Saturday, January 23, 2010

TML Radio, Vol. 4

So we disappeared last week to handle some business but it's official, TML Radio is now back on the air! Check us out every Saturday from 2 - 4 at Of course we will still be posting the podcast of the show here as well. Thanks for riding with us and stay tuned for more tunes and a continued exploration of sounds to be found out there!

TML Radio, Vol. 4 (1.23.10)
Unreleased Beats
BlackStar & The Roots "History (LIve on JImmy Kimmel)"
Pharohe Monch "Track 5"
Pharohe Monch "Track 9"
Nippsy Hussle "Hussle In the house"
Mashhall "Serve You"
Teddy Pendergrass "Love T.K.O."
Dilated Peoples "Worst Comes To Worst"
Grieves ft. P Smoov "Capitol Hil Girls"
Rik Rude & OC Notes "Afro Egypt"
Wyclef Jean "Wish You Were Here"
Jay-Z "Thank You"
Kool Keith "California Fly"
Beastie Boys "B For My Name"
Beastie Boys "14th St. Break"
BEastie Boys "Suco De Tangrina"
Champagne Champagne & Thee Satisfaction "Magnetic Blackness"
Nas & Quan "Just A Moment"
Lewd "American Wino"
Lwed "Justice/Liberty"
Flobots "Never Had It"
Linda Jones "Hypnotize"
Linda Jones "I Can't Stop Lovin' My Baby"
Linda Jones "Give My Love A Try"
Sly, Slick & Wicked "You Gotta Funkafize"
Desdamona "The Source"
Malcom Kipe "Love Story"
Malcom Kipe "Mans Venta"
Pharcyde "Passin Me By"
Presto "Searchin"
Arthuer Verocai "Pelos Sambras"
Arthuer Verocai "Na Boca Do Sol"
Nicolay "I Am The Man"
Joy Orbison "Brklyn Clln (Michna Remix)"

Download it here!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Q & A With Ripynt

North end representer Ripynt has been steadily building a name for himself with a reputation for energetic live performances and two well received releases in '09. In March he dropped RIP: Re-Inventing Poetics, an honest effort sharing some very personal stories, celebrating the good times in life and of course some typical rap braggadocio.

Ripynt is an impressive emcee and it's not hard to hear his natural skill and what got him his name. But beyond the raw energy and flow that he posses he has some demons to get out and he shows no shame in expressing his ups and downs. This kind of honesty is something rap used to be lauded for.

Next Wednesday, the 27th, you can catch Ripynt along with Fatal Lucciauno, Gran Rapids, Notion & DJ Swervewon at the High Dive. I caught up with Rip this week to get some back story and see what we can expect in the future.

TML: Who are you? Where are you from? When did you decide you wanted to be an emcee?
Ripynt: My name is Cory Tate, Ripynt, Rip, Rippin It. Take your pick. I'm from Everett born and raised. And I've been writing for about 15 years now, but have seriously been involved in the scene for about 5 years. I've wanted to do this since the day I wrote my first rhyme. Just never thought it could happen till I heard myself recorded.

TML: You work with a producer named Aether, is this the same Aether who dropped the album Artifacts in '08? How did you two connect?
Actually, no. Aether is my younger brother. I actually haven't heard of another Aether until now. My brother has been making music with me almost as long as I've been recording. He started producing for me when he was about 12 or 13. He's 20 now. Very talented.

TML: Were you in the lab w/ Bean & Sinic for recording or were you writing to beats and then going in to lay down verses?

Sinic is and has been my right hand guy for a long time. I did write quite a bit of RIP with him while he would present me with beats. But he's also my engineer. So every song I've ever done, except 1 or 2 have been with him either behind the boards or present in the room. With Bean it was pretty much just me purchasing beats and writing to them. I'm not sure I've even had the chance to give him the album. Matter of fact...I don't think he's heard the songs I did. Hopefully soon and hopefully he thinks they're dope. Lol. I probably shoulda been on that.

TML: How long was this record in the making?
About 4 years total. I dropped an album I didn't push very had in 05. It was horrible quality and just wasn't a good representation of what I was doing. I started working on RIP right away. It was really over '07, '08 that the album started to form, well, an album. Until then it was just me writing songs. My wife and I split, I lived out of a car, and it was at that time when I started going in a particular direction. Especially when I recorded "Scarecrow". That's when I knew where I was going.

TML: How is your relationship w/ your family today? Are your son's listening to your album?
Me and wifey reconciled for a while. But things still weren't working, and I honestly haven't been a very good husband. We're split again, but it's on MUCH better terms. We see each other all the time, and we talk everyday. I see my kids as often as possible. They do occasionally listen to daddy... but it's usually when daddy listens to himself. Christian, my oldest, just loves to hear himself at the beginning of the album. He's just like his dad. Lol.

TML: You worked with MTK who, with as much work as he has done, seems to be a little slept on by Seattle emcees. How did you develop that relationship and what was it like working with him?
I actually went to Big Tune in '07 and heard him wreck shop there. I got a hold of him and told him I was interested in some beats and what not. I think it was a good fit because we're both Northend/Everett guys. There's a level of respect there because we're two of the only guys from there really making waves. Him more so than me but I'm catching up. The dude is just a filthy producer and a genuine guy. You can expect to hear Ripynt over more MTK beats in the future.

TML: Can you talk about the approach to the A Mid Summers Day Drive EP?
Sinic made a beat with the intention of getting 3 MC's on it, and then taking it to Undercaste to finish up mixing on it. He got me, of course, Neema and Speedy, and then has Latin Rose come in for the hook. The song became "What Im Going Through". I thought the idea of taking the song as a jump off point and forming an EP would be a dope idea. Every rapper and their mom were doing free EP's at the time and I just thought it was a good idea. So we came up with the summertime theme and just tried to structure an EP that would sound good on a nice Summer day drive. We cranked it out in about 3 months time, did nearly all the mixing at Undercaste, and put it out. I'm actually really proud of that EP.

TML: Are you working on new material now?

Yeah. Kinda. The cats been let out of the bag recently but Notion, Know Choice, and myself along with Shast on production have began talks for a group project. And I'm going back in the studio on Feb 1st, but I don't have any plans of dropping any new solo material anytime this year. I'm really focused on getting out of town to promote RIP better then I have been, and really trying to get that album poppin' more than it is now. But the artist in me stays itching his veins to get in the studio, so I can't stay gone too long.

TML: You work in a pawn shop, what's the strangest thing someone has brought in to try and pawn? What's the most expensive thing you've seen come?

Jesus. Pawn Star has really fucked my life up. Lol. I'm joking of course, but it isn't like it is on that show. I really see pretty normal shit. We actually accept cars in loan. Sometimes weird things come in like power scooters that make you wonder what the elderly person who was riding it is doing for transportation. But other than that, it's really not as interesting of a job as people think. But
shouts to my bosses for writing them checks. Lol.

TML: What do you look for when choosing a beat?
Depends on my mood. I feel like I'm pretty versatile in what I can do so I'm pretty open minded. I like everything from nice simple sample beats that allow the MC to do what he does, to them big, epic bangers that challenge the MC to do something unexpected and hard. I like shit with a melody. Beats that form a song, not just a rhythm to spit a 16 over. Live instruments are never a negative. I just like music. A beat that inspires me whether it be hyphy, conscious, street, political or otherwise is a beat I want to rap to.

TML: Does the music usually inspire the rhymes or vice versa? Both?

Both. Sometimes I have an idea already I need to find a beat to. More often though it's the beat that speaks first.

TML: What is in your iPod, car deck, etc?
Well, I just got an iPhone so I've stocked it up with about 1600 songs ranging from Aesop Rock to Young Buck to Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. Like I said...I love music.

TML: What is your favorite Hip hop album?
It's a toss up between Nas It Was Written ("I Gave You Power" is my favorite hip hop song of all time), Eminem Marshal Mathers LP, and Ripynt RIP: Re-Inventing Poetics available at all your fine online retailers (haha).

Download A Midsummer's Day Drive EP to shake of those winter blues here; Cop RIP: Re-Inventing Poetics here or get yo ass to the High Dive next Wednesday, the 27th, and watch a dope show from just a sliver of Seattle's great talent. Something tells me Ripynt will have CD's for sale, maybe if you're nice he'll sign it for you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nosaj Thing "Remixes EP"

Nosaj Thing had a big year in 2009. We're not even 2 weeks into 2010 and he already has remixes floating around the net. First he tried his hand on the monster rap cut "Forever." While the original was little more than publicity for Drake, Nosaj Thing's minimal beat compliments the vocals on the hook far better than the original. Add to this a consistent thumping bass kick and, in typical Thing fashion, some spacey synths you can't help but vibe with. His beat is like a contradiction to the verses yet they all sound fresh and when Em comes in for his stellar verse you will probably be asking yourself if this LA kid can get on Relapse 2. Yeah.

The XX had a lot of hype surrounding their debut release and their age. I downloaded the album and struggled to finish it. Don't see it, but that's ok I haven't been on some rock type ish since Kid Rock & Limp Bizkit - obviously I'm not the person to ask when it comes to what classifies good rock. Nosaj gives "Islands" more of his clicky computer driven magic but also takes a song that was relatively up beat and turns it into a creepy journey. Gone is the guitar melody (which I will say is quite catchy) but he adds awesome piano like flourishes to the background along with some nice vocal chops that provide a great breakdown before the end of the song.

The final remix he has dropped upon us is from Charlotte Gainsbourg. I'm not remotely familiar with her music but this song tells me she has a decent voice. Nosaj Thing gives us his most up beat tune with this one. Filled with off kilter synth stabs that feel like how Dilla did his drums and Nosaj's trademark hollow kicks, Charlotte's ghostly vocals fill up the space left vacant by the beat and beg you to listen oh so close.

If you haven't copped Drift I recommend you check it out, it's a journey through another facet of the LA beat scene that is so on point right now. If you are someone who thinks rap and/or Hip Hop are dead right now it's certainly worth your time to check this stuff out. For me it represents Hip Hop production for the modern age.

Download the Nosaj Thing Remixes EP.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

TML Radio Vol. 3

A day late and too many dollars short to count - that's the cost when you are sick I suppose. While I didn't take full advantage or my time laid up to dig through the hard drive I still found some gems to bless y'all with this week! As always, thanks for riding with us and drop me a line if you would like to hear something in the mix.

TML Radio 1.9.10
The Last Electro Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble "Cold Nights & Rainy Days"
Burial "Archangel" (Phaseone Remix)
They Live! ft. Thee Satisfaction "Get Your Ass To Mars
Goodie Mob "Cell Therapy"
FlyAmSam "Princess Toadstool"
Freddie Gibbs "Crushin Feelins"
Oddisee "We On To Something"
Kida "10 Rap Commandments (R.I.P. BIG)"
FlyAmSam "Speak To Robots"
BlakRoc ft. Nicole Wray "Why Can't I Forget Him"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Buffalo Madonna & Champagne Champagne "Kings"
Adam F & Horx ft. Redman "Shut The Lights Off (Remix)"
Outasight "Everyone Gets Laid"
Stik Figa & D/Will "Starched Dickies"
Ka$h ft. Streetz & Young Deuces "Ice Cold"
Dorian Concept "Her Marshmellow Secret"

TML Radio 1.9.10

Watch out for a post revealing details about the reappearance of The Musik Lounge on the airwaves soon!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

December Heatrocks

“It’s Music, its spirituality; they’re really one and the same to me.”
-Alice Coltrane
In a discussion about rap it was repeated to me that the art form was dead. It's a cop out that has been floating since before Nas decided to decry it with his Def Jam debut but it begs the question what defines the death of an art form? Nas didn't have the answer and neither do I. I do have some hot tracks for you that caught my ear in December. Surprisingly just as the year was coming to a close I was still finding some fresh rap and routinely disproving my own criticisms of the years Hip Hop offerings.

The first three tracks here fall into that category. Aarophat & Illustrate have been making noise for years and uniting as Black Noise sounds great. Hip Hop that is jazzy and smoothed out but still thumps. The Dynas come through for a guest verse and it sounds like they have been riding together from day one. Chops grabs an old a cappella from the Drake and Nickelus F sessions and turns “Look At The Ice” into a party anthem. The screaming repetition on the hook and Chops celebratory beat reel you and then Drake's pre Wayne tainted flow closes the deal.

The Internet has provided any number of regional artists the opportunity to spread their brand. Generally it doesn't mean much other than (if you are lucky) a few thousand extra downloads. I'm a sucker for a great cover, name or concept and C.B.News had the former with a solid line of guests and an introspective title. Nothing more than your typical emcee from any borough is pretty much what he amounts too yet the tape isn't without some stellar moments. Skyzoo holds down a verse and Infinite Tracks laces the beat that starts with a haunting piano melody before the drums drop and News deep voice has you feeling like you are running away from hell.

And as if to emerge from the darkness the following track comes courtesy of Pinch from his 07 release Underwater Dancehall. “Angels in the Rain” is a serene and passive piece of mellow dubstep work that shows how versatile the “genre” is and how far across the spectrum a producer can take his tunes. Capturing Indi Kaur's vocals behind what I can only describe as a waterfall adds a mystical quality to this track that is certainly one of the most melodic and trance inducing pieces of music I've heard all year.

Of course I love my Jet Set Hip Hop and the track of the moment has been and remains to be in my mind “Icing” from the lovely ladies in Thee Satisfaction and Mr. OC Notes. Words don't do this less than 2 minute jam justice but from OC's beat that features a great piano (sample?) chord with some grimy and gritty drums and the voices of all involved. This is beautiful music.

Rakim dropped a pile of mediocrity in The Seventh Seal which shouldn't be surprising but is none the less a disappointment. The man is doing exactly what he wants with his music though and that is admirable. If you want a good review of the album check this. The track that I couldn't escape from the album was “Put It All To Music” which could easily be the soundtrack to my life as I can't go more than a few hours without some sounds in my ears. Rakim crafts an upbeat song all about they joys of having music in your life. Music lovers across the board should be able to relate to this.

Nacho Patrol dropped a 12” towards the end of last year that caught a little bit of attention but was underwhelming. “Mind World” was one of the four songs contained on the single and from the opening creepy sounds you know something special is about to happen. Sounding like it's straight out of the Fela! soundtrack and by the man himself is only half the achievement. Put this on and vibe out.

Mazarati is a group Dam Funk hipped me too and I'm glad he did. Thank you Mr. Funk for once again shedding the light on some much deserving baby making music. Sometimes the slow jams are fitting and “I Guess It's All Over” shows the band crafting a melancholy melody capturing the mood of lost love perfectly. Music to feel.

Wu-Tang off shoot Think Differently dropped the second compilation in their Wu meets Indie series and this time they prove to be ahead of the curve lacing a number of Wu bangers with beats from some of the hottest Dubstep and electronic producers doing it right now. Scuba Synthe utilizes the pain and anger in the vocals of Bronze Nazareth, Solomon Childs & Byata with a slow and hollow beat with almost bassless drums that carry no reverb that accentuates the seriousness of “Street Corners” - espeically on the closing verse from Byata when she opens chillingly spitting “The first seed of a dope fiend she ADD/Needle park offspring bourgeoisie wannabe/While her siblings is rich living she ain't bitching/Mamas working 2 jobs trying to maintain a living.”

Can't get to depressing around here though! DJ Shadow dropped this little mash up some time in his life span as a musician and it has just recently entered my frame of reference. Taking a great funk instrumental (Let's take bets – is this a Shadow beat or one of those rare 45s he is famous for?) and placing Tears 4 Fears “Shout” a cappella behind it. If this doesn't put a smile on your face and a swing in your step you might have no pulse. I think this is about to be my new early morning rising jam.

I always loved me some Blueprint and like many I've been curious where he has been (aside from that Greenhouse joint he and Illogic just dropped – You up on that? Cop it here) and I must not have been the only one. From BK-One's stellar Radio Do Canibal project “Blue Balls” is Print at his storytelling best relaying the ills of sampling and the fears the courts have instilled in our artists. He also addresses the oft forgotten fact that “What you think is great/I think is just alright/And what I think is great you might think ain't tight/It's just music man/Ain't no right or wrong/No formula can teach people how to write a song/No guarantee that the people gonna like a song.” Real talk that might save a lot of your so called artists some trouble.

Mr. FileJerk Astronomar hipped me to BC dubsteppers Excision and Datsik but it wasn't until I heard Darwin drop it at the Cudi show that it really hit me just how heavy it is. The shit knocks and if an emcee were to ever attempt to fuck with it and succeed? DAMN. But as it is the instrumental is a beast. With grimey, mechanical like synths, drums and so much BAAAASSSSSSS not even Uncle Luke would know what to do “Swagga” is the hardest thing out right now.

Dizzee Rascal continues to grow on me exponential. After learning the back story to his most recent album I gained a lot of respect for the dude and the fact of the matter is he makes some great music. The grime isn't as prevalent on Tongue N Cheek, in fact my selection “Chillin Wiv Da Man Dem” sounds like it could be a vintage Pete Rock beat and Diz takes the opportunity to relay the joys of just kicking it with your boys.

Guido just appeared out of nowhere to me having seen his name associated with Joker over at RA but never hearing anything from the man I just wrote him off. Damn what a mistake that was. This guy isn't on Joker's wavelength. He is in his own fucking dimension. Crafting what I could only dub Sythensizer Blues music for the next generation “Beautiful Complication” with Aarya is that crack you need in your life.

Rappers rarely impress on stage. I'm not trying to sound jaded, but after you've seen a fair few perform it all starts to seem the same. This is one of the many reasons the Hip Hop in Seattle is on and cracking: Live Performance. The live performance is what got me talking about Stevie Crooks. This dude blew my mind at Vera in the last year. Coming out on stage in a ski mask this tall and lanky dude emerges just spewing bars at the crowd. It was one of those moments when you know that rap is the shit you need and love. After a stellar set I had to have some music to bump. It took a bit but I found his free tape and the shit is just as fresh as his set and the bars are still in tact. Grabbing Ahmad & Jamal's “Back In The Days” beat Mr. Crooks handles it with ease and makes me think about being a kid again.

Sooner or later I'm gonna get to listening to this Lovage album I found forever ago. You'd think that after finding such a beautiful track like “Stroker Ace” I'd be all over the rest of it but I'm not. I can't escape “Ace.” It's haunting in all the right ways. With the trade mark trip hop drums and stellar vocals along with an assortment of samples and instrumentation it's something I'm glad I've heard.

Speaking of Astronomar earlier, how about his own jam “Rock The Boogie”? This shit is bananas! Chopping MJ to perfection and killing the beat with change ups and awesome drums throughout, I can't wait to hear this get a spin in a club. I see it doing nothing but make the roof blow off that motherfucker! Get your dance on.

Before things get too hot thanks to Mar, let's slow it down with Platnum. I know next to nothing but she is on Sonar Kollectiv the ever inventive German label that dropped A Christmas Selection this past holiday season and with my mission to establish a solid collection of good Christmas music I had to check it. “Drink My Wine” is beauty like an old painting. Or a vintage dress. Or a dusty Al Green record. You can hear the dubbed in dust lightly in the background of the song yet I'm not even mad. It only helps create the atmosphere for her low voice to pierce your consciousness and make you care. Heavy but oh so necessary.

And to keep it in the mellow mood how about them They Live cats? That They LA Soul getting bumped in your whip? I need to burn a copy for the ride. But you can rest assured it's working it's way up the play count list in the iTunes. “They Live, They Love, They Leave” caught me with the sample but then as it continues on you discover so much more to it. From Infamous Cool Kid's over dubbing vocals in the background to Gatsby's super laid back first verse, I love this song. You will too. Get They LA Soul.

The closing track to this months heatrocks comes from Grizzly Bear/Neon Indian. Neon Indian had an album, Psychic Chasms, in 09 that was worth the price of admission. Sadly I chose to neglect the genius, missing him while in town. Grizzly Bear I know nothing about (other than that video of Jay-Z watching them) but I've seen them on some year end lists and they are on Warp, may be worth a listen. Any voices one way or another for them? Either way this Neon Indian remix of “Cheerleader” is fucking brilliant. Reminding me of all the things that made Dam Funk's Animal Collective “Summertime Clothes” remix special and adding some heavy synth change ups make this more head noddable and club friendly. Both pluses in my book!

Thanks for riding with me for another month. I'm excited for 2010, having a job is a big ego boost and having a team around you that is always busy and pushing you forward is a great feeling. I look forward to this year being better than the last. See you next month.

Get them heatrocks

Saturday, January 2, 2010

TML Radio, 2010

Had to ghost out to Oregon for a bit to see the fam during the holidays but I'm back at it this week with some tracks for y'all to vibe with. BA Baracus couldn't be here due to some family business but he will be back in due time. Until then enjoy the first TML Radio of 2010 - there will be lots more to come!

TML Radio 1.2.10 Tracklist

Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls "Rainy Day Dog"
People Under The Stairs "Acid Raindrops"
Georgia Anne Muldrow "Fonky Day"
Benguin "Cosmic Lust"
They Live "They Live They Love They Leave"
KRS-One & Buckshot ft. Talib Kweli & Geologic "Oh Really (Remix)"
G-Side "In The Rain"
Georgia Anne Muldrow "Roses"
Computer Juice "Computer Juice"
Dyme Def "Movin' Higher"
Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls "She's My Melody"
Jay Electronica "Exhibit C"
Horseshoe Gang "Deadbeat West"
Mr. Chop "T.R.O.Y."
Wiz Khalifa "Sky High"
Joe Chambers "Mind Rain"

Download Here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Top of 2010, Best of 2009

I've never been very good at these lists but i decided I had to do one for 2009 as there was a lot of great music and I can't seem to remember almost any of it. The ones i did remember, and returned to, are presented here. I'm not doing these in any particular order nor am I worried about genre, medium, format, etc. These were simply the best new pieces of music I could remember making an impression on me during the last 12 months. Things are always forgotten and as is always the flaw in these things, the selections are weighted towards the second half of the year. Oh well, enjoy and hopefully you discover something new!

First up is the one and only ambassador of Funk. Dam brought back an era that has long been forgotten about and the butt to many jokes. Showing me that I have long been mistaken to think the 80s had nothing to offer, the Toeachizown EPs showed me how to boogie and proved that sometimes happy music is better. While the double disc CD offering is massive, the real heads need to wait just a couple more days until Stones Throw has the vinyl box set ready - you know you want to hold out for those 5 tracks not found on the CD!

Subject to just a little bit of praise from myself and about every other 206 area blogger, P Smoov & Rik Rude delivered the best local release of the year and built their rep on strong shows and good crowds. With the release of 2 videos and a couple throw away tunes after the disc dropped in July, the year belonged to the OFS team here in Seattle and only begs the question what will 2010 yield? Greatness!

If there was one label I routinely checked for this year in terms of singles it was Hyperdub. In fact they may just be the only label that releases 12's to as much excitement as albums. This year saw them celebrate 5 years of activity and great music! The retrospective compilation was pristine with it's one solid disc of material we know and love and one disc of brand new material from the artists who've made the label and a couple who look to be the future.

As a bonus, this is probably my favorite song of the year, a b-side tune from the Joker "Digidesign" 12 inch.

Meth & Red are one of the illest duos to ever team up for an album and in 2009 they decided to go for it once again as a team. Thankfully the results were stellar as this album was one of the smokiest of the year. With killer beats and key guest emcees these two proved everyone wrong by dropping one of the most fun Hip Hop albums the game has seen in a minute. If you didn't bump this one over the summer you must of been sleeping!

Speaking of smokey albums, how could you not be up on this? Young Wizzy dropped this tape in early 09 and it has by far received more replay than anything else this year. I just keep going back to it. Filled with banging beats and Wiz's tradmark sing song flow matched with his clever lines and moments of reflection, Flight School is his most well rounded and best effort to date. Taylor Gang!

Another one from early in the year, Y-O & Thurz along with producer Ro. Blvd killed it with this free internet album. Total quality here, if labels were working on making music like this to charge fifteen bucks for the industry might still be hopeful. But instead they utilized the internet and I think it's worked just fine for them what with joining Warren G on the road toward the end of the year and getting ready to release A Love Supreme as a commercial product. They can't be stopped!

While dubstep and other forms of electronic music took over my ears in 2009 it was this unsuspecting album by Silkie that really took me by surprise. While he shares elements with the best of his peers (Joker's "Purple" synths & Burials detached euphoria) City Limits Vol. 1 speaks to it's own kind of city living sonic atmosphere. The bass is a given as are the synths that will rock the clubs but in between those surges of pulsating electronic noise is life. If atmospherics are interesting you in music in 2010, watch for this man. Get this album.

Another album that is about atmosphere. I know almost nothing about Annu, which I hope to change in the coming weeks - be on the look out for an interview with the man, but I do know that Def Vibrations may well be the best 5 dollars you spend today if you chose to spend it buying his album. Sounding like Flying Lotus taking all the electronic beeps and squeaks out there and lacing a layer of fog over it before flushing it all with monstrous drums and Hudson Mohawke like vocal bits chopped to death. That starts to capture the magic that is Def Vibrations. Writing about it now I'm glad I decided it was worthy of inclusion here as I can't think of one other thing I heard this year that excited me so.

I didn't even listen to this album all that much. But it's great. Brother Ali is just that good. You can hear him once and know that you are listening to the second coming. The man toured with Rakim for a reason. If there was an emcee to pass the torch too, Ali would be him. A tremendous emcee with flow, lyrical content, hope and enough swagger he doesn't even need to bother. Us is filled with beautiful Ant production that feels like it's been touched by live instrumentation and the words carry with them the weight of Ali's voice, a voice that is heavy and heartfelt. If there ever was a rapper that spit with the soul that Aretha sang with, it would probably be the albino brother from Minneapolis.

It's been talked about to death. It's been hailed by the bloggerati as the best. And here it is on my list too. This isn't to jump on the bandwagon. It's not because I'm looking for a return to the early 90s era rap. I am looking for good rap and this is that as I know it. The music is changing a lot and it is certainly not the prominent art form it once was but that shouldn't mean that we can't have our Rolling Stones and Motley Crue's work the circuit. Raekwon is of an era that is no more but he still knows how to do what they did best back then and while it took him 14 years to see it, that is what we all want from the man. Them crack den raps. I touched on this album when it dropped and while I haven't gone back to it since I'm sure when I do I won't be thinking how wack Raekwon came in the two double 0 nine.