L.A. Symphony-Disappear Here (2005)

My Rating: 90% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 90%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Finland [Intro]
  2. Timeless
  3. Put Up Or Shut Up
  4. Money Song
  5. Universal
  6. Dance Like
  7. Funky Music
  8. Hold On
  9. C’est La Vie
  10. Grand Piano
  11. Give
  12. Pops Song
  13. Less Than Zero
  14. Rise
  15. Don’t Call Me

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for a hip-hop group with lots of different styles that is incredibly easy to vibe out to.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Yeah it’s okay, not terrible, not great.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah, think it’ll be hard to find on vinyl though

Final Thoughts:

L.A. Symphony knows they’re aren’t heavy weight rhymers, but they don’t really care, they’re just chill guys having a fun time. Disappear Here is filled with lots of call and action rhymes, punchlines, and an array of styles and tracks. Anything from lighthearted songs like Put Up Or Shut Up, to more vulnerable tracks like Pops Song, and even the song poking fun at how no one knows who they are like on Don’t Call Me all make their way onto this diverse album. If you’re looking for stuff like Jurassic 5, Living Legends, or People Under The Stairs, L.A. Symphony is right up your alley. Easy to skate to, easier to relax with.

Busdriver-Thumbs (2015)

My Rating: 63% (C)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 63%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Hottentot Supercluster feat. Zeroh & Kaveh Rastegar
  2. Black Labor (as understood by Equiano)
  3. Hyperbolic 2
  4. MUCH
  5. Ministry of the Torture Couch feat. Hemlock Ernst
  6. Worlds to Run feat. milo & Anderson .Paak
  7. Skit
  8. Surrounded by Millionaires feat. Daveed Diggs
  9. Great Spooks of Enormous Strength
  10. Del’s Couch feat. Del the Funky Homosapien
  11. Shadows and Victories feat. Jeremiah Jae
  12. NY 03 LIVE feat. Caural
  13. Species of Property
  14. Two Feet in the Layered Cake feat. Kool A.D.
  15. Answering Machinist feat. Jeremiah Jae

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting to dig deep into The Good Life emcees.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I love this cover, it reminds me of some of the spirit characters on Miyazaki films.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Nope.

Final Thoughts:

Busdriver is an impressive emcee, there’s no doubt about that, don’t believe/trust me? Listen to Me – Time and shut your face. The thing that separates Busdriver from other wordy rhymers, such as Aesop Rock and MF Doom, is his inability to make a solid album. He has a few tracks that are fun on each album, but he can’t make one that demands more than one listen. He’s a great artist that seems to be wandering a little aimlessly. This is the time where I think a concept album with a famous beat maker would really help Busdriver make an album of note. Let’s see a Danger Mouse and Busdriver collab, please!

People Under The Stairs-The Next Step (1998)

My Rating: 53% (D+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 53%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Intro / 4 Everybody
  2. Death Of A Salesman
  3. Hardcore (Feat. Smile-Oak)
  4. Wannabes
  5. Ten Tough Guys
  6. Mid-City Fiesta
  7. Slow Bullet
  8. San Francisco Knights
  9. The Turndown (Feat. Assault)
  10. Time To Rock Our Shit
  11. The Tamburo 5 (Feat. Naimad, Assault & Shine 5)
  12. Los Angeles Daze
  13. The Next Step II
  14. D.A.R.E.
  15. Asshole (Feat. Assault)
  16. Play It Again / Outro

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Want to dig for a couple great People Under The Stairs tracks.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Classic Hip-Hop cover. It’s rad.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

No, this was a miss.

Final Thoughts:

Let me start with saying I do love People Under The Stairs, I believe that The Dig deserves to be on the list for 100 greatest hip-hop songs of all time, any true hip hop head would include them in such a list. But here’s the thing, The Next Step is more of a jam session than an actual album. There are very few hooks or even tangible themes throughout the tracks, and honestly it’s a really ballsy thing to do. One of the emcees known for having hookless tracks is MF Doom, and, well with all due respect, to quote Zorak “you’re no doom.” It’s an album that wants to be a De La Soul or Tribe Called Quest release, but isn’t as calculated as those groups tend to be.

MF Doom-Operation Doomsday (2001)

My Rating: 71% (C++)

Pitchfork Rating: 89%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 80%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. The Time We Faced Doom (Skit)
  2. Doomsday
  3. Rhymes Like Dimes
  4. The Finest
  5. Back in the Days (Skit)
  6. Go With the Flow
  7. Tick, Tick…
  8. Red and Gold
  9. The Hands of Doom (Skit)
  10. Who You Think I Am?
  11. Doom, Are You Awake? (Skit)
  12. Hey!
  13. Operation: Greenbacks
  14. The Mic
  15. The Mystery of Doom (Skit)
  16. Dead Bent
  17. Cas Drawls
  18. ?
  19. I Hear Voices Pt. 1

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting some abstract/psychadellic/nostalgic hip hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Yeah it’s interesting to see where he went with the theme.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Hell yes.

Final Thoughts:

This album only got such a low rating because of the amount of skits dispensed throughout the whole thing, although I like the vibe it gives, sometimes it’s hard to get into the album because of it. MF Doom will always, always, always be one of my favourite emcees. His beats are so jazzy, his vocals are odd, lyrics make no damn sense, hook-less tracks, it doesn’t make sense because it should be a train-wreck, but it’s not at all. It’s like a beautiful risky disaster that somehow comes together to make something abstract enough that you want to listen to it more than once. I especially like the cleverness of the beat on Hey! where one can hear Scooby Doo sound-effects in the background, if that sounds like an intriguing concept to you, then give Operation Doomsday a listen!

Doomtree-All Hands (2015)

My Rating: 96% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: 71%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 62%

Average Rating: 76%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Final Boss
  2. My Own Nation
  3. .38 Airweight
  4. Gray Duck
  5. Heavy Rescue
  6. 80 On 80
  7. Mini Brute
  8. Cabin Killer
  9. Beastface
  10. The Bends
  11. Generator
  12. Off In The Deep
  13. Marathon
  14. High Water

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting a hip hop album with lots going on at once.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s a beautiful looking cover, I’d be stoked to have it in my collection.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I need to own more Hip-Hop on vinyl (yes I want it).

Final Thoughts:

Doomtree is a hip-hop super-group (at least in my eyes), Sims, P.O.S., and Dessa are all artists with amazing solo work, so to have them all in the same group making music is kind of a big deal for me. Granted I got into Doomtree before their solo careers but now that I’ve researched more I almost forgot that these guys all worked together. They take things in a different direction on All Hands, keeping the lyrics abstract and the percussion raw, they get much more electronic than I’m used to hearing them, which was a good move because they now can appeal to a larger audience. Old fans may be a little let down with the new sound but I’m on board and excited to hear these guys push themselves as a group and as individual artists.

Beastie Boys-Licensed To Ill (1986)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 78%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 89%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Rhymin & Stealin
  2. The New Style
  3. She’s Crafty
  4. Posse In Effect
  5. Slow Ride
  6. Girls
  7. Fight For Your Right
  8. No Sleep Till Brooklyn
  9. Paul Revere
  10. Hold It Now, Hit It
  11. Brass Monkey
  12. Slow And Low
  13. Time To Get Ill

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Ready to get Ill (Party)

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Iconic, it’s awesome.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes sir.

Final Thoughts:

Good lord ’86? I couldn’t believe that year when I looked it up for this article, this must’ve been absolutely revolutionary to come out that early. I mean I was raised with damn near every track. We all know these songs, much like Supertramp’s Breakfast In America, you don’t know how well you knew the album until you actually sit down to re-listen to the whole thing. This was THE party album, it never once got old to me. Beastie Boys always meant a lot of beers, a lot of girls, and a lot of cursin’ (The New Style) and I’m just blown away that this was made so early. Hilarious lyrics, bad ass beats, catchy songs. It’s iconic. It’s owed some damn respect and you’d better give it up (you listening you pitchfork A holes?)!

Danger Doom-The Mouse And The Mask (2005)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 78%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 81%

Average Rating: 86%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. El Chupa Nibre
  2. Sofa King
  3. The Mask Feat. Ghostface Killah
  4. Perfect Hair
  5. Benzi Box Feat. Cee-Lo
  6. Old School Rules Feat. Talib Kweli
  7. A.T.H.F. (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)
  8. Basket Case
  9. No Names (Black Debbie)
  10. Crosshairs
  11. Mince Meat
  12. Vats Of Urine
  13. Space Hoes
  14. Bada Bing

Favourite Song on Album:


Listen to This Album When You:

Have a bowl of cereal in your lap and are ready to party, son.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Absolutely love it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I’ve almost bought it multiple times but it’s like $50 and I’ve never been financially stable, soooooo yeah, one day!

Final Thoughts:

Ugh this album. What more does a weirdo like me need? Nothing, that’s what! MF Doom + Danger Mouse + [Adult Swim]= One of (if not my all time) favourite Hip-Hop records ever made! The beats are absolutely incredible (could you expect differently from Danger Mouse?) The lyrics are absurd and catchy (Could you expect differently from MF Doom?) and the interludes are funny, absurd and somewhat annoying (same thing but add [Adult Swim]). This is one of the most perfect albums I’ve ever heard, it’s as if they had me specifically in mind when they made it (maybe they did???). Get your hands on this and have a one of a kind experience ya dingus!

Kanye West-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

My Rating: 86% (B++)

Pitchfork Rating: 100%

Rolling Stone Rating: 100%

Metacritic Rating: 94%

Average Rating: 95%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Dark Fantasy
  2. Gorgeous Feat. Raekwon, & Kid Cudi
  3. Power
  4. All of the Lights (Interlude)
  5. All of the Lights
  6. Monster Feat. Jay-Z, Bon Iver, Rick Ross & Nicki Minaj
  7. So Appalled Feat. RZA, Jay-Z, Prynce Cy Hi, Pusha T & Swizz Beatz
  8. Devil In a New Dress Feat. Rick Ross
  9. Runaway Feat. Pusha T
  10. Hell of a Life
  11. Blame Game Feat. John Legend
  12. Lost In the World Feat. Bon Iver
  13. Who Will Survive In America
  14. See Me Now Feat. Big Sean, Beyoncé & Charlie Wilson

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Ready for a mish mash of different genres and proof that Kanye is a genius.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Well it depends on the cover but I like the story behind it more than I actually like the look of it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Absolutely friggin’ yes.

Final Thoughts:

Kanye and I have an interesting history. I swore to myself I would never like his music in high school, and when it came to Columbia House (my monthly ordered album service) I would never pick his album Graduation (which was popular at the time) because of this oath, even though the album cover was really intriguing. Around comes 2010 and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is dropped and I’ve significantly calmed down from my overly conservative self and I decide to finally give the guy a shot. I couldn’t stop listening. It was one of those albums that changed the way I looked at music. This is one of those times my rating system doesn’t do the album justice, it’s one of my favourite albums of all time, and definitely my favourite Kanye record, but the purest that I am must stick to the formula even when it doesn’t meet my personal draw to the album. The tracks flow well and are diverse, experimental and expertly done. This is an album that will continually impress generations and I’d be surprised if it’s not the album that he is most known for.

John Reuben-Word Of Mouth (2007)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 100%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Sing It Like You Mean It
  2. Trying Too Hard
  3. Make Money Money
  4. Focus
  5. Word Of Mouth
  6. Miserable Exaggeration
  7. Universal
  8. Curiosity
  9. Cool The Underdog
  10. Good Evening

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for easy listening Hip Hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Love it, it’s original, I especially like the font.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah but I don’t think I’ll ever found it.

Final Thoughts:

John Reuben has been tragically underappreciated, his albums have always been really diverse and entertaining. Word Of Mouth, a ten track carnival, is a great example of the artists abilities to mash multiple genres and themes into one coherent listen. He can go from party/funny tracks like Trying Too Hard, to thought provoking tracks like Cool The Underdog. The famous line at the ending of the album where he chants “Bob Dylan’s Microphone” repeatedly is also a really quirky little story (that you should totally look up) and adds to the overall mystery of this mystifyingly impressive and aloof emcee.

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