Happy New Year, peeps! It’s your favorite blogger’s favorite blogger: KB. While my blog is on a ghetto sabbatical I figured I’d take advantage of the fact that EJ is in the corner, drunk like a hobo, and take over his blog for the 400th entry. All week Brotha EJ has been asking for my top albums of ’05 so I figured I’d post it here on his site. Keep in mind this does not include compilations and reissues so great albums such as Motown Remixed, DJ Maj’s Boogiroot, and Midnight Soul Vols.1 & 2 were not included.
10. Black Eyed Peas – Monkey Business – Monkey Business does exactly what it sets out to do: be a fun, hip-pop record. If any music listener fully embraced Elephunk at its core for what it was (a transition from underground hip hop to hit making hip-pop) than the follow-up is a natural one. I have to catch myself every time I get into a song like �My Style� or �Like That� because while those are head nodders something like �My Humps� or �Don�t Phunk With My Heart� will be nearby. BEP is riding the wave of success. Sorry guys. They tried real hip hop (remember when Primo produced for them?) but that didn�t move units. So now this is the BEP we have to deal with, one that moves units, booties, and provides some eye candy for the fellas too (thanks Fergie). My comment made at www.nastybastard.org June 11th, 2005 at 8:32 pm
Favorite track: “My Style (feat Justin Timberlake)”
9. Mary J. Blige – The Breakthrough – I got news for the Queen of Hip Hop Soul: your fans don’t like to hear you happy. Four out of five Mary fans prefer to hear the pains and hardships in her lyrics. Well the good news is that sound returned on this album. The flow of the album is versatile, hitting a pinacle when Mary evokes the spirit of early Aretha on “I Found My Everything.” With the exception of the duets with U2 and Jay-Z (where’s the lyrics, Hov?) this December release has been in constant rotation.
Favorite track: “So Lady” (bonus track, available through iTunes)
8. Me’Shell NdegeOcello – Dance of The Infidel – I can’t say I purchased a lot of jazz or blues this year but The Spirit Music Jamia remains in heavy rotation. Me’Shell has an unique way of redefining herself and her art form on every release. She definitely had her composer hat on as she let the music take the lead without sharing a provocative lyric.
Favorite track: “Papillon (feat Matthew Garrison, Federico Gonzalez Pena, & Kenny Garrett)”
7. Kirk Franklin – Hero – Brother Kirk has done it again. With this release he continues to use his hip hop style of gospel as an outreach to the lost. He takes the introspective road, sharing his personal demons (“Let It Go”) and his hope for tomorrow (“Better”). Gospel fan or not, everyone needs a lil’ church.
Favorite track: “Looking for You”
6. Gorillaz – Demon Days – Alternative hip hop? I don’t know what to call it. Whatever it is it’s good. On this sophomore collabo of alternative and hip hop heads the lineup changes a bit, bringing in artists such as Danger Mouse on the production and rap rippers like De La Soul and MF Doom on the mic. Even without an iPod commercial killing one of the best tracks (“Feel Good Inc”) this is one album worth a spin.
Favorite track: “Dirty Harry”
5. Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi – She ain’t LL so I’m calling it a callback. I can’t front. I held off on this one initially. Call it Glittersitis. But it’s hard to resists the song-writing improvement and the infectious beats. In this age of Ashy Larrys and Pretty Rickeys it’s nice to have some lotion around. Welcome back, Mimi!
Favorite track: “Say Something (feat Snoop Dogg & The Neptunes)
4. Kanye West � Late Registration – I was not expecting a sophomore slump from Kanye so I’m glad to see he didn’t disappoint. The production is still well above par. The guest spots were OK at times (Paul Wall on “Drive Slow”) and over-powering at others (Nas on “We Major”) The only criticisms I have of this album, which kept it from being higher on my list, were the skits and what I like to call “ghost guest stars.” A note to hip hop artists: kill the skits. If you need to make up time on your CD write some better rhymes and drop some more dollars for more time in the booth. There was only one exception to this (which comes later). The “ghost guest stars” are for the incomplete songs that made up the majority of the appearances. Where’s Brandy’s verse on “Bring Me Down?” Why didn’t Game drop 16 bars for “Crack Music?” And I’m still of the belief that “My Way Home” was a leftover from Common’s Be album. I was just left wanting… more.
Favorite track: “We Can Make It Better” (from the UK release featuring Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Common & Rhymefest)
3. Common � Be – This was definitely the Year of the Chi. Chicago represented from the Closet to the Corner. And no one did it better than Common. This is an example of what happens when you get a camaraderie between a hot producer and a great MC. While being interviewed by Gilles Peterson I remember Common saying that he likes to be in the studio with a producer and just create something original and organic. Mission accomplished.
Favorite track: “They Say (featuring Kanye West & John Legend)”
2. John Legend – Get Lifted – Many internet heads and fans of John Stephens had the majority of this album’s tracks since last year. Officially it was released at the end of the year, after I did my 2004 review, so I had to include it here. The composition and lyrics of the songs take you through the ups and downs of a tumultuous relationship. His sound was like nothing else we’ve heard in recent years, even though he’s been around for years (he played piano on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything” for example). And my favorite track, “Ordinary People” (co-written by Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am.) proves that even without the voice and the skills on the ivories this brotha has a great career ahead of him.
1. Little Brother – The Minstrel Show – I had to listen to this album again today. Last year rapper Phonte had the sleeper of the year as the vocal half of the group, Foreign Exchange. This year he’s back with his LB fam, Big Pooh and 9th Wonder. I love 9th’s production. His drum tracks are always tight. He even lends the reins to J Dilla and Jazzy Jeff. As far as the theme of the album goes upon multiple listens you’ll hear that the skits (that actually seem to work here) is a social commentary on the black comedies of UPN and the grandiose baller mentality seen on BET. It’s sad, people. We’re making a mockery of ourselves and our culture. Am I getting too deep for reviewing a rap album? Maybe. But if the Justus League can see it so should we. This album was like Spike Lee’s film, Bamboozled, on spoken word.
Favorite tracks: “All For You (feat Darien Brockington)” and “Watch Me (feat Jazzy Jeff)”
Bloc Party � Silent Alarm
Dwele – Some Kinda…
Fiona Apple � Extraordinary Machine
Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams
Raheem DeVaughn – The Love Experience
Coldplay – X&Y – That should just read “WHY”
LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARING MORE FROM IN 2006
V, Darien Brockington, Pharrell, Ghostface/Danger Mouse, Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Fort Minor, Linkin Park, Outkast, and Q-Tip