Blackalicious-The Craft (2005)

My Rating: 89% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 74%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 80%

Average Rating: 81% (B+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. World Of Vibrations Feat. Ledisi
  2. Supreme People
  3. Rhythm Sticks
  4. Powers
  5. Your Move Feat. Lifesavas
  6. Lotus Flower Feat. George Clinton
  7. My Pen & Pad
  8. Side To Side Feat. Lateef & Pigeon John
  9. Automatique Feat. Floetry
  10. The Fall & Rise Of Elliot Brown
  11. Black Diamonds & Pearls Feat. Larry Saunders & Ledisi
  12. Give It To You Feat. Kween & Lyrics Born
  13. Egosonic War Drums Feat. Peace
  14. The Craft

Label:

Anti-

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for some funky hip hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super original and artsy, I love it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So bad.

Final Thoughts:

Blackalicious blew me away with Blazing Arrow, I honestly listened to that album so many times during high school. There was something different, I guess it was the pure musicality of it mixed with Gab’s uplifting and deep lyrics. The Craft added to the allure, with songs like The Craft teaching me more about myself and the intelligence of some of the emcees that were in the game at the time, songs like Side to Side helped me party and not take life too seriously and Egosonic War Drums showed me how incredibly talent Gab is. The Craft needs to be in every hip hop heads discography.

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Watsky-x Infinity (2016)

My Rating: 78% (B)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 78% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Tiny Glowing Screens, Pt. 3
  2. Talking to Myself
  3. Chemical Angel
  4. Little Slice
  5. Springtime in New York
  6. Pink Lemonade
  7. Don’t Be Nice
  8. Yes Britannia
  9. Love Letters
  10. Stick to Your Guns
  11. Brave New World
  12. Going Down
  13. Midnight Heart
  14. Conversations
  15. Knots
  16. Roses
  17. Theories
  18. (Bonus Track) Exquisite Corpse

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting some fast hip-hop that sounds more like slam poetry.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s super rad, I’m a big fan.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

Watsky is such an interesting emcee, starting with a viral YouTube video “Pale Kid Raps Fast” and gaining notable success with his poetry, he still manages to be respected among the hip hop community. Seriously he’s featured both Gift of Gab and Dr. Dre and if those two rappers aren’t gods in their respective sub-genre’s I don’t know who is. Watsky is a punchline rapper, with a weird amount of substance, there are people doing music like him, but no one has pulled off both ridiculous lyrics with show stopping moments of vulnerability as well as Watsky has, x Infinity is one of his most interesting/well produced albums to date, and any hip-hop head should totally take the time to check out this project.

Gift Of Gab-4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up (2004)

My Rating: 93% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: 59%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 76% (B-)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. The Ride Of Your Life
  2. Rat Race
  3. Way Of The Light
  4. Stardust
  5. Flashback
  6. Up
  7. The Writz
  8. To Know You
  9. Real MC’s
  10. Hold On
  11. In A Minute Doe
  12. Evolution
  13. Moonshine
  14. Ride On
  15. Just Because

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting some positive hip hop that’ll blow your mind.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s a super original awesome cover.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly yes.

Final Thoughts:

Gift of Gab is one half of Blackalicious, but more than that, he is one of the most talented emcees that I’ve been able to see live. His flow is insane, his freestyle ability is ridiculous, and his albums are solid. 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up is one of the albums that really shaped my taste in hip hop, I’ve been listening to this one since high school (around the time it was released) and still love it when it comes on my shuffle. Gab has a diverse track-list on 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, from the catchy Rat Race, to the feel good Way of the Light to the nostalgic Flashback, there’s something here for all the hip hop heads. Gab will never get the dues I want him to, but I can still play his tracks loud on my headphones and respect the hard work that went into it.

Jurassic 5-Quality Control (2000)

My Rating: 87% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 61%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 77%

Average Rating: 75% (B-)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. How We Get Along
  2. The Influence
  3. Great Expectations
  4. Quality Intro
  5. Quality Control
  6. Contact
  7. Lausd
  8. World of Entertainment (Woe Is Me)
  9. Monkey Bars
  10. Jurass Finish First
  11. Contribution
  12. Twelve
  13. The Game
  14. Improvise
  15. Swing Set

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Craving for some bouncy call and action old school hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s funny, not great, but makes me laugh.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

For sure!

Final Thoughts:

Jurassic 5 is the biggest group that came out of The Good Life Cafe, easily. Their music has made it so far that I heard it in a Bluenotes last year (that threw me off a bit). I’m sure that most my generation has at least heard the name, if not a couple of their tracks. Quality Control is business as usual, honestly, these guys are just so much fun. The most impressive thing on show on Quality Control is their ability to flow from one emcee to another, they work very well together and it’s a joy to listen to. Add that to Cut Chemist and Numark’s cuts and breaks and you have something to hold onto and never let go. Jurassic 5 always makes me happy, because they are keeping Hip Hop alive and maybe, just maybe, we can get a little more of their sound on the radio, probs not, but it’s a nice thought.

Roots Manuva-Dub Come Save Me (2002)

My Rating: 50% (D)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 50%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Man Fi Cool
  2. Highest Grade Dub
  3. Revolution 5
  4. Styles Dub
  5. Tears
  6. Dreamy Days SFA Dub
  7. The Lynch
  8. Brand New Dub
  9. UK Warriors
  10. Witness Dub

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Addicted to Roots Manuva and ready to dig for the good stuff.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s a really sweet album cover, it’s a play on the Run Come Save Me cover.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

No.

Final Thoughts:

It’s essentially a remixed Run Come Save Me, sort of. The album has a lot of instrumentals and not a whole lot of that Jamaican styled flow that I want to hear. As usual, Roots is at his best when he’s with Chali2na, seriously if these guys made an album together it would make my brain melt. It’s an album I’m glad that I dug into, but I will probably not sit through again. It had a few jammers, but for most it would be a major miss. Don’t start here with Roots, start with Run Come Save Me, you’ll be happy you did.

Roots Manuva-Run Come Save Me (2001)

My Rating: 82% (B+)

Pitchfork Rating: 41%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 62%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. No Strings…
  2. Bashment Boogie
  3. Witness (1 Hope)
  4. Join The Dots
  5. Black Box Interlude
  6. Ital Visions
  7. Kicking The Cack
  8. Dub Styles
  9. Trim Body
  10. Artical
  11. Hol’ It Up
  12. Stone The Crows
  13. Sinny Sin Sins
  14. Evil Rabbit
  15. Swords In The Dirt
  16. Highest Grade
  17. Dreamy Days

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing a rap album to listen to while walking downtown at night.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super original, love it! Fits the sounds so well!

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Abso-friggin-lutely.

Final Thoughts:

Any Gorillaz fans will recognize the name Roots Manuva, he gave a spectacular performance on their song All Alone on their crown jewel Demon Days. He’s a big deal in the UK, but kinda unheard of up here in Canada. But he should be played a lot more! His sound can go from anything to fun alt hip hop: ex. Join The Dots to introspective sad rap much like the stuff coming out of Seattle (Grieves comes to mind) such as songs like Sinny Sin Sins where he talks about his Pentecostal upbringing. He can also do songs that capture hearts much like Method Man’s You’re All I Need, Roots has Dreamy Days a ballad like love song sure to be relatable to more than a few. Bring it all together with muddy, dark, and often overpowering beats and we get Run Come Save Me, a hip hop album not to be missed.

Blackalicious-Blazing Arrow (2002)

My Rating: 91% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: 93%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 92%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Intro: Bow & Fire
  2. Blazing Arrow
  3. Sky Is Falling
  4. First In Flight
  5. Green Light: Now Begin
  6. 4000 Miles
  7. Nowhere Fast
  8. Paragraph President
  9. It’s Going Down
  10. Make You Feel That Way
  11. Brain Washers Feat. Ben Harper
  12. Chemical Calisthenics
  13. Aural Pleasure
  14. Passion
  15. Purest Love
  16. Release Part 1, 2, and 3
  17. Day One

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

On the hunt for a fun, funky, summery hip-hop album.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s actually embarrassingly the reason I first gave Blackalicious a chance, it’s a really original cover with awesome colours.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah I’d absolutely love this one on vinyl.

Final Thoughts:

I bought this album on a whim back in my high school day and it was such a gateway album for me. It got me into other Quannum guys like Lateef, Lyrics Born, and Honeycut, as well as other rap groups like Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples. It’s a really big album when it comes to forming my music taste, it really got me into some of my all time favourite artists. I owe a lot to this album and the damn thing still holds up. It’s really fresh sounding, really cool beats, really fast/fun lyrics. From tracks like Paragraph President, to the follow up to Alphabet Aerobics: Chemical Calisthenics. It’s an amazing album that nobody should miss. NOBODY.

Zion I-The Take Over (2009)

My Rating: 63% (C)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 58%

Average Rating: 60.5%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. The Taking
  2. Geek To The Beat
  3. TakeOver
  4. DJ DJ
  5. Antenna
  6. Caged Bird Part 1 Feat. Brother Ali
  7. In The Mornin’
  8. Radio
  9. Gumbo
  10. Country Baked Yams Feat. Devin The Dude
  11. Coastin’
  12. Juicy Juice
  13. Peppermint Patty
  14. Bring In The Light
  15. Legacy Feat. Ty & Jennifer Johns

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting a good mix of African beats with some alternative hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Love it, it really fits the overall vibe of the album, and is just really beautiful.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

It’s funny, before sitting down to listen to the album as a whole I would’ve said absolutely, but seeing as there is a lot of dead space between the songs I’m really into, I’d say no now.

Final Thoughts:

I got into Zion I at the same time as other artists like Blackalicious, The Mighty Underdogs, and Brother Ali. So he automatically gets points for being grouped with those groups who were really important to my musical formation in High school. The Take Over is a pretty okay inclusion in my music library, the only problem is that there are quite a few misses for me on this album, but the songs that land are solid.

Quasimoto-Yessir Whatever (2013)

My Rating: 83% (B++)

Pitchfork Rating: 74%

Rolling Stone Rating: 60%

Metacritic Rating: 69%

Average Rating: 71.5%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Broad Factor
  2. Seasons Change
  3. The Front
  4. Youngblood
  5. Astronaut
  6. Planned Attack
  7. Brothers Can’t Save Me
  8. Catchin’ The Vibe
  9. Am I Confused?
  10. Sparkdala
  11. Green Power
  12. LAX to JFK

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Sick of conventional music, looking for something psychedelic and reminiscent of the golden age of hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s super awesome. I love it so much. It fits the album title and the overall vibe of the music on the record.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes, absolutely.

Final Thoughts:

This is what I’d define as psychadelic hip-hop. It’s like John Dwyer put his talents to a hip-hop album and allowed a weed fiend take the mic from him. You can practically smell the weed through the speaker when listening to Yessir Whatever. It’s truly a unique album, super odd, not for everyone, it strums the right chord for me, but I can see it really grating against others. Listen to it and let me know your opinion in the comments below.

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