Okay...there's never officially been a 'New Music Monday' but it sounded catchy! Here's a quick list of albums I've heard recently that I think deserve a listen by anyone who calls themselves fan of hip hop.
First up is J. Dilla's Jay Stay Paid. This album holds particular importance to me as a fan of Dilla for a few reasons. One, Dilla passed a few years ago way too early for someone with his talent. I know he's home now but I, as others felt, believed he was only just beginning to reach his potential. Two, the music on this album was compiled by his mom and none other than the Chocolate Boy Wonder, Pete Rock. They literally raided Dilla's 'vault' and put together a collection of music (with a select few emcees) that just keeps ya head noddin' non-stop. My sincere appreciation for Pete Rock's contribution to hip hop knows no bounds. This album only goes to further solidify Pete's place in hip hop's short history. A few of the beats were unfinished so Pete added his touch to 'em. I can almost picture this is what a Tribe Called Quest album might've sounded like had Dilla and Pete worked on the production together exclusively. Some of the other beats were left untouched most likely because they didn't need any work at all, keeping that original, dirty hip hop sound. The stand out track is Reality TV featuring Black Thought of The Jimmy Fallon Show (just kidding). Thought doesn't hold back as he shares his thoughts about reality TV and how it affects the people around him. The song is poignant and doesn't let up for one moment. Even in J. Dilla's passing, hip hop lives through him.
This next man needs no introduction. Even the new school cats know his name. Grand Puba, the front man for Brand Nubian, has returned with his first solo release since 2001's Understand This. Brand Nubian has been taking part of the celebratory resurgence of 90's hip hop. They've been doing shows just about everywhere so it just makes good sense to release new material for original and newer fans alike. There is no doubt about it...Puba is a throwback. Not in the sense of say Kool Moe Dee or Run-DMC but more like Nas or Jay-Z. Puba is definitely old enough to be considered old school...but armed with rhymes that easily rivals anything new on the radio. His style has never been matched and he's been laying down music since the mid-80's as part of his pre-Nubian crew, The Masters of Ceremony. This album has solid beats and more-than-solid lyrics. The stand out track is How Long?, yet another political based track which shows that life truly is deeper than rap. Guest appearances from Q-Tip and Large Professor add to the album's strength. You'll enjoy this.
DJ Green Lantern somehow got Dead Prez to do another album. If there's anything anyone knows about Dead Prez, it's that they don't put out albums often. Dead Prez fans already know what to expect so I won't bother writing this for them. For all of you who don't know who Dead Prez is or what they represent, well... Imagine Public Enemy driving in X-Clan's pink Caddy while listening to N.W.A., Paris and KRS-One on solid rotation. Dead Prez makes hardcore, politically charged rap music. Period. Sure, take a listen if you want to hear something a little different than Ron Browz and Soulja Boy Tell'em. Warning: If you can't stand the heat, then stay outta the muhfucin' kitchen and don't bother coming back to see what they cooked. It won't go down easily.
Honorable Mention: U-God's Dopium. At this point, Wu-Tang is simply Wu-Tang. They've developed their own Wu-sound and U-God's latest doesn't veer far from Wu's classic debut back in '94. Unfortunately, Dopium's guest appearances outshine U-God's performance. Lyrically, U-God simply can't hang with Ghostface or GZA but he hold's his ground like 'Golden Arms' is supposed to. U-God does lose a few points for hanging onto the ridiculously overplayed drug references though. A song entitled Coke, hilariously featuring someone named Slaine of La Coka Nostra (are you kidding me?!), as well as the album's title just screams, "Hey, look at me! I've run out of ideas!" Regardless, this album is true Wu. Love it or hate it.
As usual, thanks for reading...