Chronicling the Dopest Months in Hip-hop

I didn’t realize until June 18th what was going on.  But when Born Sinner, Yeezus, Watching Movies, Yessir Whatever, and Extended Play all dropped on the same date it was clear what was happening.  May and June 2013 were the sickest months in recent rap history.  Among the amazing releases were albums from legends like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Harry Fraud, Prodigy, & Alchemist.  While Jay-Z’s album was amazingly mediocre and Harry Frauds was more so none of the other big names disappointed.  Madlib dropped yet another dope album underneath the moniker Quasimoto .  Jarren Benton proved that he can say terrible terrible things over amazing beats.  And while Travi$ Scott and Tito Lopez proved they are very much not over rated Wale continued to lower our expectations for him and Mac Miller decided to get bars to shut all of you neigh sayers up.  Not a single release I heard these last two months was bad; some worse than others, some much much better but if you were stuck under a rock I’ve ranked them all for you.

25) Kilt II- IamSu!

The Kilt II was good.  Not great, not really worth a whole bunch of listens but if you really like IamSu! and I do enjoy his stylings this is a good listen.  Not his best by far he can definitely throw down but hey give it a listen.

24) The Gifted- Wale

The more I listen to this the more disappointed I am with Wale.  I mean it was not bad but I want so much more for Wale as one of my top five favorite rappers I want his albums to be amazing. (and there’s no fucking reason I needed to hear Bad twice once with the absolutely useless Rihanna)

23) My Grandma’s Basement- Jarren Benton

Jarren Benton.  If you don’t know who he is you’re probably not a Funk Volume fan.  As the Black Sheep of a group filled with pretty much only Black Sheep and the dopeness that is Dizzy Wright Jarren Benton strives to prove his indifference.  Jarren wants you to be VERY… very offended once you’re done listening to this album.  My biggest problem is that if you have heard one track on here you’ve heard them all there is pretty much no variety in this release.

22) High Tide- Harry Fraud

Harry Fraud has proved why albums tend to be longer because if your EP is only five tracks what happens when two of them are bad?  I would like to see another Harry Fraud EP though because even though 40 percent of High Tide was bad 60 percent was pretty dope.

21) Untitiled EP 2-Hodgy Beats

I was a convert to Odd Future from day one but as my professor once pointed out it’s really just a couple of guys riding the tails of Earl’s genius and Tyler’s production.  And while I agree Earl and Frank Ocean are by FAR the best members and Tyler is a genius with the production Hodgy is no slouch himself as you can see on Untitled EP 2.  While I despised Goodbye, it is very possible that someone could have loved it I have no idea if that song was good or absolutely terrible.

20) Magna Carta Holy Grail- Jay-Z

Jay-Z released another album did you know? Did you hear? Yes of course you did because for a guy with so many number one albums he has very little confidence in his music’s ability to perform on it’s own merit.  I would have loved this album if it had a LOT less Jay on it.  Timberland and Pharell came to fucking play and it comes across.  But over a decade of the same lyrical content has made me immune to the customary Jay-Z stylings.  It doens’t help his case that MCHG is the most commercial hip-hop album to come out since Drake released whatever his last album was.

19) While You Wait- Sir Michael Rocks

While You Wait is very much reminiscent of PotC: Dead Man’s Chest in that it is clearly just meant to be a preview for Banco.  If this is even half of what we can expect from Banco I am down.  The Cool Kids were the best thing out of Chicago for the longest time and Sir Michael has shown us why.

18) The Separation- Problem

Flow on top of flow on top of flow.  Problem has made a career on having one of the best flows out.  While his lyrics won’t make you think much he definitely has his clever moments and the instrumentals on here (some of which produced by Problem himself) are absolutely despicable.  While neither this or IamSu!’s Kilt II had the charisma of Million Dollar Afro they are both solid releases.

17) ESGN Evil Seeds Grow Naturally- Freddie Gibbs

I’ve never been a huge fan of Freddie Gibbs.  His gangsta persona seems very early 2000 to me but I have never found his music early ought-esque.  Gibbs is a talented lyricist in a subgenre that is inhabited by rappers who can barley shove a vowel and a noun together and make a fucking sentence.  I cannot deny that ESGN is a good listen; good production surprising lyricism and anyone that has a track with BJ the Chicago Kid and Problem is a friend of mine.

16) Owl Pharaoh- Travi$ Scott

Goodness Travi$ Scott came to town to fucking play.  This album should have been called Heavy Bass and the Niggas that Brought it to You.  Because it seems silly to talk about the lyrics when that’s not even remotely what this album is about Travi$ Scott is a producer and he knows it.  Yes some tracks are kind of boring but I will let a lot of the missteps slide because this is the first release from Scott.  I would like to see him just produce for someone with a little more lyrical skill though.  A Pusha T x Travi$ Scott album would be amazazazing!

15) Droptops- Chuck Inglish

Basically a Chuck Inglish beattape with a pretty decent line up of rappers.  Chuck Inglish is fast becoming the best producer in hip-hop and WRKOUT and WRKING  were excellent prequels to Droptops.  Chuck Inglish has always been the weaker of the Cool Kids as far as lyrics go but has ability to dilute his skill with that of other more talented rappers makes Droptops a very good EP.

14) Donnie Trumpet EP- Donnie Trumpet

This is by far the best news of May and June.  Donnie Trumpet’s EP is reminisent of the best things about Kids These Days.  Unfortunately that is the best of Kids These Days minus Vic Mensa and this girl:

but even without the power house behind Chicago’s one and only rap band and Macie Stewarts… talent. Donne Trumpet puts together a pretty stellar EP.  His smooth flow plus the powerful horn sections contrast perfectly to make this seven track mixtape an short, but very sweet listen.  And unfortunately this is the closest we’ll get to a Kids album ever since they broke up.

13) Y.O.U.- Tito Lopez

Tito Lopez has almost perfected the mixtape game.  Y.O.U. showcases Lopez’s lyrical ingenuity and instrumental prowess.  The only thing that I didn’t love about this mixtape were the hooks.  Which is fine because hooks while important are really only the most important piece of a song designed solely to be catchy and have no substance.  But if you do just want a mixtape that you can sit and bob your head to this is the one.

12) Watching Movies with the Sound Off- Mac Miller

This was a huge surprise.  No I have never been one of those people that thinks that Miller is a corny white rapper but after Blue Side Park I had little to no expectations for this realease.  But Mac Miller got bars on this release and while its not an instant classic it did define the month of June for many rap listeners.

11) Yessir Whatever- Lord Quas

Yes Quasimoto is back and as weird as ever.  I will be honest this was a hard listen for me because while I love Madlib I can’t listen to a whole Qas album at one time because of that fucking voice.  I would much prefer the Barry White voice he claims to be so embarrassed of than that super annoying one.  But the fact that he gets it to line up perefectly is impressive in itself and because it’s a Madlib album the production is beyond on point.  So after a very long listening session of about 2 tracks every 10 minutes I say….  its a solid album and a great one for those of you who can get past the voice.

10) Prisoner of Conscious- Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli takes 57 minute to prove you are NEVER too old or too young to shit on people.  I have nothing to say about this.  Yes Kweli has made some mistakes in his career.  This. Is. Not. One of those mistakes.  While every track may not be the best thing that’s ever happened as a whole this is a disgusting album.

Favorite Track(s): Human Mic, Turnt Up, High Life, Push Thru, Upper Echelon

Least Favorite Track: Before He Walked

Best Instrumental: Hold it Now

X-Factor: I really fucking missed this guy

Rating: 72/100

Must Listen Rating: 7/10

9) Albert Einstein- Prodigy x The Alchemist

I mean, it’s Prodigy and Alchemist what else do you really need to know?  While I would’ve liked to see Havoc on this more I will never pass up a chance to listen to half of New York’s best duo’s since Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere.  That plus Alchemist on the decks is a good fucking idea.

Favorite Track(s): Lmdkv, Give Em Hell, Death Sentence, R.I.P., Bible Paper,

Least Favorite Track: The One

Best Instrumental: Stay Dope

X-Factor: Do you really need another reason to buy an album besides Prodigy & Alchemist?

Rating: 76/100

Must Listen Rating: 10/10

8) Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever- Logic

Ah Logic with another solid release.  Admittedly this is the worst in Young Sinatra series but since the first two were amazing that’s not really an insult.  More than probably any other album on this list Welcome to Forever is really fucking fun the production is upbeat for the most part and Logic is clearly enjoying his spot on the cover.  While there are some missteps for the most part Welcome to Forever is a very solid listen.  I shall throw it in my “Best of the Big 5” playlist.

Favorite Track(s): 925, Roll Call, Feel Good, Walk On By, Nasty, Young Jedi,

Least Favorite Track: Man of the Year

Best Instrumental: Ballin

X-Factor: Production will not disappoint and if you like some easy listening that is still intelligent this is for you

Rating: 79/100

Must Listen Rating: 8/10

7) The War Within- Wrekonize

This is the first time I’ve ever actual bothered to listen to Wrekonize shhh don’t tell anyone.  But I was not disappointed.  His flow is impressive and above all he has something intriguing to say.  I think he’s a white rapper, I can’t tell but he definitely raps like a white boy,  long lines bars packed full of ideas.  But if you, like me, hate backpack rap don’t fret that’s not what this is Wrek is surprisingly down to earth for a guy who’s verses read a lot like a first draft of a college essay.

Favorite Track(s): We Got Soul, Paper Trails, Typical, Adrenaline, Anxiety Attacks, Easy Money

Least Favorite Track: Rise

Best Instrumental: Can’t Be Alone

X-Factor: ooooo he raps fast too

Rating: 81/100

Must Listen Rating: 6/10

6) Born Sinner- J. Cole

This is by far J. Cole’s best work and I’ve been waiting a long long time for this.  Having never been all that enamored with J. Cole it is nice to see all that hype is deserved.  His release date and album content shows that he is not worried at all about commercial success or whether or not you radio listening fools care like his music.

Favorite Track(s): Villuminati, Trouble, She Knows, Forbidden Fruit, Chaining Day, Crooked Smile, Let Nas Down

Least Favorite Track: Runaway

Best Instrumental: Sparks Will Fly

X-Factor: Proof that you all weren’t crazy

Rating: 83/100

Must Listen Rating: 7/10

The top five albums of May and June were so equally matched and yet so different that it is impossible to rank them.  At least just yet.  So these are the top five albums, alphabetically.

Dour Candy- Billy Woods

Billy Woods takes consecutive top spots with consecutive releases.  And those familiar with the DC natives body of work should not be surprised that he sits atop yet another top 10 list.  Since the Super Chron Brothers Mr. Woods has been dropping hot fuckery on all his fans and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.  I mean from the Prolougue I knew it was a wrap; who the hell starts an album with a quote from The Dancer Upstairs.  I’ll tell you who, this nigga.  With impressive features from Aesop Rock and Elucid and of course Billy Woods harsh delivery with a despicable grasp of word play and surprising metaphors the lyrics will not disappoint.  And of course this whole album is produced by Blockhead so… production doesn’t even really need to be talked about since we all know it’s dope.  All I want for my Hannukah is for Billy Woods and Blu to release an album together, there would be no need for another hip-hop album ever…EVER again (if you’re not familiar with Mr. Woods he is pretty much the exact opposite of Blu but just as smart).

Favorite Track(s): Gilgamesh ft. Elucid, Central Park, One Thousand One Nights, Fool’s Gold ft. Open Mike Eagle, Moka Only, & Elucid

Least Favorite Track: N/A

Best Instrumental: Tinseltown

X-Factor: this has a solid 15 listens in it so at 43.9 minutes that’s a solid 11 hours of listening in it

Rating: 90/100

Must Listen Rating: 7/10

Extended Play- Statik Selektah

I always thought Funkmaster Flex, DJ Drama, DJ Mustard, and all the rest released absolute shit because it was hard to make a good DJ tape then Statik Selektah dropped Extended Play and well, now they have no excuse.  Yes it still feels a little disconnected as a whole work but with a different artist on every track that’s bound to happen.  If you like East Coast hip-hop, which you do if you like good music, then this needs to be your first purchase after you finish this article.  Any album with Raekwon, Pro Era, Black Thought, Prodigy, Joell Ortiz, Flatbush Zombies, Blue, Evidence, Freeway, and Talib Kweli on it is bound to be amazing.  While Funk Flex’s 50 track Who You Mad At? Me Or Yourself? had maybe three tracks on it that weren’t terrible Statik drops a solid 18 tracks none of which doesn’t bump proving less is more and screaming doesn’t make your shitty track better.

Favorite Track(s): Birds Eye View, The Spark, Funeral Season, Camouflage Dons, My Hoe, Live from the Era

Least Favorite Track: N/A

Best Instrumental: Gz, Pimps, Hustlers

X-Factor: New York City

Rating: 90/100

Must Listen Rating: 10/10

Run the Jewels- El-P & Killer Mike

El-P is a dirty mother fucker.  (I considered making that my whole explanation but then I thought I’d feel bad about making leaving Killer Mike out.  I mean this shit was short and sweet and amazing as fuck.  I would say I missed good southern rap but I don’t think until Killer Mike and Big K.R.I.T. there was any such thing as good southern hip-hop.  El-P has a verse on every track on this one which is one of the big differences between Run the Jewels and El-P & Killer Mike’s massive success, R.A.P. Music.  The other difference is the beats are much nosier and electronic and this feels like both Killer Mike and El-P’s confort zone which is imporessive because I thought they were a perfect match on R.A.P. Music but if these two keep dropping shit like this it’s going to be a real problem for your speakers.

Favorite Track(s): Run the Jewels, 36 Chain, Sea Legs, Job Well Done, A Christmas Fucking Miracle

Least Favorite Track: N/A

Best Instrumental: Job Well Done

X-Factor: “God damn fat bastard, where that motherfucker’s casket? / But naw baby you gon’ get this here vertical / Every word murderful, Surgical, painful, purposeful / And I take it left off you fuck list personal / Woo, they done let that fuckin’ Mike out / It’s like Tyson in the ’80s, nigga snap and punch your lights out / It’s like Tyson in the ’90s, if I’m losing take a bite out

Rating: 90/100

Must Listen Rating: 10/10

Summer Knights- Joey Bada$$

Joey Joey Joey Joey.  Woo wee.  Joey is the only rapper I know that really knows how to make a summer album.  Summer Knights just makes me want to sit out on my porch and drink ice tea.  While I can hear the similarities to 1999 this is a completely different side of Pro Era and Joey Bada$$.  The more I listen to this though the more I wish STEEZ’s smooth flow was one every track but Joey and the rest of Pro Era do his name justice.  I mean there’s nothing like a good crew album and while this is Joey’s mixtape there is a strong showing in both the production and the features from the most despicable crew out.

Favorite Track(s): Alowha, Hillary $wank, Death of YOLO, Right On Time, 47 Goonz, Word is Bond, 95 Til’ Infinity, Amethyst Rockstar, #LongLiveSteelo, Sorry Bonita, Unorthodox

Least Favorite Track: N/A

Best Instrumental: My Yout

X-Factor: Smooth as fuck

Rating: 90/100

Must Listen Rating: 10/10

Yeezus- Kanye West

Oh Kanye you’re just, the man.  No one, and I do mean no one, could turn a bunch of hip-hop blogs into the comment section of a Justin Beiber music video on Youtube.  Kanye really doesn’t give a fuck what you like, which is awesome because for the most part the general public’s taste in hip-hop is pretty shit (as evidenced by Started From the Bottom and Thrift Shop).  If you don’t like Yeezus I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong because maybe you have a perfectly good reason.  For example, maybe you object to how cocky Ye is… which is very, maybe your religious beliefs make the track I Am A God a big ol’ no no, maybe you really only like punchlines, maybe you know that the Spartans and not the Romans held off a Persian army with only 300 men.  But honestly more than likely you’re just kinda dumb and you’re reason falls more in the category of “but why doesn’t this sound like old Kanye” and to you I say, because it’s NOT old Kanye.  It’s been nearly a decade since College Dropout let’s move on guys.  To those of you with reasonable concerns I say yes no one is as good as Kanye thinks he is but he IS a genius and I will allow some fluffed up sense of self if that means more West albums like this, as an atheist there’s maybe three things in the world I love more than some good ol’ blaspheming but I understand people being offended, and yes punchlines are awesome but there not the only good part of hip-hop as much as Slaughterhouse would like us to think they are… no one is suggesting that you ONLY listen to Yeezus for the rest of your life.  And I mean any album with TNGHT on it is going to get people a little hard.

For more of my fuckery on Yeezus check out my post: https://popcultureche.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/yeezus-review/

Favorite Track(s): Black Skinhead, I Am A God, New Slaves, I’m In It, Blood On the Leaves, Bound 2, Guilt Trip

Least Favorite Track: Hold My Liquor

Best Instrumental: Blood On The Leaves

X-Factor: TNGHT,

Rating: 90/100

Must Listen Rating: 10/10

Shit I passed on you might wanna check out:

Saab Stories-Action Bronson & Harry Fraud

Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2- Asher Roth

Black Flag- Machine Gun Kelly

Stolen Youth- Vince Staples & Larry Fisherman

The Ghetto Tryna Kill Me- The White Mandingos

Excuse My French- French Montana

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