Instead of making a "Best Albums of 2014" list, I thought it would be a better idea to just give a short review of all of the albums that I purchased in 2014. In general, I have enjoyed just about every purchase from the last year. I don't think that should come as any surprise given the music purchase climate of the day. Since just about all music is easily accessible to the audience these days, we as consumers are able to heavily filter our music before taking the "plunge" and spending money on an album. A blind purchase of music is considered almost an absurdity in today's world. In fact, I imagine that any kind of music purchase is considered an absurdity by some. In any event, here's what made the cut for Pipo in 2014 (I'm almost positive I forgot a few albums BTW). Some were fairly impulsive purchases. Other purchases were more deliberative. And some purchases were made just to add to my ever growing collection of tapes in which I don't actually own a tape player in order to play these tapes. Reviews after the jump.
People Under the Stairs, 12 Step Program - Everything you'd expect from a PUTS album, solid production accompanied by rhymes that flow perfectly over the sample based beats. I haven't played the album in 3-4 months, but I don't regret the purchase.
Madlib, The Beats (Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton Soundtrack) - I used to criticize Madlib for releasing too much music in too short a period a time. Now, I just continue in my amazement of how much quantity and quality he produces and releases. Though I do think there was a period where Madlib was sacrificing quality control in his releases, his releases have all been exceptional since the inception of the Beat Konducta series several years ago. This album continues to be in heavy rotation.
Ras G; Beats of the Mind, Black Dusty Roads, Down to Earth Vol. 1&2, Raw Fruit Vol. 2&3, and El-Aylien - Frequent readers of the blog have probably picked-up on my Ras G fandom of late. I pretty much purchased the entire Ras G catalog this year (at least what I didn't previously own) because I was begining to work on a Ras G mix. The mix is currently on hold, but all his releases (especially Raw Fruit 3 and Down to Earth Vol. 2) continue to be in heavy rotation.
Earl Sweatshirt, Earl - I was very late on the Earl Sweatshirt bandwagon. Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm on the bandwagon, but I was impressed enough with what I heard to buy the album. Solid lyrics, solid production, but the album hasn't been in my headphones in 3-4 months. No regrets though.
Madlib, The Rock Konducta Part 2 - As with all the Beat/Rock Konducta albums, the music is excellent. The problem is that I only have so many hours (more like minutes) in the day where I can listen to music, so tough choices must be made when it comes to which Madlib albums I'm going to listen to. More often than not, I opt in favor of other more recent Madlib works such as The Beats or Pinata.
J. Rocc, Beats on Tap(e) - J. Rocc needs to be dealt with and recognized as a beat maker. His latest effort will be thoroughly enjoyed by those who opted more in favor of the downtempo tracks on his Some Cold Rock Stuff release. Only about a month old, but still in heavy rotation.
Oddisee, Tangible Dream - Oddisee has yet to disappoint as far as I'm concerned. Though this album is no longer in heavy rotation, it is only because it has been replaced by a more recent Oddisee effort (see below).
Diamond Distric; March on Washington, March on Washington Remix - Like a fool, I have ignored Diamond District's releases for far too long. Both the original and remix versions of the album are impeccable. Though I do favor the remix version slightly, I think that may have something to do with hearing the remix version of the LP first.
J Dilla, The King of Beats (SP-1200 Batches) - To be honest, I haven't really given too much of a listen to the music. The replica SP-1200 does look cool in my home studio though. Yes, it was a pricey purchase; but I have no regrets.
Dibia$e, Schematiks - The soundtrack to my summer right here. I'm a BIG fan of Dibia$e's work and this could be my personal favorite. Highly Recommended.
Apollo Brown, Thirty Eight - Excellent album and Brown's best work to date IMO. This album was playing in my headphones for 6 months straight.
PRyme (DJ Premier and Royce Da 5'9), PRyme - I guess it's a sign of the times that the incorporation of Adrian Younge's music was more of a selling point to me than DJ Premier and Royce Da 5'9. Whatever my motivation was for buying the album, I am not disappointed. The production for track 2, Dat Sound Good; sounds a little too Ownerz'esque in my opinion (and I mean that in the most critical of ways). That one subpar track aside, the rest of the album consists of Primo's best work in years. Kudos to Royce for riding each beat seamlessly. Highly Recommended.
Nottz, Natal Mortos: The Beat Tape - No purchase here. This beat "tape" was a free download provided by one of the best beat makers in the game. This is how a beat tape should be done, 11 quality tracks with a running time of 15 minutes. Attention beatmakers, I don't need to hear the same loop for 3-4 minutes! Play your loop, mix it up for 30-50 seconds, add a vocal chop here and there, and onto the next. While everybody is jizzing in their shorts over Black Messiah, it's the new Nottz beat tape that has me hooked.
Adrian Younge and Souls of Mischief, There is Only Now - Some may vehemently disagree with me, but I'll say it anyway: I would have been fine with just the instrumental version of this album.
D'Angelo and The Vanguard, Black Messiah - Is the album good? Yes. Is the album excellent? I think so. Is the album as wonderful as my twitter timeline would lead one to believe? I'm not so sure. It's not that I think the album is overrated. It's that I haven't had enough time to digest the album to really give a proper assessment. I encourage everybody to buy the album for themselves (because it is certainly worthy of a purchase) and formulate their own opinions. I will say this though, I have four fairly recent purchases; PRyme, March on Washinton, Beats on Tap(e), and Black Messiah. For the last three days, I feel like I've been forcing myself to listen to Black Messiah even though I keep wanting to listen to the others.
Other albums I was meaning to buy, but for one reason or the other I have yet to purchase:
Black Milk, If There's a Hell Below; Danny Brown, Hot Soup; K-Def and 45 King, Back to the Beat; Supa Dave West, Beat Boxing; The 1978ers, People of Today; Flying Lotus, Pattern Grid World; Heliocentrics and Melvin Van Peebles, The Last Transmission.
Adrian Younge Boiler Room New York DJ Set by brtvofficial
Highly Recommended. Audio can be found HERE.
As part of Boiler Room's PRhyme broadcast in New York, Adrian Younge - a third of the group alongside hip-hop heavyweights DJ Premier and Royce da 5'9" - kicked things off with a masterclass in breaks, breaks, breaks. Exclusive Premier breaks, original breaks from classic-era hip-hop history, breaks from Younge's personal catalogue used on the PRhyme project; we had it all. Anyone care to play guess the sample?
“It’s not what I’m used to doing; I wanted to do the album my regular way,” Premier explains, while acknowledging that the painstaking and costly process of clearing samples would never keep him from his preferred method of beatmaking. “A horn from one record, a ‘yeah’ from another record, a loop from another; my traditional style. It took a little pushing. But Royce was really into Adrian’s music, and what sold me on the idea was a conversation. Adrian and I clicked on our understanding of music. He explained to me why he does the sound that he does. He said he’s only into the years 1968-73, because it seemed like those are the years hip-hop grabs on to to really make the funky beats that we make. From there he gave me his catalog, and I just started picking around.”
Read the full article HERE.