Hope you like the new layout of the site. Will be adding some more stuff soon. Links section still needs to be updated and we got some surprises coming through the store section soon. Its been one year of betterthankanye. One more year of personal growth. One more year of one (or two) more crazy ex-girlfriends. I published a book, got really depressed, moved, didn’t move, had money, got broke, got money, got broke, moved again. Man oh man. Now is a time of reflection. Around this time a lot of top 10 lists pop up. Who are the top ten best new rappers? What were the top ten albums of the year. I think it is difficult to rank something as beautiful as music along any scale. Music itself is the only scale. Music is fluid, transcendent, effervescent. It rocks us to sleep and moves us closer to each other in the club. It turns a bathroom into a dance floor and a mirror into an audience. It is slowly smoked cigars, lingerie, chilled vodka on the rocks. It is our pulse, our driving force, the soundtrack to breath. It is our limbs, our eyes our heartbeats and 808s…dammit. DAMMIT F@ck you Kanye. Yes, I don’t think that you can rank music on a scale but you CAN say that something is BETTER THAN KANYE. So this is my end of the year BETTER THAN KANYE top 5. I’m giving you five, because that’s what children do. Its not in any order and honestly I could have put anything up here because I think most everything is better than Kanye. This is just hip hop and hip hop adjacent. If this was my music list for 2011 we’d need a lot more room. Here ya go:
5. FRANK OCEAN – I have never heard more songs from one album that made me go “oh sh*t who is this?” than this mix-tape. It was a necessary refresher against the backdrop of the chaotic changes to our social media landscapes earlier this year to see that orange car on someone’s youtube post. Press play all day. Frank Ocean makes all the decisions I get mad at Kid Cudi for not making. Off Novacane, Thinking About You, Novacane, There will be tears… awesome songs but the one that really pulled me in from the get was Swim Good. Its a song a had to put on loop for a minute and get all emo with. Good looking at that American Wedding too Mr. Fauntleroy.
4. TECH-9 – I’ve been on the Tech – 9 bandwagon for a while. I’ve seen him perform live a few times up in the central coast and the Bay Area and even got to open up for him once when I was in a hip hop group back in the day. I felt like anytime I got into a conversation with someone about why I liked him, the reasons why that person didn’t like him seemed to outweigh any of my accolades. 6’s and 7’s is a direct example of what happens when someone hones a craft and dedication to a particular style while allowing themselves to grow with the concurrently evolving audience. Tech -9 sounds the same as I’ve always loved him but somehow sounds more accessible. The production on the album is insane. Top Notch. The slew of guest rappers, Busta Rhymes, Snoop, Yelawolf, to name a few, gives the album a feeling of completion that only years in the game could manifest and reminds me of some of the epic collaborations on albums that went down in the mid 2000s and late 90s. Worldwide Choppers, Pornographic, He’s a Mental Giant all stand out songs. Thank you Tech-9 for silencing muthaf*ckas.
3. DJ DAHI – So Dahi was my roommate freshman year in college. He bout a 300 dollar turntable set and played nothing except for a single record with “Sun God” by Hi-Tek day in and night out until he figured out every piece of the instrument. Now he is making beats and waves back here in Los Angeles with groups like Pac Div and The Cafeteria Line. Now I’m not just throwin him up here because I know him. Dahi released his first solo project “Toys” this past month and I was blown away. Appropriately named, each track on the album is a brilliant homage to toys from Christmas past. “Simon” is a hauntingly beautiful track that injects memories of that bastard of a game directly into your brain. Teddy Ruxpin…The Slinky…ridiculous. I seriously felt like I was walking through a green field with that damn bear. Every track on the instrumental album is gold. Tetris is one of my favorites. You can follow Dahi on twitter @DJDAHI. Download the album free here: Toys – DJ DAHI
2. Kendrick Lamar – So I heard Rigamortis and it was over. Seriously over. The drought that Kanye West had so cowardly brought upon us all began to pass as Kendrick Lamar passed around a healthy glass of Hi-C in the form of Section .80. Not only can dude flow but I feel like he honestly loves and respects music (specifically hip hop) that has come before him and is in constant conversation with it throughout the album while maintaining his own unique style and presence. I first heard him on Youtube with his “Compton State of Mind” and I remember being happy in the simplicity that he was contributing to hip hop. A.D.H.D. is f*cking beautiful. Section.80 is worth downloading, buying, stealing…whatever you gotta do. Its not about content with me necessarily. Not about production or glitz. Sh*t doesn’t have to be so underground no one has heard of it…it just has to feel authentic and it just has to not annoy me. Kanye isn’t authentic and he annoys me. That’s why I don’t like him.
1. CHILDISH GAMBINO: Wow no 1 already? Maybe I should have done a top ten. Okay so Childish Gambino is my sh*t. I’m not saying dude is the best rapper ever or that the album is on any all time top list but Childish Gambino is BETTER THAN KANYE and the fact that this exists at the same time that Kanye exists makes me so happy its crazy. This is EXACTLY who Kanye West is attempting to be. This is the inner nerd Kanye has himself but he has been conditioned by society (mainly black, male, heterosexual society) to reject it. Donald Glover explores racism, sexism, sexist sh*t, general sh*t talking and embraces his nerd and is comfortable in it. More comfortable than Kanye ever will be. Now Donald has DEFINATELY taken notes from Kanye’ cadence…i just think he writes better and delivers it better. Parts of the album come off as kind of a parody, but that’s because Glover is a comedian and he has injected these songs with every part of himself. Don’t be afraid to press play. Childish Gambino is the sh*t. The Album is CAMP. GET IT. This album is something David Scott would do.
Also don’t sleep on these folks either: TYLER THE CREATOR, TALIB KWELI, (as much as it pains me to write) COMMON, SAIGON, THE ROOTS
Thank you for an awesome year folks. Thanks to everyone who reads, reposts, invites me for interviews, comments on blogs, it really means a lot. Come get me 2012!