I decided not to do any year-end wrap-up stuff because a write-up for each album would be a lot of work (one reason most pubs do their year-end lists in early/mid December or wait until January) and because I haven’t listened to enough of what came out during 2013. Obvious albums like Killer Mike and El-P’s Run The Jewels are still waiting in my queue so it doesn’t feel at all right to try to sum up 2013. Not even calling it “my favorites” as opposed to “best” would solve the problem.
Since the last retro, I’ve written up Danny Brown’s Old and Joey Bada$$’ 1999. While Old is a great intro/retrospective album, it’s not the sort of thing that I’ll play top-to-bottom anymore. Some of the songs stopped being entertaining after digesting the album as a biography. Either they’re depressing, the drug-party topic isn’t for me, or they have terrible features. On that note, props to Freddie Gibbs for turning in the only good guest verse on Old. I’ve definitely got to pay more attention to that guy.
1999 left me with much more mixed thoughts. Joey expertly captured the feel of 90s boom-bap but didn’t really update the sound, leaving me bored to pieces when listening intently. So I googled around for thoughts on 1999 and found some older East Coast heads trying to explain Joey’s relevance. The consensus was that he’s a young rapper who actually respects the boom-bap style and isn’t weird like his peers. So his acclaim is more for what he isn’t, one of the many young New York rappers with a decidely non-New York sound, than what he is. For those guys, and for anyone else wondering what all the fuss is about, I’m going to share one of the verses that forced me to pay attention to this kid. This is from Statik Selektah’s Extended Play mixtape, from the song Bird’s Eye View (lyrics from Rap Genius with minor edits by me)
Watching the game from a bird’s eye view
They say it’s hard to keep trust so my third eye grew
Chakras open, binocular scoping, sour smoking
Hoping my best buds ain’t only in it for the tokens
Cause they say it’s who you joking with, chokin’ potent with
Tag team the joker chicks, the ones who do some bogus shit
Act cool on the strip, but want to put two in your hip
Macking jewels in your whips, booming your hits, screwing your bitch
Froze under my toes, bitches where my penis is
Kicking it since the womb, now you see what the fetus is
And what the fetus is? Would these niggas feed us shit?
Rob a nigga for his number 2’s to put my feet in, shit
Flow slippery, rise to the tippity top
I’mma make hot drops, make snakes history
Dreams of living civilly in Sicily
Laughing with a fan like
How can anyone still ignore him after seeing/hearing that lyricism?! Be sure to click that link to see the awesome Raekwon and Black Thought verses that surrounded this one.