Kudos to you if you clicked on this one! I know a bunch of you are dyed in the wool rawkers, so the hip hop may not do much for you. But I’ve got a real melting pot going on around here, and rap is just another of the components of my complete breakfast, so for me a post like this ain’t much of a surprise.
I know what I like when I hear it, and I was idling wondering if I could make a Top Ten artists list. Sure I can!
Now, I know that these are tricky waters. Some will say “where is Public Enemy, or Run-DMC, or Grandmaster Flash…” or any of the other classics. Or there’ll be newer artists or whole genres of hip hop I’ve skipped, etc etc. Well, those are surely great too. But this is my list of what I would choose to put on, when the mood moves me. Many were considered. And so it goes.
Alright, here we go:
1 The Roots
2 Wu-Tang Clan
3 Beastie Boys
4 Jurassic 5
5 A Tribe Called Quest
8 Mos Def
10 Notorious B.I.G
11 Honourable mention goes to: Eminem*
12 The artist I most need to get to (but haven’t yet): Talib Kweli**
13 The new artist I most want to try: Kendrick Lamar***
14 The one I should probably include but I just don’t feel it when I hear him: Jay-Z****
* Eminem has a lot to say, and he pulls no punches. But I can’t do his anger all the time, so he doesn’t hit my 10 list because sometimes he just makes me tired.
**And by extension, since I’ve already included Mos Def, I should also get to Black Star.
*** I have no idea if this is a wise decision, his is just a name that keeps coming up.
**** This is probably an unpopular choice, but so what. I don’t dig Jay-Z enough. Go make your own list.
Based on that Top Ten list, you can tell I like it when rappers have something to say, and I like it jazzier and with a sense of fun. I don’t have any time for violence for the sake of violence, which is why 2Pac and Biggie sit at the bottom of the list – only about half of their stuff is brilliant for me. I also have zero time for a lot of the empty, plastic, boastful rap that seems to be popular ad nauseum.
What are your faves? Do you agree with this list? Disagree? Are you ambivalent?
My list is a total sausagefest, so if anybody can recommend any great lady rappers that might fit my likes, drop a comment!
Do you have suggestions for any other acts I need to check out? Let me know!
During our trip to Toronto in June, our hotel was quite close to Yonge and Dundas, so I had occasion to pop into the big HMV at 333 Yonge, just to see what the corporate whores are up to… and wouldn’t you know it? I found some deals!
This one I got for $10.00. I’d been looking for a decent used copy (and had been unsuccessful), but reasoned that even if I did find one, it’d probably be $8.99 or $9.99 anyway, so $10 brand new was alright by me!
It’s also worth noting, here, that even though I own all their studio albums, this is the first review I’ve ever done of their stuff. I was going to do a series of their records, but I am, by no means, an expert on this group. I have their albums, and even a couple of the side projects, and I enjoy playing all of what I have here. But a series would be a disservice, as my opinion will be (relatively) uninformed and from the gut. Hey, just like all of my posts! Nevermind a series, I’ll get to the others when I do. Let’s just give ‘er!
Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow
Well now. Wu-Tang in 2014. A full 7 years since their last record (8 Diagrams). They were absolutely not inactive during all of that time, with most of the members involved in all sorts of projects here there and everywhere. But a new Wu-Tang album is a big deal. Does this one live up to the hype?
Yes. Of course it does. This is the legendary Wu-Tang! Nobody does it like these guys. They have a sound, a style, a flow that nobody else can touch or emulate. They’re smooth and rough at the same time, and it may be a long way from the 36 Chambers, in some ways, but this is a very soulful, mature effort.
The RZA is still a beat scientist extraordinaire, the samples are sweet (even Son Of A Preacher Man!), and the raps are really great. It all just fits, like the best of Wu. They mix the hard they’ve perfected with some R&B soul singing. True, I could have done without the sap sections of Miracle, but I know this is all part of the stuff people want to hear. I liked the soul feel of Wu-Tang Reunion better, even though it’s totally cheesy too haha.
The singles were Keep Watch, Ron O’Neal, and Ruckus In B Minor. They’re all cool. Most of these could be singles and, who knows? Maybe they will be! It’s a true pleasure to roll this one top to bottom.
I read some bad reviews of it, and some that liked some of it but not the rest. Me, I liked (most of) it one helluva lot. If you dig Wu-Tang at all, you really can’t go wrong here. Get you some!
I got this for $5 at our crappy HMV, on the premise that since I love their first record (Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers), and I don’t currently own any more albums by them (I used to a long time ago, but sold them off for some dumb reason)… Anyway, I figured this might be a way to hear some stuff off their other records.
I can’t stop listening to this CD.
I love all the personalities, the different voices and approaches. The music is damn funky while simultaneously aggressive, a lithe jungle animal prowling around. The references and mythology to the old samurai and kung-fu movies please me greatly – I’m a huge fan of those old movies myself and have quite a large collection of them here at the house. I also really like that, for all their posturing and promising to kick my ass, many of their songs are intelligently written and conceived and actually have a message. Oh, and I like the sense, while I’m listening, like it’s all just gonna go crazy at any moment. On the edge of losing their shit at all times yet totally in control, totally fearless. I love that.
I copied this CD for the car for my lovely wife, to listen to on her commute to work. It’s true! We’d been talking about them… correction, I was probably talking AT her about them, as I always do with music, and she expressed an actual interest in hearing more. When she got home, I asked what she thought, and she said she liked how it was almost like jazz, all the layers, everything happening at any moment in a song. YES! That too! Damn I love that woman.
I need to get back the albums. I won’t even try to collect all of the side projects and the massive library of albums that spun off this main act, but I would definitely like to get the rest of the main studio albums back. This CD has whetted my appetite for sure.
For anyone who cares, here’s the collection of brilliance on this CD:
Method Man (Skunk Mix)
Protect Ya Neck [Bloody Version]
Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit
Can It All Be So Simple
Shame On A Nigga
Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’
Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)
Uzi (Pinky Ring)
Listening to this all the way through is a damn workout, but it’s completely worth it.