Funny how I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that this summer was feeling tiresome, when Slate comes along to remind me that they’ve been lobbying for an end to August since 2001. Considering TSN is currently showing The Replacements, it would appear they’re right. I mean Lord, I tried to leave the house today, made it to The Annex and back before I started soaking through my drawers, came home, made dinner and fell asleep for half an hour. This wouldn’t happen in June.
So in an effort to avoid pissing away what’s left of my summer catching up on this season of The Boondocks [though certainly a noble pursuit], bloggity blog blog.
Thing is, being a hip-hop fan can be a full-time job if you let it. The relative speed that the music can be produced with leads to a barrage of mixtapes, remixes and bootlegs every week, there’s always going to be something you miss. Plus, as has been previously discussed, my exploratory efforts tend to skew foreign over domestic, so there’s a lot I never even know about until it shows up on some mixtape I randomly download and feel ashamed of my credibility as a hip-hop afficianado. This seems to be happening with alarming frequency this year, so come and look down your nose at me and my foolishness and five amazing songs I had no idea existed.
1. Memphis Bleek – Dear Summer
Okay, you can’t really blame me for not keeping up on Bleek’s career, can you? Come on, now. From his 2005 album, the song featured a stellar verse from a then retired Jay-Z that was so good Bleek just decided to leave it alone. No use getting killed on your own song, right? Also worth noting is the production by Just Blaze. I’m like, the only guy left who isn’t tired of the sped up soul sample, and this flip of Weldon Irvine is perfect for city walking.
2. Kardinal Offishal f/ The Clipse – Set It Off
Maybe it’s due to Caribana last weekend, but I’ve been gaining a new love for Mr. International. I always used to say I preferred Kardi when he straight MC’d, with minimal dancehall influence [a requirement I might be rescinding, given how much I’ve been banging ‘Ol’ Time Killin‘ this week] and he murders this beat, produced by Toronto wunderkind Boy-1da [and not Dr. Dre, though some people were confused when Dre dropped his first verse in almost a decade over this beat. Too bad it was kinda wack]. And really, has anything not been made more awesome by the presence of The Clipse?
3. J. Dilla – Won’t Do
First heard this when it crushed in my skull at ?uestlove’s DJ set back in June, and a quick search of Who Sampled essentially proved what I already knew. How could this not be a Dilla beat?
Look, I’ll be the one to say it: No one comes to Dilla for rhymes. He’s capable, but it almost seems tragic to me that a track as transcendent as this gets wasted on lyrics about wanting more pussy. No, you go to Dilla to have your soul lifted, to hear something in sample based music that’s never been done before or since, even with something as worn out as the Isley’s ‘Footsteps in the Dark.’
4. UGK – ‘It’s Supposed to Bubble’
Truth: I love Bun B. Love him. Like, he might be on my all time dinner guests list. Just one of the coolest, realest guys in the business, facts I hadn’t forgotten but were pleasantly reminded of when he recently joined Twitter in anticipation of his new album [which dropped today, actually]. But it occurred to me I really didn’t know much of his music aside from some guest verses and his and Pimp’s stellar collab with Outkast from a few years back. So I did some digging and stumbled on this gem, from 1993, a smoothed out slab of funk made for sipping beers on the porch.
5. Freddie Joachim – Wake Up
Maybe not so much this song itself, but Freddie as an artist. Basically, when Nujabes passed, tributes started going up, and I kept seeing mention of this remix by Freddie of ‘Counting Stars’, possibly THE Nujabes song for a number of reasons. If you’re going to touch that song, you need to do it justice, which is what he did. He kept the spirit of the song intact while staying true to his production sensibilities, which is what any good remix should do. Since he hooked me on that one, I started to dig through his catalogue and got exposed to this whole sub-genre of jazz-hop coming out of California, which is great, because I really need another genre of beat music to learn about.
What an awful world we live in, where so much good music is made available to us all the time.