Starting today and continuing through the next 4 days I will be sharing my top 5 favorite Rappers of all time. At #5 is Jay-Z, who I actually consider to be my unbiased pick for the #1 Rapper of all time. He really is the poster boy of Rap and has had such a consistent and illustrious career, all while staying true to himself and never really watering down his art. However in my biased list of top 5 rappers he is #5. He and the 4 other rappers to follow are all super talented lyricists, musicians, song writers and/or performers. All of them could very well give the others a run for their money. Today’s song of the day is Jay-Z’s party jam “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”. Come back tomorrow to see who #4 is……
I had a bit of trouble selecting my #10 favorite artist/group. There are so many great artists and groups out there that I love so much, such as Prince, John Mayer, Coldplay, The Grateful Dead, etc. I considered all of those and a few others for the #10 position. They certainly all deserve very high recognition and honorable mention, but ultimately I went with Kanye West, because other than being one of the most talented artists/rappers of his generation, he was also one of the few artists from my generation that I considered putting on the list, to begin with. I tend to like a lot of older artists. He has such a great and consistent catalogue of music, with 6 classic albums albums in just 7 years. Not to mention all the great music he has produced over those years and prior to those 7 years. He started out as a producer, producing Jay-Z, most notably. He may be a very controversial figure and may have made some questionable decisions with his behavior in the past, but his talent is undeniable. He is defiantly one of the best rappers to ever do it and also has such artistic vision and great pop sensibilities. The song of his that I decided to go with for today’s song of the day is “Touch The Sky”. I love this song and the video is so creative and funny.
Maybe in a year or so, once I dig deeper into new music catalogues and mull over my current decisions even further, my top 10 will look a little different, but as of now, this is what I was able to put together, considering a combination of the number of times I’ve listened to each artist in the past three and a half years (I found this out through my last.fm account), my overall respect for the artists or groups, the musical and cultural impact they’ve had on the society at large and the inspiration and personal impact they have had on me. There is SO much great music out there. The 10 artists/groups I’ve shared over the past month is just the very tip of the iceberg.
At least a guy can dream huh? I and every OutKast/Andre 3000 fan has been waiting for a new album from both OutKast and Andre 3000 (solo) for almost 6 years now. The has been a very draining experience for the Kast faithful. For about 4 of those 6 years we were dragged along in the belief that Big Boi would release a solo album just about every month until it was FINALLY released back in July 2010 and boy was it worth the wait!!! Big Boi’s album “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty” was in my opinion the best, most sonically charged and different album of that year along with Janelle Monae’s “The ArchAndroid”. Both albums were highly praised by critics and fans alike, yet got snubbed at all award shows for the big awards. They were among the top 3 highest rated albums of the year on Metacritic, a website that aggregates a score based off of all reviews that have been submitted on the alum from all major sources.
Anyway, I digress. In 2010 we finally got Big Boi’s album, but now we are still waiting on Andre 3000’s solo album……and OutKast’s album, but if Dre can drop his solo album, I can wait a little longer on an OutKast joint. Over the past 6 years, Andre hasn’t been totally in hiding. He has been featured on 21 tracks to date, teasing us 1 song at a time.
Here is a complete list of every song that has attempted to hold me over till Andre’s grand return:
1. DJ Unk – Walk It Out (Remix) feat. Andre 3000 & Jim Jones
2. Devin The Dude – What A Job feat. Andre 3000 & Snoop Dogg
3. Jay-Z – 30 Something (Remix) feat. Andre 3000 & Ice Cube
4. Lloyd – I Want You (Remix) feat. Andre 3000 & NaS
5. Rich Boy – Throw Some D’s (Remix) feat. Andre 3000, Jim Jones, Nelly, Murphy Lee & The Game
6. UGK – International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You) feat. OutKast
7. Fonzworth Bentley – Everybody feat. Andre 3000, Kanye West & Sa-Ra
8. Big Boi – Royal Flush feat. Andre 3000 & Raekwon
9. John Legend – Green Light feat. Andre 3000
10. OutKast – Da Art Of Storytellin’ (Part 4) feat. Marsha Ambrosius
11. Andre 3000 – All Together Now
12. Big Boi – Lookin’ For Ya feat. Andre 3000 & Sleepy Brown
13. Chris Brown – Deuces (Remix) feat. Andre 3000, Drake, T.I., Kanye West & Fabolous
14. Ciara – Ride (Remix) feat. Andre 3000 & Bei Maejor
15. Ke$ha – Sleazy (Remix) feat. Andre 3000
16. Beyonce – Party feat. Andre 3000 & Kanye West
17. Lloyd – Dedication To My Ex feat. Andre 3000 & Lil’ Wayne
18. Lil Wayne – Interlude feat. Tech N9ne & Andre 3000
19. Drake – The Real Her feat. Andre 3000 & Lil Wayne
20. Young Jeezy – I Do feat. Andre 3000 & Jay-Z
21. B.o.B – Play The Guitar feat. Andre 3000
Now don’t get me wrong these songs……at least Andre’s verses on them have all been awesome, but it’s not the same as having just him and an album of his genius. Big Boi and other sources close to Dre have alluded to the release of this long awaited solo album for years now, always saying it will be out this year and then the year comes and goes……and nothing, but I think this year is FINALLY the year. Andre seems to be everywherwe lately!!! Aside from ramping up his featurings lately. He has been appearing in commercials for Gillette. The commercials are below:
It seems to me he’s using these commercials and the increase of featurings to get himself back into the spotlight after so many years of laying low. Also Gorillaz, James Murphy and Andre himself have a song called “DaYaThing”, as part of a Converse “Three Artists. One Song.” campaign, being released on February 23rd!!! I REALLY think he’s coming back and SOON. I CAN’T WAIT ANYMORE!!! I have sat around SO many nights……and days imagining what his new album might be like, knowing that whatever I could think up would never touch the awesomeness that Andre 3000 has been cooking up and it seems that I will soon be able to feast my ears on the Dre Buffet!!! I just NEED some real music from one of my only living idols. Come on 3 Stax and hit us with what you got!!!
I posted Jay-Z’s new song, “Glory”, a couple days ago. It was written for and featuring the coos of his and Beyonce’s less than 1 week old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter A.K.A. B.I.C.. Yesterday it charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 74, making Blue Ivy the youngest person ever to appear on the charts, at 5 days old!!! Congrats Blue!!! She’s already making history. I wish her continued success on the charts, but maybe next time on her own terms and with her actually singing/rapping. Below is the song again if you missed it before.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find any good new music this New Music Tuesday. When the best new CD of the week, on Spotify is a Ja Rule greatest hits compilation, you know it’s a slow week in the musical world. There are however a couple new songs out, that I think are worth sharing.
Jay-Z must have ran right from the hospital to the studio after his and Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy was born because he released a song yesterday, titled “Glory” where he raps about his newborn on a well produced Pharrell track, which also samples a bit of baby Blue crying in the background and credits her as a featuring. Out of the womb for just a couple days and he’s already got her in a song. I guess she’ll be joining the family business. Check out the proud Papa rap about his new pride and joy.
Paul McCartney also released a new song on December 20th called “My Valentine”, but I just found out about it today. It’s off of his upcoming album of standards called “Kisses on the Bottom” which will be released, February 7th. This will be his fifteenth solo studio album, not including any Beatles or Wings albums. The title doesn’t allude to kisses on someone’s bottom, like you might be thinking, but kisses on the bottom of a letter, which Paul cleared up because the entire world apparently has a dirty mind. You all should be ashamed!!! Okay, I’ll admit it, I thought the same thing. The song is very cool and like he said of the whole album, “great come home from work and relax with a cup of wine music”. Take it away Sir Paul……
The Queen of R&B, Beyonce gave birth to her and The King of Rap Jay-Z’s baby daughter, Blue Ivy Carter over the weekend on Saturday, January 7, 2012. So I guess that makes her a princess right? Apparently they rented out the whole floor in an NYC hospital for Beyonce to give birth in private, costing them $1.3 million. Nothing is too much for this princess!!! With two hugely talented and famous parents like Jay-Z and Beyonce, Blue will have a lot to live up to and deal with a lot of comparisons to her parents, but for now Blue is healthy and kicking and that’s all that matters. The media is nitpicking things as usual and dissecting the name, Blue Ivy. Her parents names are Beyonce and “Jay-Z”, why do they think that their child would have an average name? Congratulations Beyonce and Jay-Z!!!
Usually I don’t have much trouble compiling my favorite albums of a year, but this year was different. This list was very hard to compile and not because 2011 had too much great music and not because 2011 had all bad music, but because 2011 is what I have dubbed “The year of good music but not great music”. The list is as follows (I think):
1. Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow / Director’s Cut
I put “50 Words For Snow” as #1, mostly out of principle. This is not her best album, but she is such an amazing, brilliant artist that whenever she drops an album (which is very rare……very rare indeed) she deserves to be #1. She is the complete opposite of what one would call a prolific artist. Her first album “The Kick inside” came out in 1978 and in her thirty-three year career she has only put out ten albums, 6 of which came out in the 80’s, peaking with her critically acclaimed and popular masterpiece “Hounds of Love”. In 1993 she released her album “The Red Shoes” and didn’t come out with another album until 2005 called “Ariel”. This is probably my favorite album by her, right up there with “Hounds of Love”. Now something amazing happened in 2011. Kate decided to put out two albums the first one being “Director’s Cut” which is re-imagining’s of a selection of songs from her two albums “The Sensual World” & “The Red Shoes”. I Put “50 Words For Snow” & “Director’s Cut” together as #1 album because it’s an amazing thing to have had Kate Bush put out 2 albums in 1 year, even if one is of re-imagining’s of old songs. These albums belong together somehow. Both albums are pure Kate and if you don’t know what I mean by that and/or you just don’t get her than you probably won’t like these albums, but they are both just as stirring and moving as anything she has ever put out. It’s maybe not so much the albums that are #1, but Kate Bush that is #1.
2. Adele – 21
I put Adele’s album “21” as #2 mostly out of principle also. The album is full of well crafted Pop-Soul tunes dripping with raw emotion. This is a really good album and she has had an amazing year. She did what no one had expected and somehow broke into the mainstream, which is full of almost 100% bubblegum music. Either that or a bunch of ignorant, annoying Hip-Hop music (see Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now”). She broke into the mainstream simply by being herself and singing beautifully. She’s not your average pop star and that could be what has made her so successful. Maybe people are finally tiring of all the bubblegum and ignorance and that’s a good thing. A very good thing.
3. Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days
The eccentrically named Theophilus London is a Brooklyn rapper who was born in Trinidad. His album “Timez Are Weird These Days” is the best debut album I’ve heard in a while and was also most certainly the best and most original Hip-Hop album of the year. But to call it Hip-Hop might simplify it a little too much. Yes he’s predominately a Hip-Hop artists, but he dabbles in Rock, Techno, Reggae etc. He’s what I have dubbed “Alternative Rap” (e.g. A Tribe Called Quest, OutKast, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi etc.) and lord knows we need some kind of alternative to most of the rap out there. And speaking of Kid Cudi, Theophilus actually sounds a bit like Kid Cudi. So if you like the Kid you’ll probably like the London. The album is catchy, original, funky and it’s number 3 on my year end music list. Enjoy.
4. Lenny Kravitz – Black And White America
Now before this album came out, I hadn’t heard anything about it. I didn’t even know Lenny Kravitz was still active as a musician. Well actually I did, but I didn’t think he was doing anything interesting enough to speak of. Sorry Lenny. I’ve always liked and respected Lenny Kravitz, but never expected him to land on one of my top 10 year end music lists. With that said his album “Black And White America” is quite a refreshing surprise. It’s full of 70’s style, chic, Funk-Rock and if you know anything about me, you know I love the Funk. The album is a contemplation of America’s Black and White cultures and how they coexist and the progression of relations between the two races over the past 50 or so years. I read somewhere that “Black And White America” sounds like something that would be in President Obama’s iPod and I have to say that it probably is. You know what else it’s also in my iPod (or in my Spotify app in my iPhone). Looks like myself and Obama might have more in common than our dashing good looks. It’s great to see that Lenny Kravitz not only has a rocking new album, but will also be co-starring in the upcoming “Hunger Games” series. Welcome back Lenny.
5. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
I first heard Ryan Adams when I started dating Shannon. I have to admit that at first I wasn’t really sold on him or his style, but over the past 2 1/2 years, he’s really grown on me. I started to get into him by asking Shannon to contribute some songs to my music journals and she suggested a few of his songs. My music journals are 2 disc compilations of songs that speak to where I am at that point in my life. Now I wouldn’t call myself a Ryan Adam’s expert, although I have heard a few of his albums, know that he used to be a big drug addict, that he’s really into Metal even though he is more of a Folk singer and that he’s married to Mandy Moore, but the intimate collection of songs on “Ashes & Fire” makes me feel like I know him like an old friend. The album was co-written with Norah Jones and produced by Glyn Johns who worked with The Beatles on “Get Back”. The album is very Bob Dylan-ish, but don’t quote me on that because I’m also not a Dylan expert. “Ashes & Fire” is a quiet, cool, Folksy ride worth going on and from what I’ve heard from Adam’s experts, a return to form after a few questionable albums. It looks like Ryan Adam’s has risen from the ashes and fire.
6. The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West) – Watch The Throne
Jay-Z and Kanye West made an album together under the moniker, The Throne? Yep and it was awesome and totally braggadocios or as they have called it, luxury Rap and it is quite luxurious. It’s dripping with different sounds, such as spaceships taking off and monkeys screeching and it samples Otis Redding, which never hurts. It does focus on materialism a bit, discussing such things as how many watches and cars they have, but it’s also contemplative at times about such things as the struggle of succeeding in America as a Black American for example. Jay-Z and Kanye West are two of my favorite rappers and they did not disappoint on “Watch The Throne”. As a matter of fact they surprised me. I know that Kanye West has more of an experimental, conscious side and that Jay-Z is more of a straight down the line rapper and I think that they combined both of those sensibilities very well. “Watch The Throne” is mostly unlike any other Rap album out there and that’s a good thing. When you take 2 of the best rappers alive and put them on the same album together it leaves you pondering who the King of Rap is. Well obviously that title (throne) goes to Jay-Z, but he better watch the throne because Kanye isn’t playing any games. He is the Prince of Rap for sure and he’s looking to Marry Kate AND Ashly. Apparently Kate Middleton isn’t enough for him.
7. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
When I heard Coldplay was coming out with a new album, I was needless to say, uber excited. I am a pretty big Coldplay fan. When I heard what the name of the album was, I was, well, confused. When I heard why they named it that, (something about some guy named Mylo playing the xylophone on or with his toes or something……I think) I became even more confused. But once I listened to the album it all made sense. It’s Coldplay doing what they do, making anthem Rock tunes with lots of oohs and aahs thrown in, that can be played on top 40 radio and be sung together by the whole family. The only problem here is that the album didn’t land at number 1 on this list or at least in the top 3 for me, which I was expecting and almost certain that it would. The album is good and some songs are even great, but it’s just not as good as what they’ve done in the past. On previous albums I’ve loved every song. On “Mylo Xyloto” I can’t say that, that was the case. They have like 5 or so really good songs and the rest or, well, not bad. It’s the power of the 5 or so really good songs that carried it so high on to this list. If it wasn’t for those, this album probably wouldn’t have made the cut, which is a shame because like I said, I love Coldplay. They are one of my top 10, all time favorite Rock bands, but that’s for a different post. Maybe I just expect perfection from them all the time and this was good, but not perfection like their other albums. Still it was good enough in a year of “just good” music to land it at number 7.
8. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
Lupe Fiasco is one of the best and most intelligent rappers out there. On his first 2 albums “Food & Liquor” and “The Cool” he proved that he was not only super talented and “The Coolest”, but he was also very thought provoking and not afraid to speak out about the government and injustices worldwide. Oh and did I mention he’s Muslim, which I think gives him a very unique perspective. It may be his all around originality and desire to speak on touchy subjects in his songs, that his record label had “Lasers” shelved for years. I guess record companies and the powers that be, rather have us listen to mindless music that all sounds the same, than to give us something smart and fresh. When work first began on “Lasers” it was titled “L.U.P.End” and was intended to be his third and final album, because of what I take to be his desire to get out the music industry that he had such a strong distaste for. During the long wait for “L.U.P.End” his fans got so impatient with Lupe’s record label holding back his new album, that they started a petition to have it finally released. The passion of his fans and desire to show record execs must have lit a fire under Lupe because when the album finally came out not only was it as thought provoking as ever and also super catchy, but the title had changed to “Lasers” showing us that he is not done yet and that we are far from the L.U.P.End”.
9. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome
Danger Mouse is a very interesting fellow. He has worked with artists from a cross the musical spectrum, from MF Doom, to Cee-Lo Green, to James Mercer of The Shins, now to Italian film composer, Daniele Luppi on a concept album, titled “Rome”. The concept is that it is a soundtrack to a fictional spaghetti western film, starring Jack White of The White Stripes and Norah Jones. Danger Mouse is a very interesting fellow indeed. Listening to the album is kind of like listening to a music box. It’s very quite and beautifully composed. The vocals of Jack White and Norah Jones compliment the whole atmosphere created by the music, perfectly. It’s really unlike any album I’ve ever heard, as it should be, when you’ve mixed in all the aforementioned, very different ingredients and ideas. You know what they say, “When in Rome do as the Romans do” and go check out “Rome”, partner.
10. Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do
Mayer Hawthorne is another very interesting fellow. He is an ex Detroit rapper who now sings as if he is some sort of 60’s Soul crooner and looks like none of the above. He looks like an insurance salesman or something. But his music speaks for itself. It’s cool and classic and while his new album “How Do You Do” is not much of a departure from his first album “A Strange Arrangement”, my number 2 favorite album of 2009, it is at least on par with his previous work. He gets slightly in touch with his Rap roots on the song “Can’t Stop” feat. Snoop Doog, although there is no rapping, not even from Snoop, who opts to take the Soul crooner route as well, to quite enjoyable effect. Maybe a big part of why I like Mayer Hawthorne, is because of how different he is and how opposite he is from what you’ld expect him to be, which I always look for and love in an artist and have always strived for in myself. “How Do You Do”? I’m just fine as long as I’m listening to Mayer Hawthorne’s new album. Thank you very much.