Pipo's Headphones (Album Recommendations)
This post is long overdue. I've been really enjoying some newer music releases and have been meaning to post about it in case some of you have been feigning for fresh, quality music. Below is a breakdown of some albums that have been in heavy rotation in my headphones. Feel free to provide recommendations in the comment section because I'm always looking for music that I've slept on. Bottom line, there is a lot of quality music being released. Those who complain about the decline of hip hop or music in general, simply aren't looking hard enough. Recommonded albums after the jump.
Russian Roulette - Alchemist
In my opinion, this is far and away Alchemist's best work. I'm not sure what is more impressive about the album; the beats, the rhymes, or the mixing/sequencing that allows the album to play seamlessly. If any big name producer consulted me on how to make a production oriented album, my advice would be to do what Alchemist did with Russian Roulette. I hate to compare this album to Donuts, but I think the reaction of most listeners upon first listening to this masterpiece will be that Russian Roulette is Alchemist's version of a beat tape incorporating all Russian based samples (which comes off sounding very Donut'esque).
Brown Tape: 12 Reasons to Die - Apollo Brown and Ghostface Killah
I absolutely love the original version produced by Adrian Younge, but I love Apollo Brown's remix version more. The Brown version is a little grimier and less polished than the original. For those reasons, I think the deejay in me has me continually gravitating back to the remix album as opposed to the original. I am actually not as big a fan of Apollo Brown's production as I think many of you are (despite the fact that I absolutely love how he still uses Cool Edit), but I think this album is his best production work. I highly recommend both versions of the album if you haven't bought them already.
Adrian Younge Presents...The Delfonics
The production is grimy, yet clean. William Hart's falsetto voice sounds a little aged, but yet absolutely perfect over Younge's production. It's the imperfections of this album (analog recording, Hart's aged falsetto voice, etc.) that make this album absolutely perfect.
Something About April - Adrian Younge
Yes, I've become quite the Adrian Younge fan boy the last few months. Though the Ghostface and Delfonics albums have received the most attention, I actually think his best work is the less heralded Something About April LP. It's not an accident that the album has already been heavily sampled by Timbaland for Jay-Z's latest album. The album is essentially a goldmine of drum breaks and melodies begging to be sampled. It should come as no surprise that such an album was made by a musician who is an MPC head at heart. DO NOT SLEEP ON ADRIAN YOUNGE!
Magna Carta... Holy Grail - Jay-Z
Let the hate begin. I resent the fact that I feel guilty and dirty as I listen to this album over and over again. It's a shame that I feel better about myself when I'm watching a new episode of Real Housewives of _____ than I do when I'm listening to Jay-Z's latest. I've only owned the album a few weeks and I think I've listen to it all the way through a good two dozen times already. If you eliminate the Beyonce collaboration Part II track along with the horrific BBC joint featuring Nas, you've got what is IMO the best rap based hip hop album in recent memory. I'll take Hova's lyrics over the production used in songs like F.U.T.W., Somewhereinamerica, Versus, Jay Z Blue, and Picasso Baby; against just about anything. I think most of those criticizing this album fall into one of two camps. Camp 1 consists of those who will immediately dismiss any Jay-Z album that isn't Reasonable Doubt or Blueprint. Camp 2 consists of those who are more familiar with Jay-Z the pop culture figure than Jay-Z the rapper. I imagine the latter group of listeners had trouble reconciling Hov's braggadocio rhymes with the clean cut, media friendly, generally personable image that has been very carefully curated by Sean Carter. Personally, I think Magna Carta was able to pull off what Gang Starr recommended in the introduction of Moment of Truth, update the formula.