2020: The Hip-Hop albums I enjoyed

I used to be a Hip-Hop blogger and write about music a decade ago. That is how it all started for me. To write and speak about a topic I knew. However through college and studies. I turned more political and so did my content. That is why the few who knows ASAP08.Wordpress.com used to be my page and my blog for years.

This is why I am going to my roots now. Just writing my 2 cents about music and hip hop. As that is the genre I’m not only familiar with, but enjoys for the most part. The music scene is different. The auto-tune, the mumble-rap and other sub-genres is more prevalent than in the past. Even though T-Pain and Lil Wayne used the auto-tune like crazy back-in-the-day too. So, it’s not like its breaking news.

Well, 2020 have been a weird year. In a sense, the lockdowns and home quarantines have ensured that I actually listen to less music. As I listen the most on the road home back and from the office. I am old-school so I download the album on my phone. If I am digging it. It stays and if it sucks. I’ll delete it and check out a new project to download later. Like Datpiff and other pages have served me well over the years.

The big surprise release was Jay Electronica with “A Written Testimony”. Though it shouldn’t have been released as a solo joint, but a joint effort with Jay-Z. It seems like Jay Elect wouldn’t have gotten this out if it was for Carters persistent push and dropping bars for him in the studio. It would seem like he never would have released it. No matter what Jay Elect would deliver. It would never master expectations of the build-up. The endless singles and snippets. The brilliant 16 bars as a feature and then nothing. Jay Elect bummed me out. It is decent, but when your waiting this long. It should be a Chronic or a College Dropout sort of statement. Not just another Spotify filler tracks.

One that came with a banger and an album with no fillers for me was Royce Da 5’9” “The Allegory” is my favourite of this year. The Detroit native is proving not only his skills behind the mic, but also his own production. The album is so consistent and such a project. That I will listen to this for years to come. His roll of good projects is continuing from the Phryme era and the “Book of Ryan”. Royce is again and again proving why his viable and a MC to look out for.

For instance this year Griselda artists became a main stay for me. This being Benny the Butcher with his “Burden of Proof” and Conway the Machine with “From King to a God”. Both of these projects is heavily played on my phone. This is the sort of jams I appreciate.

I have enjoyed the Crooked I & Joell Ortiz “H.A.R.D” project. That was a dope project and proved their standing. The Slaughterhouse MCs are still banging and together they are perfect blend of both coasts.

I preferred Jadakiss’s “Ignatius” over the long overdue project “Living Off Experience” from the LOX. Though that DMX 16 bars on one of their singles are worthy of 90s vibe. Jadakiss was the most personal in years and his tone was inspired through the album. This is why I can recommend this one too.

Another New Yorker and the late rapper Pop Smoke can with his posthumous release “Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon”. Compared to the “Dior” and other previous tracks I heard from him. This was less gritty sounding and more poppy. Surely the 50 Cent production and executive producing is the reason for that. However, we can only imagine where he could go and that his voice will be missed in the years to come. Pop Smoke was special and was on the rise to become someone to reckon with.

Black Thought of the Roots returned with his series “Streams of Thought Volume 3.” it was a continuation and shows his relevance on the mic. These sort of projects doesn’t get the credit it deserves and seems like he isn’t either aiming for charts or the accolades. Only having fun and showing his bars. Which is fun for the listener, but he deserves some acknowledgement. Both this one and the second in the series is projects I listen to on the regular.

I am a fan of both T.I. and Young Jeezy. However, their projects this year haven’t been that inspiring. Neither “The L.I.B.R.A” or “Recession 2” have gotten replayed. I am considering giving it more time. As these are artists that I am listening to their older albums, but these aren’t sparking the same interest and maybe their ways of trying to fit in isn’t that sort of vibe I need. They are sort of coping with the trends, instead of setting it themselves.

A moment of nostalgia for me this year. Was listening to the Paul Wall and Lil Keke project “Slab Talk”. It is nothing deep for the veteran rappers of Houston. Their topics and their production is nothing unique. Just fun to feel their return and having the jams on. Reminded me of listening to Slim Thug and UGK. Music that is fun and not so serious.

Papoose also returned with “Endangered Species” proving why he was sought after and was someone to look out for back-in-the-day. The man can still write and show his fierce wordplay. However, the lack of single and push from a major record label. Is the reason why his lingering in the underground and isn’t pushed higher.

Big Sean’s “Detroit 2” was good and shows his growth as an artist. I can take him seriously now. However, I am not sure how much longer I will listen to it though. It’s not a masterpiece, but a great piece of work. Not just a “Culture” or for the radio with “ASS”. His becoming his own man and can be proud of his work.

One that was a downer compared to previous released projects was Tech N9NE “ENTERFEAR” album wasn’t so banging as in the past. I don’t know, but it didn’t have what I sought out for. Maybe, the same sort of style gets old. I really don’t know. Always looked out for more Tech Nina, but here he didn’t bring it for me…

Joyner Lucas dropped “ADHD” the longest album run with nearly every song dropped as singles and it did fall flat. The repetition and lack of various material made it a sombre listen. Joyner have some fun jams, but he overplayed it and didn’t do more of the Timbaland produces fun joints. If he had mixed it up. It might have gotten more traction for me.

He dropped later in the “Evolution” which is a much better album. If your listening to Joyner. Listen to Evolution where he also have “Thugs Needs Love Song” with Ashanti and his “Snitch” single too. Like his trying to compete with Obie Trice.

R,A. The Rugged Man returned after years without an album. This year he dropped the “All My Heroes Are Dead”. The bom-bap and fun sort of stuff. R.A. proves his skilled and has bars. That he doesn’t care about being trendy in the now. “Legendary Loser” is one of the most fun tracks of the year. “Golden Oldies” sounds like a Macklemore knock-off, but R.A. is himself and has dropped a good piece of work.

Mozzy the new “Scarface” of this generation have dropped the “Beyond Bulletproof” and is worthy of a listen. If you are into the gritty nitty and not the ones for the radio. Mozzy is himself and his worth a listen.

Megan Thee Stallion dropped two projects this year. That being “Suga” which I got tired of really quick. “Good News” came out lately and is more interesting, but she is missing a little touch and showing more skills. Megan have it if she wants too. However, ad-libs gets old and there is just so much flex a man can listen too.

Denzel Curry’s “Unlocked” is a fun EP or album. Not like its a move forward from TA1300. Denzel can be both brilliant and funny on the mic. He has shown that before and therefore, I always look forward to her something from the man. However, here there was some joints, but not bangers.

These are just a few. There was a lot more projects, but these are the ones I remember and that I have listen too. I have listen to other things too and I maybe drop that in a separate piece. As that is more Afro-Beat and more pop based music too.

This was my quick review of Hip Hop in 2020. I know there is a lot more to say and state. Nevertheless, I am not the one to listen to Lil Baby and DaBaby, even though others do. Peace.

The State of current day Hip Hop and my take on it!

Let’s be clear at one point, I had all the information and new the releases. I listen to all hot mixtapes coming out. I was on point. I knew what was happening with Big K.R.I.T. and Yo Gotti. I knew about the possible releases from Cash Money. I could get the needed information of the artists signed to T.I. and the ones who was on Aftermath. Even the ones that was prospects on Bad Boy. Now, I know squat and living well. My Hip Hop blog ‘As Silent as the Pope’ (ASAP08) is history and ended suddenly in 2008. Now, my pages had since than had a different focus and scope. More worldly as you may, but still some rare post about music. Because music moves all of us, but just as my blogs changes, I have changed with time. I have evolved and so has my scopes and what I narrate, when I write. Therefore, the musical drama, the contracts, the newbies and the Hip Hop Industry doesn’t fetch the same dynamic within me. I still listen to the tunes, but is not as connected as back in the day. When I used lots of times, listen to interviews and was on.

Therefore, this post is to prove my view from the outside. After being a keen follower 10 years ago. Still listening to albums, but not as connected as before. Because I am more political after years of studies, a bachelor degree and becoming mature. That is just life catching up and Alfamega never got over the snitching paradigm and loss of Grand Hustle contract, I suppose.

When we are at this stage and the changes. As many are irrelevant and the approach to the art-form I love has changed. That is natural, just as I have evolved, the art-form does too. The Hip Hop landscape wouldn’t be same as I left it. There has always been artist living on hot beats and trashy talk with no common sense. Don’t tell me ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ was lyrical masterminds, even if Q-Tip has enough skills to kill me in one-bar. Still. On the same manner ‘Fat Boys’ wasn’t brilliant either, but they we’re entertaining. Therefore, when I say certain types of music isn’t good now. That might be true, they are entertaining today, but will you pick a LP by Lil Pump in 10 years time? I doubt it. It is cool now to be listening to ‘Gucci Gang’, but in a decades time, I doubt it will get better like fine wine.

The proof that a project is good is that you have a feeling you can listen to the LP years after it was released and still be relevant. The production might be dated, but the elements, the lyrical mastering and the topics is as relevant today as when it was released. That is for me an important matter. That I can pick up an older LP and it will still be banging. It will still move me and question my own thinking on the matter. Even see something new in it. Why I say this is the modern-day bashing of Tupac Shakur. The legend, the hero and the man who brought THUG LIFE to the forefront.

Because of everyone saying they are like Tupac. I started listening to his albums again, and especially ‘The Don Killuminati: The 3 Day Theory’ and its has the firepower that some of the current music today is missing. That Phryme has it place, its the old-school vibe and quality bars from Royce Da 5’9″ but not the political motivation. That is more Lupe Fiasco and he is trying. I am still listening to Lasers, the Cool and the Food and Liquor Part 2. However, the miles behind good and relevant albums are hard. Not that the Jadakiss & Fabolous project isn’t good, it is brilliant, but it hasn’t enough edge.

There are enough artists, but their tracks doesn’t shine through and some of the big men who has been big. Don’t need the center stage, they can rest on their past victories. If that is the Wu Tang Clan that dropped a project. Certain songs there was banging, but not the whole thing. The most consistent projects in while from Young Jeezy dropped, the Pressure LP, but without a ‘I Luv It’, the public is not picking up on it. That is how today is, you need the swagger jacking singles to matter. Even if the projects are good and are on point.

I don’t know if I will listen to Phryme 2 in 5 years, but I am listening still now and then to the first release of Phryme. I am still listening to previous LPs of Jadakiss and mixtapes from Fabolous. They are not far in my music-player. I am not even on Spotify or Tidal or whatever streaming-service. Because I like listening to whole projects. I am old-school like that.

Because I am old-school, I am not a fan of biting, imitation and taking inspiration is cool, paying homage to the ones before is cultural appreciation. Like I was amazed when Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis had features of Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel and Kool Moe Dee on their single ‘Downtown’. I had goosebumps before putting it on the first time. They didn’t have to this, but they decided to do it. That is what we need to see, because the new generation of music listeners doesn’t care.

This will be the same ignorant story of the time when Nelly had beef with KRS One. Where they both was claiming their place in the game and that Nelly was relevant and KRS was trying to eat of his plate. However, the point wasn’t there, but that Nelly should respect what KRS did to the game. Now, I am sure that Nelly feels like funny feature for many, as he is on Georgia Flordia Line ‘Cruise’ and isn’t the Head Honcho anymore. Other people has taken his place and Drake singing hook has taken over. That is just the way it is.

But the biting is taking to far for me. That is why I have a hard time listening to Cardi B and her kind. That is why anyone T-Paining and Future sort-of-rappers are to much for me. I had a hard enough time listening to Method Man and Jadakiss with a minute or two on Autotune. There has to make sense, Desiigner and the likes. Will be daft in the dustbin, there is enough talented MCs awaiting their spot and to drop something significant and meaningful. Then I don’t mean Logic or G-Easy, no they doesn’t entertain me even.

I just wonder when Biting was acceptable, when the copying and pasting, the ghostwriting levels was okay. There has always been that, but more for producers becoming rappers like Dr. Dre and the likes. Not the supposed to be hottest hot like Cardi. They we’re supposed to drop the bars and be the rawest MC. Now, I am sure anyone can lyrically defeat Cardi, because her team handle her bars and she just market her songs. If that is enough for this generation. I am sorry, I am not jumping on the bandwagon. I am not, even if liked the ghostwriting for Dr. Dre, there is fine line between them.

Not that I am big Nicki Minaj or Remy Ma. Both of them can spit and write their own bars. Even if the previous Terror Squad LP only had like three or four good songs. While Nicki has long time between hard-core bars and been radio friendly, not for the hip-hop crowd. That is understandable as the label and herself want a bigger crowd for herself. But they are both better at the craft than Cardi. Even if Cardi is the thing now. I am still not following. Maybe, because I am old-school in my mid-30s.

That is why I am not on Datpiff or even on HipHopDX, buying XXL every month or even looking a the Source. That is why I loose out, and suddenly guys like 21 Savage and others suddenly pops-up on the scene without any notice. Not that I buy into it the stick, but if a song is good. I check out more. But many falls through, because they are feature artists in my eyes like French Montana. Tell me one whole project you have loved, through and through, where he a stand-out artist? No, I thought so, he is no Pusha T or Cyhi Da Prince.

Let’s be clear, this is my rambling, as someone a bit of bounds. That used to be into it and listening closely. When people was waving to get Pimp C out of jail, when Houston was taking over. When Miami had prospects, more than just Trick Daddy. That was the time I was in, when Dip Set was still relevant and Cam’ron wasn’t just trolling 50 Cent. And when 50 Cent was gangster and not a TV Producer. Well, that was the days. Those days are numbered. However. I am not, I still follow, but from a narrow scope and randomly picking up LPs that sounds good and might have hope.

There will come new talent that will catch my ear and take my breathe away, but that is harder than before. Because I don’t need no to buy no LP like Cassidy’s ‘Split Personality’, that was a whack CD from a promising talent. Another one, that had deserved more credit is Saigon, whose delivered good LP’s, but very few has cared. There will always be like this, why I haven’t mentioned Nas or Jay-Z, well, they both should retire, maybe even Scarface, even if I respect all three. But this is game for yungin’s, but they should pay respect to the ones that opened the door in for them. That is lacking in our time.

J.Cole who dropped a project I will listen more to in coming days, paid respect to Nas and Jay-Z on his projects in the past. Waka Flacka Flame even dropped respect to the ones before him. It would be nice to the newbies doing the same, but there is less of it. Not biting their lines, but saying, I am dropping trap music because of T.I. and Three 6 Mafia. Juicy J is the reason why I make songs for Stip-Clubs. Let’s be honest, that is the little token of credit that the other artists deserves, the ones that built a career, surely Nelly would like some credit today for his Mid-West Rap-Game. But I haven’t heard any give him anything. It is just like KRS-One felt back in the day.

Well, this was my musical rant of the month and year 2018. I am out of the loop and its cool. But I still know this thing. I don’t care of the newbies doesn’t, but they should check the records, should listen to old-school and understand the craft. Not just think they can do everything because it is easy to upload and get social media crowds. Because, the people like doesn’t eat out of their hands and doesn’t pay for their LPs, unless it hopefully gets better like wine. If it doesn’t I have no reason to pick it up and bump it. I will just download, have one listen and let it go. Like I did to many Gorilla Zoe Mixtapes back in the day. You got to drop quality and show your value. I don’t care what Lil B or whatever whats his face, even ‘Tyler the Creator’ has lost his shock value, just like Lana Del Rey did.

Unless, your as foolish and dumb like Taylor Swift to cover ‘September’ of Earth, Wind and Fire. Than, I won’t care, because usually people aren’t that insensitive. But there is some who will take it further and not think of the consequences and the reactions to their raps. That Cardi copied Kodak Black, wasn’t cool, even if he gave credit and she got hit. But for me, that isn’t my thing. She should have her own style, but she is mixing it up and is proud of it. That is a disgrace for the art-form. But that is just me…. Peace.