Friday, January 30, 2009

Brother Ali: Upcoming Projects Update

I saw an advertisement banner for the upcoming Brother Ali EP on the Rhymesayers website, but couldn't find any news updates about it. Thankfully, Fly High, Duluth! and the homie Mojo have us covered. Here's the rundown:

  1. Brother Ali will be releasing a 9-song EP titled The Truth is Here EP featuring rare B-Sides and other unreleased tracks. Along with that will come a DVD featuring his performance at First Ave in Minneapolis during his 'Truth Is Here' national tour, as well as some interview footage and music videos for "Take Me Home" and "Uncle Sam Goddamn." The scheduled release date for this package is March 10, 2009.
  2. A full-length, Ant-produced LP from Brother Ali will be coming out in Fall 2009.
Get ready. Brother Ali is coming for that crown in 2009 — if he does not already have it, that is.

Naledge: "Nez & Rio Freestyle (2)"

Andrew is probably right in calling Naledge the "hardest working emcee in Chicago." This guy is pushing out tracks like nobody's business. Here's a freestyle he did from a beat from the the in house producers for Brainiac Society, Nez & Rio.

Naledge: "Nez & Rio Freestyle (2)"

Bonus: Hit FSD for the first "Nez & Rio Freestyle"

Thursday, January 29, 2009 Finalists Spits Their Favorite Verses (Video)

Minneapolis rapper Knonam makes an appearance around the 8:30 mark to spit a verse and explain what he's looking for when he writes his lyrics.

Rhymefest: "SuperSonic (Chucky Cheese)" (Charles Hamilton Diss)

OUCH. People had been talking about this for a while, and it finally leaked. I believe Rhymefest may have even said on Twitter that this is his first official diss track (obviously excluding his Scribble Jam battles, etc.), but I could be mixtaken. If not, it's a rare occasion seeing El Che really go after another rapper. My favorite line is, "If I see him, I'll probably pee on him." Haha. This will be on Rhymefest's upcoming mixtape The Manual.

Update: Rhymefest explains via Myspace the whole story behind this beef. (Click to read)

Rhymefest: "SuperSonic (Chucky Cheese)" (Charles Hamilton Diss)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Muja Messiah: "Red Rover" (Video)

Muja states at the start of the song, "I just wrote this shit," which is a pretty decent indicator that it is a new song. Although I don't know the name of the track, Muja exhibits his MN gangster posture all over the synthy beat. It goes without saying that this performance, which took place in mid-January at the Big Wiz album release party, deserves a post.

Update: Thanks to Jon Jon, I now know this song is tentatively titled "Red Rover."

P.O.S.: Interview (Video)

I've been getting lots of consecutive posts from the same artist lately. What's up with that? Also, what's a KiwiBox?

P.O.S.: "Drumroll" (Video)

You better believe Midwest Broadcast is the one of the first to hit you with the new P.O.S. video; this track/video is crazy! Never Better in stores February 3!

Update: P.O.S. also sat down with MTVU to be put on "The Hot Seat." Hit the link to read the interview, and hear what P.O.S. has to say about his craziest touring experience, his favorite city to hit on tour, his musical influences, and plenty more.

Kanye West: "Street Lights" (Fan Video)

Via Kanye's Blog. This was "an animated film for the International Festival of Animated Film from Filmakademie students Csaba Letay and Verena Fels." Right.

Black Milk: Out Da Box TV Interview (Video)

What's wrong with a little more Black Milk? Here's an interview he did with Out Da Box TV, which I spotted at OkayPlayer. He speaks about being an independent artist, leaking tracks, and Just Blaze. I'm hitting the gym now, so I'll be back in a while with some new updates.

Black Milk: "Dub Rock" (Video + Download)

Black Milk posted this unofficial video on his Myspace page yesterday, but I never got around to throwing it up on Midwest Broadcast. This track was presumably left on the cutting room floor when Black was recording material for Tronic. The beat almost has a progessive, yet funky regae feel. Definitely ounds like something that could have been on Tronic, but I think I'm glad he left it out. Still a solid track, though; the download link is provided after the video. Oh, and Black says that the "Losing Out ft. Royce Da 5'9"" music video is coming soon.

Black Milk: "Dub Rock"

U-N-I: "Think About It ft. Vandalyzm & 6th Sense" + "Castle Vee Re-Up ft. Black Milk"

Ok, now that January 27 is finally over I suppose I can start posting things above the Nerd-Hop mixtape again. U-N-I, one of the finest hip-hop acts coming out of California today, just dropped their second official mixtape, Before There Was Love, presented by the great Mick Boogie. Here are a couple of tracks on the mixtape featuring some prominent Midwest artists that I have been known to blog about, Vandalyzm and Black Milk. Lastly, if you dig the songs, a link to download the mixtape in its entirety is provided at the end of the post. I suggest you do so.

U-N-I: "Think About It ft. Vandalyzm & 6th Sense"
U-N-I: "Castle Vee Re-Up ft. Black Milk"

Download: U-N-I: Before There Was Love, presented by Mick Boogie (Mixtape)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

J.Loonz: Nerd-Hop, Vol. 1 (Free Download)

Well, the wait is finally over. Jordan Looney, better known as J.Loonz, has finally released the first collection of tracks of his highly anticipated Nerd-Hop mixtape series. Yes, I said series. He has created so much music in the past few months that now, Nerd-Hop will be released in a multi-part mixtape series. This is Nerd-Hop, Vol. 1. You have heard some of these tracks before in posts I threw up in the past. Others will be newer tracks. All are fire. Keep on the lookout for the next volumes in the series. With that being said, I'll leave you with some words from J.Loonz himself, and his partner in crime/manager extrodinairre Zack Johnson. The download link is after the following quote.
On the 6th day, God created man. About 3 billion years later, man creates Nerd-Hop.

Please enjoy this cd, we lived off of scraps of food for a summer, barely able to afford a roof over our heads, to bring you the tracks here (and the next two albums worth).

This is Nerd-hop Volume One, which, yes, means that more is coming. Hold your horses please folks. What is nerd-hop you might ask?

Nerd-hop is a state of mind. It isn’t a fashion statement or a style of music. At its very roots nerd-hop is the idea that no matter the situation, decision or whatever it is your doing stay true to thyself. Don’t be afraid to be who you are at all times. Don’t let other people define what it means to be you because every definition is a box. Every box is a limit. At the end of the day we accept that we are nerds (we go to Northwestern, we like class, we aren’t thugs).

But what is a nerd? It usually holds a negative connotation: socially awkward, weak, always stuck in a book. We are shining a new light on the nerd community. To us a nerd is some one who is intelligent and passionate to the point of insanity about anything. You could be a nerd about fashion, music, sports, even selling yayo (shit just look at the Clipse: coke NERDS to the fullest). At the end of the day if your like “fuck them nerd hop dudes” then you’re the most NERD HOP person because you stayed true to how you felt and didn’t try to hop on just because we said it was cool.

Try out the nerd-hop state of mind for a day and see if you don’t feel better, clear-headed, and more confident. Embrace your nerdom. Be who you are, and let everybody else try and figure it out. NERD-HOP LIVES.
J.Loonz: Nerd-Hop, Vol. 1 (Free Download)

Lupe Fiasco: USA Network Character Approved Honoree (Video)

Mic Terror: King Of The New School Mixtape

This has pretty much been out all day, but I'll still post. Better late than never, right? I've been busy today. Either way, Mic Terror does his thing on plenty of tracks here, and the mixtape is a good listen.

Mic Terror: King Of The New School Mixtape

Mic Terror & Naledge: RubyHornet TV After Hours Freestyle (Video)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mic Terror: "Snow Globe ft. Travis McCoy"

Mic Terror jumps on a track with Gly Class Heroes' Travis McCoy. His King of the New School mixtape drops tomorrow, but can be streamed a day early here. I've gotta run now, catch you all later.

Mic Terror: "Snow Globe ft. Travis McCoy"

The Cool Kids: "Pennies" (Video) (Update)

This video has been a long time coming. The wait is over, and it's really something pretty serious. The track is slated to appear on their debut full-length LP, When Fish Ride Bicycles.

Update: I'm posting the video The Cool Kids put up themselves on their blog. It's basically the same thing, but has some pre-video commentary from Chuck English if you're interested. Not sure why the video is so big, but it's high quality so enjoy.

Naledge: "Rock Top Fashions"

Naledge just keeps rockin' these joints. This will be on his upcoming Brainiac Society, Vol. 3 mixtape. Shout to Ruby Hornet.

Naledge: "Rock Top Fashions"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Zion I: "Caged Bird, Pt.1 ft. Brother Ali"

Brother Ali has been collaborating with artists all over the place lately; I'm lovin' it! This track will appear on Zion I's upcoming LP, The Take Over, which will drop on February 17.

Zion I: "Caged Bird, Pt.1 ft. Brother Ali"

A Message from Martin Louie the King, Jr. (Video)

Kanye West done gone and lost his mind.

*Gets handed note card from assistant*

Oh wait, that happened years ago? My mistake.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Focus: "Homage To Premier ft. Royce Da 5'9", Phonte, & Stat Quo"

Stumbling upon this track was honestly a little serendipitous. While browsing around Twitter, I happened to see that Phonte of Little Brother posted a new track through one of his updates. Naturally, since I found this only a few minutes ago, I don't have much information about it. Could be an older song, but I had never heard it before, and it's ill, so it deserves a post. Produced by Focus, and featuring Phonte, Royce Da 5'9", and Stat Quo, this song, as the title indicates, is an homage to the legendary DJ Premier. Perhaps it's part of a larger project, I'll keep you updated as any new developments emerge. For the meantime, hit the download link below and vibe out to this dope track.

Focus: "Homage To Premier ft. Royce Da 5'9", Phonte, & Stat Quo"

Friday, January 23, 2009

P.O.S.: Behind the Scenes for "Drumroll" (Video)

P.O.S. gives us an impressive sneak preview of his upcoming video for "Drumroll." Complete with bombs, fires, and other special effects, it seems as if Rhymesayers is pulling out all the stops for this one — it might even be as crazy a video as Mac Lethal's "Calm Down Baby." I do know that I can empathize with P.O.S. for having to suffer through that Minnesota cold. If this video was filmed in the past week or two, they were probably dealing with those 20-30 below wind chills. Yikes! Either way, stay on the lookout for the full video, and remember to pre-order Never Better, or pick it up in stores on February 3.

M.anifest: B96 Freestyle + "Time Is"

Last post I told I would be throwing up the freestyle M.anifest put down while on Peter Parker's B96 Homegrown Heatrocks segment helping to widen the scope of great local music (By the way, if you want the official Homegrown Heatrocks, Vol. 1 mixtape, hit this link). Well here it is, not to mention a new track that will appear on M.anifest's upcoming Coming To America EP, "Time Is." The download link is located below the video.

M.anifest: "Time Is"

Kidz In The Hall: Birdwalk Reversed (Video)

M.anifest on B96

Peter Parker got love for Africa. Footage of M.anifest rhyming during his radio segment will be up sometime soon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Franz Diego: EP (Free Download)

Franz Diego of Minneapolis just released his solo EP, the EP. This is a definite download if you're a fan of down to earth, lyrical hip-hop. Franz is holding it down for the Twin Cities, and if you haven't yet checked out Illuminous 3, the group of which he is a member, then do that as well. Their recent debut album, Room, is yet another dope Twin Cities album! The EP tracklist is featured in the image below, and can either be downloaded by heading over to, or by hitting up the zshare link I provided below.

Franz Diego: EP

Naledge: "Drop Freestyle"

Mr. Go Ill himself goes super ill over the irresistible "Drop" instrumental, produced by Polow Da Don. I see you Ruby Hornet, big ups for the exclusive. Naledge has been blacking out on these types of tracks lately.

Naledge: "Drop Freestyle"

Phonte Disses Kanye West for 808s and Heartbreak

Just spotted this at Byron Crawford's house, and it's really pretty surprising. In a recent interview, Phonte of Little Brother and the Foreign Exchange expressed his dislike of Kanye West's latest album, 808s and Heartbreak (Review). Claiming that Kanye simply does not have enough talent to sing for a whole album, Phonte argues that him using autotune was, more or less, a musical cop out. You can listen to the interview via a zshare link below. I applaud Phonte's honesty in speaking his mind. It will be interesting to see if this develops into anything else, especially since Phonte's two latest albums (Leave It All Behind and Zo and Tigallo Sing the 80s) have featured him singing. I hesitantly gave 808s a spot on my Best Non-Hip-Hop Albums of 2008 list, if only for the fact that that album did not completely suck even though I strongly dislike autotune. What do you people think? Does Phonte have a point? How badly would he destroy Kanye in a (rapping) battle? Or are his comments completely unwarranted? Take a listen and decide for yourself.

Phonte Disses Kanye (Audio)

Jake One: Vimby Interview (Video)

Rhymesayers artist and one of the dopest producers of 2008 sat down with the good folks at Vimby to do a little interview.

Add-2: "Chicago Kids" + "Ain't The Devil Happy"

Shouts to Andrew for releasing these. Word is that Add-2 has a project on the way. Glad to hear it, Tale Of Two's City was ill! He definitely goes in on these tracks, too.

Add-2: "Chicago Kids (All That I Got Is You)"
Add-2: "Ain't The Devil Happy"

Hip-Hop Against Homophobia: Preview

With some insight from El Guante, here's a video preview of the upcoming Hip-Hop Against Homophobia concert. BIG shout to all those participating in this event for taking such a progressive stance that is not commonly shared across rap music.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Big Sean: "Who Knows ft. Mike Posner"

I forgot how much more of a struggle this blogging shit is during the school year. Today's the first day of class this semester, and I'm out the door in a few minutes, but in the meantime, G.O.O.D. Music's Big Sean will be releasing his upcoming mixtape, UKNOWBIGSEAN, on January 28. Here's another leak from that project, "Who Knows ft. Mike Posner". If you didn't catch the two previous tracks, you can hit this link.

Big Sean: "Who Knows ft. Mike Posner"

T3 Speaks on Hip-Hop & Upcoming Slum Village Album

Via Michigan Hip-Hop.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Brandon Allday (Big Quarters): "Free Shipping" (Video)

Brandon Allday of Big Quarters spits his verse from the BQ joint "Free Shipping." The track was featured on the October issue of Big Quarters Direct. Brandon and Zach will send you five new tracks every month for a five dollar subscription fee. Not a bad deal. Subscribe at their website.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hands On: P.O.S. Never Better

A seizure inducing inside look at what you will be getting if you purchase the physical copy of the new P.O.S. album, Never Better. So that's what they meant by "replaceable album cover inserts," or whatever the term is. Some pretty cool features that I will spend an estimated 5 minutes or less messing around with.

Black Clover Records HUGE Sale Vlog

Mac Lethal done gone up and lost his mind. I'm driving back to Madison, WI tomorrow, so I may or may not catch you until tomorrow night. Peace!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mic Terror: King Of The New School Trailer

King Of The New School will be released on January 27. But seriously, you've got to watch this video.

Illogic: "Let's Go" + "Diabolical Fun"

Illogic, the emcee out of Columbus, Ohio, will be dropping his fourth studio LP, titled Diabolical Fun, on March 24. Here are the first two leaks from that album, both produced by partner in crime Ill Poetic. In case you have not checked out his 2008 EP, One Bar Left, as I neglected to post it when it was released, you should download that as well. Keep checking back for future releases in promotion of the album!

Illogic: "Let's Go"
Illogic: "Diabolical Fun"

Bonus: Illogic: One Bar Left EP

Concert Announcement: Big Wiz CD Release Party at The Cabooze

Also featuring the likes of Muja Messiah and Big Zach of Kanser.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mikkey Halsted: "Just Juke ft. GLC" (Prod. No I.D.)

Andrew is an (internet) beast. Nuff said. This man stays releasing dope new Chicago artists' material, and if you're not checking FSD regularly, you are definitely slacking. This gem right here is the first leak that will be appearing on a collaboration mixtape between FSD and Timbuck2, which, according to Andrew, will be coming very soon. He's got plenty more heat coming for the rest of the tape, so keep on checking for when that drops.

Mikkey Halsted: "Just Juke ft. GLC" (Prod. No I.D.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rhymefest: "Coolness"

After a far too long hiatus, Rhymefest is back with a track from his upcoming mixtape, El Che: The Manual, obviously a prelude to his highly anticipated sophomore album, El Che. The mixtape should be dropping sometime soon, and the album later this year.

Rhymefest: "Coolness"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Knonam: "Hip-Hop Is Dead (Remix)" (Video)

Remember kids, don't rap and drive — unless you rap something like this. Knonam spits some original bars over Nas' "Hip-Hop Is Dead" instrumental while crusing in his whip. Can we get a studio version of this? Is that too much to ask for?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dodi Phy: "Capture The Moment" (Video)

More weekend heat from a Minneapolis artist. You may recognize Dodi Phy from his appearance on Muja Messiah's MPLS Massacre mixtape. This is the video for his single, "Capture The Moment."

Young Son: "This Far (Juicy Remix)

Minneapolis' own Young Son just released a remix of the timeless Biggie joint, "Juicy," in honor of the release of the Notorious B.I.G. biopic, Notorious. This is a recycled verse from one of his older tracks, "This Far," but placed over the "Juicy" instrumental, hence the remix.

Young Son: "This Far (Juicy Remix)"

A Few Words From P.O.S.

Never Better in stores on February 3.

Naledge: Key To Naledge Vlog

Naledge gets behind the camera for RubyHornet TV in Chicago.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

El Guante: A Capella + "Ink" (Live Video)

Thanks to those at Above The Fold, there is some footage of the El Guante/Big Cats show that I regrettably missed on the 2nd. El Guante spits an ill a capella verse, and then transitions into his song, "Ink." If you don't have his mixtape, Conscious Is Not Enough, or his album, El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment, then you are seriously missing out on some real hip-hop. I provided a download for "Ink" below the video.

El Guante: "Ink"

Big Sean: Video + Interview + Two New Tracks

There's a lot going on in this post. I'll handle everything separately.

First, here is an interview Big Sean had with Jen The Pen, spotted at NahRight.

Next up is a video from Big Sean himself, introducing his new website/blog, and discussing his upcoming mixtape, UKNOWBIGSEAN. Below this video are two preview tracks for the mixtape, available for download. The official mixtape drop should be coming soon. All this was spotted at Speech Is My Hammer.

Big Sean: "Intro"
Big Sean: "Billionaire"

Eminem: "Crack A Bottle ft. Dr. Dre & 50 Cent"

Straying from my typically underground interests, here is the new — and supposedly final — version of Marshall Methers' new track, "Crack A Bottle." Does anyone notice how the song gets worse as it progresses? Dre spits a halfway-decent verse, probably because it was ghostwritten. But 50 just isn't even trying anymore; it's not even funny. But hey, I think there is some sort of unwritten contract stating that posting new Em is a necessity. He is, pretty easily, one of the best rappers ever. Do not even try to debate that.

Eminem: "Crack A Bottle ft. Dr. Dre & 50 Cent"

Mic Terror: "Definition Of A Freestyle"

Well, there are surely many definitions of a freestyle these days. What Mic Terror spits here in this video is definitely not an "off the top of the dome" freestyle, but he spits some nice bars nonetheless. Over BlackStar's classic "Definition" beat, at that. The only catch is in order to watch the video you have to bear through about a minute of his acting before the song actually starts. Mic Terror, stick to rapping please!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy Belated New Year From Common

Is this worth posting? I'm not quite sure. But I'm about to get my wisdom teeth pulled and will be so drugged up for the rest of the day I may not be able to get back at you all later. So I guess I almost had to post this. I'll try to do what I can by later in the day, we shall see. Peace, ya'll.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Knonam: EP

Knonam put together an EP to promote his participation in the contest. With a collection of tracks compiled from various other Knonam projects, including his latest studio album, Length Of The Blade, this EP serves as a nice introduction to a dope Minneapolis emcee you may have not heard of, and also has Brother Ali, Eyedea, and Royce Da 5'9" guest spots. Download link after the tracklist below.

Knonam: EP

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Naledge: "Look At Them Hips"

You can always count on Andrew to be the person to liberate new Naledge tracks. Mr. Go Ill has been on a bit of a hot streak lately, dropping a number of hot tracks. This one has definitely got more of a club feel, with Naledge spitting that smooth game. This track will be on Naledge's upcoming release, Naledge Presents: Attack Of The Brainiacs Vol. 3.

Naledge: "Look At Them Hips"

Vandalyzm: "Story Time" + "The VanDilla (Freestyle)"

Vandalyzm dropped a new old track plus a New Year bonus. Check these tracks out. I'm going to bed.

Vandalyzm: "Story Time"
Vandalyzm: "The VanDilla (Freestyle)"

Friday, January 2, 2009

Best of 2008: Top 25 Albums (Full List + Observations)

Previous Midwest Broadcast Best of 2008 Posts:
Non-Hip-Hop Albums
Top 15 Mixtapes
Top 25 Albums (Entries 25-21 + Honorable Mentions)
Top 25 Albums (Entries 20-16)
Top 25 Albums (Entries 15-11)
Top 25 Albums (Entries 10-6)
Top 25 Albums (Entries 5-1)

Intro: I figured providing the entire list without album-specific commentary would make it more accessible, so here it is. I provided some observations I made about my list at the end, including comparing mine to HipHopDX's list, and some statistics analyses. This may or may not be the last post in my Best of 2008 series; so I guess you guys win either way you look at it. Either you lazy bums don't have to read so much anymore — heaven forbid — and I can get back to posting other updates, or you get more well-written (?), thought-provoking (...) material from your favorite (!?!?!) hip-hop blogger. As usual, reader comments are encouraged in the c-section below or via email. I'm happy to argue with you.

Midwest Broadcast's Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums of 2008
25. Lil’ Wayne: Tha Cater III
24. C.R.A.C. Knuckles: The Piece Talks (Review)
23. Heltah Skeltah: D.I.R.T. (Da Incredible Rap Team) (Review)
22. Kanser: Future Retro Legacy
21. Fat Ray & Black Milk: The Set Up
20. The Game: L.A.X.
19. Jake One: White Van Music
18. GZA: Pro Tools
17. Atmosphere: Strictly Leakage
16. Murs & 9th Wonder: Sweet Lord
15. Guilty Simpson: Ode To The Ghetto
14. Heiruspecs: Heiruspecs
13. Muja Messiah: Thee Adventures of a B-Boy/D-Boy
12. The Knux: Remind Me In 3 Days...
11. 88-Keys: The Death of Adam
10. Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak: Hand Over Fist
9. Johnson & Jonson: Johnson & Jonson (Review)
8. Doomtree: Doomtree
7. Common Market: Tobacco Road
6. Elzhi: The Preface (Review)
5. The Roots: Rising Down (Review)
4. Nas: Untitled
3. Black Milk: Tronic (Review)
2. Atmosphere: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (Review)
1. Q-Tip: The Renaissance

Side Notes:
1. I have a personal preference for rapper/producer collaborations — albums on which only one producer handles the beats for every, or nearly every, track on an album. In these cases, there is greater opportunity for a sonic and thematic consistency. Consequently, if those factors are stable throughout an entire album, rappers have more opportunity to maintain an equal level of lyrical continuity. This, in turn, makes albums sound less like mixtape compilations of a rapper’s favorite songs, and more like, well, albums. As you can see, nine out of my top 10 albums of 2008 were entirely or almost entirely produced by a single artist or group. The only exception was Nas’ Untitled. Assessing the overall list, 17 out of the top 25 hip-hop albums of the year followed that aforementioned format. That’s 68%, which I would consider a significant portion. Coincidence? I think not.

2. I Self Devine was featured on three of the albums appearing on my list without even releasing one of his own. Coincidence? Maybe. But make sure you stay on the watch for his 2009 release; it should be coming in mid-summer.

3. Black Milk played some role, either by rapping or producing at least one song, on six of the top 25 albums. Coincidence? I think not — he owned 2008.

4. I compared the HipHopDX Top 25 of 2008 list to my own (obviously mine is more reputable and accurate because, well, I wrote it); there were 12 albums that appeared on both that list and my own. Two albums on their list were featured in my honorable mentions. So, counting those, HipHopDX and I agreed on only 14 out of 25 albums, or 56% of the time, which I would consider relatively low, even considering the unfathomably large number of hip-hop albums released in 2008. Why? I noticed their album includes significantly more mainstream releases than mine. They included nearly all the biggest-selling hip-hop albums of the year (Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, The Game, Ludacris, T.I.). I only put two of those artists’ albums in my list, and Lil’ Wayne was included somewhat reluctantly/sarcastically. Kanye’s album wasn’t even a hip-hop album, so I can’t comprehend why it was included in their list. While both T.I.’s and Ludacris’ albums were solid commercial rap albums featuring more than a few above average songs, they remained too watered down by radio-friendly singles and industry-influences guest appearances, thus dampering their likelihood of making my list. I also noticed that many of the albums that made my list were not even reviewed by HipHopDX (Muja Messiah, Common Market, Doomtree, Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak, Kanser, and Heiruspecs, to be specific). On the flipside, their list only included two albums I had not listened to — less than half their total. Does HipHopDX need another freelance album reviewer on their staff? Shit, I’m broke as hell; I’ll do it for nearly nothing! Maybe next year, if their scope is more thorough, their “best of” lists may have a different look.

5. Top 25 albums’ release breakdown by month:
January - 1
March - 3
April - 3
June – 1
July - 4
August - 4
September – 3
October – 4
November - 1
December – 1
I really hope I didn't mess that up, as it would be a bitch to recheck. But who am I kidding, I wouldn't fix the errors anyway.

As you can see, only four albums from the first quarter of the year cracked the top 25 (and the only January album was Atmosphere’s Strictly Leakage, which came out in late December 2007). Things really picked up starting in the hot summer months of July and August. Eight of the top 25 albums (32%) dropped in just those two months. October, July and August were the biggest single months, with four of the top 25 albums being released in each respective month. In October, three albums (Tronic, The Death of Adam, Remind Me in Three Days…) were all released on the same day, October 28, making for the biggest single release day of the year. In the four-month span from July through October (33% of the year), a whopping fifteen of the top 25 albums (60%) were released. What can we take from this analysis? Perhaps not much, but it’s definitely semi-interesting, especially since nothing else is going on at 3:00 AM as I’m writing this.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Best of 2008: Top 25 Albums (Entries 5-1)

Previous Midwest Broadcast Best of 2008 Posts:
Non-Hip-Hop Albums
Top 15 Mixtapes
Top 25 Albums (Entries 25-21 + Honorable Mentions)
Top 25 Albums (Entries 20-16)
Top 25 Albums (Entries 15-11)
Top 25 Albums (Entries 10-6)

Happy New Year, everyone! I realize I'm a day late with this, so I'll avoid any rambling prose. Here you have it, the final 5 entries in my best albums of 2008. I'll post the overall list without commentary later today so it's easier to analyze the entire thing at once. Let me know what you think! Drop a comment or an email.

5. The Roots: Rising Down (Review)
Critics dismissed The Roots’ latest effort, the politically charged Rising Down, as a so-so album because they were “too angry.” Well damn right they’re angry! The planet has experienced recent events such as the Sean Bell verdict, a historic economic recession, global warming, behind-the-scenes governmental scandals, and much more. Naturally, The Roots had quite a bit to get off their chest on Rising Down, but it worked. Black Thought sounded as spirited and pissed off as ever, delivering some of the strongest individual verses of the year. ?uestlove and the rest of the band’s production was dark, yet crisp and immaculate. Lastly, the impressive slew of guest verses, from Mos Def dropping a show-stealer on “Rising Down” to Common and Wale spitting incredible sixteens on their respective tracks, didn’t water down the album, but helped bolster its scope. Rising Down exhibited The Roots in top-notch form. Key Tracks: “Rising Down ft. Mos Def & Styles P,” “75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction),” “Get Busy ft. Dice Raw & Peedi Peedi,” “The Show ft. Common & Dice Raw,” “Rising Up ft. Wale & Chrisette Michelle”

4. Nas: Untitled
It seemed as if the pomp surrounding the release of Untitled exceeded its actual reception. What got lost among some was the fact that, regardless of the album title, Nas skillfully delivered on a promise to provide his honest, “uncensored,” critique of race in America. Untitled featured Nas at arguably his most focused since his landmark classic debut album, Illmatic. And this time, unlike several of his other albums, the beat selection did not damper the overall quality of the release. “Queens Get The Money” was one of the most breathtaking tracks of 2008. “Hero ft. Keri Hilson” was one of the best singles of the year, and Nas’ third verse on that track couldn’t have been a better assessment of the corporate oversight dominating the logistics of Untitled’s release. “Sly Fox” was a ruthless attack on the biased and questionable practices of Fox News. “Fried Chicken ft. Busta Rhymes” and “Project Roach” were thought-provoking metaphor-fests. But what prevailed over all the individually strong tracks was the fusion of each track to form an uncompromising and complete album. Key Tracks: “Queens Get The Money,” “Hero ft. Keri Hilson,” “Sly Fox,” “Y'all My Niggas”

3. Black Milk: Tronic (Review)
If comparisons to J Dilla’s neo-soul sampling style had held back Black Milk’s ability to individualize himself as a premier modern producer, then Tronic effectively dismissed those appraisals. With Black Milk utilizing a unique combination of live studio instrumentation and sampling, Tronic was easily one of the best, and most originally produced, hip-hop albums of the year. Not to mention Black Milk drastically stepping his rap game up a notch, as well. Other artists beware: Black Milk is paving his own path in hip-hop — but he’s years ahead of the rest of the competition. Key Tracks: “Long Story Short ft. Dwele,” “Losing Out ft. Royce Da 5'9",” “The Matrix ft. Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price, & DJ Premier,” “Try,” “Bond 4 Life ft. Melanie Rutherford”

2. Atmosphere: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (Review)
This album was not as big a change from previous Atmosphere efforts as is commonly put forth. Slug is still telling amazing stories, and Ant is still making amazing beats. Maybe it was the fancy booklet and children’s storybook that came with the CD, or maybe it was the strangely optimistic title. Still, Atmosphere knew exactly what they were doing when crafting Lemons: making an enjoyable, relatable, hip-hop album. No one ever — I mean ever — has rapped better about people whose lives suck than Slug, whether his stories are semi-autobiographical or third-person narratives. His stories blend perfectly when coupled with Ant’s thick and melodic production, this time primarily using instrumentation in place of Ant’s sampling that listeners have grown accustomed to. Lemons, though not an entire reinvention of Atmosphere’s sound, was a great change of pace from the underground hip-hop legends and an album that shone brighter than most in 2008. Key Tracks: “Shoulda Known,” “Puppets,” “Painting,” “Yesterday,” “Guarantees,” “The Waitress,” “In Her Music Box”

1. Q-Tip: The Renaissance
And what a renaissance it was. After listening to this endlessly upon its release, I have yet to develop a real complaint about the album. Q-Tip’s rapping was introspective, reflecting on the rap game, his place in hip-hop history, and his past and present colleagues, especially J Dilla. The production was classic, almost all done by Q-Tip himself, except for the spectacular “Move,” which was brought out of the J Dilla posthumous vaults. Some of the album seemed foreign — Q-Tip being the only rapper on the album, for example — but in the end, this is classic Q-Tip material, reminiscent of his Midnight Marauders days. There really was no other choice for best album of 2008. Key Tracks: “Johnny is Dead,” “Won't Trade,” “Gettin' Up,” “Move,” “Dance On Glass,” “Life Is Better ft. Norah Jones,” “Shaka”

Termanology: If Heaven Was A Mile Away (A Tribute To J Dilla) (Mixtape)

Termanology dropped off a New Years Day release to start the year off with some easy listening. If Heaven Was A Mile Away is his tribute mixtape to the late great J Dilla. The mixtape features Termanology and friends kicking verses over all of Termanology's favorite J Dilla beats. I can't complain — maybe we've ever got an early contender for one of 2009's better mixtapes. The bar's already being set high. I love it! Download link after the tracklist below.

Termanology: If Heaven Was A Mile Away (A Tribute To J Dilla) (Mixtape)

Muja Messiah: URB Interview

Muja just had a nice little interview feature at URB Magazine. Hit this link to check it out. Minneapolis is doing big things in 2009! Chea!