Hip-Hop: Best Albums of 2020

1. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 4

“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers.”

– James Baldwin

Run The Jewels is the answer, your question is, “What’s poppin’?!”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and at the height of Black Lives Matter protests across the Nation, RTJ4 hit the streets and instantly became a battle cry! The album tackles everything from crooked cops, environmental pollution, white privilege, desensitization by social media, to the evils of capitalism. It’s punk, social commentary, party rocking, and most importantly, hip-hop! Pardon me while I go watch Killer Mike jump rope again.

2. Freddie Gibbs & Alchemist – Alfredo

Alchemist is a workhorse and Freddie Gibbs is no slouch either. Alfredo reunites the two again since Fetti in 2018, cooking alongside Currensy. Fans ate that album up and finally got their second helping this year. ESPN’s The Last Dance aired its final episode of the miniseries in May and it’s obvious Gibbs was watching. On the album opener he raps, “Michael Jordan, 1985 bitch, I travel with a cocaine circus” and “Shit was different when Mike left and it was Scottie’s team,” on “Scottie Beam”. Similar to his collaboration with Madlib, Gibbs floats in-n-out over the beats, making it seem effortless. The way he switches up his flows on “God Is Perfect” is straight fresh! Imagine a Freddie Gibbs, Alchemist & Madlib album à la Jaylib!

3.
a) Westside Gunn – Who Made The Sunshine

b) Conway The Machine – From King To A God

c) Benny The Butcher – Burden Of Proof

Buffalo is still running shit! Gunn and Conway dropped 3 albums each (Three, that’s the magic number) and Benny expanded the Griselda footprint by linking with Hit-Boy for a collaborative LP. If you still don’t know, now you know.

4. Logic – No Pressure

Child-rearing is work. Poetry is work. Raising a kid and livin’ the rap life is mind-boggling. Back in July, Logic announced this new album as his last; fatherhood calls. Benefit of the doubt, No Pressure is a perfect send-off.

5. Black Thought – Streams Of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Abel

For Round 3, Mr. Trotter teams up with former Bad Boy Records Hitman, Sean C. When he’s not straight dumbing out the bars, we get an introspective Black Thought talking about relationships and race. I hope he keeps these streams coming!

OTHER NOTABLE HIP-HOP ALBUMS:

Big Sean – Detroit 2

Blu & Exile – Miles: From An Interlude Called Life

Elzhi – Seven Times Down Eight Times Up

Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By

Jay Electronica – A Written Testimony

RAPPERS NEW TO ME THAT MADE AN IMPRESSION:

Chris Crack – White People Love Algorithms

Larry June – Numbers

ALBUM TO SUBMIT INTO A CALIFORNIA 2020 TIME CAPSULE:

Serial Killers – Summer Of Sam

SOUL:

Dinner Party – Dinner Party

Kali Uchis – To Feel Alive EP, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)

Mayer Hawthorne – Rare Changes

HOUSE:

The Twilite Tone – The Clearing

MISC. THROWBACK: 

Hank Mobley – Soul Station (1960)

The Bar-Kays – Money Talks (1978)

Kate Bush – Hounds Of Love (1985)

Hard Knocks – School Of Hard Knocks (1992)

GUILTY PLEASURE:

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

FEATURED ARTISTS I DIDN’T EXPECT:

DMX, Slick Rick, Supercat

SONG SPOTIFY SAID I LISTENED TO THE MOST:

Sofie “Truth Of The Matter”

Shout-out to D-Nice for being the first to DJ on Instagram Live during Safer At Home measures.

MF DOOM Forever!

My jams are hither!

Aiiight chill…

Bring That Beat Back

From 2001-2017 there was a quarterly music magazine I subscribed to called Wax Poetics. It was a music journal geared towards record collectors, DJ’s, beat makers and producers. One of my favorite sections of the magazine was called “re:Discovery”. Contributing writers would share stories about a record of their choosing, not necessarily sample-based material, just records they enjoyed. re:Discovery shed a light on albums that fell under the radar, even in the age of reissues. In that vein, I present these 5 hip-hop gems. Rather than spit my 2 cents, I linked information that better puts into words what I wish to convey.

The Jungle Prince

the-jungle-prince

The story passed for years from tea sellers to rickshaw drivers to shopkeepers in Old Delhi. In a forest, they said, in a palace cut off from the city, lived a prince, a princess and a queen, said to be the last of a Shiite Muslim royal line. Some said the family had been there since the British had annexed their kingdom. Others said they were supernatural beings.

It was a stunning and tragic story. But was it real?

On a spring afternoon, while on assignment in India, Ellen Barry got a phone call that sent her looking for the truth.

Blue Note Records Continues Vinyl Reissue Campaign

Blue-Note

Blue Note Records has announced the continuation of the acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series in 2020. Launched in 2019 in honor of the label’s 80th Anniversary, the Tone Poet series is produced by Joe Harley and features all-analog, 180g audiophile vinyl reissues that are mastered from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio. Tone Poet vinyl is manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, California, and packaged in deluxe Stoughton Printing “Old Style” Gatefold Tip-On Jackets.

The titles were once again handpicked by Harley and cover the crème de la crème of the Blue Note catalog along with underrated classics, modern era standouts, and albums from other labels under the Blue Note umbrella including Pacific Jazz and United Artists Records. The 2020 release schedule will commence with the January 24th release of Hank Mobley Poppin’ (1957) and Stanley Turrentine Comin’ Your Way (1961), both of which are available for pre-order now. Explore the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series at the Blue Note Store.

January 24

  • Hank Mobley – Poppin’ (Blue Note, 1957)
  • Stanley Turrentine – Comin’ Your Way (Blue Note, 1961)

February 28

  • Chet Baker – Chet Baker Sings (Pacific Jazz, 1954-56)
  • Grant Green – Nigeria (Blue Note, 1962)

March 27

  • Duke Ellington – Money Jungle (United Artists, 1962)
  • Herbie Hancock – The Prisoner (Blue Note, 1969)

April 24

  • Lee Morgan – The Cooker (Blue Note, 1957)
  • Lonnie Smith – All In My Mind (Blue Note, 2017)

May 22

  • Stanley Turrentine – That’s Where It’s At (Blue Note, 1962)
  • Joe Henderson – The State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume 1 (Blue Note, 1985)

June 26

  • Bobby Hutcherson – The Kicker (Blue Note, 1963)
  • Jackie McLean – It’s Time (Blue Note, 1964)

July 24

  • Horace Silver – Further Explorations (Blue Note, 1958)
  • Jimmy Smith – Prayer Meetin’ (Blue Note, 1963)

August 28

  • Herbie Hancock – My Point of View (Blue Note, 1963)
  • Duke Pearson – The Phantom (Blue Note, 1968)

September 25

  • Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Roots & Herbs (Blue Note, 1961)
  • Bobby Hutcherson – Oblique (Blue Note, 1967)

October 23

  • Tina Brooks – The Waiting Game (Blue Note, 1961)
  • McCoy Tyner – Tender Moments (Blue Note, 1967)

November 20

  • Donald Byrd – Byrd In Flight (Blue Note, 1960)
  • Lee Morgan – The Rajah (Blue Note, 1966)

December 11

  • Paul Chambers – Bass On Top (Blue Note, 1957)
  • John Scofield & Pat Metheny – I Can See Your House From Here (Blue Note, 1993)

The Dream

The_Dream_podcast

We’ve all got that one friend or cousin who steadily hawks some overpriced miracle drink, leggings, or shampoo on social media. They aren’t just trying to sell you something, but would like to offer you the opportunity of a lifetime to achieve riches while working from home on your own terms. You’ve probably been too afraid, or too loving, or too reasonable to confront them.

Not us.

This season on The Dream we go inside the world of multi-level marketing to expose the pyramid-shaped business model for what it is. Join us on this bizarre journey filled with snake oil salesmen, shifty millionaires, struggling single moms, and a few sweet grandmas.