T-Bone-Bone-A-Fide (2005)

My Rating: 67% (C+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 67% (C+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. The Rally
  2. 12 Years Ago
  3. Hard Streets
  4. Let That Thang Go
  5. Can I Live
  6. I Been Looking Around
  7. Follow T
  8. Hasta La Victoria Siempre
  9. A Few Good Men
  10. Shake Ya Body
  11. The Sanction
  12. You Can’t Win
  13. It’s Okay
  14. Bounce
  15. Victory! Victory! Victory!

Label:

Flicker, Boneyard, Provident, Sony/BMG

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting ghetto Christian hip hop, because it exists.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Well I have mixed feelings, but I loved it growing up.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah I doubt it exists though.

Final Thoughts:

This may show how young I actually am but Bone-A-Fide was one of the first albums I ever bought. I remember picking it up in Ontario at a record store and then leaving it by my bed unlistened for more than a year. One day I was cleaning my room and threw it on and was shocked how much I liked it. Obviously things change over time but T-Bone was my favourite emcee/artist growing up, his music was actually really well produced, especially on Bone-A-Fide, his flow was really fast and thoughtful, and he had amazing featuring artists (From KRS-One to Mack 10). Do I love this album as much as I did growing up? No, but it has a special spot for nostalgic purposes for me.

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Redcloud-Hawthorne’s Most Wanted (2007)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 100% (A++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Deep Thoughts
  2. Welcome All
  3. Guns & Roses (feat. Jayo Felony, Eek-A-Mouse, & Tonex)
  4. Boulevard Knights
  5. 405 (feat. Lord Zen & Dannu of Visionaries)
  6. Tapatio (feat. Pigeon John)
  7. Hawthorne’s Most Wanted (feat. Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound)
  8. The Boombox Saints
  9. Krylon Teardrops
  10. The Time Has Come
  11. Battle Of Little Bighorn (feat. Def Shepard)
  12. My People
  13. Songs They Sang
  14. Death Of A Salesman (feat. Pigeon John)
  15. South Central Farms

Label:

Syntax Records

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting a really funky hip hop album.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s what got me to buy it, super cool.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly.

Final Thoughts:

There are few albums that I can remember the first time that I listened to, but Hawthorne’s Most Wanted was so jaw droppingly original that I remember first hearing DJ Wise’s crazy intro and getting excited for the rest of the album. Redcloud has made one of the funkiest hip hop albums I’ve ever heard, there are no weak tracks on this project, all the pieces fit together so well. But it’s not just the awesome sampling that makes Hawthorne’s Most Wanted classic, Redcloud’s vocals and lyrics are original, funny, and honest. One of my favourite lines (from Songs They Sang) is: “God’s a blanket I’m Linus, it’s 10 degrees below minus.” Clever writing, awesome DJing, Hawthorne’s Most Wanted is one of my favourite hip hop albums of all time.

Mars Ill-ProPain (2004)

My Rating: 76% (B-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 76% (B-)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Pro*Pain (Intro)
  2. Say So
  3. Sound Off
  4. Too Strong To Change Feat. Cappadonna
  5. Dog Eared Page
  6. More Feat. Ahmad Jones & Anthony David
  7. Jus The Two Of Us
  8. Stand Back And Watch
  9. Wicked Ways
  10. Saturday Night Special Feat. Ishues & D.R.E.S. The Beatnik
  11. Glam Rap Feat. Prince Po
  12. Higher
  13. Effortless Feat. X:144
  14. Write Of Passage Feat. Ben Hameen & J-Mil
  15. When Heaven Scrapes The Pavement
  16. I Is
  17. We Out (Outro)

Label:

Gotee Records

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting some solid old school/industrial sounding beats.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s what actually first drew me into listening to this group, I absolutely love it!

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I own a couple singles of theirs on vinyl from this album and those are awesome, so I’ll probably just stick to that.

Final Thoughts:

Mars Ill is one of those groups that aged really well, some Christian groups or emcees I liked in high school didn’t grow with me, but Mars Ill definitely did. The two reasons these guys stand out are their beats and their lyrics. The beats on ProPain are incredibly unique, sounding like a mix of Yeezus and Be, really original. Manchild’s flow and lyrics have always been worthy of my  attention, other emcees I can put on and turn my brain off, but Manchild continues to have lyrics to dig into after all these years, it’s never more prevalent then on When Heaven Scrapes The Pavement which is one of my all-time favourite Christian Hip Hop songs. ProPain has showed it’s maturity with my own, it’s an album I’ve always respected and although it’s not one I’ll list among my favourites it’s one I will more than likely always speak highly of.

Lecrae-All Things Work Together (2017)

My Rating: 71% (C++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 71% (C++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Always Knew
  2. Facts
  3. Broke
  4. Blessings (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
  5. Whatchu Mean (feat. Aha Gazelle)
  6. Hammer Time (feat. 1k Phew)
  7. Come and Get Me
  8. Lucked Up
  9. Wish You the Best (feat. Verse Simmonds)
  10. Can’t Stop Me Now (Destination)
  11. I’ll Find You (feat. Tori Kelly)
  12. 8:28
  13. Cry For You (feat. Taylor Hill)
  14. Worth It (feat. Kierra Sheard & Jawan Harris)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing something more contemporary but need to clear your head from the explicit stuff.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I like it, it reminds me of something Pusha T would choose.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not this one.

Final Thoughts:

I have such mixed feelings about Lecrae, on one hand he’s a really talented emcee who has really knocked down the walls of Christian hip hop and made the culture take it more seriously, but on the other hand he just seems to swim through lanes already made by popular emcees. Honestly, my biggest criticism of All Things Work Together is that Lecrae is really just going for the style that’s popular at the moment. It seems somewhat unauthentic when an artist follows, I wouldn’t say he’s biting, but he’s definitely changing for commercial appeal. I can’t fault an artist on trying to get sales or listens, but at the end of the day I love authenticity in my music and if you change every album to fit what’s good at the time it’s not authentic and has an expiration date, it won’t standout as THE album during any season, and that’s what stops me from loving Lecrae despite an overall pretty good album.

Deepspace5-Unique, Just Like Everyone Else (2005)

My Rating: 95% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 95% (A+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Talk Music
  2. Wingspan
  3. Crumbs
  4. Embrace
  5. Mechanical Advantage
  6. Truth Be Told
  7. Half-Hearted
  8. Free Checking
  9. One And The Same
  10. Cityscaping
  11. If I Don’t Make It
  12. Brilliant
  13. Axe To Grind
  14. Start Right Here
  15. I Feel So Bad
  16. The Last One
  17. They Say
  18. Last Ditch Effort
  19. One For The Road

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for a weird hip-hop album to expand your mind.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s amazing, I love this cover.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly yes.

Final Thoughts:

If an underground hip hop super group didn’t sound meta and/or pretentious enough, there is Deepspace5 an underground Christian hip hop super group. Including some of the most popular underground Christian rappers of the time (Manchild, Playdough, and Sivion to name a few), Deepspace5 stands the test of time and become more than their sub-genre. A lot of times the culture writes off emcees just because they have that “Christian” label, as if that somehow makes them inferior and unable to release anything of note. Unfortunately for that train of thought is how other emcees embrace talented emcees regardless of sub-genre or belief. Deepspace5 has preformed with MF Doom, KRS-One, and Atmosphere to name a few, that doesn’t happen to weak emcees. Deepspace5 breaks through the assumed expectation of Christian Hip Hop and makes a truly solid underground album that should be considered alongside such super groups as Doomtree, Living Legends and Hieroglyphics.

Heath McNease-Straight Outta Console: The Nintendo Thumb Mixtape (2011)

My Rating: 95% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 95% (A+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Tanuki
  2. Make That Paperboy
  3. Konami Kode (Bill and Lance’s Excellent Adventure) featuring Playdough
  4. 40 Hard Bars
  5. Bomberman
  6. Do the Rambo
  7. Chopstlevania featuring Red Cloud
  8. Mmm…Donuts!
  9. Style Points featuring Playdough and Manchild (aka The Dangle Brothers)
  10. First Person Shooter
  11. Mayor McCheese
  12. The Day My Bars Dropped featuring Sev Statik and Freddie Bruno
  13. Kain’t Moov Nuthin
  14. LATFH
  15. Toads Magoats featuring Cas Metah and Sivion
  16. Bonesaw’s Ready
  17. Turtle Van Damme
  18. Glass Joe vs Gabby Jay featuring Okwerdz (Grind Time)
  19. Nintendo Thumb Remix featuring KJ 52

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Nostalgic for the Nintendo 64 days.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Fits the concept perfectly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

If it exists then yes.

Final Thoughts:

What a brilliant concept, Nintendo and Hip Hop were a huge part of my childhood so having the two on one album is a quick way to my heart. Honestly, this album feels like it was made specifically for me. But from a marketing side of things it’s a great way to reach a wider audience, like it or not a lot of hip hop fans are actually nerds who blast it while getting some sick pwns, the gangster side of things doesn’t really fit the typical hip hop head. Heath McNease is one of the most underrated Christian emcees, he’s witty, fun, and gets serious when it’s called for (not at all on this album). Straight Outta Console: The Nintendo Thumb Mixtape is so so so much fun, any gamer or hip hop fan should give it a spin.

Playdough-Hotdoggin (2011)

My Rating: 87% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 87%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Nunya
  2. Rhymer Reason
  3. No Angel
  4. Elizabeth Shue
  5. The Business
  6. Say Sumn
  7. My Cadillac
  8. Franks & Beans feat. Gift Of Gab
  9. 1 Day
  10. Singleminded Female
  11. So What feat. Freddie Bruno
  12. I Got It Like
  13. Ya Heard feat. Mr. Dibbs vs The Black Keys
  14. Follow It
  15. Sunset

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for some clean(ish) hip hop to be funky with.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Hilarious.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah, I doubt it even exists though.

Final Thoughts:

The hardest part of Christian Hip-Hop is being able to be authentic, at least that’s what I see the struggle being. With strict rules to stick to through Christian labels, it’s near impossible to get in one word that may make someone somewhere wince. The freedom, then, with underground Christian hip-hop is what makes the underground scene much more attractive. When Emcees like Playdough put out their own stuff they can have featuring artists like Gift of Gab, a album cover that is very sexual looking at first glance, and an honesty about the life they actually live. Hotdoggin pushes some boundaries, but mostly it shows Playdough’s incredible rhyme scheme while having fun and keeping things weird but authentic.

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