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.

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