janelle Monae is very talented and she has a bright future ahead of her.
Best Tracks: “Cold War”, “Come Alive (War of the roses)”, “Neon Valley Street”, “Faster”, “Tightrope”
Also see: Favourite albums 2009